Friday, 12 July 2013

#FridayFlash - In the Cellar Prison

This week's story isn't really a follow on from last week, but it is related to Watery Depths in some ways. Enjoy!

My name is Puella and I suspect that I shan't be alive for much longer. They keep me in this dank cellar below the guildhall, and I hear water lapping against the wall on the other side of the bricks. Such a prison is cruelty itself - they know of my nature, and they keep me where I can hear my element, but am powerless to join it. There was another of my kind here a century ago, my older sister Furia, and her wrath was so terrible that the townsfolk have been vigilant ever since. They no longer duck or burn their witches, but they do hang them.

I took so much care to live in the shadows. I turned my face away from the sun, and I only emerged at night. I crept around the city like a cat, and the town continued oblivious. I thought myself safe, and grew careless. One day I awoke too early, and came across some of the bigger boys tormenting a group of younger children. I could not stand such behaviour, and intervened. The bigger boys fled crying to their mothers, and I became beloved by the young ones. I would appear in the secret nooks and forgotten wells that the adults had come to miss. My little younglings, as I grew to call them, would bring me gifts of food, filched from kitchen tables, and I granted their wishes.
It all sounds so idyllic when I put it so, and for a time it was. But the bigger boys told tales to their mothers, and words spread until they are heard by ears which should not hear them. The men that govern this town remembered my sister, and they hunted me down. If I am still and quiet, I can still hear the screams of my younglings as their fathers dragged me away. They threw me in this cell, close enough to hear the water, but too far to join it.

How little they know. Water is the most persistent of elements - it will always find a way, until the smallest crack becomes a gaping crevice. It is relentless in its pursuit of its desires. I am of the water, and I too am relentless. I have also learned the mercilessness of my sister. I have discovered a crack in the wall, a fracture between the bricks. I can call the water to me, and it forces itself through the cement until it pools in the corner of my cellar. Yet it does not simply come in - I send it forth again, my resentment and frustration boiling and churning the water. I have sung a song that only my younglings will hear. They know from which wells they can safely drink, and they know to which place they must go when they grow old enough to journey forth.

I fancy that I hear a key turn in the lock and I turn to face the door but I know that no one will come. My captors are probably dead by now - indeed, no one has come to give me a paltry ration of gruel for some time now. I have no way of measuring the hours, but I still hear the tides in my heart, and I suspect it has been three days since my last meal. It does not matter - I shall return to my element when I expire, and be at one with the water that I currently can only hear. My poison will have spread throughout the town by now, and my younglings and their favoured maids will wonder at the destruction I have wrought.

I must sleep now, though I fear I shall not wake. Goodnight.

Image by Datarec, edits by me.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Do More by Being Busy

There is an axiom attributed to Lucille Ball that "If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it." I can see the logic behind it - a busy person already has a To Do list, probably organised according to priority, and it's a simple enough task to add another item. Give it to someone who has very little to do, and they'll spend so much time thinking about other stuff they might want to do, or how they might approach it, and it'll end up taking even longer.

Why am I talking about To Do lists? Well I noticed today that I work a lot faster when I have a To Do list, and I've positively blitzed mine today. I've been exceptionally busy lately, and I've got a lot more to show for it. In fact, I even write better when I have a zillion and one things to do - if I find a spare ten minutes, and I get the urge to write, I'll take advantage of the moment. If I've got a spare hour and no other pressing concerns, I'll easily while away the time faffing about on Facebook or catching up on blogs.

I think much of it is psychological. When you have little to do, you have more potential time in which to do a task, and you under-estimate how much time it'll take since you have so much time spare, meaning you end up being rushed. When you have a lot to do, you're conscious of the passage of time and so spend more concentrated time on the task, meaning you usually over-estimate how long it will take, thus freeing you up to work on the rest of your list.

I guess my point is that I see a lot of blog posts advising writers to give themselves dedicated blocks of writing time, to clear their schedules and turn everything off so they can just write. I'm sure that works for some people who like to work steadily, with no interruptions, but I've got the attention span of a cat so it doesn't work for me. I've tried setting aside an hour to write, and minimising interruptions, but my mind wanders and I end up interrupting myself. Not good. I like to work on multiple projects at once, devoting short bursts of concentration to each of them, meaning at the end of an hour I could feasibly have three or four things almost-finished, instead of one thing completed. Besides, if I set time aside to write, then I won't use it for writing. If I snatch time where I can, then I recognise how precious that time is and I use it wisely.

What about you? How do you cope with your To Do list? Do you manage your time, or try to do everything at once?

Image by Dublindays.