Septemus 58

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Dear Sept,

You were amazing today, son. Thank you.

You told me the night before, when I felt the first pains, that you were taking the next day off of school.

I’m so grateful that you did. I couldn’t have gotten through this alone.

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You reassured me and the baby.

I’m not sure what you told your little brother, but shortly after you put your hands on him, I felt him quiet down. I could tell he was fine. He stopped being restless, and he became restful, getting ready for the big moment.

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So many times that day, I thought I wasn’t going to make it. But you were there, offering support and encouragement.

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At sunset, the baby arrived. It was just as Xirra said. The incision scar opened. It hardly even bled. We pulled the baby out. Then you applied the balm Xirra had left with me, and the wound closed right up. This time, even the scar disappeared.

Octavius didn’t even cry. We cleaned him off and dressed him in the infant suit Xirra sent. He cooed.

You were so tired, son–I can understand why. You were a champ.

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I can’t figure how I got to be so lucky. Me, Sebastion Sevens. Proud papa of two beautiful, amazing, miracle sons.

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Aimless: Take a Breath!

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One year ago, I was put in charge of a big project at work that would take this entire year to complete. On the one hand, I felt inspired: It was a project we’d been wanting to do for over fifteen years, and we finally were able to! On the other hand, I felt some dread: This project would demand most of my organizational and creative energy.

My mixed feelings stemmed from realizing that to give the project what it needed to succeed, I’d have to scale back my creative activities with SimLit. It wasn’t a matter of time so much as energy. Before embarking on this project, my work days were filled with detail-oriented work that asked for a tiny portion of my brain power–so while I coded and posted and proofread and resized and optimized, most of my mind was free to wander, and that wandering is how I create my SimLit stories.

In addition to the excitement of the project, I felt a bit of grief: How much of my writing would I have to let go of?

I reached out to my friends on the EA Forums who frequent the Kindness Bench.

The advice and suggestions I received from them filled me with hope, enthusiasm, and faith that I’d be able to make it through this, keep up with my writing as much as I could, and return when the project allowed.

I probably read more SimLit this past year than previously because reading was something that kept me going and fueled me before I headed into the office for the busy, stressful afternoon.

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And I made it through it! Often during this past year, when I was feeling frustrated by the stories inside me that wanted expression–but which I didn’t have the right energy to express–and even by those seed that were waiting to be watered, I remembered my friends and their advice.

If a busy high school student can balance her academic, creative, personal, and interscholastic activities with her writing, I could, too. If some of my friends gained energy and enthusiasm when they had to take forced breaks, maybe I would, too! If one friend is able to take advantage of the little moments that appear for writing each day, maybe that would work for me. If another friend assures me that readers will still be here if I need to take a break, I’ll trust her.  If yet another friend can manage to balance grad school with her creative SimLit activities, then surely I can handle this! And if my virtual sister is there to offer support and step in to help with our forum activities, then I knew I could get through it.

It was a tough year–especially the last few months.

But we made it. I kept writing. I found projects that worked with the quality and quantity of energy I had and that didn’t demand the energy I lacked.

And now, here I am on the other side!

For a year, I’ve been looking forward to this particular weekend! And here I am!

The project is a success overall–still tons more to do with it, and a million-and-one details to attend to, but it will work out, and I will likely not be fired, and the support from a handful of coworkers comes close to making up for the lack of support from the administration. And it makes a lot of people’s lives a lot nicer and it helps families and our organization, too. So, a success overall.

And that leaves me… here. I don’t yet know what I’ll focus on with my writing. My plan is to continue with Forgotten Art (which is part of the Pen Pal Project) and Vampire Code, while circling back and finishing a few projects that are close to completion, like Drifter. I’ve also begun a Murkland Starter Challenge, Through a Glass Murkly, which is hosted on its own blog.

I can feel that my creative well has been pretty well drained, but I can also feel vernal springs bubbling to fill it up again.

What a time for thanks! For gratitude for friends, and creativity, and life, and opportunities.

What a time to pause and breathe!

Vadish!  I look forward to whatever is next, and I hope you’re here to read with me!

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Dr. Jasmine’s Casebook: A Bookworm’s Vadish

This story was written as a “Just for Fun” submission for the October 2016 Monthly Short Story Writing Challenge held by our writing community at the EA Forums. This is the last month to be coordinated by Carewren123, who created the contest and has been cheerfully and encouragingly managing it since the first monthly contest was held in July 2015.


“We both were so happy that our nightmare was finally over. Until mum came in and whispered in to my ear: “Nancy, the nanny who took care of you, will move in tomorrow.”

From The Spookiest Day of My Life So Far, by Hemera123

Dr. Jasmine turned off her tablet.

“These writers are just so creative these days!” she said to herself. “I do wonder where they get their ideas!”

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Dr. Jasmine reflected on the happy hours she’d enjoyed reading these past 15 months.

“I have a letter I must write,” she realized.

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Dear Carewren:

I would like to tell you about some of the stories that have moved and inspired me. I’ve been reading quite a bit lately, and each story has given me something unique and valued. I want to share my appreciation with you!

One story showed the ways that reading shapes and informs us. Summer Reading, by AdamsEve1231, presents a story of courtship. But how does the young man get to know the young woman he desires? Through reading the novels that shaped her childhood!

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In MastressAlita’s Bibliotaph, a library herself is personified in a young girl! What joy I felt at the story’s ending when the knowledge contained within the library is set free to roam through the world!

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One story, The Girl in the Tablet by lovesstorms, shows how our stories can possess us, while RaeRei’s Frozen Memories, illustrates how our memories, which are, after all, the stories we tell ourselves, can possess us.

Some stories, like The Revenge of the Lonely Witch by SummerFalls and Sofia and the Mystery of the Misplaced Melacoo by Spottydog714, helped me appreciate the ways that characters aren’t always what they seem! Every character, like every person, has hidden bits of humor and surprise, and all we need is the right writer–or the astute observer–to notice it.

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Some writers presented new insights on characters that I already loved deeply: Half Brotherhood by rednenemon and Eyeliner by InfraGreen offered fresh views of fictional characters that have become my friends in imagination.

Do you ever find that fictional characters can become as important to you as those you actually know and interact with on a daily basis? Oh, this happens to me! Especially when these characters help me get to know and understand better those people I with whom I  share my life.

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At my age, and with my profession, wouldn’t you think I’d already learned all there is to know about love, tenderness, vulnerability, and strength?

Far from it! I have learned so much from Pegasus143’s Hidden Sadness and Words Never Heard, Aiden’s Freedom by Supernatural103, and Journey to Happiness by Remi_Narrow.

To think! When we read, we gain compassion, cultivate empathy, and grow in understanding! What gifts writers give to readers!

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One story, Life on Paper by Marty, showed me that readers bring a gift to writers, too. We share our attention, our understanding, our appreciation. We say to writers, “I hear you! I have been there, too!”

Oh, Carewren! Through stories, written and read, we find our common life. We are not so different, after all, all of us living here, trying our best to find meaning, joy, love, and understanding.

These stories, and so many more, have been such a gift to bookworm me!

Do you know, Carewren, there is one more feature that all these stories have in common. And that is that none of them would have been written without you! You are there central to the creation of each, for each of these stories was written for the contest you created and have held each month for the past 15 months.

Thank you so much, Carewren, for all you’ve done for readers and writers! No wonder we can learn so much about the richness of being human through these stories, for they were all written for prompts created by you!

Sincerely,

Dr. Jasmine Gooding

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Dr. Jasmine saved the file.

“Now! If only I can find a printer!” she thought.


Dear Carewren,

As a reader, as a writer, thanks so much for all you’ve done coordinating the short story contest. Thirteen of my own stories wouldn’t have been written without you! And think of all those other stories we’ve read that owe their completion to the contest.

I am so grateful!

Much love,

Cathy Tea