Saturday, 9 July 2011

Very Short Fiction: 100 Words

On a game I play, there is a contest for short fiction under 100 words with the subject of 'Swords', I had good fun writing this and paring it down to 100 words so I thought I'd post it here :-) 


The bite of a blade against my throat awoke me with a start, eye to eye with the cold gaze of a silver-eyed assassin who smirked, pressing the blade to pierce my skin, I held her gaze as a trickle of blood snaked down my neck. "We meet again", she murmured. I nodded carefully, "I believe you have something of mine". I glanced to the sword, "ALLEZIANDRE", I commanded.

With a blur of steel and magic, the sword vanished and re-formed, held in my grasp, at her throat, she paled, I smiled, "I told you it was a special sword".

Friday, 1 July 2011

Short Scribbles: Dying Sun

As part of my novel writing, I stopped myself starting anything else. I felt this stalled an easy departure when the going got tough on my novel, and so far - has done just that. However, watching Glastonbury recently, I had a sudden image and idea and wanted to get it down onto paper. The result being something short and well, not really sweet - but refreshing to do. It felt good to flex my writing ''muscles'' in a different setting, on a different subject and only took around 5-10 minutes to write. So I'll probably do these as inspired because other than anything else, they make nice additions here :-) Please note, it's not perfect or polished, it's a literary equivalent of a pencil sketch :-)


Dying Sun

Voices raised in harmony, straining against the heavy beat of the drum corps heralded the setting of our dying sun.
    I swayed with the crowd, my skin slick with other's sweat, my hands held high gripping a burning, wooden torch. One of hundreds held aloft in the crowd. A sea of people, defiantly clinging to the very thing we were about to lose. I watched as the sun slipped away, a final flare of reflection across the sparkling waters of the north sea, a last flash of fire then the creeping velvet of dusk and the weak glow of the rising moon.
    The voices wavered, a harmony of grief eclipsing the song, the drums silent as humanity wept. One by one, the torches were extinguished. My own lay to the side, half burning in the wet grass. Comforted by the scent of wood smoke, I sat near it.  My eyes closed against the sudden, intense dusk. I felt the weak heat from the desperately flickering flames.
    Slowly, the singing stopped and a sharp, staccato beat began. Cracking rifles, the double roar of shotguns and the hard bang from handguns. The new harmony of our sunless world.
    I heard my torch fizzle, succumbing to the weight of the wet grass, the inevitability of it's demise. I listened to the gunfire, almost melodic in this new dark world. There were no voices now, no quiet sobs. Just the near silence of people dying, crumpling to the grass like discarded dolls. The smell of death, a mist of viscera began to drift lazily across the mostly fallen crowd, mingled with acrid tang of gunsmoke, the duel scents of our dark eternity. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Success! Take THAT Writer's Block!

At the risk of sounding over triumphant and pleased with myself, the section of story which I have discussed often on here, and which posed such a difficult problem has finally been defeated. 

I spent weeks - months even fighting against what in essence was a small problem made much larger due to my inability to get past it. That 4 hour period of dead time in my story, which did create a fantastic new character proved near impossible to write. I struggled very hard with it, including at one stage (as you can read on an earlier entry) - deciding to move past it. I did manage to write beyond it, but I couldn't move on from it, it was just a sense of false hope followed by another dose of writing related misery. 

Genuinely, I didn't know how to deal with it. At times I felt my entire novel would fall apart based on one scene that I couldn't get right. That maybe this was a sign, and other such self-defeating talk. It seemed like a brick wall then I had a revelation. I read elsewhere that if nothing works, perhaps the idea is flawed, now I felt my idea was quirky but not flawed, but that began to breed enough self doubt that I decided to strip it 'back to basics' and follow a problem solving method similar to the ones used in my Communication degree, which coincidently - was easier to do than this damn novel. 

The problem solving technique was that of identifying the key areas of the plot, marking out what I needed and basically spelling out exactly what this section needed and I ended up writing myself a writing brief. Much the same drill as you would use for advertising, marketing or public relations, this brief took it bit by bit and really in my head made clear what I needed, then barely finished my scrawled brief in my writing notebook and I had the answer. 

Now, I think it doesn't need to be that complex. Although it is very useful to break it down and identify what it needs to fit with the rest of the novel, and I cannot thank my lecturers enough for not just teaching me how to create a brief, but also how to use one effectively. I think the simple thing that I learned was the need to look at what I'm doing from a different angle. Writing the brief allowed me to objectively cast my eye over the scene, look at the limits imposed by the plot and look at what I wanted to do. The structure helped so much, and as I can see another couple of hiccups in my future, I'll be using this again to see if it is more than just a lucky one-off. 

As for the novel writing, it seems that just as you make a breakthrough, other things fail. So I've spent today sick and asleep, and have managed to do not much. I escaped bed once or twice, only to have stomach upset, followed by feeling rotten and back to bed. Such is life. I won't use here to rant about the NHS, it's not that type of blog. 

However, I am very pleased with the new section I have written. To me - it's amazing, and I mean that without arrogance. The idea fits, it's fast paced, it's exciting - it's everything the brief required, and maybe that's what I needed, a set of guidelines for content that didn't suffocate creativity, because what I have now in that section is beyond anything I ever conceived previously and it was only seeing what I needed to fill that gave me the boost to see just how far I could go. Apologies also for not saying what the newly written section entails, it's so exciting for me that I want to keep it a secret for my test readers who haven't seen it yet :-) ~ Kitty

Butterflies - Short Story, 2005

This story was written for a short story competition hosted by the Bo'ness Writers Circle. It didn't win, but was complimented on the descriptive passages but due to some nasty editing I'd got involved in with it, felt incomplete. The story below is presented without editing for length (as the competition had a maximum word count which I exceeded). 

The inspiration for this story is an old and beautiful graveyard in Carron. While it has no new graves, each year someone lays flowers on one of the ''newer'' graves (given I think all graves there are 100+ years old). It's not a personal story of loss or redemption, as my father is alive and well - but more my interpretation of how I would have felt in this scenario. The name for the story was really for want of a better name! ~ Kitty


The butterflies danced around me like falling petals, tumbling through the air in a swirl of subdued colours. I paused to admire them for a moment as they fluttered by, stopping briefly on stalks of grass. I glanced away from them, and towards the gate ahead of me. It lay, half hinged, with flaking paint and rust across the opening to the graveyard, which was surrounded by a dry stone dyke, crumbling and moss covered. Like everything here, it seemed to dying, and that struck a chord with me. Death itself was dying, yet dying in a way which was easy on the eyes and calming to the spirit. So far this trip was easier than I had expected. I'm not quite sure what I had expected, storm clouds, thunder and an oppressive atmosphere perhaps, not a flurry of butterflies and a dilapidated enclosure.

I walked on and stopped by the gate, resting a hand gingerly onto the cold metal. The graveyard itself was small, mainly family plots, and uncared for. The grass was knee high, and so high in some places that it hid the grave stones, with only the moss-covered tops peeking out over the jungle of grass stems. Most of the stones were so weathered that they were no longer readable, just a monument to someone long gone, and now long forgotten. The layout of the cemetery fitted its current condition; it was haphazard, a mixture of gravestones and slabs, with only narrow animal tracks weaving their way through the grass. It would be easy to stand on graves without realising, but that didn't worry me, these graves were so old that I doubted, even if there were spirits that they would care.

My gaze was pulled to the furthermost corner where the newest gravestone stood, onyx black with filigree gold lettering, it stood out in this grassland of decaying stone and cracked marble, from this distance I couldn't read the writing. Not that I needed to read it to know what it said. I knew who lay buried there, and that was the reason why I had made this journey today, to visit this grave, to visit the man who in life I had shunned but who in death I was desperate to make peace with. I'm not sure what I hoped to accomplish, my emotions were like a rollercoaster, I was nervous but I didn't know why, I felt tearful, I felt happy, I felt unsure. I was here to see my father in his last resting place, although calling him my father seemed wrong. My father was still alive, this man, this man just created me and left before I even knew him, yet he was more than that. He was more than just a sperm donor. He had tried to be more and I refused to let him, now I wanted it and it was too late, all I was left with was a plot of land and my own regret.

A tear welled in my eye and snaked its way down my cheek. I had been determined not to cry, at least not this soon. I glanced back to the butterflies; they were a shower of iridescent petals drifting in the balmy summer breeze and completely unaware of my plight. Their presence soothed me; they gave the cemetery a beautiful, almost dreamlike quality. I lifted the gate and slid it open then edged my way into the graveyard. The grass was still dew soaked and I could feel the cool gems of water soaking into my jeans, and as I took my first few steps along one of the animal tracks, two startled rabbits dashed out from underfoot, they bounded out onto the path then disappeared into the long grass. It seemed that even this place of death was a home for the living, even if those living were just rabbits, hares and butterflies. But this poetic thinking wasn’t getting me any closer to the real reason as to why I was standing knee high in grass, my sandaled feet brushing against the soil. Sighing gently, I walked carefully to the black stone which shimmered in the heady sunlight.

It was obvious that no one came to visit often; his grave was as overgrown as the rest with a bunch of rotting flowers lying discarded in front of the head stone, the only sign, other than the stone itself, that this grave was recent. The stone was well made, engraved with double entwined hearts, yet despite this masonry gesture, the love echoed in that stone wasn’t echoed in the upkeep of his plot. The stone read “Thomas Lauder. Beloved father, son and husband, sadly missed”, I rolled it the words gently over my tongue in a whisper. The word father stood out at me, but I knew when the stone was made they weren’t referring to me, they were referring to his other children, a boy and a girl, I didn’t even know their names, and I doubted they knew mine.

I sat down cross legged in front of the stone, probably directly above where they had buried him, bowing my head; I tried to think of all the reasons as to why I’d come here today. I wished now that I’d gone to his funeral, I tried to picture what he looked like but all I could manage were hazy images from my early childhood, but not his face which now seemed like the most important thing in the world to me. I didn't even have any photographs; my mother had thrown them all out. She could have saved one photograph, just one, so that I would have known, I'd have been able to look back rather than sitting here, with tear stained cheeks on his grave wondering what his smile was like.

My head fell into my hands as I allowed myself to cry. Funny that in all the time that had passed between finding out about his death and arriving here, this was the first time I had actually grieved and I wasn't sure what I was grieving for. I thought of all the letters he had sent. He had wanted to get to know me better, for all I know, he had wanted to be my father, but I had been long poisoned against him. He wrote like he cared, but at that point, it was me who didn't care. He'd left, he was to blame for my broken home, he should have stayed, everything was his fault and I didn't want to know him, I wanted to go on blaming him for all the wrongs in my life, making him a martyr for whatever cause was most current to me. I no longer blamed him, I just regretted, regretted all the unanswered letters and the blind belief in my mother's malicious words.

My fingers played with the weeds which grew near my feet, the tears had gone as quickly as they'd come and still I didn't know why I had come here. If I had come to grieve, I had done that, but I hadn't come here solely to grieve. I had come wanting forgiveness, wanting answers, none of which this expensive headstone and overgrown plot were going to give me. I looked around, blinking away the residue of tears. My father was the first body to be buried here again in over fifty years. I wondered about all the other people buried alongside him, if they ever had long lost daughters who had scorned them in life, but in death came to mourn over what might have been. It seemed sad that everyone here seemed to be forgotten. Although, even if these were the forgotten dead, they lay in a lost paradise, and sitting in tall stalks of grass, cooled with the dew, I could almost believe that fantasy could exist in this utopia of abandoned souls.

My father, had we spoke, would never have wanted me to suffer. I believed that with all my heart, he would have forgiven me, because his love would have been unconditional and the tempestuous nature of a teenager is surely to be understood, even if not liked. He wouldn't have wanted me to come and cry, he'd have wanted me to come and remember, even if my memories of him were like faded snapshots. I turned my back to his gravestone, and leaned against it, relishing the cool sensation against my spine and I closed my eyes. The sun beat down, warming my skin and I began to remember. It was like digging through years of dust and clutter, but suddenly, there he was. He had his back to me, and he was pointing out something. I couldn’t remember what, but I could almost hear his voice telling me. Then to another, I was on his knee, laughing and I glanced up and there he was. Hot tears burned at my eyes and seared down my face as the memory came alive.

I had been no more than a toddler, and he had been playing a game with me. I had been amused and delighted by everything he had said. I remembered that I had adored him, even as a tot, I’d have done anything to please him. I had looked up at him and him down at me, and our eyes had met. I remember the giggles I had as he told me something, but my laughter and whatever he had said faded away, they didn’t matter. I had what I wanted. He had been smiling at me, as I pictured him; I began to smile through my tears. I opened my eyes and suddenly, even though it had looked beautiful before, the graveyard looked stunning now. Everywhere I looked seemed to be awash with colours and dew that sparkled like diamonds.

I stood and stole a glance skywards, the sun was completing its slow arc across the sky, and the last of the sun’s rays were trickling over the cemetery. I walked back out across to the gate, following where I could the winding paths made by the rabbits, closing the gate behind me; I looked back once more at the black grave which stood out in the far corner. When I first arrived, it had seemed that I wouldn’t get any answers and would leave empty handed, but although I wasn’t sure if I had answered any questions, I didn’t think the questions I had wanted answers to mattered now anyway. I had came for closure, and instead left with memories that he had loved me, and that I could remember him if I tried, and that he was here, and that in this graveyard of the lost souls my memories could be rediscovered again. I hadn’t come to grieve, but I had grieved, grieved for everything he had been, and everything I had refused to let him be. But most of all, I left with his smile.

As I made my way back to my car, slipping past the whirl of butterflies who beat their wings and chased each other along the edge of the graveyard, I felt my journey had not been in vain and although I hadn’t left with what I had come for, I had left with a lot more. I left with the knowledge that it wouldn’t be the last time that I would sit with my father either, I owed him more than an unkempt resting place and rotting flowers, and would return to clean up his plot. I would also return to just sit in his company, and the company of the butterflies, rabbits and forgotten souls, whose memories were lost to the ether, unclaimed by their families and friends. I hoped that if there was such a thing as spirits, my visits could help give them peace as I remembered more about the man who had helped bring me to this Earth.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Playing God (c) 2006

The following story, while failing in many tense aspects, was published in a small, club produced Anthology, celebrating 25 years of my local Writing Circle. It follows a theme which has always troubled me, state executions and the allowed margin of error which sends innocent people to their deaths. 

"Playing God"

You know, I never really suspected they'd go through with it. I'd never taken them seriously. Or more, I'd never taken my life that seriously. I didn't believe that they would kill an innocent person; I'd had faith in the justice system, then later in the appeals and in my innocence. I had an unshakeable belief that I'd be cleared, allowed to go free; to go home. I didn't really think that after all this time; they'd still believe the charges held against me. But they did. And here I was, counting down the hours, the minutes, watching my life slip away, waiting and thinking. There isn't much more you can do, I discovered. Thinking is about it, but not too much thinking, reflection is probably more apt. I can't think on the future, on the few last details of my life to come, its mental torture. Yet still, within me, there is that unshakeable belief holding court, screaming that innocent people aren't put to death that it doesn't happen. But as the minutes tick by, I am slowly forced to admit that that is what is happening, and what will happen.

I look around the room. It isn't a bad room, quite pleasant in fact. I have a comfortable bed, which my mind sullenly reminds me that I've used for the last time, a desk and chair if I wish to write, but more, I have space. In prison that is the one thing which is at a premium. Sharing cells, trapped in a tiny room that would be inhumane to keep an animal in, yet is fine for humans. The irony in the logic amused me, well at least at first. But yes, space is something that I'd grown to yearn for. Being able to look around and not feel cramped, or sense the clutter, to just be able to relax. Not that I was relaxing now, this room, despite the fresh paint and comforts, it wasn't a nice room in other senses. It had an atmosphere to it, of unspoken words, of memories, of last breaths, and last dreams, it was tainted almost by the people who had sat here, their final hours held in contemplation, of acts better left unsaid.

My contemplation was of another sort, of course. Of the bitter twists of life, the cosmic joker, circumstance and coincidence, of being at the wrong place, at the wrong time, for having the wrong face, the wrong lawyer and no alibi. It had shocked me and still does, how corrupt the justice system could be. But they had the evidence, and it all pointed at me. I even began to believe them. The prosecution had given a compelling argument, as a story, it slotted together like a jigsaw puzzle, each piece adding yet more damning information to the big picture. It was highly believable, but then, that is what makes a lot of stories good. And for every piece of defense evidence, they had counter attacks planned in the wings. It was an open and shut case. The jury took less than an hour for their unanimous decision, guilty on all charges, punishment - death sentence. It really was over that quickly. It took twelve people less than an hour to play God with my life.

I suppose that is what I can't get over, before I ended up in the situation myself, I had little or no opinion on capital punishment. I just viewed it as Justice being served, and that only bad people were killed. I didn't ever stop to consider wrongful arrest and judgment, and it was only when it happened to me that it really hit home. I say that, but I suppose it didn't really hit home, I had blind faith, stupid faith - whatever you may call it. I firmly believed that they wouldn't kill innocent people, and certainly that they wouldn't kill me. What right did they have to take my life away from me? Who were they to decide my fate? To play God with my life? Why should twelve - thirteen if you include the Judge - people be allowed to mull over a set of events then decide that someone should die? Surely that in itself should be a crime.

But, it's hard to become an advocate against the death penalty while sat on death row, it becomes quite a selfish act, and of course everyone is singing the same song, "I'm innocent, you can't kill me, I'm innocent". Like a broken record, most denied their crimes, sought appeals after appeals, anything to buy more time, more sand for the ever emptying hourglass. I was the same, it’s the human instinct. Survival. You have to do it, driven to do it. Most are, that is. Not all. Some are resigned to their fate, and some accept it openly. There are those who in fact welcome death, and wait patiently for their day. I grew to understand those people, I wished I could be more like them, despite my innocence and the fact I should - in an honest and just system, never be sitting where I was I wished I could accept death. To me, until this last day, it always seemed like it would never happen.

Strangely, my last day was the first day I'd felt human in a long time. I was treated with respect, like a human being. Affording luxuries that other prisoners never get. I was allowed to choose my last meal, to spend time talking, writing, and thinking. But I can't help but be plagued by the simple things. Mundane things. Like knowing I won't ever kiss, or be kissed again, that I won't ever be drunk, I won't ever attend a party, a wedding, a funeral (except my own). That I'll never get to watch a movie again, read a book, a magazine, watch television, talk to someone on the phone, drive a car, play with an animal. Simple things. Stupid things. But all the same, upsetting things. I wanted to fight against the system, scream for my right to live, anything to prevent them killing me, and preventing me from doing these things again. But I didn't, I know there is no point.

It's all came down to a waiting game. Wait and think. Make peace, they said. Find closure on life, but I can't find closure on a life being lost needlessly and barely lived. I'm already mourning my own death, but trying not to think about it. About my choice of death. Did you know that you are made to choose how you want to die? Gas, injection, chair. It's hardly a fun decision, not like choosing a meal at an expensive restaurant. I chose to take the injection, as a drug user of the past, it seemed the most peaceful way to go. Unfortunately they don't provide Heroin as an option to take before you go to meet whatever lies beyond. Just their own choice of poison.

I can hear them coming to get me now. To take me away to that final chamber, to make my last walk, my last journey and to breathe my last few breaths. I wish I was more mentally prepared. I wish I could face this bravely, with the calm and peace that others before me have shown, to go gracefully and quietly, to demand respect of my murderers, for that is what they are. But I'm afraid. I'm afraid of everything, of that last walk, of having the ability to put foot after foot and make that journey, of watching them kill me, and of seeing those who will have come to watch me die. I don't want to do it, I want to slam my foot down in temper, scream and shout, and make them see reason. But they won't. For them, this is just another day in the job, another lamb to the slaughter. Another evil person banished from Earth, sent to Hell, if they are religious, but in reality, it is murder and my crime is letting them do it, not that I have a choice, for not saving myself. Maybe I deserve to die; maybe this was a test, to prove myself. I'm not religious, but I feel as I walk the last corridor of my life and lie down for the last time, I'll be having many religious thoughts, hoping against hope that wherever I end up be at least fairer than where I came from.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Remnant (c) 2001 - Short Story

I wrote this story when I was 19. It hardly feels like 10 years have passed. 


The slow, rhythmic beating of her dying heart was the lullaby that drifted her to a troubled sleep. In her dreams, nightmares haunted by her sinister past, she was the martyr, the victim and the helpless whore left for dead in the dark of the night. Her dreams were echoes of the past, flashbacks to days of seduction, deception and homicidal virtues, a time she would never be allowed or able to forget. As she twisted and turned, restless in the still, humid night air her heart beat on regardless. A tick at a time, counting down on her internal clock with the time of her death already stamped upon it. 
She knew she was going to die. How she was going to die. Where she was going to die and when she was going to die. It was all a matter of waiting now. Waiting and withering away, wilting like a flower in a dry vase. She didn't want to die, but she had grown to accept the inevitable. Her life seemed short, and ill lived. But it had been her life, her shot at this hapless world. She hadn't realised it then, when she'd been living. But now that she was dying, dead already for all the world could care. She knew she could have lived better, but she knew that at least she had lived. 

She awoke as dawn struck, chasing shadows across the car park, skirting them around her ragged form. Thoughts drifted through her head, another day in the world of the dead, a day to beg for a bite to eat, drink from the polluted stream, but most of all a day to watch, watch as others wasted their lives. Would they be aware when death approached? As aware as she was, as every beat of her heart bound her closer to death's sensual embrace. 

Her days passed in a surreal daydream now, the past, the present, and the future all mixing to form a strange palette that seemed to colour everything she witnessed. In her head she could hear the voices from her past, beckoning her, warning her, talking to her as if they were still here. But she knew they were not, she'd watched as they buried their bodies in the shallow, watery graves. Haunted by their words - and cursed by their shadows as each dry beat increased the fury of her hallucinations. Forced to re-live every horrific event, playing each part anew.

The shadows of the night passed overhead as she settled back in the car park, lying outstretched on the covered trolley bay, her mind drifted to her childhood, languid days of lemonade and sugar then to her adult life, frenzied moments of alcohol, cocaine, sex and murder. She lived on blood, sex and death, in ways, it made her higher than any drug ever could. But as she cuddled into her blanket, she regretted everything. 

Inside it's cage, beneath a sagging, scarred breast, her heart beat pitifully. Each thump an effort for it's failing system and as her hand massaged deep into it, she knew the time had come. Palpitation this was not, leaning back she breathed deeply one last time of the fragrant summer air and floated to her final rest, where dreams of sugar and pink ribbons awaited with the ghosts of her comrades whose souls had long since drifted from their unmarked tombs.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Re-writing is a bitch!

It's been awhile since I last posted, having managed to efficiently write myself into a corner, or a hole. I'm still in the process of trying to recover from it and it was something that was both unexpected and unplanned for and really threw a spanner in the works of what I'm doing. 

The story I am writing follows quite a tight time line, while not everything is action-based, I want the plot to move along quickly (during this section of the book) to keep the reader interest and in part to show the tension in the plot. There's not a lot of time to waste. And I planned in advance for this, having a structured plot-line, so I knew exactly what should be happening at what times. However I done this using a skeleton plot and never actually wrote a time line. I had tried to stay clear in setting down firm times for things happening because I felt that might constrict my writing somewhat, what I didn't foresee was that my time line had dead time, and rather annoyingly - dead time which had to be filled. 

This dead time is a few hours long and comes immediately before some major plot twists. It's an empty space which needs something tense and exciting, because the character when facing the next part - is tense, on edge and tired. Some months back, when I first encountered this dead space I came up with a plan to fill it. It seemed a simple plan at first, a task/event where the main character would meet with another - show some personality, have some conflict and ultimately, some immediate resolution, then move on. A quick and action-packed little filler. Simples!

If only! When I first wrote my skeleton for this, it was complex. There was a lot of dialogue and a lot of action - and a lot of complex explaining needed so the reader would understand what the characters were doing. I gave it a shot, and it fell apart. It didn't feel right, I liked the overall scenario but I was trying to write was going to take a good 20,000 words and it felt awkward, and slow and didn't fit with the plot-pace I had already established. I tried stripping down what I had already written, effectively halving what the characters were doing but still it felt awkward and difficult to write, there wasn't a flow - and the dialogue didn't fit, the characters were too busy, and in the end, it just wasn't right. 

So after months of being stuck in a rut, I finally decided that I had to move on. It's been very frustrating. I know what happens after this dead time, I can rattle off what happens for the next full day. It's written in note form and I'm raring to write it, but I feel I must write this part first. It impacts on the next part - and again, that left me stuck. If I couldn't write this bit, then I couldn't write the next. Another month passed, apparently the requirement to write this part acted as a departure of my muse leaving me left with no story, growing frustration and a lack of confidence of being able to ever get out of this rut. 

Then to yesterday, and today. I took to my story with a vengeance, I re-wrote the start to the dead time, stripping it down and leaving it open to change. And I'm happy with that. Immediately everything seemed much better, the dialogue flowed better, the timing worked - and ironically, the lesser the word count, the happier I was. The pace picked up again. Now I have a gap to fill and after a month of fighting with myself on leaving it empty and moving on, or struggling forward to fill it - I've decided to leave it. I am still working on filling that gap, but it can no longer stop the progress on the rest of the novel. The fear of not knowing what happens is still there, but I know roughly what needs to happen, and I reason now I can move on and be able to fix any minor things after that dead time has been filled. 

It's been an eye-opening experience. I have planned so hard on this novel and invested so much into it that I never imagined being stuck in this way. But I feel better now, I felt before I had this scene weighing me down creatively, like it was a ball and chain I was hauling around after me. That it had the power to make or break everything I already had and all the work I'd done. It almost did. But for now, I'm moving past it. I'm excited to write the next part and feel that once I'm back in the 'grove', that stubborn dead space will be filled, and with time to think, it will be more exciting than what I was struggling to write before. ~Kitty