The Willpower Wall

Last week it was all sunshine and blue skies, and today . . . the weather is warming and the frozen Susquehanna River is trying to thaw, so The Burg looks like a scene out of The Mist, on I-81 someone was run off the road after being chased for about fifteen miles and shot to death, and there’s a truck stuck under a bridge.

Before I get to the meat of the post, let me tell everyone of my latest article, Packin’ Up the Terra Plantation.  I haven’t written an article in a while, so run over and check it out and see my geek side on display.

Also I’m have a soufflé this morning, so I am officially Soufflé Girl.  I just need the dress and tennis shoes, and the Dalek shell in which to be implanted.

Transformation Class is over, at least as far as the first week of school is concerned.  It was an enjoyable scene to write, probably because I was getting into Kerry’s mind using that third person omnipotent point of view, and one could see his thoughts, get his feelings.  It was all the character and his concerns about the task before him:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Staring at the beans before him, Kerry started imagining what was needed to transform these back to beetles. He’d not talked about it with Annie because he didn’t want to come across like he was bragging, but there were times when was good at figuring out how to do some things. When he was six he taught himself to sort of play his grandmother’s piano by watching videos, though he was the first to admit he couldn’t play it very well, and he had a difficult time getting both hands to work together. A few years later, after they’d moved to Cardiff and his mother had decided to pay for some piano lesson, he figured out how to play most of the keyboard parts to the song Home By the Sea by watching YouTube videos of a Genesis concert, and mimicking Tony Banks’ finger work.

It had been the same way with yesterday’s Formulistic Magic class. One needed to figure out the instructions to get the mixture correct, and he did just that, though he still wasn’t sure how he managed the magical part. It’s all imagination and the application of willpower—yes, he got that. While he considered himself an imaginative person, he wasn’t certain about being willful. He’s always equated willpower with strength, and Kerry considered himself kinda lacking in that area. He didn’t care for arguments with people he considered dumb, he hated confrontations, and when it had come to speaking to girls, he’d found it nearly impossible—until recently, that is. Annie was easy to speak with, though he found it a bit hard to speak with other girls . . .

Enough of the girls. Back to the beans.

That Kerry:  mind all over the place.  And thinking about girls?  That’ll lead to no good . . .

Mostly, though, the scene was about willpower:  finding it so one may complete a task, and one can feel overwhelmed by said task, and the need to dig down and bring that willpower out when you need it the most:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

He held the image in his mind for about ten seconds, then opened his eyes. The bean was still a bean.

What was wrong?

Kerry took a deep breath. He closed his eyes again and thought of the bean breaking apart, then opened his eyes and discovered nothing had changed. He drummed the fingers of his left hand on the counter wondering why this wasn’t working. Maybe this isn’t the way to do it—maybe I do need to think about transforming the bean. But . . . Professor Kishna said we’d never be able to perform that transformation, so this has to be the way.

It should work—why isn’t it?

This time he closed his eyes to calm himself. He was getting worked up and excited, and he didn’t need that, not now. That was one of his major faults: when things didn’t work out as he expected, he’d work himself into some major anxiety, and then he’d get all dejected and depressed, and start thinking himself a major loser.

He shook his head as he stared at the bean. Stop it. You’re not a loser. You’ve done magic this week. You need to push this aside

Only then did Kerry realize what his problem was.

He didn’t bother closing his eyes this time: he had the image of the bean breaking apart solidly in his mind. No, the problem was his willpower. He needed to focus it far more, and now that he knew what was needed, he centered his hand over the bean, imagined it coming apart, and pushed that through out with his willpower.

He saw the bean shimmer as it had in Professor Kishna’s hand. A few seconds later the legs appeared, then the body, and finally the head and antennae.

He’d broken the spell.

The beetle scuttled about on the counter surface, it’s movements slow and unsteady. Kerry scooped it into the container that had held the beans and sealed it up. He held the clear container at near eye level and watch the beetle scurry about. His vision clouded: he blinked a few times before realizing there were tears in his eyes. The act of getting the transformation right, in proving he knew what he was doing, had tipped his emotions the other way, and his tears were those of happiness.

Kerry sensed someone next to him before he saw them. “Kerry—” Professor Kishna was whispering in his ear. “Pull yourself together.”

He set down the container and quickly wiped his eyes before anyone saw him. “Okay, Professor.”

Jessica nodded. “Save your tears for private moment; here, it’s best if you don’t give people something to hold over you.” She picked up his container and held it aloft. “Here you are, class: our first success. Apparently Mr. Malibey’s hypothesis was correct.” She turned about slowly. “Who is next, hum? Are we going to let Mr. Malibey be our only success—”

Annie raised her container so Jessica, and the rest of the class, could see the live beetle within. “Here, Professor.”

Jessica set the contained back on Kerry’s work counter. “Looks as if you won’t be alone.” Before she walked off she stared hard at the boy. “You have three more beans and more than an hour remaining—get to work on those other beans.”

 

Jessica doesn’t cut you a bit of slack:  task mistress to the end.

Writing is a willpower game:  you need it to get through those lean times where there isn’t anything to run on, where it seems like you’re spinning the wheels in the mud and sinking deeper by the second.  This is a solitary business, and a lot of us work without support from others as we hone our craft and dream of publication.

Then you write something that feels right and it makes you sour.  The willpower that’s held you in place is replenished and you’re ready to keep moving onward, kicking ass the whole way.

Last night I passed the willpower wall:  I reached one hundred thousand words and then some.  That’s the second time I’ve done that, and it makes me feel good to know I’ve reached this point, because for a while I wasn’t sure it would happen.

Willpower, baby.  You need it for all those times when you just gotta re-beetle that bean.

Onward to Helena, Dark Mistress of All, and the nastiness she’s going to do.

She also is strongly opinionated on pink unicorns . . .