Soap – a short story

Soap
by Jeremy C Kester

Each dish moved from the sink over to the drainer. It was a slow, methodical process, but one by one, they each made it over to their mediary destination. A destination they would hold for the short while of drying before being taken to their place in the storage cabinets.

One by one she reached in and grasped the next dish. Her hands felt slick in the soap and water. She understood the fragility her hands had in holding each piece. A single slip could see a glass falling to the floor, or a knife slamming against a ceramic plate. Breakage was bound to occur were she not careful.

Yet her mind drifted elsewhere as she carefully worked through each and every dish. It drifted to the conversations being held in the other room, a scene she couldn’t decide on whether she was kept from or escaped from. The dichotomy of her feelings on the matter only served to confuse her. Family does that to a person.

In the meantime, the task was enough. She kept only enough thought on the chore as to not allow the confusion of the moment to overtake every corner of her mind.

Laughter came from the other room and she paused. Escape. That’s what she felt, the escape from the situation. Strange that a laugh brought her to that conclusion. Then there was the crash by her feet.

“Is everything alright in there?” a voice yelled as she paused to understand that a glass had fallen out of her hand.

“Yeah— yes,” she stuttered. “I’m fine.”

There was no reply after that, only the continued laughter of the group.

Escape was indeed how she felt. Looking down at the floor, she saw glass everywhere around her. She sighed, grabbing a towel to dry her hands. Then she stepped over to the pantry closet to get a broom and dust pan.

Yes, she was escaping the other room. As she knelt to clean the mess that would not be permitted to remain, she convinced herself that escape was a more comfortable feeling than being trapped.

Fiction written by Jeremy C Kester
©2019 Jeremy C Kester – All Rights Reserved.
Please do not replicate or use without written permission. Linking to this page is permitted.

Defied

Desert sprawl over heart,
I taste the hot desert sun,
Laughing down at me,
To dry my mouth of words defied.
As I refuse to know life’s unfairness.
So it asks me why I must object,
Skin burning and drying out of life,
And I can but stand to answer.
If for myself I had a voice to bear.
But though I waiver in my choice,
I stare this justice forth,
That no matter how close Death’s hold may be,
I shall strike my own destiny,
For I am my own god.

Poem written by Jeremy C Kester
©2019 Jeremy C Kester – All Rights Reserved

Grabbing the Rung

One week turned into two; two weeks turned into three. Time continued to march on as I sat in front of computer screens, tablets, or with pen and paper in hand, trying to will myself to write. Brief spurts of encouragement came as I would occasionally spill out a few words, a few dozen words, or whatever out onto the page. I wasn’t feeling it.

I am not entirely sure what has been going through my head, but suffice to say that I had fallen off the ladder of my writing once again. Habits were not formed to a point that I could rely on them carrying me forward. I slipped, thought I caught a rung, then slipped again. I crashed hard.

As I was metaphorically lying on the ground in the crumpled heap, I did a lot of thinking. Even though the activity of writing hadn’t been coming to me, I was using the time to map out how I was going to move forward. Writing is what I want to do, fame or obscurity. Fans or detractors. Money or debt. It’s why that I am over 40 now and am still holding fast to this dream of being a writer.

But I am a writer.

For too long I have been putting too much pressure on everything around the act of me writing. Book sales, blog views, etc all played higher roles in my daily life than they should have. Sure, they are important to some extent, but when I use them as drivers to how well I am doing, then it falls apart. I chase after these things without doing the things that I need to actually get those things. I build my castle in the sand, ignoring the waves as though they don’t exist. Eventually the reality comes and my castle lays in ruin. My lacking work in foundational habits are what continue to harm me. Time management, task management, accountability, writing organization (notes, outlines, research), and habit building all worked against me since I wasn’t working to build those skillsets.

Before this, I thought that as long as I wrote every day, then I’d be set. I felt that if I hit 1000 words or more, then all would work out. I was proven wrong. The writing discipline is important. It can’t be the only thing. If I want to really transform, it can’t be the only thing.

It was time to change this path; it was time to build a better foundation.

A lot of this time I’ve been spending not writing, I instead have been building a new journaling/task management habit. Every morning, within minutes of waking up, I am writing in a pocket journal a brief entry, a mantra, and some of my known tasks for the day. It’s a basic practice that I needed. It is a practice that initiate my day, setting me onto a path that is more prepared. It is like a way of clearcutting a safe path through the woods prior to traveling rather than simply running into the forest with reckless abandon. Getting this right every day has become an important part of my ritual.

As I build from that, I have been also reexamining what I am doing, or how I am going to continue approaching my writing. What is it that I want to do as a writer? And based on what I want to do as a writer, how am I going to continue that while also living my life so that one doesn’t interfere with the other, building on each other. Life and writing appeared to be two separate entities in my life meaning that I was either living life or I was writing. I was not acknowledging the need to have those to lives intertwined.

No matter what though, I want to keep things going on this site. Every day can get too overwhelming, not only in what I write about, but in just getting it done. It takes energy away from writing fiction. But discipline in adhering to a schedule does help as well. Discipline in keeping a schedule is not only a good creative exercise, it is simply good behavior.

Then there was the whole Free Fiction Fridays that I was trying out some time ago. I heard an interview with another author who did a new 500-ish word short story every week for free (much like I tried before), and he did so for many years. It inspired me to try again. On top of that, I’ve been going through poetry once again and have been wanting to try at that more often as well. Could I do a poem a week too?

I’ve been giving it a lot of thought. I don’t want to get myself into a situation that is taking over too much, or is so easily disrupted when I get into a little trouble. Planning this out has to be something I believe I can formulate into my writing life and my personal life without one dislodging the other.

One blog post; one poem; one piece of short fiction (100 to 700 words and no more) should be easily manageable, but I also want to be writing, editing, planning, revising, etc on the side too. Again, as I say at nauseum: I need to figure out how to making this venture consistent and resilient.

For starters, keeping the habit of task management and journaling is a good start to keeping me on track. Given that I’ve now been doing it for a few weeks, I feel confident that I can keep that going. Tracking what I need to do on a daily basis takes a little of the load from having to worry about what I have to do. I am not trying to manage that all in my head. It’s on paper. I can reference back to it later. Next I am going to be working on stepped goals and tasks, taking the time to plan out a week, a month, and a year in advance. Those first steps of keeping a simple journal are clutch though in moving that way.

So that is it: three days each week will see content: Monday will be blog day (with this one being the kick off), Wednesday will be poetry day, and Friday will continue as the reborn Free Fiction Friday (there’s no clever alliteration for the other days I can think of now).

This is me being what I am: a writer. And I am grabbing that rung to try climbing that ladder once again.

Featured image by Thamyres Müller from Pexels

A Stumble and a Fall

I took a purposeful week off blogging this past week. Honestly, I ran into a small window where my life became a bit unmanageable. It was nothing big; there was no tragedy. Simply put, my priorities got all screwy where my lack of skills in time management resulted in it being better that I sat the writing aside. It was better to think, to debate what I was after in this whole endeavor.

Maybe a lot of it came from my perceived failure at the White Oak Author Fest. I am far from impervious to stress, and I stressed a lot during that event. By mid-week last week, I almost sputtered out entirely. Today I am only getting back a little steam to push forward.

But no matter the events, it’s best to come up with ways to spin it into the brightest of ways. For me, it meant that rather than worry about writing as a direct activity, I focused on revision and planning activities. While I did them, I gave my brain time to think over what I was after once again: how am I going to continue this push towards a writing career?

This question isn’t so much the why, but very much the how I am going to move forward. It involves the habits that I use to work on this process. It involves what my focus is. It involves whether I am even enjoying what I am doing.

The process of writing is more than writing as an activity of itself.

I wrote a lot last year; I’ve been trying to write a lot this year. But without the foundational efforts of planning, outlining, editing, revising, etc, my writing is only that… writing. And writing a lot doesn’t mean a damn thing unless I am going back through it, letting people read it, editing it, and then releasing it to the world to find readers to connect with it.

Otherwise it’s 7 projects sitting with a completed 1st draft as I sit at a writers’ event with nothing new in 3 years while my anxiety puts me to the point where I am ready to break down in the middle of the damn thing. I was exhausted.

More so, this exhaustion is with myself for constantly trying to do too much without the right efforts. It’s like trying to get my car up to 120 mph… a suburban street. Sure, I might get there, but I am going to crash and burn into someone’s living room. With the right preparation, the right locale, etc, I can get that car—or rather my writing—up to the level I wish, without crashing and burning.

I think that this is a good spot to then talk about what I am going to do here. I want to keep up with this blogging thing, but I also want to spend more of my writing time on the other things I’ve been neglecting. So the blogging-every-day thing is not going to be a viable solution, especially as volatile as I proved my writing habits to be. Twice a week seems right. It feels like something I can manage. If it ends up being more, great, but two days should be my guarantee: Tuesdays and Fridays. With that I will be working more on improving the quality of each of these too. It might take a while, as anything worthwhile does.

Updates and Direction Shifts

Things are changing!

Rather than submitting to the tons of anxiety I’ve been feeling lately with my writing and life, I decided to ignore it, instead running full steam ahead with my plans. I am going to take this thing called “being a writer” with more seriousness than I’ve been demonstrating so far.

In part of my doing so, I decided that a rebranding of sorts is in need, starting with my website. If you head over there (if reading this post in WordPress reader for instance), you will notice that I have already changed the theme. I won’t be stopping there.

Next will be colors, deciding on a color theme for me and my brand. Then will come a static homepage. After that will be a redesign of the “books” page. More will come from there, but those will be the primary goings-on regarding my site.

After that, and right around the release of #4, I’ll be remaking the covers for my entire Gravity series. I’ve never been happy with the covers. To fix that, I’ve decided on standardizing the cover theme for that series. Once I finalize that, I’ll build the 4 covers I’ll need (including the new release) and go from there.

Lastly (for the sake of this post only— meaning it is anything but the last item), I’ll be settling in on a schedule for this site and my posting. I’ve been going at once a day for over a month now, missing a day here and there. It’s not that it is too much, but really, it is too much. I want to begin producing more quality content, including controversial ideas, thoughts, internal debates, and to do so, I’ll need to spend more time on each of these. I haven’t decided what frequency, but suffice to say, it will be weekly at least.

I’ll update more as I move forward. Expect a lot of movement from me in the coming year. I probably won’t “make it” from these moves, but I do expect to better situate myself to be able to make it at some future time. Thanks and enjoy the ride!