Note: I wrote this short poem inspired by the picture prompt posted by my very creative writing group.
Ten thousand air balloons floating up above,
Laden with hopes and dreams, into the lofty clouds they climb.
Thousands of hope-filled, happiness-bloated balloons
Soaring away in colorful, wistful waves of light
Away from me and my reality, leaving me grounded behind.
Beauty molded into oval shapes,
Bodies of airborne grace,
I wish they could also carry my problems and worries away
But I am left staring in longing instead.
Where did all my hopes and dreams go?
When did it all go wrong?
For the Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon (excerpt)
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
It seems like a lot of writers who do world building as part of their planning process go to meticulous detail about the topography and geography of all their locales. In fact, years ago when I was reading a lot of high (and not so high) fantasy and all its wonderfully detailed maps, I used to think, “I will never be able to write fantasy because there is no way I can be this precise about my locations”.
My worlds are in my head and not being very mathematical-minded I just can’t seem to put it down in the less abstract form of a map or diagram. If I was to draw a map of my locations or world it may look a little bit like this:
Not terribly technical or interesting. A first grader probably could do this.
When I build my worlds I have a schematic view of what it looks like and it’s while I am describing it that it takes shape. My world, simply put, is made up of words.
I have a feeling that if I ever get published, there will be a mob of angry readers telling me off because my world is full of incongruences. I can hear it already:
“X could not be three days away because earlier you wrote that Y was only 4 days away and that is a mathematical and geographic impossibility.”
Funny how readers of fantasy can be so concrete. When I read fantasy I pay very little attention to location besides the function it serves or how beautifully it is described. If you asked me to expand on the locations of any of my favorite fantasy books, I could not tell you much. My focus as a reader is the characters and their interaction with each other and/or their environment, not the environment itself. So, when I write I tend to also put the emphasis on the characters.
When it comes to the geography of it all I am a little like my fifth graders; I have a general sense of direction but a clear view of only the immediate landscape. What does that say about me as a writer? Comments welcomed 🙂
Image from “On Worldbuilding” by IIona Andrews
The Komen Race for the Cure took place in D.C. today and it got me thinking about someone I cared about and lost some years ago. My dad had only one younger brother who had married my mom’s best friend and moved right across the street from us when my sister and I were kids. My cousin, only a little over a month younger than me, was more like my sister growing up. They moved to a different country when I was about 10 years old. It was devastating; I was not only losing a sister but I was also losing my favorite aunt. A lifetime has passed and contact has been rather sporadic most of the time but the bond is still there. This is for you, tia Filomena.
When I married an American and moved to the US I was very much alone; I didn’t know anyone, had no family around, I didn’t even have a car to go places when my husband was not at work. To top it all we couldn’t afford the exorbitant phone rates they charged back then when calling Europe, so I had to ration calls to my family across the Atlantic. However, calls to our Northern neighbors were pretty affordable, so my lifeline became my aunt. We called each other at least once a week and she just made my day with her laughter and positive life outlook. She never seemed to be depressed and she had a knack to find the silver lining in every situation, no matter how bad. I was often driven to tears when talking to her; tears of laughter, not sadness. She made me feel less lonely, less isolated.
I was heartbroken to find out later that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. In her typical optimistic way, she fought it with all her might and she beat it. At least, that’s what everybody thought. Imagine everyone’s shock when the doctors found the cancer had sneaked into another part of her body a mere few months later. I can’t imagine what my cousin went through and unfortunately I was not in constant contact with my aunt anymore. This cancer seemed to have done what nothing else ever succeeded in doing; silencing her good humor, her joy for life and for everything around her. She stopped calling, she stopped coming to the phone. One day, she was taken from this earth and from all that loved her. Gone but not forgotten…
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day here in the US. Filomena was an amazing mom, grandmother and super-aunt, being there for me when I needed the comfort and assurance of a familiar and loved voice. I miss you, tia, I miss you a lot.