One Thousand Words

1000 words. Every day.

That’s what real writers say you should do: write 1000 words every day. Honestly, it seems like it isn’t enough, and at the same time, it seems like a real challenge. Where am I going to find time to write a thousand words? Where am I going to find enough ideas to express with that many words?

Jon tentatively reached out toward the bark of the tree, placing his hand on the hump worn smooth by the caresses of thousands upon thousands of other hands which had been placed in the same spot. He inhaled sharply—involuntarily—as the wood grew warm under his palm and his neck began to tingle. Suddenly, Jon was in a field, vast and green, surrounded by butterflies. At least, he thought they were butterflies; they fluttered and shimmered in the air around him; now seeming to flap their wings, now seeming to float on the light breeze without flapping at all. It was beautiful. The most beautiful thing he had ever seen. Jon laughed.

Turning toward where his father had been standing, Jon asked out loud, “But how do I get back?” Instantly he was in front of the tree again, mouth open in astonishment, hand still resting on the tree. The palm-polished knot had been glowing softly, and as he pulled his hand away, the faint light quickly faded.

“Good,” smiled the old man, ignoring Jon and speaking to Arto. “This is good,” he repeated. Then he walked away from the tree, muttering happily to himself about preparations and ceremonies—Jon wasn’t sure exactly what it meant, but he saw something on Arto’s face that made him excited. It was a look Jon hadn’t seen before. Part of it was happiness, which was rare enough, but the other part, the part that filled Jon with hope and wonder, was pride.

Arto said nothing. He just stood there and smiled quietly for several minutes. Jon began to fidget. Finally, he cleared his throat and ventured, “Papa?” Arto nodded, and finally spoke.

“Well, let’s go home and get you ready.”

That, Jon knew, meant there would be no sleep tonight. First, there would be the cheers, and the hugs, and the congratulations. Then there would be a bath—a head-to-toe scrubbing with scalding water, harsh soap, and pumice—that would leave Jon clean but probably sore. While he was bathed, he knew his grandmother would be cooking a celebration dinner while his uncle, the master tailor, whipped up a fine outfit suitable for the occasion. All through the evening and late into the night, people would be stopping by with small gifts, well-wishes, and more food as word spread through the village. Sometime after midnight, after the cooking-fires had died down, everyone would gather in the main room of the little house to sing songs, tell stories, and probably shed a few tears. Finally, just before sunrise, all would wearily make their way back to the tree, with Jon at the head of the procession: the place of honor.

Well, that was barely 500 words, and only if you count the stuff I said before & after. That block is part of a story concept I’ve had in my head for a while, and it’s the first time I’ve tried to write some of it down. I’m not really thrilled with it, but I am at least pleased that I wrote some words today.

19 comments on “One Thousand Words

  1. Brian Lewis says:

    On the other hand, I totally did three miles on the treadmill today, so suck it.

  2. Jim says:

    The writing is fair, though you need someone to proof-read for you. I caught at least one error before skimming to the end of the page.

    • One thing that is hard about a “free write” session is not worrying too much about typos and punctuation. That’s easier when you’re writing with a pen in a notebook… but starting this new, disciplined version of a daily write and making it publicly available is supposed to keep me honest.

  3. Rossio says:

    Honestly, I think this sounds like a better story. The first few sections of your castle story still seem awkward to me, but that’s just my opinion. After getting over the awkward getting-to-know- what-you’re-writing-about part, it seems to be flowing better.

    • That’s an encouraging sign that in almost 20 yeas, I’ve matured as a writer even without doing any writing in between.

      Part of the reason I’m posting the castle story online, for free, is that I know it’s not really “publishable” material. Even so, it’s interesting to revisit it, to consider finishing the story, and to learn from what I wrote 20 years ago as I try to start writing again now.

      • Rossio says:

        Can you work on this story and throw the other one in the trash? 🙂

        • Rossio says:

          Um…I guess that wasn’t very supportive, was it?

          • If I wanted “supportive” I wouldn’t have posted things where anyone things can see them!

            There are a number of people who would like to see the castle story finished before they die. Even if it’s just to know the ending.

            I won’t throw the other one in the trash, but I also won’t work on it exclusively. I have other ideas (like the snippet above) knocking around in my head.

    • I’d hate to think that it’s just a fluke and has nothing to to with improving my skills.

  4. Jim says:

    You need to finish “The Legend of Slottsfjellet”, regardless of whatever else you may write simultaneously or sequentially. Prove to yourself, and to those who have supported you that you have the ability to not just envision, but to persevere to completion. It’s a good story, and it reveals a great deal about your ability. If the first few sections need to be rewritten by the “more mature” writer, that’s okay. I personally don’t find them awkward. Given that I’ve read in the neighborhood of a thousand books, I’m comfortable with that assessment. I have been waiting a lot of years to know what happens to Joe. That alone says the story is engaging enough to finish.
    has no end tag.

  5. Jim says:

    Stupid WordPress stripped out my html. It was supposed to say “” has no end tag.

  6. Jim says:

    Yep. Did it again. SUPPORT has no end tag.

  7. Rossio says:

    Just for the record, I would like to say that I never expected you to trash your story.

  8. Very different feel. I like that it throws me into the story like I should already be familiar with what’s going on, so I ask a lot of questions in my head and want to keep reading more. Reminds me a bit of the Septimus Heap series (which I loved). Good fiction is so rewarding! Except for that part about not wanting to put it down and go to bed. And yes, I mean yours. I started reading the other posts on this blog besides Slottsfjellet and now I want to keep reading! You is awesome, bro!

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