When Water Runs Red

People take the simple things for granted, take for example dying your hair.

It starts will a color and a choice. But which color to choose? Your hair is part of you, it’s your identity, or a piece of it.

Have you ever dyed your hair red?

You mix the contains in a bottle, the red mixture looks like a red crayon left too long in the sun, take one last look at your hair and whatever color is now is, peal off your shirt, maybe wrap a towel around your shoulders since you are not trying to dye your skin, and start pouring the bottle’s contents onto your head.

It is not a big change as you do. Perhaps you feel a little anticipation, perhaps you can feel your head starting to warm as the chemicals get to work, but really if just feels like your hair is wet.

That is when it happens.

The skin under your hair is turning a rust color, fallen drops of dye are drying against your forehead like crusting blood. This is when you start to realize how your hair is really going to change.

You mix the rest of the liquid into your hair, running it through making sure you didn’t miss a single hair as your head starts to rust.

The bottle is empty. You throw is away and pin your hair up.

Twenty-five minutes of waiting. Maybe you’re reading, maybe your watching your darkened had wishing you could see what color it would become or questioning your choice to change it.

The time is up, and you start the water. The room starts to fill with a soft mist as it heats. You peal off whatever clothes you are wearing an step into your own personal waterfall.

The result is immediate, the moment hair meets water. Water the color of blood starts to drip down your skin and onto the floor. The experience is chilling as the red sinks in-between your toes and into the drain. You run your hands through your hair, and more blood rushes down from your head.

You look at your hands; they are red.

For a moment, you are trapped in a world of blood. The water, the blood, your hair; it is like you are washing away your old self and will emerge anew.

The water turns the color of rust, and even that fades until it runs clear. You take a deep breath and turn off the water.

You step out and can’t find your reflection as the gathered mist greets you with moist kisses. You rub a circle where you face should be. You see a foggy version of your. You hair is darker but you cannot see anything past that.

You leave the shower and let the air dry it. You wait in anticipation as the darkness fades with the water and a deep red starts to take its place. You look back in the mirror and for second you do not know the face staring back. You look again, and you see that it is you. You run your hand through it and wonder who long it will last.

You did it. You survived the shower of water and blood, returning changed but the same.

You smile at the new color, shut off the light, and leave the room.

Songs are the way

Every story should have a tone, and one of the best ways to achieve a tone is through music. Selecting music for a story can be as important as character names or a setting. In a way, music is a setting. Don’t listen to Lady Gaga when trying to write a fantasy, and don’t listen to Howard Shore when trying to write a urban paranormal romance. Take Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls for an example, she had a playlist for those books, and those books had an amazing tone to them. I never start a story until I have a playlist, and every one of them has a definable tone to them. 

Music can have physical affects on us. There have been studies done that show plant leafs will grown with different edges depending on what music was playing while they grew. In ancient celtic literature, bards were highly respected people. They believed music could change and manipulate one’s emotions. I’m sorry but I don’t have sources for any of this, it’s just knowledge I’ve picked up in my life. But the bottom line is; the tone of the music can help determine or solidify the tone of the story. 

If you are wondering what the tone should be, listen to some different greens of music and ask yourself which one would fit in your world. Think about the music your characters might listen to. Don’t stay literal with this, if the character doesn’t live on earth (or this time or space or anything) they still might have listened to this band if they did live on earth in this time. Think about what music shops would play, if your characters were to enter one. Think about the music a soundtrack might use, if was ever going to be adapted into a movie. Don’t limit yourself my suggestions, I’m sure there are thousands of places where music could be played. 

If you know what your tone is going to be, picked the music to match it. It may not be your favorite genre, but many aspiring artists have made worse sacrifices for their craft. If you don’t want to pay for the music, sign up for Pandora or LastFm accounts. 

Music can drive a story, drive a scene. I create playlist for my stories, but for action scenes I always play The Glitch Mob. It drops me write into the scene and gets my heart beating faster, which I hope helps me write a better fight sequecne or chase or whatever. 

If you story doesn’t feel right, or doesn’t sound right, just try making a playlist for it. It will help. If you’re about to start a story, or even edit one, pick out some songs that fit the story and edit/write to them. If you’re still stuck, feel free ask me for help. But the music will be a silent guide to you, trust me on this one. 

Identity

Change me, rearrange me; pull the skin from my body and model me to you.

Eyes green, hair brown, skin white; how many more fit this song?

A name, a name, what’s in a name? Yours, mine, hers – the same.

Turn around, turn around and look; is anyone different; is anyone the same?

Teach me in school, teach me in song, teach me in books, teach me on TV; did I ever have a chance to be me?

I go the mall and everywhere I look I see myself; hair, clothes, speech, dreams.

Cultures, countries, states, cities, homes; are we born or made?

Blind in a sea of color searching for my own; I find black.

Everyone likes black, so I must now like gold.

Be different, be yourself; but what if yourself is the same as everyone else?

Search for your voice in a scream of voices.

Find your desires in a sky of dreamsis this the star you wanted or the one you were made to see?

Save us, can we save us?

Tear me apart, put me together; piece-by-piece label me until I’m new.

Dancing on the moon

The light had long left her once bright eyes, she who is dancing on the moon. While her lines are beautiful, feet perfectly timed to steps of the stars songs, her heart was never on the small rock in space. Each twirl left behind a blood trail, the bottom of her feet once tender now broken. Her body aches and she cries to stop, but she never will. 

Around and around she will dance on the moon, cursed and blessed to forever twirl in its light. She wasn’t born on the moon but placed there by her greatest adversary; the man who was supposed to love her but betrayed her.   

Spirit as wild as the sun, and she didn’t want to marry. She had dreams, stars she wanted to reach and places she wanted to see, but he wanted to marry her. They say royalty can’t be refuse. Once their eyes have seen and their hearts are set they will receive their desires. He desired her.

She was courted and changed. Told to wear new clothes, walk in a new manner, talk in a new accent, and her old had must be replaced by respectable ones. They stripped off her outside and replaced it with their perfect form. 

But they couldn’t change her inside. At night, she still opened her window and sang to the stars, she ran through fields of flowers in her bear feet, she swam naked in the rivers, and climbed the forest tallest tree.

And she danced.

She danced in the ballrooms, she danced in the gardens, she danced for all to see. They told her to stop, but she twirled away with a smile. Her dancing was beautiful. He said everyone deserved to see it, despite the rules it broke. After all, he had met her dancing. 

On the day the wedding bells chimed and she found herself in a white dress. He held out the ring with a victorious grin as she was asked to say she’ll love him till death. His smile promised her answer. She broke the promise and his smile when the words “I don’t” passed over her lips. 

Around and around her bloodied feet step. Her arms aching over her head, legs burning with the endless movement. She can see the earth but she it’s no longer her home. She swirls among the stars, the ones she always tired to catch. Her dancing is now beheld by all when the sun leaves. Her body cries her pain, but her soul sing’s its victory

She is trapped, she is free. 

I know this story is more “tell” then “show” which I typically don’t do. I believe though that telling is ok sometimes. In full length pieces it’s better to show for character develop, and quite frankly the book becomes a more interesting read. However, this is always an idea I’ve had. I don’t believe I would ever find the time to turn this idea into an entire novel, but I did want to write a little piece for it. 

Here is the song that inspired the idea, if you are curious. 

 

Why I Write YA

While every genre of books is worth writing and reading, everyone writer should find which one fits them best. It’s like buying a puppy, each one is adorable but only one is the perfect fit. For me that perfect fit happens to be Young Adult. 

I was nine years old when I began my first novel (my first novels were terrible, to put it kindly). I’ve always had ideas and characters in my head. I’ve been in love with fantasy and worlds living only in the minds of authors and readers. (Ok, I still believe in unicorns) I was a fan of Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narina, Into the Land of Unicorns, and the Avalon series. At nine I was too young to understand the classic novels, and being raised in a strict Christian family the books I was allowed to read were thin. I wanted to read books that took me into another world, but they all looked thick and untouchable with shirtless men and nearly naked women on their covers. I felt the books I could read were limited, and since I had so many ideas in my head why not write them down? I was writing what I wanted to read, and still am. 

I firmly believe people should write what they are passionate about.  I’m passionate about characters. I love exploring where they breaking points are and what happens when they reach them, their layers and development. Thankfully for me, YA is extremely character focused. These books demand character growth and self-discovery (not that I’m claiming other genres don’t). While plot focus is great (I love reading a plot focused story like Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series) I don’t want my focus to be on plot. I used to attempt writing books where make believe nations clashed, but they always ended focusing on the characters and how their lives are affected by these waring countries. YA also allows you to add elements of magic or the supernatural into your stories. I’ve always been a fan of unicorns and ghosts alike, and a genre that allows me to incorporate both is fantastic. 

I know YA has a somewhat frivolous reputation. Some people (I hate using the phrase “some people” but I find it annoyingly accurate for what I’m trying to say) believe the genre is only filled with teenage girls falling in love with some sort of mythical boy, and a lot of it is.  This genre can be filled with paranormal romances that are rich and lovely as well, not ever paranormal romance is bad. I think some people, again I hate using the phrase “some people”, fail to realize how much depth this genre truly has. Many books actually deal with extremely heavy concepts like drug/physical/alcohol/mental abuse, rape, murder, divorce, pre-material sex, the death of a family member, and the list goes on. In fact, the genre is often criticized for having too heavy of a subject matter for teenagers. Anyways, I will try not to rant here. Basically, give YA a chance. I could have just said that but I felt the compulsive need to write it out and explain myself a little. 

I write YA because as a teenager (which I will be for one more year) I had a privileged life that quickly turned into a rough one. There were a couple of difficult years where I was completely lost, only stories could bring me back. I clung to those characters like they were my best friends (I wrote some too but once again that writing will never see daylight). I know many teenagers believe everything is the end of their world. They have problems they aren’t sure how to face and believe they have no one to turn to. I turned to stories, and I want to write stories that other people can turn to for help.

I don’t just write for teenagers. I hope my writing can stretch across several walks of life and be enjoyed by all. I want to write books that play the strings in people’s hearts and resonates in their souls. I’m not sure if I have the talent for it, but that doesn’t mean I will stop trying. 

This kind of turned into a “why I write” piece, but it’s essence is still YA. Why I write and why I write YA are so closely linked I guess it would be hard to separate them. I still hope there was something worth reading in here!