Why am I writing and for whom?

So, exercise 9 for my way behind blogging 101, and I’ve chosen to expand on the comment I left on a writer’s site where she was questioning why she was writing and who it was for.  I commented:  “It’s the big question isn’t it? Why are you writing and for whom. I try to write for both, as I have discovered how exciting it is when somebody actually reads what you wrote. I go back to something Fay Weldon wrote in her “Letters to Alice” where she basically advises writers to ignore other writers because it’s readers that matter.”

Now a lot of us will say that we are really just writing for ourselves and it doesn’t matter if nobody else reads what we’ve written or what they think of it, but if you are writing a blog that is an obvious lie, some misplaced idea of modesty.  We aren’t writing in a diary that we will lock up and place carefully under our mattress, nor are we just tapping out our thoughts or tales on the computer to store in a folder until some later date.  We are throwing our words out into the ether where I, for one, know I am hoping someone will read them, like them and maybe even respond.  So no, I think it matters to most writers that they are being read and I think it also matters that for the most part people like what they have written.  This is not the same as having everyone agree with what is said.  This is part conversation and some disagreement will always occur in conversation.   It’s part of the fun I think.  At least if properly considered and thought out.

I love Fay Weldon’s advice that writers should consult readers, not writers.  I try to keep it in mind whenever I write.  As a writer I know I am terrible for wanting to rewrite things for people.  Granted, that’s often what people come to me for, to polish up or edit some letter or presentation, but that’s very different to this creative writing.  What does surprise me is how personally I take a reader’s criticism or advice, especially as it is almost always something I have already been thinking.  I guess it’s like being caught at cheating, I put something forward without finishing it properly and it was noticed.  Naughty girl.  You’re not so clever as you thought.

I guess, in the end it feels easier when something is important to you to pretend that it doesn’t matter what people think, that I don’t care if I am read or not or if people like my work, but really there’s no point at putting this time into something if it’s just for me.  No, it matters and I admit it here in front of all you other writers.  I write this in hopes it is being read and that people like it.  

So here’s hoping that I and you, and all like us foolish and conceited enough to put our words out there are being thoughtfully read and enjoyed.

P.S.  Thanks to

rubyarmour.wordpress.com for providing the jump-off point for the initial comment and my later thoughts.

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Installment 31 – “That’s not what happened”

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So, now that the new year is here and I am returned to blogging, I thought I had better return to my story.  A new installment to my Frankenstein tale.

 

After Mr. Frankenstein’s announcement, conversation turned to other topics — the wet fall weather, Ernest beginning a military career, the political state of Europe.  Elizabeth hardly heard any of it.  There was a strange whirring noise in her head and the room spun around her.  Agatha said something amusing and everyone laughed.  Elizabeth laughed with them, giving no hint of her inner turmoil.

Ever observant Agatha though, was mindful as ever and eventually asked,  “Elizabeth are you alright?”

She looked up.  “I’m sorry, I was lost in thought.”

“You look a little tired.  You’ve had a busy week.  Shall we get you upstairs?”  Agatha rose.

“Yes, I am a little tired I suppose,” said Elizabeth and she obediently followed

The old gentlemen commented on the young being unable to keep up and said goodnight to their respective daughters without rising from their comfortable chairs.  Agatha accompanied her friend to her room where Elizabeth sat down numbly on the edge of her bed.  Agatha remained standing, silent and watching as Elizabeth repeatedly gripped and released the counterpane.

“I don’t understand.  That’s not what happened.  Not at all what happened.  Why would he say such a thing?  No promise was made.  Nothing like that.”  A stunned Elizabeth addressed some point in the darkness beyond the window.  She smiled a weak smile and turned to Agatha.  “That was a bit of a shock.  I’m sorry.  You must have been surprised yourself.  That such an agreement might exist and that I would not tell you.”

Agatha, who had not been surprised at all explained, “The way you talk about Victor.  The way you hover around him and he around you.  The way the family talks about the two of you as if you are always a pair — you seemed to have an understanding, although it wasn’t clear what it was.  I assumed that’s why you each call the other cousin, when you are sister to the others. . .or. . .or to Ernest, I should say.”  Agatha lowered her eyes, momentarily lost as they were both reminded of their terrible grief.  She collected herself again and continued.  “So no, I wasn’t shocked by this evening’s announcement.  What did shock me was your reaction.  For up to this point I believed it what you wanted.”

Elizabeth looked at her with raised eyebrows.  “I’ve never had those kinds of feelings for him.  Have never really considered it before.” She then corrected herself.  “No. . .no, I suppose I did think about it once, but not the way you might imagine.  Firstly, I should make clear that what father said did not happen, not the way he said it did.  My mother did join our hands it’s true, mine and Victor’s, but it was understood that it was not only Victor standing there, but that Ernest and William were present in spirit, that all our hands were joined.  She took our hands and asked me to be mother to them — to her boys — and to care for them and nurture them as if they were my own children.  There was no mention of Victor and I uniting in the future.  I think one of the reasons she asked me to take care of Victor and the others was so that such a thing would not happen, so that I would never be looked upon that way by Victor.  I resented that later when I realized what she had done, though I was very flattered at the time – that she considered me worthy to take her place.  But he’s changed it.  Why?  I was asked to be mother to Victor, not wife, just as I was asked to be mother to Ernest and William.”

Agatha closed the heavy curtains as they gave thought to the matter.  Elizabeth had already abandoned the notion that Victor was not sane.  Victor was just as he always was in her eyes, driven, impetuous, sensitive, brilliant.  Different to most people, certainly — that was part of his charm — but not mad surely.  Nor did she give any thought to the notion that his father, old as he was, must himself be aware that he may not always be there to take care of his son at those times that he was less than rational.

She rose.  “Well, there is no point to fretting over it now.  Victor obviously has no feelings for me beyond the fraternal and will have the same recollection of his mother’s wishes as I have.  My goodness, he has barely spoken to me since his return from Ingolstadt.  He will set things straight with father when he gets back from his wanderings.” She embraced the doubtful Agatha and thanked her for her concern and her invaluable friendship.

“I think I will get ready for bed now for I find that I am indeed quite tired.”

Agatha found herself dismissed.  They each bid the other a far too cheerful good night and retired to their beds.

 

Day 30 – b.The promise

elizabeth lavenza - nanowrimo countLast installment of November.  Ending with 28,855 words.  Had hoped to get over 30,000 at least but I can live with it.  Will keep going anyway.  Hopefully I’ll hit the 50,000 mark for my next nanowrimo.

 

The house was calmer without Victor.  It was curious the effect he had on the household, even when in his bed.  Elizabeth naturally worried about him.  It was what she did.  And it was strange to be without him again.  Agatha made sure she left the house that day and they stopped for tea and pastries.

“You certainly do spoil me, Agatha,” said Elizabeth as they sat drinking their tea.

Agatha thought this a strange thing to say as this was being billed to Elizabeth’s father.

“I am not paying for this.  I’m the one being spoiled.”

“Yes, but I would never do this for myself,” replied Elizabeth.  “Thank you for suggesting it.”

“You need to have your time, Elizabeth.  You are forever doing things for everyone else.  If Victor can have his ramble in the mountains, you can certainly have a pastry.”

“I can manage with or without a day out,” explained Elizabeth, “but Victor’s constitution requires these escapes.  I think one of his difficulties is that he was shut up in a school for so long.  He should have occasionally come home and visited the lake.  I think he would have been far better for it.”

“Perhaps he needs less time to himself and his thoughts,” suggested Agatha, who thought the family indulged his moods far too much.

“No.  I understand Victor.  He needs that time with his thoughts.”

“You realize that he is insane.”

“You don’t understand.  He is not quite himself.  Certainly he has always been sensitive, but this is something more.  He was very ill at Ingolstadt.  Henry suspects some terrible calamity but could get no information.  Those at the school suggested he was simply overworking and became ill, but I believe Henry.  And then the shock of the loss of William and then Justine.  Well, you know my theory about Justine.  I think it’s all just too much for a man of his nature.  Give him some time to himself wandering his mountains and he will be improved.  I’m afraid you have not seen him at his best.”

“Well, I might be a bit more lenient if he would remember my name.  Who was this Belle?  I suppose she was a servant.”

“Yes she was, quite a long while ago.  But she left when she married the gardener.  It was quite a surprise.  How did you know?”

It seemed quite clear to her, as Victor only ever noticed her when he needed something fetched.  Which she happily did for him as it meant that Elizabeth didn’t need to.  But she kept that to herself and instead replied: “Just a guess.”

Elizabeth had been somewhat, though not entirely, offended at her friend’s suggestion that her brother, cousin, closest friend, all that Victor was to her, was insane.  She passed it off as Agatha’s attempt at humour and gave it little thought.

 

The next night they were all in the library with the two fathers sitting by the fire and the talk drifted to family matters and for some reason to the death of her mother, Caroline.

“Elizabeth stayed with her the entire time,” explained Mr. Frankenstein, “though she was not well herself.  Tended to her so diligently.  My wife adored her so.  She was never strong, my Caroline.  I suppose she always knew that she would die young.  She was more prepared for it than I was.  I assumed at my age I would be first.”

Mr. DeLacey nodded.  “My wife died young also.  She was having our third child.  They both died.  To expect more life to enter our home and then suddenly lose a life instead —  it was quite a shock.”

There was a time of silence as everyone stared into the fire, even Mr. DeLacey.

“One good thing came of it,” said Mr. Frankenstein.  “It was at her death bed that Victor and Elizabeth were promised to one another.  She took their hands and joined them together explaining that our greatest happiness, her greatest happiness was in the expectation of their union.  They both agreed and that bond has remained.”

Agatha looked to her friend who had suddenly gone pale.

That was not what had happened at all.  She had only promised to be a mother, not a wife.  It was only then that Elizabeth realized that Agatha was right.  Victor was insane, had probably always been so.  And that she had just been promised to a mad man.

 

 

Day 30- a. Meeting

Just over 28,000 words at this point, so I guess I will arrive late. But I will keep going.  About to start another installment.

The creature loved the mountains.  It was in the mountains that the advantages of his body could be truly appreciated.  Scaling a rock, jumping over a crevice or, as on this day, skipping over cracks in an ice field left him with a great sense of accomplishment.  These were his activities after his game of flirting with various villages and hamlets grew tired.  This day though brought additional benefit, for in the distance he was certain he saw his maker.  He stopped to make sure that it was not simply his imagination.  The figure grew closer and he confirmed it.  And as he appeared to be enjoying the mountains as much as his abandoned son, he thought the meeting to be particularly fortunate.  He could offer his condolences for the loss of his brother and they could converse on the majesty of the Alps.  He gave a little clap and bound towards him as if on air.

It seemed natural to the creature that they would eventually meet and meet just like this.  The man was his father after all.  Their paths would surely cross.  Victor though, assumed conspiracy.  That the creature existed somewhere beyond his maker seemed impossible and he believed him ever present, even when unseen.  It was equally unfathomable to Victor that the monster’s thoughts may dwell on anything but him, their obsessions must be equal.

“Accursed wretch!” Victor cried. “Even in this place of solitude you haunt me!  Have you not done enough?  Leave me to my misery before I throw you from the edge.”

The creature stopped for a moment.  He had not expected a warm greeting certainly, but he had not anticipated hatred either, just discomfort at being discovered.  But he would not lose this opportunity, he continued in his course until he was before him.

“I cannot leave,” explained the creature.  “We are  tied, you and I.  Can we not speak but a little?”

Victor shrank from him as if struck.  “Hideous fiend!  How dare you approach after all you have done!”  He raised his walking stick.  “Get away or I will drive you away.”

“I only wish to talk.  There is so much I do not know.”

Victor shook his head and brought his stick down hard.  The creature blocked it with his arm and a terrible pain shot through him, but it was his wounded heart that hurt him most.

“You fool, I was born into pain,” said the creature with more fatigue than anger.  He pulled the stick away and tossed it onto the ice where it landed with a thud.  “I am a stitched together being, a collection of wounds given life.  Do you think you can threaten me?  What pain, physical or spiritual do you think you can inflict upon me, your rejected son, that I have not already endured?”

“I can remove that dreadful spark that I so negligently bestowed upon you!”

“I may have gratefully allowed you to do so two years previous, such was my agony.  But now I treasure my life, for all its miseries.  You shall not have it.”

Victor threw himself at his monstrous creation, intent on his destruction.  He easily sidestepped the attack and Victor fell and skidded along the rocks.  The creature offered a hand, but he rejected it, getting up under his own power and backing away in disgust.

“Please, stop this nonsense dear father,” implored the creature.  “You created my frame to be superior in all ways to your own and in that you succeeded.  You cannot defeat me physically and only risk your own self.  Be still and listen.  I have only come to speak with you.  To convince you of your own success and ask a few questions about my self.”

“Murderer!  Devil!  Fiend!  You ask to speak with me after all that you have done!

“What have I done?!  Other than to suffer as you made me!  An outcast!  A monster!  Rejected by all who see me.  Left when newly made without help or understanding.  And yet for all these disadvantages I have made a life for myself, pitiful as you may regard it.”

“What have you done?!  You pretend not to know?!”  Victor threw himself at the creature again who once more eluded the attack.

“I am the victim here.  You are the one who created a life and deserted it.  You say I am not wronged?”

“What of William!  What of Justine!” Victor spat.  “No, whatever debt I had you long since took payment on.”

“I do not understand.”

“Are you going to try to play the innocent — claim that you are not responsible for their deaths?”

“I am innocent,” replied the creature.  “I could not take a life, not even yours, although I contemplated it often in the past.”

“Liar!  I will not speak to you.  You are filled with nothing but hatred and deceit.  Admit that you murdered my brother.  I need to know.  Tell me or you will receive nothing from me.”

“You misunderstand me entirely.  I did not commit the murder.  It was a girl.  I knew William and loved him.”

“How dare you even speak his name!”  Victor attempted another attack, holding the beast with the aim of throwing them both off the mountain, although the edge was too far.  The creature, becoming angry at this game pushed him down and glared at him.

“Of course I killed your beautiful brother,” he said, wanting to wound his maker the only way he could.  “He was yours!”

Victor sat on the wet ground, satisfied, then abused them both verbally, as he wallowed in his self-pity.  The creature sat across from him and waited for his ravings to finish.

“Oh that I had never been born,” Victor sighed atlast, his energy spent.  “Or that I had never had that first terrible thought, that fire in the brain that consumes all.  Oh that I had never conceived of you.”

The creature saw that he would now be listened to.  “Let me tell you of my life,” he said gently.  “Come, follow me.  It is getting wetter.”

They entered his lair and he lit a fire.  He told Victor of his awakening, of his wanderings, of the DeLaceys, and of how often he stared at his notebooks wondering if he was truly alone.  Victor stared into the fire muttering through most of it.  The creature wasn’t even sure that he heard any of it at all.  He was about to get to William and his wonderful houses, thinking that he could now retract his false confession and explain the events properly, but Victor suddenly jumped up and yelled:  “No!”

“What?  What is it?”

“A companion.  You want a companion.  I won’t do it!”

“But are there not others,” asked the creature.  “You have many sketches in your books, and almost all of them are of others.  Three books and only the last ten pages are of me.  Do I not have brothers and sisters?  Where are they?”

“There are no others,” was the reply.  “You are alone, my first and only one.  I will not make another fiend as yourself.”

“I have not asked such a thing.  The only companion I ask for is you, my father.  Do I not deserve family and friendship as others have?  You created me, you have a duty towards me.”

“I will not do it!  I will not make another.” Victor cried again seeming not to hear and ran from the cave.

The creature watched him a while, as he scampered across the ice and then paced back and forth shouting and gesturing as if in argument.  The man was truly mad and the creature found himself actually feeling sorry for him.  Eventually the imaginary argument ceased and he collapsed.  The creature debated going to his aid, but he needn’t have worried, for it only took a minute or two for him to get up and find his mule.  He climbed on and left, still raving.

 

 

Instalment 21- Not Justine!

So Day 21 and instalment 21, though most of 20 was done today.

Justine was held in her room while Mr. Frankenstein could be informed and the authorities called for.

Elizabeth could not believe it.  Justine had been with the family since a child.  Yes, she had been odd since her return from her mother’s.  And her health had suffered it was true.  But the family loved her and she loved them back.  It was not possible.

Mr. Frankenstein started to explain the case as it had been told him.  “The locket was found in her dress and no one can say for sure where she was when…” His voice faltered.

Elizabeth was confused.  “I don’t understand.  Why were they searching her dress?  Were the searching all the staff?”

“According to Gerta, they were simply collecting the dress for laundry and came across the locket while emptying the pockets.”

“But why was Alfred there?  I still don’t understand.”

“Staff was stretched with so many searching the grounds.  As I was saying, they found the locket and then a further examination of her person showed her to be bruised and scratched, as if in an altercation.  And we all know she has been erratic.  She denies the accusation, of course.  And I cannot see it.  This is our sweet Justine!  Your mother’s favourite!”

“I cannot see it either,” agreed Elizabeth.  “May I see her?  If I saw her I would know. I’m sure I would.”

“She has already been removed,” explained her father.  “But I’m sure it can be arranged.”

Spring

Day 15 and the half way point for NaNoWriMo.  Wish I had twice the words I have.  But it’s coming along anyway.

Spring came in quite ominously with rain and wind and the greyest of days and starless nights.  There were very few days of walking by the lake or strolling the gardens.  There had been talk at the beginning of her stay, that Agatha would lodge in the main house, but upon her arrival it was agreed that she should remain in the cottage to care for her father.  This turned out for the best, for Elizabeth and Agatha each made a point of leaving to visit the other daily, and so had a change of scenery.  The boys ran about the main house, upsetting everyone with their noise, but not as much as when they ran outside and brought back in all manner of mud and detritus.  Ernest was twice his younger brother’s age, yet still played with William, though perhaps a little less in the last year, but as there were no other boys to be had, young or old, neither had much choice in their companion.

When May arrived, and brought with it sun and warmth, everyone escaped the indoors.  Strolls and afternoons of plein air painting could resume and the boys could run at will.

One morning, when Ernest was refusing to play, William went out to inspect what was left of his previous year’s architecture and made an exciting discovery.

“There’s someone living in my fort,” he declared at lunch.  “Someone’s living in my old fort, the one past the broken stone wall.  It lasted all winter and somebody’s living in it.”

“How do you know?” asked Elizabeth.

“He made a bed out of leaves and he put some in the walls so the wind won’t get through.

“Really!  Do you know who it is?  Maybe it’s an ogre or a troll.”

“It’s a man.  Ogres and trolls don’t exist.”  William did not like being treated like a child.  “Maybe it was robbers hiding out.”

“Oh dear, I hope we’re not in danger.”  Elizabeth winked at Agatha.  “Well, do you want to bring him some food, some bread or cheese maybe?  A man needing to sleep outside in one of your forts is probably hungry.”

“Oh yes,  we should do that.  Maybe some cake.  I think he would like cake.”  A beggar was no less exciting to the boy than a robber.  What was important was that his fort had not only survived the winter, but it was deemed sound enough to be lived in.

“There is no one living in your old fort.  And even if there was, he wouldn’t be there still.”  Ernest was very much an older brother.

“There was someone in my fort.  And even if he left we should still leave some cake.  Just in case he comes back or someone else needs to use it.”

“A piece of bread should suffice I think,” interjected his father.  “If a man is hungry he will be just as thankful for a piece of bread as for a piece of cake, and it will not be too rich for his system.”

“Yes father.”  William took some bread from the table and ran out of the room without asking to be excused.  His father watched him depart, shaking his head.

“I wish you wouldn’t encourage him like that Elizabeth.  The wind has obviously blown leaves into one of his little hovels and now he thinks he is a master builder and people live in his homes.  What happens when some rodent carries away his bread?  Is he going to keep bringing my food to his imaginary tenant?”

“I would not worry yourself too much Mr. Frankenstein,” said Agatha.  “He will likely have forgotten about it come dinner time.”

“Not likely Miss DeLacey.  My sons rarely let an idea go.”

The rest of the lunch time conversation revolved around how very bright William was and how remarkable and complex his numerous woodland structures were.  It was agreed by all that the boy had a brilliant future ahead of him.

Winter

Day 14 and I have 2 drafts going here, as I work on something from two different ends.  So I have a higher word count than what is here.

The blind woman was right to laugh at the creature.  To make such a journey at that time of year was a foolish endeavour.  Especially as he remained without clear direction.  He tried to make note of the way the woman pointed and with fall becoming old and winter on its way, made his way into the mountains.

The mountains themselves were not a problem for him, in fact his body seemed to be made for them.  The weather was something else though.  Weather in mountainous terrain is a fickle and erratic companion.  It would present you with a seemingly fair day and then turn into blizzard, blizzard would suddenly cease and become gentle snow.  And wind danced and tore its way through every valley, crevice and passage.  Keeping any sense of direction with visibility so often fleeting was a challenge, as was not being buried.  Fortunately, man had left his mark even in what appeared to be the most remote locations.  Small shacks would appear where no other sign of life could be observed, so although he often had to rely on small caves and rocky overhangs for shelter, he was also shielded from weather in far more civilized surroundings.  When he had the good fortune to find such shelter and it contained matches he would spend a few days warming himself and resting before continuing.

On one such occasion he found the structure to be occupied, although its ice covered tenant had obviously expired some time ago.  Grey and frozen and alone, a bearded old man lay crumpled on the floor between his cot and his table.  The creature crouched beside the sad corpse and examined what looked to be a perfectly ordinary man.  He pondered what might induce someone who appeared to have all the advantages required to be accepted into society to leave it for so remote a location and why he would be without a companion.  Perhaps this was where the creature should stay himself, a hermit, the shack now being vacant.  He took the dead man out and lay him near a stand of stunted trees.  He could think of nothing to cover him with, so he simply stood and said a prayer in the way he had heard the DeLaceys pray.  He believed that one prayed on such occasions.  The cabin had matches and a sizable stack of wood piled beside one wall.  With some struggle he eventually lit a fire under a large frozen pot of stew and then watched as the surrounding frost slowly dissipated and the room turned from white to gold.  To stay would not be too unpleasant.  He spent that night in a bed under four blankets.  The next morning he had hot soup and a slice of cake from a tin for breakfast.  He felt rich.  After two weeks of this luxury however, he decided he had tired of it.  He found himself a new set of clothes, no better fitting than his last but cleaner and in better condition, a hat and scarf, and a sack to put some crackers and tinned fish in.  Unfortunately the many bottled fruits and vegetables that were obviously meant to last the winter had cracked and burst in the cold, but he was happy with the provisions he had.  He also brought with him a blanket and of course the three notebooks that outlined his sad beginnings.  He left for Geneva.

The creature hummed as he walked in what he hoped was the right direction.  The days were getting longer and he had never owned so much.

The Frankenstein family considered leaving the house at Belrive to winter in their long neglected Geneva home, but it was decided that they would remain where they were.  Only Elizabeth and Agatha were disappointed.  They were looking forward to winter balls and concerts.  Along with other company.  But their disappointment wasn’t  too great.  It was much more picturesque by the lake and the chance of their attending any great event was quite remote.  Even in the city the Frankensteins kept very much to themselves.

Victor’s letters were becoming longer and more regular.  The promise of a fall return had been delayed to a spring one, but only because he and Henry seemed to be busy with various things.  It was agreed by all that Victor seemed to be fully recovered and sounding like his former self again.  Elizabeth wished the same could be said of Justine, who would for a day or two appear and perform her duties quite appropriately and then fall back into a malaise.  But really, this was no different than Victor when his recovery was in its infancy.  There was surely promise.  Elizabeth decided that the noisy, Italian prayers that she had secretly used for Victor should now be dedicated to the health and sanity of Justine.