[Introduction: Melanie Stormm continues her humorous series of posts about the misdirected emails she’s been getting. Stormm is a multiracial writer who writes fiction, poetry, and audio theatre. Her novella, Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available through Candlemark & Gleam. She is currently the editor at the SPECk, a monthly publication on speculative poetry by the SFPA. Find her in her virtual home at coldwildeyes.com. Wipe your feet before entering.]
WHAT HAPPENED AT HOGSWATCH
Hello, All! Melanie here.
I’ve truly missed passing on Writer X’s emails to fellow Filers. It’s been a longer time than I’ve wished.
I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to share, but through the years I’ve made the mistake of being too quiet about my life, not just the good times, but the bad, too. I’m trying to be kinder to myself and correct this.
In the week before Christmas, my beloved father passed away unexpectedly. He was an author with a lifelong love of comics, science fiction, and fantasy. I write because of him. He was a spellbinding storyteller and the thought that his affected storytelling voice is a thing that now exists only in memory is still hitting me. He didn’t allow us to have a TV so he told us stories to pass the time, and then encouraged us to tell our own as well.
Get this, his real name was Johnny Stormm although, by the time he and my mum got to having kids, I think he preferred to be called John. And, yes, he set himself on fire a number of times. Some of which were intentional. I think it’s in the name.
My name was almost accidentally Suzanne Stormm, but both parents decided on Melanie. I just had an ironic thought while writing this: I’m sharing these events from my life with you because I’ve decided I need to make my humanity less invisible.
(Wow, I miss you, dad!)
On return from being with my family, I discovered that I had contracted COVID. Then, I learned that my whole family had it. Kids included. Healing has been slow.
X continued to send me emails through that time but, with everything going on, I didn’t have the steam to read them and pass them on. Life kept inserting itself into all my other plans. I’ve since caught up.
I’ve gone back and forth on how to proceed. Some of her emails are rather long. Sending them all at once would be overload. For sake of digestibility, I’m sending them one week at a time if they’re long. One of her later emails is particularly cryptic and brief. Likely I’ll lump emails like that in with another from the previous week and let you know that I’ve done so to keep track of her timeline.
As I convalesce, it’s been a strangely heartwarming thing to go through her emails, regardless of their content. The emails have, by and large, faithfully come every week. It’s good to know that X was somewhere out there being X on a full-time basis and hasn’t given up on her novel—to say nothing of her other—um, choices.
There’s a hitch. She didn’t send an email last week. And she didn’t send an email this week either. I did ping her, but nothing’s come back so far.
I’m not going to spoil the next few emails when I say that I hope she hasn’t been scooped up by the FBI or whatever equivalent there is in her reality.
Whether you’re slugging away at your latest work of fiction, or if you’re slugging away trying to figure out how to write fiction, I wish you happy writing from the bottom of my heart. Happy reading, too.
If you need a refresher, the last email she sent is here. Even better, there is now a handy dandy index here on File 770 and in the menu above in case you’d like to explore other emails in the X saga.
Without further ado, here she is…
Subject: I think I’m getting skin cancer from my neighbor’s stupid holiday lights!!!
Mr. Morgan and I were able to peaceably settle our lawsuit over my meat-grease coccyx bruising out of court. I agreed to drop the lawsuit and, in exchange, he agreed not to press charges for me impersonating an employee and barricading myself in behind a “tower” of “perishable” eggs.
I did, however, have to pay for the eggs. Fortunately, I was able to salvage most of them but now my fridge is packed with egg cartons and I think I’m going to have to buy a second fridge which means I have to LOWER MYSELF to going to BRIAN’S APPLIANCE STORE!!!
I would tell you more about my investigation into Tod Boadkins but I have to get down to the store before they close at five and that STUPID MAGICAL MARKET keeps popping up everywhere and screwing up my GPS. Not to mention the traffic!!!
Why can’t Bleakwood residents get their own magical market instead of showing up at ours???? This morning I had to park a half mile away from Local College just to bring my protege his chicken and pickle sandwich!!
Anyway. The rest of this email is going to have to wait until after I’ve ordered the second refrigerator and it’s almost time for me to pick up Tryxy.
Try not to run over any gnomes.
Subject: CAR ACCIDENT!!!
I’m writing to let you know that I won’t be able to write you until later tonight. Thanks to my neighbor’s yearly holiday light competition, I have had a small car accident with Ms. B___’s upcycled wine-bottle water-fountain and about twenty two belligerent homeschoolers throwing iceballs at everyone’s holiday decorations. (Mr. D___’s glow in the dark bearded boar fell off his roof and crushed an escaped gnome as a result.)
The homeschooling problem has really gotten out of hand, here!!!
WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITHOUT MY CAR, GLADYS???
sent from my iPhone
Subject: THE ANTI-HORCRUXES OF WRITING
I know that I have a lot of self control, but believe it or not, I have feelings. I’m explaining this because I want you to understand what a low place I was in after mowing over all those homeschooler’s ice forts and wrecking my car on Ms. B___’s stupid fountain. I got very low. Very very low.
Gladys, I almost gave up writing.
When I heard all those pillars of cemented-together empty bottles of chateau de pape crunch under my chassis, it HIT ME.
I’m never going to be a real writer. I’m never going to get these books written. Fenchin is going to die with ME. My whole life is falling apart.
I needed a message from the universe. AFter the tow truck took my car away I was shaking so bad I couldn’t go home and deal with all those weird invisible people gathering in my living room. I decided to take a walk and figure out what kind of sign I need that will get me writing again or tell me to finally give up on this whole thing.
It got me thinking about the future. Do you think famous writers of epic fantasy know the future and that’s why they are able to focus and get their writing done??? I think they have to. Otherwise, how do you know all this work and pain and credit card bills are going to pay off??? And more to my point WHY ARE EPIC FANTASIES ALWAYS ABOUT PROPHECIES???
It HAS to be because writers already know the FUTURE.
Anyways, I was thinking what would happen if I could look into my future—say as far out as NEXT december and find out if I become a famous epic fantasy writer. If I could walk into a bookshop from the future and find my Fenchin books already on the bookshelves at BAM then I would know for a FACT that I succeed. And then I would keep going. Then, I could even maybe look at the books for ideas on how they actually go!!!!
But that’s cheating.
Summoning a high level demon from the void of Ashiput has taught me that you have to establish ethical rules!!! As I mentioned to you before, Gladys, I was very careful in setting groundrules with myself BEFORE I summoned Tryxy. For example, I couldn’t use Tryxy’s powers to make myself famous. I couldn’t use Tryxy’s powers to give me ideas or do any actual writing. It HAS to be MY writing.
No. The only thing Tryxy is here to do is to give me time to write. Maybe when I do become a famous epic fantasy writer, I’ll write my own book about how to summon a high level demon to do your day job so that you can create fiction that CHANGES THE WORLD.
So, if I went into this bookshop from the future and saw my own book there, would it be cheating to get notes from myself? I decided that it’s probably safer to just see the cover of the book and not look inside.
I was thinking all this and I had wandered somehow past the town green and then that stupid magical market popped up with all its cobblestone streets and worn down castle walls and meandering wraiths. Only somehow I had ended up in a part of it that wasn’t so bad and didn’t have hundreds of those juggling MLM gnomes who are always trying to get you to sign up under them and become a juggling gnome, too.
It was a quiet set of streets with new shop fronts poking out of old stone. There was a light dusting of snow and people walking under lamp posts with brightly-colored scarves and wrapped parcels. There was a little bookstore across from a cafe that still had tables out where people could sit in spite of the cold with little bearded boar heads all festively lit. The bookstore was called “Aruetta’s House of Histories” and it looked like the kind of place that I could get an omen from so I went in.
I didn’t find what I was looking for.
Aruetta only had newspapers from the future. She showed me all the newspapers for next December. I couldn’t find my name in any of the book sections and all the headlines were talking about some writer who had entered the Tower of Voice(???) and freed the relic there. There were like TEN ARTICLES on all the Neil Gaiman golems everywhere.
Neil Gaiman is in the newspapers of the future, but I’m not.
I left even lower than I went in. I even decided I was going to delete all my story files. Outside, someone sat in a black wool coat quietly reading a book whose letters moved around every time I tried to read the title. They looked up at me but I couldn’t really see their eyes but their face was undoubtedly Dream Gaiman.
He told me something I’m not ready to share with you just yet. In fact, I don’t know I should tell ANYBODY in case they beat me to it.
Well, honestly, he kept blabbing on to me about the awful fate that will happen to everyone I know and love if I don’t do something. But eventually I got him to talk about WRITING. I asked him if there’s any way to know if you’ll be famous in the future and he said no. I asked him how to become a famous writer and he said he wasn’t sure how one becomes a famous writer, but he recommended reading extensively, finishing the things I write (IF I COULD DO THAT I WOULD HAVE ALREADY) and a lot of close reading and just taking as much time as it takes.
Then, I asked him how you become that kind of writer by next December without having to do all the stuff he talked about and you know what he said?
There IS a way.
Happy Hogswatch, Gladys.
P.S. Do you know where I could get some books on local anti-horcruxes??? Asking for a friend.