All Worlds Wayfarer: Issue II

boy looking the meteor in the colorful sky

Hey all! Normally I’d post a flash fiction or short story on the 4th monday of the month, but since the second issue of All Worlds Wayfarer launched today with 12 free-to-read short stories and flash fictions, why not check out these talented authors and fantastic stories, instead:

All Worlds Wayfarer: Issue II (Autumnal Equinox 2019)

All Worlds Wayfarer specializes in character-driven and theme-focused speculative fiction. My co-editor and I search for stories that not only whisk you away on adventure, but also stir your emotions and spark new ideas. We hope you enjoy them!

Writing Habits: Set a ‘Trigger’

According to countless articles all over the web, habits are supposed to be automatic. Once you start and execute a new part of your routine for a month or two, it becomes easier to continue than to quit, so they say. If you’re anything like me, this hasn’t necessarily proved true for you. I’ve never reached a stage where a habit, even ones I’ve pushed through for over a year, started running on autopilot.

So I was skeptical when I came across a slightly different approach to the “write every day” refrain: instead of scheduling a certain time for writing, set up another action to use as a ‘trigger’ before starting. The idea is that it will help shift your brain into the right mindset for writing once you teach it this new pattern of cause and effect. As this great article on the neuroscience of writer’s block explains it: “If you light an orange-blossom candle or brew a pot of Café Verona prior to each writing session, and never at other times, neuroscience suggests that within three weeks, the scent of orange blossoms or taste of coffee will trigger the urge to write.”

I decided to give it a go. I bought a candle and committed to lighting it just before I started drafting, in hopes that my brain would come to associate that act, and eventually the scent of the candle, with writing. Other ideas for ‘triggers’ might be playing a certain song, wearing a certain hat, or signing yourself in using a Clock In app.

The shocker: it works! After just a few sessions, I noticed that it was easier to get into the flow of writing after performing the ‘trigger.’ My theory is that it works well for me due to my specific flavor of writer’s blockthat is, emotional regulation issues and OCD. The physical ritual of lighting the candle helps me let go of whatever thoughts or emotions are tossing around in my head at that time and give myself permission to move into a different mindset. Similarly, blowing out the candle after the session helps me let go of whatever emotions came up during the drafting process, itself. Overall, this new habit smoothes out the transitions, which for me, are perhaps the hardest part of being a writer.

If you’re habit-resistant, I’d suggest experimenting from this angle and trying to find a ‘trigger’ or ritual that works for you. The more you can uncover the underlying issues and fears holding you back, the more you can find unique ways of getting your brain to cooperate with itself.

Yellow Lines (Poem)

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Yellow Lines

Honey-sunset sky
reflects on stained cold tar
while cars shake the anxious Earth,
with headlights like a thousand falling stars.

Life roars by too fast,
in lines ordained by human hands
and faded yellow paint.

All chipped at the edges

and ready to crash.

Monday Blues: SOMA

(“Monday” Blues: On every first Monday(ish) of the month, I’ll recommend a new world – a book, a game, a podcast, etc – to escape into. Or at least to look forward to after a hard day’s work.)

SOMA

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A Game by FrictionalGames

What It Is: A sci-fi horror game where the player scours a mysterious underground laboratory, searching for answers and escape while hiding from monsters.

Why You Should Play It: On its surface, SOMA is somewhat familiar, utilizing the same formula partially pioneered by developer FrictionalGames’ own previous work (including Amnesia: The Dark Descent): explore a strange environment while staying hidden from the invincible threats roaming with you. While the gameplay certainly has moments of raw intensity, it’s perhaps slightly less frightening than its spiritual predecessors in terms of its mechanics. In SOMA, however, the real horror comes from challenging themes,  moral choices without easy answers, and the claustrophobia of dark corridor after dark corridor.

While it’s a polished game, it’s a fantastic story. SOMA represents exactly the sort of character-and-theme-driven speculative fiction I savor and strive to create. I finished the game over a week ago and it’s still lingering in my head. In fact, I dreamed about it last night. If that’s not a sign of a worthwhile experience, I’m not sure what is.

I highly recommend SOMA to fans of sci-fi horror, man vs machine narratives, story-driven games in general, or anyone with a taste for a little existential angst.

Set at the bottom of the sea, SOMA goes deeper than most stories dare to in more ways than one.