Monday Challenge: I Got Skillz

Samus Aran

I mean seriously, who wouldn’t want that armour? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I am going to do something I haven’t done for over six years: I’m going to school.

That’s right, back in class. It’s only a sixteen hour course, but it’ll be interesting. I’m studying to get my firearms licence. I tried target shooting for the first time ever back in January and found that I quite enjoyed it. Also, with the running, boxing, and fencing, I figure I’ll be four skills up in the event of a Red Dawn-esque take over.

Not that I only do things that make me sound like I want to be Samus Aran*. I also knit socks, bake brownies and bread, draw, paint, read, and play board games. It’s an odd mix with all that other stuff I just mentioned, but that’s kind of the point. And, you know, maybe I could knit myself a rifle cozy.

Anyway, while I’m sitting at the community college tonight, taking notes on the difference between flintlock and matchlock firing mechanisms**, I’d like to think that some of you are out there writing. Don’t disappoint me, children.

So, today’s Monday Challenge: write about a skill someone has that does not, at first glance, fit.

I want the soccer moms who know ninjitsu, the barroom bouncers who knit, the assassins who draw webcomics. And then, once you’ve got your pairing, make up a reason for it. Because people are not simple, and characters shouldn’t be, either. They have hobbies and interests and things they were forced to learn as a child that they still keep doing. Write about them learning their first purl stitch, or picking up their first ninja star. Are they embarrassed by this skill? Do they hide it? Or do they keep a sketchbook with drawings of all the people they’ve killed?

Go forth and write, writers. I’m going to study ammunition diagrams.

*Though I do. I mean, who doesn’t?

**And trying to remember how to take notes. I have a personal shorthand that I use which is pretty much indecipherable to anyone else. Also, I draw pictures in the margins. A lot.

Your Summer Writing Plan

Don’t let the closed eyes fool you. I’m hard at work. Thinking. Of…story stuff.  (Picture Credit: Krys)

Summer will not linger.

I know this is an astronomical fact, but it always seems to surprise me. When the sun’s shining and the breeze is up, even I don’t want to sit under this increasingly warm laptop. All I want to do is change into my bikini, take my iPod and a couple of beer, and lie on my back deck in the sun, listening to music on my giant headphones and staring up into that heartbreak-blue sky.

And then fall asleep and wake up with a sunburn. But still. I’d take that hit most days.

I know I’m not the only one. Everyone needs a few weeks with sun and beer and beaches, a few weeks of water gun fights and BBQs and summer night stars. Fuck knows I did.

But here we are at the end of July. One more month, and then this summer’s gone, baby. And, just like that dress you lent to a ‘friend’ you haven’t seen since, it’s never coming back.*

So it’s time to get back to work.

I’m pretty sure I just heard a vast collective groan. But fret not, fellow writers. I have a plan. And it begins with a thrown gauntlet.**

I bet you’ve got a project you’ve been neglecting. Maybe a short story that’s lacking an ending, maybe a novel that needs a good edit, maybe an outline that needs research and fleshing out before November comes and NaNoWriMo is upon us once again. Something. Every writer’s got one. That project whose time never comes. All it needs is a little love, but somehow it keeps getting pushed back in favour of new things and shinier ideas. It lingers at the bottom on your drawer or a dump file somewhere on your computer, languishing like a plant out of the sun.

This is its time. Dig that thing out, take it out to the back deck or the beach or the patio with you, and get to work. Think of it like that little summer bikini: packed away for a while, but now it’s back and ready for fun. It’s going to have a few beers, dance to something embarrassing on the radio, and then cannonball into the pool. It’ll come back up refreshed and so will you.

So this is my challenge to you: take that thing out and finish it. Finish it like that last mouthful in a cold beer bottle on a hot summer’s day. Come back to the cooler days refreshed and ready for new action.

And then you can always look back on this summer with a twinkle in your eye. Because this was the summer you finished that story, that novel, that outline, that submission. And it was great.

*Well, until next year. But this summer will be gone. And, like that dress, the memories of it will always smell like cheap wine, body glitter, and failure.
**A lot of my plans start with this. Inherently confrontational? Nah.