the Unending Journey of the Wandering Author

A chronicle of the unending journey of the Wandering Author through life, with notes and observations made along the way. My readers should be aware I will not censor comments that disagree with me, but I do refuse to display comment spam or pointless, obscene rants. Humans may contact me at thewanderingauthor at yahoo dot com - I'll reply as I am able.

Location: New England, United States

I have always known I was meant to write, even when I was too young to know the word 'author'. When I learned that books were printed, I developed an interest in that as well. And I have always been a wanderer, at least in my mind. It's not the worst trait in an author. For more, read my writing; every author illuminates their heart and soul on the pages they write upon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Velvet Verbosity 100 Word Challenge: Want

I recently became aware of an interesting blog, Velvet Verbosity, and an interesting challenge run there each week. The 100 word challenge involves writing exactly one hundred words on a one-word prompt. Those words can be poetry or prose, fiction or an essay. Nevertheless, writing exactly one hundred words, not one word more or less, is much more difficult than it seems.

This week's challenge is on the subject of "want". The top of the post features entries from the last challenge, on Eden, but if you scroll down to the bottom of the post, you'll find this week's word. I hope some of my readers will take up the challenge. My own entry follows, in bold text, with my comments on what I've written following it.

Want was all Michael had ever known, the one thing he understood. It was a mixture of cold and hunger seasoned with fear. Watching his brothers and sisters turn hairless and thin as sticks, seeing his mother’s dull eyes follow them as she slowly wasted away, every cell of his body crying out in want, he was the last of his family. He died alone, surrounded by their bodies. All the while, mocking the want that consumed him, food left Ireland’s shores to feed the demands of mercantilism. Experts agreed with the British politicians such inhumanity was the best decision.

Some of you may think this is melodramatic. However, such things happened in the late 1840s in Ireland, and happened all too often. Food really did leave the shores of Ireland while her people starved. Politicians really did think their theories were more important than human lives. Granted, this isn't a balanced account, but it is true history.

Half my ancestors came from Ireland. I could legally qualify for Irish citizenship, on two grounds. I don't know the exact experience of every family during the Great Famine, but as they were Protestant Irish, they were likely to do better than most. Notice that I don't say I agree with how Irish Catholics were treated; that was, however, how it was at the time. At least I do know my ancestors were poor enough they weren't busy making life difficult for Catholic families.

In addition, contrary to the myth that Protestant Irish families had no Catholic ancestors, I am aware that any family that lived in Ireland since before Cromwell, as at least one of my lines did, had Catholic ancestors and relatives, however much some of them hated to admit it. So those people who died were my people, some of them related to me, however distantly.

For the past several years, this episode of history has haunted me. I've written stories set during this time, and have several unfinished ones I'm working on. When I saw the word "want", this was the subject that naturally leaped out at me. Those who died in the Holocaust also suffered from want, but they suffered far more from other, more pointed evils. The Great Famine is, to my mind, the perfect showcase for want.

And, yes, this is how I tend to think of politicians and the experts who advise them. All too often, they are trying to do the wrong thing. Even when they try to do the right thing, they pass laws that appear as if they're doing something, but don't really tackle the tough problems head on. That's why I haven't been all fired up about the election; I suspect at least half my blogger friends could do a much better job than any of the candidates.

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Anonymous Velvet Verbosity said...

This was very moving. You warned me that your submission wasn't very uplifting, and I just wanted to respond that I don't expect submissions to be "uplifting", or anything else for that matter. My interest is seeing the different interpretations of one word.

I'm glad to have you aboard! I hope you'll play again.


May 14, 2008 10:19 AM  
Blogger Sassy Mama Bear said...

Intense, glad that you joined in. I haven't done this week's word yet, usually release mine on Friday. Wow, I think you have a great start to a story here.

May 15, 2008 12:57 PM  
Anonymous JM said...

Wow. Nicely written. I'm glad you're taking part in the challenge. :)

May 15, 2008 8:16 PM  

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