Wild & Improbable Tales – She Came From The Water

The tap had dripped for as long as they could remember. They had heard the insistent plip, plip, plip the night they had moved in, as they lay down to sleep. It was the strangest thing, though: they could hear the drips, could see them gather and fall from the tap into the bath, but no water gathered underneath and no water fell into their hands cupped beneath the faucet, though the steady beat continued.

A stream of plumbers couldn’t fix it. No amount of twiddling the taps made it stop. They felt sure that replacing the whole bathroom would do it but as soon as the water was back on, the infernal dripping resumed.

After a time, they grew accustomed to the quiet, regular rhythm and it faded into the background of their lives.

It was with some surprise, then, that in the early hours of a November morning, many years after they had first come to live in the house, they found themselves woken by the dripping noise. They lay awake in the darkest hour of the night listening as the dripping became louder and, somehow, closer.

Shrinking together in fear, they watched, frozen, as the bedroom door opened, to reveal a young girl illuminated in the ghostly, pre-dawn light; grey skinned, blue lipped, her sodden nightgown clinging to her slight frame, she watched them, a steady drip, drip, drip falling from the water-heavy tangles of her raven hair.


“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,” she pleaded. “Something beautiful and full of monsters.”

Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Inspired by Erin Morgenstern’s Flax-Golden Tales, I have decided to embark on my own creative writing blog series, “Wild & Improbable Tales”, as a way to write more freely and more frequently. At least once a week, I will choose a card at random from The School Of Life‘s ‘Small Pleasures’ box and use the image and/or writing on the back to inspire a short piece of creative writing. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Wild & Improbable Tales – Bone Weary

Bone weary, she watched as the rain painted the window with its tears. The city blurred in and out of focus. Her head felt heavy and she leant her cheek upon the cool glass.

Blinking blearily, she tried to focus on the world outside. Clouds drifted in slow motion over the tired town, their eraser strokes wiping out the blue of the sky. An errant thought stumbled into her mind: she wished the rain would wash the world away – the clouds rub out the whole of the heavens.

She blinked again.

Sighing, she turned away from the melancholy view and headed back to her desk.

Unseen, the steady rainfall began to wash away more than just the dust and grime of the city streets; first the tower blocks, then the houses, then the pavements ran away in rivulets of grey. Slowly, the city dissolved.


“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,” she pleaded. “Something beautiful and full of monsters.”

Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Inspired by Erin Morgenstern’s Flax-Golden Tales, I have decided to embark on my own creative writing blog series, “Wild & Improbable Tales”, as a way to write more freely and more frequently. At least once a week, I will choose a card at random from The School Of Life‘s ‘Small Pleasures’ box and use the image and/or writing on the back to inspire a short piece of creative writing. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Wild & Improbable Tales – To The Edge Of The World

In quiet solitude they rowed for days. The world was drowned in an ocean of grey: a sea of shadow and light. Inky trees stretched up from the land around them towards the glowering slate sky; the steely surface of the water was disturbed only by their passing; the grey days faded into black night and back again, hazy white sun replaced by the crisp silver disk of the moon and her pinprick sister stars.

They saw not another soul.

Some would have filled the endless hours with chatter, but they spoke not a single word.

Most would have gone to shore every now and then, to rest their arms or sleep until the sun brought the singing dawn, but they continued on, never pausing.

Time became meaningless but it passed all the same. A quiet turning of the world and seconds filled with tiny infinities.

They paddled on, right to the edge of the world. And when the water dropped away below them and the land disappeared, they paddled still, beating steadily on into the eternal night, leaving their greyscale world behind and heading for the stars.


“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,” she pleaded. “Something beautiful and full of monsters.”

Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Inspired by Erin Morgenstern’s Flax-Golden Tales, I have decided to embark on my own creative writing blog series, “Wild & Improbable Tales”, as a way to write more freely and more frequently. At least once a week, I will choose a card at random from The School Of Life‘s ‘Small Pleasures’ box and use the image and/or writing on the back to inspire a short piece of creative writing. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Coffee Shop Writer

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There is something endlessly appealing about sitting and writing in a coffee shop. Sinking into the words as the gentle percolation of humanity bubbles around you. A low hubbub accompanied by the smell of coffee and pastries. It’s not something I often get the chance to do so when the opportunity arises it feels like a real treat and privilege.

It’s the atmosphere I love most (although the rich, coffee shop coffee certainly adds to the experience) but I also love the opportunity to people watch. The grey haired gentleman sat by the window, reading a paper and sipping his americano. The two friends catching up in the corner, two tea pots and two empty hot chocolate glasses cluttering their table – a testament to their long conversation which has no sign of breaking up any time soon. The mum with her children peering at the pastries on the counter, noses pressed near to the glass which holds all the cake, wide eyed in anticipation of the coming sugar! The one or two scattered individuals, including myself, who sit tapping away on keyboards – I wonder what they are writing. Catching up on emails, maybe. Writing an article or a blog post or even the next great novel.

In this little corner of this little town, people are creating and loving and living. So am I. And isn’t that the most wonderful thing?

x

Wild & Improbable Tales – When The Rain Falls

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The first time she had stood, unnoticed, on the street corner, the city had barely been a hamlet. Now the rush and bustle of a metropolis surrounded her: the neon lights and constant hubbub buzzing like flies in the periphery of her vision.

She had stood on this spot on the same day each year for centuries. She waited from dawn to midnight, never knowing when he might appear. It always rained. At least now she had an umbrella to disguise the fact that where she stood, the rain did not fall. And she was rather fond of the warm glow that shone from the streetlamp through the red canopy overhead.

He always appeared without warning; blink and you would miss it, concluding that there had always been two figures huddled under the red umbrella, not one as you had previously thought.

A mere moment pressed together: no words exchanged, just a gaze that held myriad emotions and a million unspoken thoughts, and a thick, parchment envelope, sealed with red wax, passing from the hands of one to the other.

And then he was gone and she would turn and walk away, the heels of her boots making no disturbance in the puddles on the street.


 

“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,” she pleaded. “Something beautiful and full of monsters.”

Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Inspired by Erin Morgenstern’s Flax-Golden Tales, I have decided to embark on my own creative writing blog series, “Wild & Improbable Tales”, as a way to write more freely and more frequently. At least once a week, I will choose a card at random from The School Of Life‘s ‘Small Pleasures’ box and use the image and/or writing on the back to inspire a short piece of creative writing. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Storm Breaks

I wander

Lonelier still than than the clouds –

Who are rarely seen

Alone

But share the boundless sky

With their boundless brethren,

And conceal the everlasting sun,

Leaving me in shadow –

Buffeted by their winds,

With a storm

All my own

Brewing,

Waiting to

Burst

Overhead.

When the clouds clear

And let the sunlight

Break

Through, to warm my tired brow,

I find

I can no longer

Feel

The heat.

The storm swept me

Away,

You see,

And now I float

On a

Mindless

Sea

Not knowing whether

I ride the waves

Or sink below

Those curdling clouds.

This is my response to Mindlovesmisery’s Menagerie Photo Challenge #227.

Wild & Improbable Tales – The Winter King’s Summer

Dawn light broke through the reaching, inky fingers of the trees.

Though summer was barely waning, the forest stood denuded of its leaves, as it always had. As it always would.

The villagers had long stopped questioning why their wood did not bud and bloom and turn with the seasons. They knew it still lived, suspended in its own eternal moment of magic.

On the hottest of summer days, stepping into the shade of those trees you would find yourself engulfed in the chill of winter’s breath. Nothing moved; nothing grew; no birds sang; and yet the beauty of those bare black limbs stretched across the land, a frosty rime clinging to them in diamond chains, was enough to stir the soul.

Here the Winter King ruled all the year, his magic great and terrible. The lore told that he never left the wood, until it was winter’s turn to walk the world, but this August dawn glinted on a betrayal of tradition: a trail of frost that escaped the forest and touched the nearest cottage.

Within, two sisters, who had lived and loved some thirty years in their home which hugged the Winter King’s realm, now held a new repose: one sat regal, crowned in snowflakes, the other lay lifeless, an icicle through her heart.


“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,” she pleaded. “Something beautiful and full of monsters.”

Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Inspired by Erin Morgenstern’s Flax-Golden Tales, I have decided to embark on my own creative writing blog series, “Wild & Improbable Tales”, as a way to write more freely and more frequently. At least once a week, I will choose a card at random from The School Of Life‘s ‘Small Pleasures’ box and use the image and/or writing on the back to inspire a short piece of creative writing. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

The Sacred Everyday

Some time ago, I discovered the Harry Potter And The Sacred Text podcast. This was a wonderful discovery. HP and the Sacred Text takes one of my (and the world’s) most beloved series of books, and engaged with them in a thoughtful and inquisitive way, exploring the lessons and ideas the story has to offer us and providing tools for treating any text – and I would argue any part of life – as sacred.

Here’s how the founders and hosts, Vanessa and Casper, explain what they are trying to do with the podcast:

This podcast creates time in your week to think about life’s big questions. Because reading fiction doesn’t help us escape the world, it helps us live in it.

On this podcast, we ask: What if we read the books we love as if they were sacred texts? 

Each week, we explore a central theme through which to explore the characters and context, always grounding ourselves in the text. We’ll engage in traditional forms of sacred reading to unearth the hidden gifts within even the most mundane sentences.

Vanessa and Casper are so thoughtful and engaging in their exploration of Harry Potter and I have taken great joy and great comfort in approaching these much loved books in a new way.

I am also intrigued by the idea of viewing those things that might be considered ‘everyday’ as sacred, especially in light of my recent musings on my experience of religion and the church. When I was actively involved in the Christian church, one of the things I loved most about it was the chance to take a more considered approach to reading a text. I enjoyed the opportunity to explore deeper meanings and ideas and desperately wanted the change to question those ideas. The sacred practices shared on Harry Potter and the Sacred Text allow me to do just that.

On a recent episode, Vanessa beautifully broke down the elements they believe are necessary for applying this kind of sacred practice to wider contexts – not just the reading of any text but to things like writing or running – and I loved the simple clarity of it so much that I wanted to share it with you today.

  1. Faith – you must have faith that the more you do or engage with something the more gifts you will receive from it. If I persistently dedicate time to reading, writing, running, cooking or any other thing, then those things will reward me more and more.
  2. Rigour – the time you give to these things will be more rewarding still if you approach them with rigour. By ritualising the processes you use, the time you spend will be more focused and valuable. If I want to approach the reading of a text in a rigorous way, I can take notes and I can research or discuss the ideas that arise. If I want to approach my writing in a rigorous and sacred way, I can switch off my phone and focus my attention, I can carry out a mindfulness meditation before I begin.
  3. Community – find others to share the process with. By engaging in these practices alongside like-minded individuals – or even very un-like-minded individuals – you open up more opportunities for questioning, exploring and sharing ideas. If I share ideas about a text with people in my community, their ideas further enrich my own and open my mind to new perspectives. If I share my writing with other writers and readers, I will better understand the impact of my words and will be able to share the struggles and triumphs of the process.
  • I love the possibility that anything in life can be treated as sacred if we only give it the right attention and approach it with intention to do so. This is something I hope to explore and experiment with, especially with regards to writing.
  • I’d love to hear if you decide to give it a go (or decide to listen to the podcast!) too.
  • Wild & Improbable Tales – Friend Of The Flames

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    When she was a little girl, her mother told her stories of dragons who lay hidden in deep caves guarding mounds of treasure. One ordinary Tuesday, she set off to find one.

    It did not take long, for her mother had taught her well what to look for, and she soon found a crack in a cliff, scoured at the edge with claw marks, which most people, being unthinking sorts, would mistake for a natural formation. She crawled through the rough and narrow passage winding into the rock (dragons, with all their magic, can fit though surprisingly small spaces). Upon reaching the lair, she sought the dragon’s head, resplendent in emerald scales, tapped him awake on the snout and met his fiery gaze with hers.

    She performed her best and most gracious curtsey, dipped her head, and declared herself his firm friend and lifelong ally. Dragons are ancient and wise creatures and he regarded her only momentarily before acknowledging her to be correct (it is widely known that precocious children are indeed the very best friends to have, particularly if you are a dragon).

    They lived long and happy in each other’s company and he taught her the magic of the flames – a greater treasure by far than that which he hoarded in his cave.

    As she grew and had a family of her own, she shared her mother’s stories with her children and grandchildren, and every November they would marvel at her ability to rouse a leaping bonfire from even the dampest kindling, and the way in which sparks would settle in her hair: burning like fireflies but never catching.

    Whilst the children danced like flint strikes around her, she would sink into the warmth of her own embers and smile at the golden eye which gazed, unseen by the rest, out of the flames.

     


     

    “You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,” she pleaded. “Something beautiful and full of monsters.”

    Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

    Inspired by Erin Morgenstern’s Flax-Golden Tales, I have decided to embark on my own creative writing blog series, “Wild & Improbable Tales”, as a way to write more freely and more frequently. At least once a week, I will choose a card at random from The School Of Life‘s ‘Small Pleasures’ box and use the image and/or writing on the back to inspire a short piece of creative writing. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

    Wild & Improbable Tales – To Read Perchance To Dream

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    It passes through the hands of many. From age to age it travels, hidden in the pages of history, but few discover its secret.

    It appears to each, on first sight, to be empty: a blank canvas on which no-one dares paint. But occasionally, to the right, precious individual, when the moon is a sliver in the sky and the leaves are just beginning to turn their cloaks, it unfurls its pages and allows you to step inside a dream.

    You cannot un-see this dream.

    You cannot forget the music and starlight and colours for which there are no names, nor how it felt to soar on a cloud through a storm and break through into glorious sunlight. You cannot un-feel the connection – fine as spider silk and strong as steel – which tethers you to the world in all its wonder.

    Once it finds you you cannot be unfound.

    Creation will sing in your veins.

    And you will make wonders until it is time to pass it on again, never knowing if the next to hold it will see only emptiness or if they, too, will dream.

     


     

    “You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,” she pleaded. “Something beautiful and full of monsters.”

    Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

    Inspired by Erin Morgenstern’s Flax-Golden Tales, I have decided to embark on my own creative writing blog series, “Wild & Improbable Tales”, as a way to write more freely and more frequently. At least once a week, I will choose a card at random from The School Of Life‘s ‘Small Pleasures’ box and use the image and/or writing on the back to inspire a short piece of creative writing. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.