2024 Writing Challenge - January

Happy New Year! I’m resuming daily centuries into 2024, now as part of a larger group undertaking a 2024 Writing Challenge (title vague purposefully). I’ll have an index of those participating soon! The rules I’m setting for myself are:

  • write and post at least 6 days a week (ideally 7)
  • keep each standard post to 96-100 words
  • at least once a week, write something inspired by another writer's post
  • on sunday, to end the week, one post of unrestricted length which I’ll write over the course of the week
  • follow the week’s theme when possible! (themes decided... somehow? once weekly)

  • Day 53 - Golden Hour

    A glimpse of the late afternoon sun off the window across the street. The light is warmer, suddenly. Look up, and the clouds are deeper, richly textured. There’s colour creeping though the grey and white. The bricks and powerlines and branches glow silently. Something psychological, some trick of optics, the relief of the world growing softer on the eyes ever so briefly. No need for why, just enjoy it.

    The moment passes. The sky grows dark, the air cold. The sun will be back tomorrow, and this moment will pass again. Seek it out, will you?

    Day 54 - Get to know it

    You can’t really know your city until you’ve walked it. Get to know the kilometres of asphalt personally. Sand yourself down against it. Get physical with it. If you want to really get to know your city, you need to drink from the storm drains. Tear down a skyscraper brick by brick and blunt your teeth on its steel skeleton. Tag smooth cement walls with your blood and spit. Let your body flake away to nothing, your water seeping into the sewers, your carbon staining the sidewalks, your bones buried under six feet of concrete, cables, and wastewater pipes.

    Day 55 - PWHL

    Saw my first PWHL game yesterday, and it was a fantastic experience, completely unlike any hockey I’ve watched before. A fresh league, new teams and systems and relationships and line combinations, just free-flowing skill expression against the chaos of the bouncing puck and steadiness of the goaltender. I love the entrenched meta of the NHL, the effortless weaving and passing of a long-established and unified group, but this felt much more expressive and energetic. And you can tell they’re having fun with it too! Seeing these teams really come together over the next few years will be a joy to watch.

    Day 56 - Descent

    Clank! Cla-thunk!

    You dash down the flight of stairs and whip around to the left. Another identical stretch. The last flight was 48 steps. This one counts... clank! You thump down past another mosaic of chipped red and brown bricks. 51.

    Stop, catch your breath. There’s no rhythm to the numbers, no pattern on the walls. Glancing down over the railing, the irregular square staircase spirals down into the darkness.

    Chrrr-clack! From above. Far above. You’ve bought yourself an hour, probably. Your left knee needs lubrication. Your spine is still too stiff.

    You might be able to keep this up. You have to.

    Day 57 - Invitation

    The streetlights are still on over the fenced-off bridge across the river, and I notice them from the moving windows of the train at the station just up the hill. When have I last seen something so inviting? The night is cold and the currents are windy and chunks of ice are swirling in turbulent patterns along the shoreline. The path beckons. Eerie, seeing what was warm and green now cloaked in snow and shadow, set against the dull roar of the distant dam’s falls. Why not? We’re here, and in this weather a moving body gathers no frost.

    Day 58 - leave me be

    so little space left so little room to be their lights are piercing and unrelenting I’m ripped into tattered scraps scattered through the house

    they know i’m in the shadows they knew i was here that isn’t their place anyways why are they taking this from me

    it’s not my fault they let the lanterns die it’s not my fault they wandered into my maw it’s not my fault i am

    as if we didn’t have understanding as if the rules hadn’t been shared

    it’s been too long since i cared to want but if i did i wouldn’t want this

    inspired by cahatsrophe's writing

    Day 59 - just one moment, please

    there are snowflakes in the air outside and a couple walking home and a cold wind is whistling through dormant branches and inside a cat is running down the 11th stair and the food bowl is almost empty and someone is dicing celery in the kitchen and in another room the 327th page is being turned and the kettle is cooling next to two half-drunk mugs of tea on the table and warm air is drifting out from the shower and if you look very carefully you can see the same thing happening everywhere across all of space in perfect unison.

    Day 60 - Art

    Oh I understand now. I’m starting to sense the shape of the core feelings and ideas I want to convey through writing. And there’s this one theme of the feeling of spaces and sight-lines and scale that I need to get out, I need to make you understand, and I see that writing isn’t quite the right medium for that. There could be so much more detail and nuance conveyed through a directly visual form. Fuck, I’m going to need to learn to make digital art or something, aren’t I? Making art is a slippery slope towards becoming an artist.

    Day 61 - Sci-Fi Categorization

    Assign each work a score from 0-5 on each of these scales:

  • Guy in a Situation: How much agency do the characters have in the story?
  • Homework: How much detail is given to the worldbuilding? Are the details background/flavour or central to the story?
  • Purview: What is the scale of the story being told, in space and time?
  • Narrative Fuckery: Is the story told from a perspective which is comparable to a classical human story?
  • Monstrosity: How important is recognizing humanity or inhumanity in the story’s characters to its themes?
  • Sex: How much sex is there and how weird is it?
  • There's more I wanted to say about this idea that's been coming up in my mind for months (while technically staying inside my word limit), so you can read a bit more hovering over the coloured text.

    Day 62 - Fonts

    New OS, and this doesn’t feel right. Let me change- oh Georgia is a microsoft font? Damn, I’ll need to find something similar to replicate my focuswriter setup. No, none of these are any good. Am I going to pirate a font? I mean, yes, of course, but it’s still kinda fun. Ooh, what can I open ttf files with? Can I edit the font? Really bastardize it? Ok I’ve never done vector graphics before but what if I really fuck up the i? Just pulverize that little dot. Ohhhh those are fun errors. I love computers. I’ll try again tomorrow.

    Day 63 - Closed System

    My family is the crew who keeps the ship running. Grandma was a weaver, cobbling together a loom, an actual loom, from ruined doorframe parts. Pulling fibres from the organic waste cycle until the ship realized something was being withheld. Our entire family tree is supposed to be a closed system. She was still able to rip apart the prefab jumpsuits to make me a gown for my 16th birthday, but those strands don’t last long without machine precision. She doesn’t weave anymore. She’ll die soon, and no one else can work her loom the same way. It’ll die with her.

    inspired by snow's writing for Jan 10th

    Day 64 - Accute Temporoabsentia

  • Days 1-5: Developing of a deep fatigue, concentrated behind the brow and in the joints. Quickly subsides
  • Weeks 1-2: Patients report vivid memories of distant events, and increased finesse in skills thought forgotten. Some are quoted as feeling “rejuvenated” and “in touch with themselves”
  • Week 3: Positive changes to mental condition replaced by discomfort and unease towards one’s current life, and deep resentment for those who have enacted recent change
  • Weeks 4-5: Increasing paranoia, and withdrawing from those the patient has not known long
  • Weeks 6+: Patients inevitably disappear from their lives, in search of a childhood home that no longer exists

  • Day 65 - The Baker

    CW: Blood

    There’s a woman who’s leaving her apartment the day after a big storm, and she slips on the stairs just past the front door and falls really bad. Her leg’s broken in a really ugly way, and an artery burst and there’s blood spraying out all over the snow. But don’t worry, it’s not dangerous, people see this happen and rush to help her. But what are you supposed to do with all this bloody snow? You can’t mop it up, it’s freshly fallen, and the blood’s all seeped in. If you cover it up it’s still there, and the snow’s going to melt eventually. Do you shovel it up and throw it in a garbage bag? Take it into your home and melt it, then wash it down the sink? This isn’t a metaphor for anything, at least not on purpose, and it’s not very important anyway. Her neighbours deal with it, somehow. I brought up the snow to distract you from the woman’s leg, and her pain, because she’s in really bad shape. And now it’s ok! Because she’s in the ambulance and not in any danger, and she’s going to get a metal rod implant, and a bunch of physical therapy, and then she’s going to live for fifty-three more years. And the doctors told her she’d probably have a limp, but after a little while it’s not even noticeable. She doesn’t think about the blood-soaked snow when she comes home three days later; it’s all been cleared up and she’s more focused on getting up the stairs in a cast. Someone shovelled them clear a few days ago, thankfully, but her sister doesn’t know who. And after the first week it’s much less painful and more boring, and she watches some new shows, and learns how to knit but doesn’t really enjoy it. Her sister and her friends help out, when she needs it, and eventually they’ve sorted things out. Seven years later her friend’s mother breaks her hip, and she fishes her crutches out of the bathroom closet to save them eighty dollars. And fourty-one years later, she’s most well-known in the community for her baking, and this doesn’t matter much anymore at all.

    Day 66 - The Cities

    There have been thousands of cities built over millennia of complex human societies, and the grandest have always been built alongside Ley Lines. These magical features of geography, stretching far across the globe, encompass vast quantities of arcane energy, and are sources and sinks for the surrounding landscape. The land breathes through the Ley Lines, and thus is shaped by them. The people of the cities draw from this mystical force to power their machines, grow their crops, and transport themselves long distances effortlessly. Many cities are built at the confluence of two Lines, where their powers are multiplied. These municipalities become hubs of learning, of trades and commerce, with their influence reaching far down multiple axes. Despite a constant presence of the Ley’s energies in their lives, the people of the cities know nothing about their magical properties. They simply call them rivers.

    inspired by alice's writing for Jan 14th

    Day 67 - Queer Time

    No, I don’t feel like I’m in my 20s. I was born this summer, when my first needle pierced me. I was born last January, when I took on my name, and I was born three months previous when I found it. I was born six years ago, when I realized something was wrong, and I was born two years ago, when I realized what it was. I was born three weeks ago, when I didn’t recognize the person in the photos in my parent’s house. And I’ll be born again tomorrow, when the sun rises and I wake slightly more full.

    inspired by a rewatch of Queer✨ by Philosophy Tube

    Day 68 - not a good time for this

    Place the mugs on the shelf. Walk back. Pick up three plates from the bottom rack. Turn around, walk across the room, and stack them in their place. Walk back, and grab two large glasses from the top rack. Turn around, and place them on the shelf. Turn back. Stack four bowls. Turn towards the shelves. One of them is dirty. Place it back, then walk over to the shelves and stack the remaining three. Walk back. Take three small glasses, and stack them. Walk to the cabinet, and place the stack next to the others. Walk back. Grab four more plates. Pick them up, then walk over to the shelf. Place them on the stack. Walk back. Grab a handful of cutlery and dry them off individually with a cloth. Walk to the drawer, and sort them into their spots. Walk back. Pick up more cutlery. Dry them off individually with a cloth. Walk back to the drawer, and sort them into their slots. Turn back. Pick up the last remaining plate, and fiercely shatter it against the ground.

    Day 69 - Metro

    The station is bitterly cold, and the train pull in an oasis of warmth and light. I flood into the arteries of the city, rejoining the crowds. The discomforts of the bus and the metro are known and comforting next to the stresses of student life. There’s nothing expected of me in the hour between class and home, and nothing I can do but rest, and watch. In the dark, city lights flash by. Transfer. My body sways gently with the carriage. Transfer. Familiar stations, each their own work of art, fade past in sequence. What says home more than a three-note chime?

    i haven't been trying to keep to 100 words as strongly recently. I'm going to get back on that, it's a good tradition. only 31 days until 100!

    Day 70 - My Cat

    There were numerous plans for this year, many of them open-ended fill-in-the-blanks, but Penny was not one of them. She just sort of showed up in my apartment one day, without personally having a say in the matter, and left me no choice but to make sure I kept her. As a casual actor she doesn’t do very much, but the impact she’s made amongst me and my friends is incredible. Is she doing this on purpose? Does she know? Was she sent here like an Istari, to guide us without telling us of her origins? I don’t think she’ll reveal anything.

    Day 71 - Soup III

    How to make a good pot of soup:

    note: no matter how many times you re-make this recipe, no bowl will ever taste as good as this one. In the moment, you will know this. Make sure you never stop trying anyways

    ♪ Some Kind of Normal - Tom Day, Jake Lowe

    Snowdrift 2024-01-23

    This piece was written by my friend and co-conspirator alice, in an author swap!

    When I was little, I was obsessed with space. The rockets we've sent inspired awe in my eyes, tracing historical trails skywards. Beyond their consequences, this gazing 'up' holds beauty. It's so cold. The car has gone quiet. And now, beside you, I face a sky the likes of which I have never seen before. The glow of the snow caresses its edges with wisps of dull magenta and purple but remains pricked with the sharp light of ages long past. I hold your hand as we watch a dance that has already faded into legend play before us, here.

    Day 73 - Top 5 Best Weathers

    #5: Freezing rain! Completely transforms the world, and rare enough it’s always a special occasion. Oh you can’t walk on ice, or need to “drive”? That’s unfortunate actually, sorry. It passes quickly. Y’know, forget the other four, this is a freezing rain appreciation century now. The way the trees glisten like their branches have been turned to glass! The streets a kaleidoscope of gleaming asphalt and concrete. And the crunch! Stepping through the thin layer of ice on fresh now underneath and seeing it fracture underfoot. Sliding the shell off a railing when you’re the first one out the door.

    Day 74 - Telephone (3)

    Droplets of water fly upwards onto the shrinking stalactites above. Across the plain, mercifully, the tower of bone begins to rot, slowly being unmade by the same natural forces that brought it into being. Its glass melts back into sand, joining the endless dunes growing across the landscape. Victory has a price, and that price will be regrowing life from this once again dead world. In truth, this victory is nothing more than a long truce. This conflict cannot truly end. The spinning sun comes to a halt just above the horizon, and you are left with a shattered watch in your palm.

    << First < Previous |  Next > Last >>

    Day 75 - Three-Quarter Century

    When I think of this last November, I think of myself in the living room, my laptop sitting under a lamp, wandering in circles pondering today’s century. It was novel, it was exciting, it felt productive, and it was a beautiful end to whatever messy day I had survived. I think, in the weeks since, routine has gotten the better of me. I’ve let this become a task instead of a joy. It’s not easy to keep a daily habit so long, and discipline begets joylessness at times, but there must be a way. I’ll get those evenings back again.

    Day 76 - Deterioration

    As you watch, the rivers straighten and narrow, their flow growing more concentrated. Water drips upwards from the pools below to join the rapidly shrinking stalactites above. Before your eyes, the mountains straighten their backs and stretch upwards, unburdened by the weight of eons. Beneath them, the earth tears itself apart at the seams as continental plates go their separate ways. The atmosphere thins, and the rapidly shifting forests recede and shrink, devolving into ferns before rejoining the oceans. In the sky, almost imperceptibly, a handfuls of stars dim, then wink out. In bright flashes, a few more join.


    This piece was written by my friend and co-conspirator Snow in an author swap!

    i stand in a doorway. i am standing in a doorway.

    one day i will tiptoe over the edge. will i rush forward? or will i scurry back?

    others are walking behind me, turn the doorknob, and walk past me. others run through the door. others linger, before they too open the door.

    one time, when i was a kid, i ran towards a door. i looked behind me, and promptly slammed my face into the doorjamb.

    maybe i'm supposed to hold the door open. maybe i'm supposed to remove the hinges. maybe i'll leave and kick at the drywall.

    Day 78 - Long Night

    Today I woke up and 12 years had passed. Awful timing, I had just finished arranging the raspberry bushes, and now the whole garden’s long overgrown with weeds. After such a busy night, time tries to correct itself. It’ll be a few weeks before another day passes, but I’ll have my hands full getting things straight ‘til then. Oh, come to think of it, the wine I brewed last week is gonna to be aged beautifully already! Or maybe I’ll crack open a bottle of that 93-year old brew I made last year, for motivation’s sake. It’ll be a long short day.

    Day 79 - Immortality

    Despite incredible advancements in medical technology, it became clear that the 560 year limit on the human mind could never be overcome. The body could be made to last forever, of course, and so the quest for immortality became a quest for continuity. Every half-millenia one’s mind would be swapped out for a fresh one, untarnished by years of consciousness. The new mind would be put to the task of relearning what the old one had left, through instilled memories and holo-recordings. Some refreshes would be seamless, hardly noticeable, and some were left unrecognizable. Suffice to say the philosophers were thrilled.