Short Story Tuesday: Victory Dance

The challenge: Write a short story every Tuesday in 500 words or less.  Post on your blog, share on twitter with the #shortstorytuesday hashtag.  Tag two friends to do the same.

Victory Dance

You can see the dance in nature’s victor circle.  A stallion stamps his hoof in triumph over a rival, tossing his head and snorting his defiance.  A peacock spreads his feathers wide, dazzling the onlooker with his prowess, marching to the beat of his own drum.  I win, they say.  I triumph.  I defeat all comers, slaying their pride and elevating mine.  See my victory?  See my attainment?  See my beauty?  See my power?

stallion

I can’t say the same for my type of victory dance.  It isn’t shown in the strength of a muscled stallion or the feathered display of the eyes of the peacock.  Sometimes, a victory dance is in muted silence of suffering alone, where the dance is a ragged breath of one more day of defiance.  A chest rising and falling, pushing the limits of expectation.  A feeble hand raised, or maybe just a finger, because the exhausted limit has been reached in days of floundering pain.  Where is the solace in trivial battles won, where age and decay eventually drag you down to the depths of mortality?  Or maybe the battles aren’t trivial.  Maybe they seem so to me, in this listless existence of mine.

A light breaks the darkness, a shaft of brilliance underneath a door.  A tiny hand grabs mine.  A pink bow drapes the cheek of an angel, with brown eyes and pigtails.  Her dance is one of life, a victorious fist raised in rebellion to natural law.  Death and decay only enhance the beauty of youth, and for her, I would die a thousand times to show the world her brilliance.

“What shall we sing today, Papa?” she asks.

I cannot answer, but the beep of the ventilator sets her rhythm.  It always does.  Voice raised, fists clenched, eyes bright, my angel sings.  If Heaven could peer down to the affairs of man, surely it would look and listen for such a time as this.  Purity in word, purity in motivation, purity in heart…these mean everything to the child who sees the pallor of death up close.  They instinctively know that it wasn’t meant to be this way.  Immortality was the intention, but death sprung from the deeds of audacious independence.  One that spurned life, craved autonomy, and now leaves me a broken shell on a cold, hostile bed.

Where once my purpose was sure, now I am irresolutely clinging to a past of shredded memories.  The surety is gone, replaced with uncertain confidence, the type that says I know my life meant something…but now, was it worth the heartache and the bliss?  Was it worth the tears and the laughter?  Was it worth the turmoiled storms and the smooth waters?

The angel silences her song.

“Did you like it?” she asks.

If only I could answer.  I would say, You are my victory dance.  And take another breath, my chest rising and falling.

What’s On My Reading List

One of my favorite things is supporting indie authors and their efforts.  And as everyone knows, if you want to be a good writer, you have to read, read, read.  Here’s a run-down of what is on my list.

Jill Williamson’s epic Kinsman Chronicles Series.  So far, I’m really enjoying it.  Will review when I’m through with all six.

The traditionally published Tim Keller’s “Walking with God through Pain and Suffering.”  Of course, nobody can say it quite like this modern-day CS Lewis.  I started this awhile ago (read: months ago) and as it sits on my nightstand, I savor it, like a hot cup of coffee I’m afraid will end.

Hugh Howey’s Wool.  This needs no explanation.

James Maxwell’s “Hidden Relic”, the second part of his Evermen Saga.  So far so good…will also review when I’m through with the series.

book stack

On the docket:

Looking forward to diving into some not so Indie titles: Ender’s Game, Pillar to the Sky, and perhaps a thriller, to branch out a bit.  Any suggestions?

One of the coolest things, in my humble opinion, about the indie author community is the ability to support each other as we all work hard at improving our craft.  I’m biased towards fantasy and sci-fi, since my own work in progress(s) are in the fantasy genre, but I’m pretty sure the same thing goes for ANY genres within this community.  What are some of your favorite things about it?  Comment below!

Conformity

conformity As a writer, finding a way to “stand out” from the crowd of other amazing authors with brilliant story ideas can be challenging (to put it mildly.)  Depending on your genre, there are beloved tropes of that genre that readers want, regardless of whether it’s new and exciting or not.

So does conforming to these tropes make you a sell-out?  Well, not according to Neal Gardner.  He says, “One does not necessarily have to cluck in disapproval to admit that entertainment is all the things its detractors say it is: fun, effortless, sensational, mindless, formulaic, predictable and subversive. In fact, one might argue that those are the very reasons so many people love it.”

 Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality

The issue is, of course, at what point do we stay in conformity with a genre, and at what point do we dally within the constraints that keep a genre…well…a genre.  As a fantasy writer, examples of tropes would be magic, new worlds, swords, good vs. evil, coming of age, etc. Just to name a few.

What are your thoughts?  Do you have trouble with this, too, or is it just me? Continue reading “Conformity”