Thoughts on Constellations and stories of a thousand friends

To the thousand followers of this blog, and to everyone who took the time to comment or like, thank you! I hope my pieces, short and chopped as they are, continue to provide some value or inspiration to you.

Now, I’ve never been a fantasy gal (-nervously looks back to obscene amounts of true crime content-). I guess starting one shocked me into writing Constellations after a writing block that lasted too long. If you haven’t read it yet, give it a shot and let me know what you think about the Woodwose, about the story, and/or about Constance. I’ve considered expanding into an online novella if people showed interest in it, but still a bit reluctant.

I found myself exploring the Woodwose and his past, and Constance with her adventure and the world they live in, and the creatures in it. Hey, this might actually grow into a series of novellas, not just one, if I magically gain the commitment that beats how worn out I get by writing up 1500 words (and a beta-reader, I must magically gain a beta-reader). And yes, “Constellations” is only a placeholder title that I decided on before self-doubt managed to seep in and toss the story in the trash.

I’ve also been trying to find good online short stories, things to draw inspiration from (and to force myself to read outside my typical genres). If you’ve written one, feel free to post a link to the full story, a chapter, or an excerpt. Anything is fine as long as it isn’t NSFW.

Thank you all for the thoughts and encouragement again. I’ll be looking forward to receiving your feedback!


Short Story: Constellations

They call me the Woodwose.

But they know that I am the forest; I am the canopies and the wind and the soil underneath. I have been, ever since I inhabited its heart long ago, and settled again in another still, in the heart of the Great Tree.

“I have come,” she says in a voice far too large for her frame, “to purge you, fiend!”

To that I sigh, and pay no thought to the years that the exhale holds. I have heard it a thousand times, from kings and knights and furious farmers alike. I have made their water and their wealth mine, and so have I their harvest and the health of their lands.

Their yield is poor this year. Not the fault of rainfall or the sun, but mine. I grow more capable by the seasons to bring hunger upon them.

Her father owns a nearby land, she says. Her anger is understandable, but she’s a fragile thing. A girl in her homespun skirts and flimsy limbs, with golden hair curiously chopped to her nape. Strange things they are, humans, that a fortnight of starvation could kill them, and yet they defy, and yet they dare.

She comes with a spade, and it becomes clear that no sorcery could flow from those fingertips. She fails on the first day, and she fails on the second. On the third, I ask why, thinking that it’s a redundant thing; because she’s a farmer’s daughter, and I make their crops suffer.

“To be granted knighthood.”

And my belief in the limits of foolishness disappears in a second. It wasn’t a very strong belief to begin with, not with her futile efforts at my sides, digging at roots that recover in instants.

Being a farmer’s daughter isn’t completely irrelevant, I learn on the fourth day, because her mother died. They couldn’t provide what she’d needed; I’d taken their yield. On the fifth, she cries and I can’t distinguish tears from the sweat running down her cheeks, and it’s the bitter, furious kind because she’s miserable and a little broken. On the sixth day, she learns that I forgot the sight of the sky; and on the seventh, I learn that she can chart it.

Days pass, and she brings apples with her sometimes. When she allows herself to rest, she braids flowers into crowns. It grows, that hair, but so do my roots, back into the dirt where they belong. Soon I learn her name, and Constance watches as her efforts become vain.

She listens when I scoff and tell the tales of her predecessors. Sometimes, she laughs too, at the knight who promised the heart of the tree but fled when it talked, and the old king who led his men to where the horses wouldn’t follow and tripped into the river while he hailed his call.

When I ask if she’s searching for my weakness in their stories, “Perhaps I am,” she cheekily says. But no, and although I am incapable of emotions beyond sins, no tenderness to be offered to humans, I can see it; that earnestness in eyes that should be set on horizons.

“Find my virtues,” I tell her after months she spends visiting, the secret of uprooting the heart of the woods. Seven, scattered across lands and seas far beyond her little village. It intrigues her, and she asks where, not how. And it is a little charming how willful the weaker beings can sometimes be. At least she, whose eyes bear something I can’t read, when she’s told in which scorching desert my Patience I’d left, and in the depth of which sea my Diligence dwells, and how high the mountain that holds my Humility is.

Then they call for her and she heeds. She leaves on a ship, and the wind brings back news of her when he can. She disembarks, and she finds her first companion, a small monkey, on a strange land I must have journeyed during my old life. It perhaps wasn’t so robust then.

She spends the year away, guided by voices and the stars. My virtues are gently awakened throughout, but I can’t possess them yet. She is captured and put to suffering for stealing my Chasity from a land that honored it far beyond its worth, then she escapes unaided. The wind tells me she finds another companion, a boy, and is taught the way of the sword. Beasts become less frightening, and her sobs more courageous and sparse.

Her laughter comes in abundance, and the freckles on the bridge of her nose more defined by the sun. She struggles still, against mountains of snow and ice and furious skies. But Constance grows and flourishes and takes the world by a storm.

I hear her curiosity finds ways to discover me, and seas away my secrets unravel in old myths and tales of havoc. She knows that I once had the freedom she seeks, and that I exploited it. I raged and plundered; I remorselessly sinned until that heart was spoiled beyond the capacity of a body to contain.

I begin losing myself, perhaps as she finds me elsewhere. I grow weaker in the entirety of my existence, their crops prosper and her father writes and sends birds with joy. It appears that it soon would be gone, my vision, but it doesn’t shake me, because the wind sometimes carries her voice, but never the sight of her.

She’s carrying trinkets in the palms of her hands when she returns. Seven of them; little, old things that gleam even in the dead of the night, even to eyes that could see nothing else. I’ve become too weak for the year she spent away to feel as insignificant as it should.

She cries again, and it’s a headache how much she does. “Why have you withered away,” she says, her voice barely wrapped around a sob. “We had an agreement, I was meant to purge you.”

I lie and tell her that it was because she found my virtues that I began dying, but she only weeps harder. “But I have many stories to tell,” she says, and a number of them are about me; small, lost pieces of a past. “You’re not meant to just die yet.”

But I am; because finding my virtues wouldn’t take me, but my own desire to leave would. To leave the tree that took me in when the rest of the world refused is how I am made to die.

She tells her tales as I disintegrate. The bark that kept me for centuries falls apart in the circle of her arms, and the roots that held me dissolved beneath her feet. “Stop crying, you fool,” I say, and it’s met by a mess of small laughs and sobs and persevering stories.

“You never told me your Kindness was swallowed by a Kraken. That took a whole crew of pirates to retrieve, and another band of outlaws, too. And a massive carnivorous flower was guarding your Temperance! I almost decided you could live without it at that sight.”

The Tree vanishes along with all the sorcery that rooted the forest. I feel it in me that it remains behind me unchanged, and it could recover and grow without my notoriety keeping it in place. I have lived a burden, and remorse finds its way into me unprompted by the waiting virtues now scattered around her. Her stories are rushed and desperate, and so are her breaths. She breaks a little farther when my past as a human tumbles down her lips. She tells me that she knows and she says it again, that she knows and she knows, and she never says what it is. But it resonates in my trembling body, every piece of the past she unraveled and willfully discovered, that left me with only envy and wrath. I feel it in the form that I undertook, and whether I am a beast or the human I’d once been I don’t know. But I am weaker than I’ve ever been, and even Pride can’t hold me upright against it. My head is cradled in her lap, on the harsh fabric of her breeches. And my eyes are gone, but she shifts me so they’re looking up. Constance pours Benevolence on them, and, “Open your eyes,” she says, “Look at the sky, Woodwose, isn’t it beautiful?”

My sky is green-eyed and freckled.

“That, she is,” I say, slipping away under her endless tears, “like I’ve never seen.”


Downs and downs

I’ve been in a complete writing slump.

With both my magazine column and my story, I’ve only been drawing blanks.

The words won’t flow, and I’m starting to think that I could be the least creative person on this planet. And to make matters worse, I’ve been unable to even look at my own writing, trashing ideas, notes, and my self-confidence every time I open a draft.

As for my column, I decided to go with a more scientific topic, which will give me less space to be cringy. Did you know that 2021-2030 has been named the Ocean Science decade by the UN? The little nerd inside me is ecstatic.

But my story, well. I hate it. Not the concept of it (it’s a piece of sea fiction with a strong female lead. Wait, I just noticed the ocean theme overlap), but where I’m going with my plot (spoiler: nowhere)

And yes, the setting is difficult to write and needs an awful lot of research (and the consumption of even more nautical fiction, yay!) but friends, what even is storytelling? The number of dead-ends and their discouragement companions that I’ve met over the past several months is sad.

I tried storytelling guides and plot-building tools, but I’m still struggling. And sometimes, it’s better to receive a direct point of view. I know that writers face this, and the more experienced ones have overcome plenty of times.

So, let me know how you break your way out of a writing block that feels like it isn’t planning on leaving anytime soon. Please?


Dear me,

It’s the seventh of November 2017. It’s your birthday; you turned 23.

Somehow, you’re terrified of the number. You’d thought that you would have so much figured out by now. You’re confused, and sometimes it makes you sad, but you’re alright.

You’re alright.

A younger you wouldn’t have believed that you managed to make it. You smile and you laugh like you did then, but it’s far more genuine now. I’m proud of you.

During your 22nd year, you felt worthless sometimes, but you’re no stranger to that. You cried and you worried yourself sick, but you persevered. I hope that you manage to feel that a little less now.

You’ve cut ties with a friend you loved with the entirety of your heart. I know you tried to build that relationship over, but you couldn’t. You were told that it’s so difficult to be your friend. Remember to try your best, but some things aren’t meant to be. And the break drew you closer to a number of other friends, you got in touch with those you hadn’t talked to in long. You made new friends, too.

Last year, you learned to better take opportunities when they presented themselves. You cowered away from less and stepped out more. And there’s so much more I know you want to do; so much more I know you can do. You’re still letting fear hold you back, but remember that إن شاء الله , God willing, you can do anything.

And I pray for you and your family; I pray for health and happiness.



a half an hour piece, not meant to be anything more than a reflection. I hope I won’t have to edit it and take away from its charm (if it has any) because im tired as heck.

Cars at 6 a.m.

It’s been a month since my last post. Wow, I would forget how to write at this rate.

On Monday the 4th, I started my new job. It’s embarrassing, but I was so nervous that I woke up before 4 a.m.

Once I left home, I became certain that there’s something magical about the air at 6 in the morning. I’d missed it, that strange feeling of new breath, and I hadn’t realized it until I met it again. There also is that serenity around the languid pace of cars passing by, preparing for a hectic day ahead. A whole life had been my room’s window away from me, a life that I had to take a break from, one which I truly missed.

As a person who feels at ease with schedules and routines, I appreciate having to wake up early and going to work. It is far too soon to determine what I feel about this particular job, but I’ve yet to have that dreadful realization of having made a wrong decision. People who know me asked, and my description of the job received, “It suits you.” I sure hope it does.

I often use the phrase “bottom of the food chain,” to describe someone who is completely new to a situation, and yes, I do extend the analogy. The marine food chain, to be specific. In my new workplace, sharks and whales are incredibly kind, and everyone around me is so knowledgeable. Instead of discouragement, I feel like there’s so much room to grow.  I am intimidated but looking forward to upgrading to a secondary consumer. إن شاء الله God Willing.

On other news, I got accepted as a columnist in Sail E-magazine! My first article will be published in the October issue, as far as I know. To keep up with that role, I remade my reading/writing twitter and hopefully, will not abandon it anymore. I’ll look forward to seeing you over there :).