On Writing

There is a difference between writing facts and writing fiction. When you write facts, you write about things you have seen, experienced and felt. When you write fiction, you write about things you have invented, or imagined. On the other hand when you write imagined facts as though they were truths… well that’s either lying or you’re just copying and pasting other real writers’ stuff! lol

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This is basically the difference between being a writer, and being a mere ‘content filler’. 

I’ve had a number of offers, both locally and pertaining to online media, where either betting companies, or news-rags, just needed someone to fill-in some pages, either with adverts full of pre-determined phrases and compliments towards their products, or where the job consisted of just researching stuff online and putting it forward in another format. And I rejected them all. I’m not an automated content filler. I LOVE writing as a way of expression and a way to share my experiences and the things and places I love. So, no, I will never reduce writing and my capabilities to doing a mere job which any machine can do.

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Brandon Sanderson, when explaining the difference between a writer and a content-filler, gives the metaphor of the difference between a cook and a chef. The cook just wants to do a job, he follows a recipe to the detail, mechanically, always the same, and produces a cheese burger. The chef on the other hand, wants to express himself, he wants to create, he wants to change and evolve. He doesn’t mindlessly pour four ingredients into a mixing bowl to produce food, he wants to pour himself into something which others will love, and which will change them in turn. And that is the difference between a content filler and a writer.

A content filler is there for the money. He doesn’t create anything. He copies and pastes. That’s easy.

A writer is writing because he not only enjoys it for its own sake, but because he NEEDS to write, in order to feel complete. Each time he writes, his emotions and experiences pour onto the page and fill it with character and color. This leaves part of him into everything he writes and creates. It is not easy, but it is fulfilling, interesting and wonderful.

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Each time someone asks me if I’m interested in a job as a content filler either using my own blog (this one) or their own magazine/website, I admit that I pause, and I admit that this is because of the pay. Let’s face it, who doesn’t need money? But the thing is, I have a good career and a good wage, and I never wrote for the money itself (though yes I do get paid), but mostly I write because I love it and I write only about things which interest me. So that is my priority, and each time I receive one of these offers, THIS is why I say no, and why I will continue to do so. And this is what I suggests writers – those who love to write and do it to express themselves, to do.

Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t sell your art, because even if you say you are going to do it ‘once’, you will end up doing it again and again and in the end have no time to write what you really want.

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Write what you feel. Write about where you go, what you see, and about what happens to you. Write about your hobbies, your passions, your life. Don’t write fictions as though they were fact just because you are paid to – because yes readers DO notice the difference between those articles/stories which communicate real passion and real experiences, as opposed to the arid ones which just repeat already coined phrases ad infinitum.

It’s not easy, but in the end, it all boils down to your priorities. And to whether you are a real writer or not of course! 🙂 

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Before Tea Time

She had stolen mother’s lipstick. Her crimson gash of a mouth was stretched in a satisfied smirk. Her dirty bitten finger-nailed hands opened and closed slightly as she held D. My treasure. My hope. My friend.

I asked her to let her go.
First, I asked her softly. Tears hidden. Lips rubbery.
Second, I asked her mockingly. Hands behind my back. Flawless syntax.
Third, I asked her forcefully. Cheeks cherry with rage. Feet shuffling.

She only laughed.

I rushed at her and it was over suddenly. That bubble gum face disappearing down the stairs. The surprisingly tepid thump as she hit the bottom. Those clutching hands, broken, lifeless under a twisted back.

I looked at Dolly. Dolly looked at me. A wave of love and compassion stole over me. Poor dear had her hair all plastered to her head. Time for some tidying up.doll

© Melisande Moonsong

This is a quick piece of flash fiction I wrote for the ‘Ad Hoc Fiction Competition‘. Don’t really expect to win anything, but it was fun to do.

Monday Morning (What do you think of the GRANNY PORN industry?)

I sigh and prod my face into a mask, trying not to slump. The last session has not gone well. The gynaecologist said that unless I stopped with my current lifestyle, not only would the continual discharge and incontinence continue, but the flow would increase too. I don’t really understand what he said the problem is; a ‘prolapsed cervix due to a weakness in the pelvic muscles’. Pelvic muscles – now THAT I can understand.

Mulishly, I gaze at the veggie-shop beside me. I’m so fed up of eating fruit and vegetables to ‘flush out my system’ as Dr Weiss says. What a load of nonsense. Better have surgery, like Didi, and be done with it. A little nip and tuck is all it takes. Change my way of life? As if.

It’s not that I like my job really, I tell myself, as I cross the street. I don’t. All those sweaty struggling faces trying so hard to look consciously earnest. The newbies are the worse, thinking it’s all real and then unable to do the job with all the lights and coffee-swigging mumblers on the side-lines looking on. Just another day for me – a traumatic experience for them. I guess I’m too jaded at this point. And that, too, comes with the job, as my mother used to say.

The bus stops and I get on, swiping my card and taking a look at the driver. I wonder if he recognises me, though obviously, he will not, exactly, remember where. Slowly, I shuffle along, trying to sit down gingerly, carefully, before the bus re-starts. It hurts to sit down. Not where you would expect though. My back and legs hurt, creaking with too much use. At least I never had the presumption to have any children. That would have ended my career for sure. Don’t know how they manage it – some people. Well, not all, just look at Cheeky Cherry – not even able to look her son in the face anymore. Should have known it would come to that at some point.

Arrived. I stumble past an old guy with sunglasses and a greasy baggy woolen vest thrown over frumpy trousers. Blearily he stares at me and looks away. Probably more of an interracial underage aficionado. No loss there. I round the corner, and enter the studio, a dim shabby building squashed between a hippy record store and a run-down block of apartments. Bathroom, then make-up and a look at the rack of underwear prepared for today.

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I glance at the three pimply teenagers waiting around hopefully, then spying me, with widening eyes, grabbing at the pill provided to strengthen their resolve, stiffen their spines, and everything else. No alcohol though. That would defeat the purpose. I wave a hello at Doris, the washed-out fluffer, as zombie-like, she coughs her usual mucus-riddled cackle, and sashay along towards the toilets, mockingly ogling the thin terrified wannabes. Bad, bad Nancy. Wasn’t nicknamed ‘Naughty Nancy’ for nothing.

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© Darkly Dreaming Moonsong

This short story was sent to Keith Kreates as part of his weekly challenge – https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/36207183/831896472

ANNIVERSARY of Edgar Allan Poe’s Mysterious Death!

I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity’ – Edgar Allan Poe

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Technically, this was yesterday, but I only realized today.

Edgar Allan Poe, his works, and his life, have always had a special fascination for me. He is the daddy of the horror genre and the supernatural mystery. His poems especially are so full of dark romantic agony, that they called to my trembling brimful heart from a very young age. Poe, who married his cousin a child bride of 13 who died only 2 years after the marriage (she was 15). Poe, who forever after wrote sad poems lamenting his pure innocent lost love. Poe who was given to bouts of depression, took laudanum and was a drunk, but published brilliant detective stories, the first of their kind. Poe, who always had a kind of mythological terror of cats, because for him they symbolized the dark wild part of himself, and who feature again and again in small ways in almost all of his prose-work.

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Poe who mysteriously and inexplicably died 166 years ago, yesterday.

Most people erroneously believe he died of his alcoholism but that is not the case. First of all, though he was a known alcoholic, he is reported to have not touched a drop for ages. Also, the person who found him, alone, confused and wandering, in the dark a week after he had disappeared from his home on the way to New York, said he looked sick but not drunk. Secondly, let us keep in mind that the person who wrote Poe’s biography after his death, Rufus Wilmot Griswold was a hated rival who was trying to portray him as badly as possible. He said he was ugly, dirty and unkept, a drunk, a brute and a savage. To which others, Poe’s doctor included, attested he was not. Unfortunately, there was no autopsy done on Poe’s body, and all his medical documents were ‘lost’, so there is no record of what actually took place.

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Theories abound. Some say he died of a heart-attack. Some that it was suicide (he had already overdosed on laudanum once), which is not possible since he was ‘found’ wondering the streets. Some say it was diabetes or tetanus.

Like Poe’s marvelluous detective mysteries, his death too, remains a mystery. Still he played and still plays a big influence on my mode of thought, not to mention my writing and my tastes. ALL HAIL EDGAR ALLAN POE – MASTER OF TERROR!

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Btw this is a very good article on his death – http://www.openculture.com/2015/10/the-mystery-of-edgar-allan-poes-death-19-theories-on-what-caused-the-poets-demise-166-years-ago-today.html

Enjoy 🙂

Writer’s Block

It has not gone unnoticed that lately, I have begun to be guilty of a certain deadening of the spirit. A kind of fallibile vicissitude if you will. An unwillingness of the frontal lobe to procreate any kind of interesting thoughts or even contemplate any sort of personal advancement.

Un-started articles lie adrift on my desk, notes and bones of ideas strewn about and abandoned as though by a non-caring hurricane. Too old and weary to even attempt anything. Even more pieces of paper lie scattered in my personal drawer. Remnants of an introduction to something, always pending, never completed.

An air of impotent absurdism permeates my mind. Semi-glazed eyes pitter pattering, trying to stay awake, hour after hour. Day after day.

Not even Trevor, or as we used to call him ‘Kermit’, the warty bent frog, with his shiny polished trolley full of small tidily parcelled goodies, can evoke the remnants of a smile now. Smoke twirls, glints and tinkles as it follows him around. A trail of cheroot-induced puffs coloring the blankly torpid symphony of the wall.

I try to lift the pen and I can’t.

I try to switch on my brain and I can’t.

I try to articulate something. Anything. And I can’t.

I have been on death-row for three years, two months and eight days, but this is the day when I have truly died.

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No One

I admit, at first not existing was kind of hard to get used to. 

No one saw me as I crossed the street. No one nodded to me as I passed the store. No dog barked at me while I wandered around the windy park. No one smiled faintly as I stopped to grin at a comic poster. No one even noticed when my skirt blew up so high that my underwear showed.

I guess that’s when I started tackling non-existence as a comodity, rather than a curse.

I didn’t need to get up early. Didn’t need to brush my hair, put on any make up, or even wear decent clothes. No one saw me anyway. I just wasn’t there.

I didn’t need to be polite to the person waiting before me for the bus. Hell, I didn’t even need to stay in the queue. Or pay the bus fare. 

No one scowled at me because I had left the window open. No one muttered because I had forgotten to bring the ketchup on the table. No one told me I was not good enough, when I didn’t know where they had left their car keys the day before. No one pawed at me while wiggling smelly body parts, as I tried to watch a movie. No one even tried to bite and hurt me, because of some ‘remark’ they did not like.

No one belittled me or berated me ‘jokingly’ because I didn’t read their minds and know what they wanted beforehand. No one ‘forgot’ to mention my name or that I even existed when talking to their friends, when in fact I did. Now, I truly was not there, so it didn’t bother me not to be mentioned. There is no one to mention.

I have gotten used to not existing now. I do not even feel bad about it. It is a relief really.

Existing is so much harder.

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XVII – The Moon

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She saw her face washing away every night. Slowly. A little bit at a time. It disappeared. Pieces of luminous skin sloughing away with each passing wave. Gelatinous breezes hurrying up the process.

She didn’t know why. She didn’t know when it had begun. For as long as she remembered, this interminable murder of feeling had been inexorably whittling away at her being. At her very self.

Had she done something wrong? Hadn’t she been punished enough? Cruelly, the shifting mirror never told her any truth but this. Piece by piece, slice by slice, her form carved away a little bit at a time. Again and again.

Running. Always running. Towards something, or from someone. Moving forward or backwards in the vast confines of an eternal blackness. Feeling the mysterious pull of liquid infinity.

Until there was The Nothing.

Darkness interminable.

And then, a small ray of hope in the dwindling emptiness. Growing bigger, a small piece at a time, until again, there she was. Crying, looking around her in destructive solitude. Clawing at her inescapable faith with a glassy stare.

Mute. Unkowing. Unknown.

What is Flash Fiction?

My most recurrent problem with writing has always been that of writing too much. I guess there are just too many words flittering and skittering in my brain. This was an issue when I wrote essays at school (they were always too long), when I wrote my Bachelor of Arts dissertation (which exceeded the word count set by the University board) and when I wrote my Masters dissertation (which I spent months trying to shorten, while most of the other students couldn’t make ends meet).

This may sound like me bragging – but it really isn’t. When it comes to writing, I believe this consists of three parts. First, one must be a reader. One simply cannot be a writer, if one does not know the world one is delving in. Most importantly, how can one handle the written word, if s/he hasn’t encountered different examples of how it can be used again and again? Secondly, technique (which is where flash fiction comes in). A writer should be able to navigate through the sea of words and meanings, and steer herself clear in order to arrive wherever she wants to go. This means that if she sets out to write up to a certain word count, she must know how to economize and use her writing skills in order to do just that, and stop the extra flow which is mostly only frills.

Thirdly, of course, a writer sees the world like no one else does. She sees the world with a thousand eyes and none. This is what is called ‘imagination’ by some, ‘inspiration’ by most, and ‘dreamland’ by others. But that, of course, is another story.

FlashFiction

Flash Fiction, also called Micro-fiction, are short moments in time, or very short stories, described by a writer in a few words. Flash Fiction is usually something which happens in one single act. Opinions differ on how long a flash fiction story ‘should be’, there being markets for works as short as 100 words, up to 300 words, or even as long as 1,000 words. There are also many competitions, especially online, for writers of flash fiction.

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Flash Fiction is fun, economical, easy to write, and is really good for ‘flexing’ one’s mind, so to speak. It is also quite good for exercising one’s stream of consciousness approach. Having limited time, but an infinite amount of words waiting to come out, I have decided to post some of my flash fiction stories from time to time, and maybe letting my ‘dreamland’ suffuse my waking moments… and make them more interesting.

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La Disparue

The girl without a face sat in a chair.
The walls, sporting streaks the color of dried blood, leered at her, but she could not see them.
The floor pushed itself up against the soles of her rough-shod feet, but she did not care.
The noise outside was deafening in its lusciously torrid invasion, but she could not hear it.

Colorless, she waited for the Imprinting.
She knew it would happen, because she felt it. She had always known. Inside, where it was dark, and moist, and silent.

The Imprinting would come suddenly and without warning. It would arise from all sides at once. Strangely cruel in its violent obscenity. Change everything forever. Make her forget. The Imprinting would give her a voice – one she could not choose. It would make her see things which were not really there. It would let her hear undiluted sounds of plundered senses and raped thoughts. It would come on its own, no one would force it. It was inevitable.

Blank, she shifted on the hard seat, waiting… and waiting again.

The Imprinting was free; it only cost her wings.

She couldn’t use them inside anyways. She had never gone out of the room.

If it was even a room.

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New writing commission on HISTORICAL MALTA finally published online!

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At the beginning of January, I was contacted by a Polish guy with a project called CASTLES, who had read one of my articles and asked me to work free-lance with his Polish tourism website, providing historical writings on Malta, that is, on Maltese medieval structures and other important periodic landmarks. I already wrote a bit about it in a previous entry – https://ddmoonsong.wordpress.com/2015/01/04/new-freelancing-job-writing-about-medieval-malta/

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I sent in my first five contributions last week, and guess what? The first three of them are up today!! Check it out! – http://www.castles.today/en/castles/castles/malta/

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I am just so proud to be putting Malta on this touristic and historical landmark. It was also very interesting to research all these important places which all form part of my country’s rich past. I have already submitted another proposal for five more articles to the founder of the project and he has accepted, so more to come!! 😀

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Malta is such a beautiful country. Most Maltese don’t appreciate that, but I do. Obviously, since I’m a Medieval Reenactor as well 🙂

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