A Tide Come May

My dear Scribes,
Today marks the fourth birthday of my blog. I don’t typically ascribe to the sentimentality of anniversaries — it’s only one day, after all (and everyone knows that time is a social construct!). But when I saw the notification this morning, I was temporarily lifted from the fog of my undergraduate life. I ascended from my literary analyses and anthropological articles and was reminded of myself at sixteen years old. I was a sophomore in high school who had accumulated too many poems, and I needed a place to put them. Since then, Stellular Scribe has been a constant writing refuge for me from my over-scheduled life. One day, I hope to settle here more permanently, to share my first, most precious passion more consistently. 
To commemorate four years on the internet, I want to share with you a recent piece I wrote for a fiction workshop, entitled “A Tide Come May.”
Thank you, all, for your support. For your attentive reading. For your inspiration.

Finding the way out to sea too cryogenic in salt, she sunk into the sand at the shore. Here was an exit too vague and cold to cross, where eels of foam avoided her toes and sizzled under the sun. Here was the spoke in the sand and the angled footprints of the fisherman and the silvery dust of mishandled scales. A man too tanned, too thick haired and black eyed, to be mistaken for her father stood knee-deep in the surf and repealed his line from the sea.

The Rooster’s shadow overcast her.

“…already knew about historicist nihilism, but Hegel still changed my life. I feel, huh, like I’ve evolved as a thinker, you know?”

Her inner ear prickled at his voice. Here was the Hawaiian-shirt clad tourist, who, while strolling the beach with idealism under his arm, had spied her reading in the dunes and taken it upon himself to question her taste in literature. He wore a squat hat — a hat that she thought new mothers might stuff over toddler ears. He had told her his name, but all she could remember of the exchange was the way he scratched his sunburnt neck, like a preening rooster. He went on roosting in her sun, following her from the beachgrass to the minefield of broken shells at the bank to where she sat now, blockaded at the water’s edge.

Fly away, she wanted to say. Go find a nice hen to squawk at.

The too-tanned man, who would never have been picked out as her blood against a beach of pale, sunbathing flesh, took pride in his cast. She saw it in the way his eyes longed after the lure whipping into invisibility across the waves. The satisfying latch of the lead sinker, the taut reflection of the line as the reel snapped against his hands — his mechanics exhaled an intertidal joy. She envied that clarity, that sense of belonging in the space between low and high tide.

The Rooster cawed for attention.

You should read Phenomenology of Spirit, if you want something more substantial. I’ll say, though, it’s not exactly a light beach read, ha! You know, when I saw you I thought that not a lot of girls…”

Finally, the water stretched its invisible hands to her feet. She thanked it with her fingers, with her palms filled with wet sand. The Rooster’s own knobby toes slipped under the tide.

“Jesus, that’s cold!” He hopped out of the water’s way.

She blinked at him. “To be honest, Roo—”

“Roger.”

“I’ll be honest.” She cleared her throat. “You have good intentions, I’m sure. Great. The best. So you might not realize —”

That you’re emitting potent stalker vibes and I’ve never in my life cared about Hegel and also I don’t know you.

She didn’t say anything else, because the too-tanned man’s arm locked. His rod bowed. Old ladies wearing floppy sun hats stopped on their waterside stroll to gasp at something in between the waves.

“Realize?” The Rooster cocked his head, and his toddler hat almost slid off the side of his head.

A saline breeze brought her to her feet. “Shark.”

“What?”

She tossed her book up into the dry sand and pointed towards the crowd gathering around the too-tanned man. “Shark!”

***

The too-tanned man, who was her father, would compose poetry to the shark if he knew the right words. But he was the crease in the white collar of America and had been sewn into the silence of masculine pride. He could only express his devotion in the act of drawing, by pooling his strength into removing the shark from his power. Though she did not look like him — she was too sallow in complexion and prone to angularities — she always sensed that she thought like him. Where he did not speak for the shark, he manifested. It was in his intensity on the thrill of the catch, the meditation of extraction, the worship of an ancient aquatic foe. They shared in their longing on the cusp of two worlds.

The Rooster followed her, predictably, to the scene. She left his clucking behind her, uninterested in his inevitable attempts to philosophize a shark.

She splashed out to her father and saw, quite clearly, that Hollywood-hailed triangle of gray. As the clear belly of the wave stretched vertically, a dorsal fin sliced into view. A crowd of Vineyard Vines spokesladies and geriatric men fiddling with their croakies gathered on the side of the earthbound. A man in patriotic swim trunks hollered, “Thas a big boy!”

She imagined it as an invaded moment of privacy, as if all of Middle America had peered through the hospital door to watch the sea, splayed on its back, give thrashing, tearful birth. She wanted to shoo them back into the white enamel corridor, back to their terrestrial existences, and tell them, “Family only, please.”

The Rooster’s voice rose from the sand. “Hey, you should stay back! Sharks have layers of teeth, fifty teeth, sharp as knives. I can remember a time —”

“How is she?” Her voice was a whisper at her father’s side.

“Four feet, brown shark, only a juvenile.” With one hand he shifted his cigar to the corner of his mouth and clamped it between his teeth. With the other hand, he reeled. And reeled. And reeled.

The line sung a high-pitched note in the wind. There was no need to say anything else; she knew what lyrics were being transposed in their thoughts. There was a solemnity that accompanied reeling in a shark. The goal of fishing, as they understood, was to sustain a dinner table, to tie the biblical knot between family and the kingdom of oceanic offerings. The shark did not fulfill that goal; but still they must drag it in, despite its violent desperation, so that they could discharge it.

She was reminded of five years ago when she stood knee-deep in the sea on this same bank with her own skinny pole. Fishing was all there was to do on a May afternoon when the water was too cold to swim in — and she had been praying, just loud enough that she could hear her own words mingle in the grumble of the waves. She prayed to the current that spiraled the bloodworm at the end of her hook, to the curiosity of schools of kingfish, to the enthusiasm of crabs reaching through the murky soup of seaweed for her bait.

It was a self-contained ritual that her father carried out now, mumbling under his breath. Only here was the shark, the antithesis to Christ’s Galilean tilapia, flipping its powerful tail over the break of white water. Here was the sea, weeping to lose her eldest daughter. She joined in her father’s prayer, that they may come quietly. Peacefully.

Of course, the crowd soaked up the drama of the display.

“I didn’t know there were sharks here!” a woman exclaimed.

“That’s it, I’m never going in the water again.”

God forbid there are sharks in the Atlantic.

A stream of sweat slipped parallel to the vein straining in her father’s neck. She knew how it felt — like pulling a sack of bricks by a thread. Soon his arm would go numb; his thumb would blister.

“Now!” he said.

***

She grabbed the line as it slackened and pulled it backwards towards the sand. Like elastic, the waves retracted, offering up the shark. Its skin glistened as the sun, foreign and forceful, seeped into it. Jaw agape, finely pointed teeth lined in its own blood, eyes yellow with liquid terror, gills begging against the air. It swung out its tail like a whip and the crowd took a collective breath.

Her father held out his arm as he sloshed towards the bank. “Stay back. She’s scared.”

“Is that a real shark?” someone asked.

Her father didn’t answer. He knelt beside the creature and pulled a set of pliers out of his pocket.

She staked her knees in the wet sand and placed her palm on the back of the shark’s skull. It felt like suede beholding flexible cartilage as the nerves in its vertebrae fired, retired, and fired again. With her other hand she pinned the tail, and felt its livid life force punch against her bony matter. The shark’s musculature seized and released as it volleyed between twisting out of her grip and resigning to her weight.

The process of removing the hook involved a coordination between her and her father. An exchange, if it were, of poetics. His plier hovered in the space between the shark’s upper and lower rows of teeth as she wrangled the body and splashed water onto its back. The white inner flesh suctioned, the unseen steel bent into submission, a bubble of blood popped in the back of its throat.

The hook emerged as a crumpled thing, and the shark reared its head.

She stroked a line down its dorsal fin, and she marvelled at her distinctness. “Can I…can I take her back?”

Her father wiped his bloody hands off in the sand and nodded. “Be careful with her tail.”

Before the sea could lap around her ankles, she wrapped her arms around the belly of the shark. One hand encircled the base of the caudal fin. She slid its pectoral into the crook of her elbow. Its belly heaved, strangely prickly and cool, against her own, and she had to enclose the heavy-set body within the physical space between her forearms and ribs.

She glanced back at the crowd, suddenly self-conscious of her appearance as an awkward redeemer — but rather than the Messiah cradling his lamb, she teetered to clutch sixty pounds of jagged shark, of anxious, sharp-jawed brawn.

The Rooster was gone. And she found it fitting, somehow, that as she had maneuvered his abstractions she now held tight to a most certain reality, an extraction of that vague, cold sea. A sea too cryogenic for her to know. But this shark, this poetic actor that her father had accepted at the end of his line, could transcend the suspended animation of the water’s surface. Could out-swim the dialectical crud of sea-sand-surf, thesis-antithesis-synthesis.

She turned her back to the lingering spectators and walked out to sea. As shells crunched beneath her feet, she knew that she had to go deeper, further, until she became numb to the cold. Until the intertidal zone was crossed, and the shark could feel again.

© 2018 Stellular Scribe

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On the Accountability of an Unpublished Writer

Yesterday, my sister asked me why I was writing so much during winter break.

I told her: “I have a deadline I need to meet.”

“You don’t have a deadline,” she said. “This is all in your head. You’re doing this to yourself.”

Her response was not an unusual one. But it got me wondering: what is the difference between holding yourself accountable and having someone else depend upon your accountability?

I tried to explain to her that the deadlines I have set for myself are no less valuable than the deadlines set, say for example, by an agent or an editor. They are the liability of an unpublished writer. If I do not see myself as serious enough to meet a daily word count or to revise a certain number of pages a week, how can I ever visualize myself in the professional world of fiction?

Especially as a college student, these breaks are the most freedom I have to pursue finishing my novel, HYMNS OF SALT AND TERROR. If I don’t commit myself now, I will be unequipped to manage myself during the chaos of classes and work come February.

Yes, this is all in my head. Yes, I am doing this to myself.

Because who else will?

© 2018 Stellular Scribe

On My Hiatus and the Relief of Writing

To my fellow Scribes:

I know there are not many of you, and I know that what I post on this blog is not always top priority. Still, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you — for reading and being there and caring.

I’ve been on hiatus from blogging for the past few weeks for a couple of reasons. One: I had to take finals and graduate high school and the general amount of things to do and goodbyes to say became a tad overwhelming. Two: I really needed to take some time to get my head straight. My personal life is in a bit of an upheaval, and the stressful transition has not been gracious to my mental health. I’m sure many of you can understand.

The summer before my senior year of high school, I attended the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio, which is a writing camp that draws teenagers from all over the world. For my senior project, I wrote an essay about what I took away from that summer. Today, I would like to share an excerpt with you.



When my parents greeted me at the airport after IYWS, they wanted to know how I felt about the experience.

How I felt? How could I possibly explain to them how I felt? What I did? Who I met? I struggle writing this paper now because a part of me fears forgetting. I don’t want to forget what happened in Iowa, and writing about it cements the knowledge that it is over, and runs the risk that I will miss a detail that at the time, felt so important, so crucial. I want to do my experience justice.

I suppose how I feel is…relieved.

I am relieved that I am not the only one who prioritizes writing over sleep and social interactions. I am relieved that I now have a network of friends and teachers who will help me, honestly and often brutally, improve. I am relieved that there is a place where saying that you want to pursue a writing career is not given leery looks and paired with questions like, “Ok, but what are you going to do to, you know, make a living?” I am relieved that there are writers out there who can make a living and enjoy their craft for what it intrinsically is — and maybe they don’t make a lot of money, but they’re happy where they are. I am relieved that writing isn’t an unrealistic dream.

It might not seem like much, but learning and writing and reading with aspiring writers and established authors has helped restore a bit of faith in myself. I think that before Iowa, people had me convinced that writing is a creative hobby, but it is not a livelihood. It is not something worth studying or pursuing professionally. You do it in your down time, and don’t expect anything from it. A lot of people, people who I considered friends, told me that they admired my work, but didn’t understand why I would want to fork over college tuition to study literature and composition. My friends at home wanted to be physicists and doctors and engineers, professions that, in their words, “paid off.”

Now, I am going to expect everything from my writing. My pay off will be my own satisfaction. 

Attending the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio was a great, immeasurable relief.



Thank you, fellow Scribes. I am pleased to announce that my hiatus is over, and I have an entire summer’s worth of writing tips, poetry, and prompts ready to share with you. 🙂

It’s My Blog’s Anniversary!

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Marvelous news! Today is the two year anniversary of Stellular Scribe! It all started in 2014 when I was an awkward teenager (a fact that has yet to change), progressed into the dark ages of 2015 (where months would go by with nary a post), and emerged bright and shiny in 2016! I would like to extend my personal thanks to anyone who has ever liked my posts, commented, followed, or even just stopped by. While Stellular Scribe is first and foremost a labor of love and the number of followers or likes I get doesn’t matter, I appreciate each and every one of you.

On that note, I do have a bit of exciting news. This past week has been incredibly busy and I’ve had to break my posting schedule to make room for everything that’s been going on. On top of training for and running a 5k, I recently finished acting in my school’s production of You Can’t Take It With You, which went off without a hitch.

My big news, however, is that my novel was awarded a Gold Key by Scholastic in the Art and Writing Awards.

What does this mean? I don’t really know. I didn’t win the ultimate grand prize or anything, but I’m still incredibly grateful and can’t help feeling undeserving. What I do know is that this award has offered me the recognition I need to motivate myself. For the first time ever, I want to go for it, and I mean really go for it: editing, querying, publishing, the whole shebang. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll self-publish. It might take a year or two, but I’m determined.

My blog’s anniversary could not have come at a better time. I look forward to another year of reading, writing, music, and mayhem!

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. 🙂

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Welcome to the new Stellular Scribe!

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Huzzah! I declare this site arisen!

So, I’m a senior in high school and have been pretty much swamped with applications, testing, school, and extracurricular work for the past five months. By some miracle, that dark and lifeless  stretch of time has managed to accumulate 300 followers on this blog! Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I do not deserve all of you.

In light of this glorious occasion, I have decided to get my act together and actually make some content that is not the random poem that I post at 2 in the morning every other week. That’s right, I’m making a post schedule — and I’m going to stick with it.

First things first: I’m sure you’ve noticed that this site has undergone a makeover. All of the artwork — the header, the background, and the profile image — are original works that I painted in Photoshop. If you are interested in looking at more of my doodles, you can check them out here.

Second things second: The schedule! I’ve done a lot of thinking on what kind of content I can provide for my followers, and I’ve narrowed it down to three days a week:


Mondays are Music Mondays.
If you weren’t aware, I have an account over at 8tracks where I make a lot of writing playlists. On Mondays, I’ll make a master post of great mixes for concentration, character archetypes, or just all around writing inspiration. If you are unable to access 8tracks, I will try to include a list of all the songs in the playlist so that you can go and listen to them for yourself, too! Along with these recommendations, I will write a little spiel giving my two cents on how to make time to write and relax while you’re doing it.

Wednesdays are Writing Tip Wednesdays.
I am by no means an expert on the English language or writing technique, but I have dedicated all of my energy and free time to writing over the past few years, and have picked up some helpful tips, tricks, and hacks along the way. On Wednesdays, I’ll share what I know with you — whether it be about voice, symbolism, character development, or subplots — and I hope that you can teach me some things along the way, as well.

And Fridays are Free-Write Fridays.
It’s exactly what it sounds like — on Fridays, I’ll post my latest poem, short story, or rambling thoughts. I see this as a great opportunity for me to grow and learn as a writer, and having a date on which to share what I’ve been working on will give me some concrete motivation to write even more!


I’m really eager to get started and enter into a new era of writing! Once again, thank you everyone for your support, for your likes, for your comments, for your follows. I know it might not seem like much, but it means a lot to me. 🙂

200 Followers!

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What started off as a rather mediocre day turned quite the opposite when I peeked at my follower count this morning.

What? I passed two hundred followers and didn’t even realize it?

While two hundred followers might not seem like a substantial amount to most, it might as well be two million to me. Can I even count that high? One, two, skip a few…ah, screw it. Two hundred trumps all!

More than anything, this post is a thank you letter to anyone who’s ever liked a post, followed, or even visited my blog. You might not know it, but every like puts a smile on my face, and every follow makes my day. I note and appreciate every one of you. You’re all lovely and talented people.

I joined WordPress with the sole goal to write, and have no intention on stopping any time soon. So if you like poetry, short stories, random ramblings and writing tips, I hope you’ll stick around.

Happy writing! 🙂

thank you david tennant