Prologs and Buckets

I’m certain that most of you are trying to figure out what a prolog and a bucket have in common. Actually very little. The reason I use these two is that both were new today and both were departures from my normal routine of playing it safe. I’ll start with the prolog:

Somewhere in Scandinavia
981 C.E.

The village was small even for an inner mountain settlement. There were a few huts and some stalls for goats and cattle. However it wasn’t the grain or the meat or the slaves, if these few farmers could have been trained to be useful, that the men came for. The man leading the group was large and burly. He came to this village for one reason and that reason was not to pay any attention at all to the people or huts below. His target was a more lofty one, a small hut high in the hills overlooking even this elevated establishment.

The leader was called Guði. He was taller than any of the others and even without his customary furs and armor was heavier. However what set him apart from the rest was the crescent shaped scar that ran across his left cheek. It was old, probably at least 20 years, and white against his ruddy cheek. At one time it exposed his entire jaw but now it was just a reminder of a long ago battle.

The band passed through the village and up the mountain path. At the top of the rise the fighters stopped and prepared to eat. Only Guði continued on. Past the first small mountain and then to another. Finally as the sun was setting in the West Guði turned a sharp corner and saw a single hut in the distance. There the gods said he would meet his destiny.

The small hut was empty. The fire was burning in the hearth but there was no one there. Guði sat by the fire and waited. It was going to be a very cold night and the witch that lived here would return eventually. The great man had time to spare. He was here for her and as long as it took he would wait. Throwing another piece of wood on the fire he removed his cloak and pulled some food from his pouch. There as he waited he thought about why he was there.

It was three years now that the seer in his village told him he must find this witch and mate with her. The power derived from the union of two bodies would guarantee him immortality. At first he thought the seer foolish but as the years went by and his fame staggered and then fell off as others became more prominent in the communities he realized he had to act soon or his opportunity would be lost.

The witch returned after dark. Either she did not realize there was someone in her hut or she was too cold to care anymore but either way he was on her as soon as she entered. Guði ripped her clothing to shreds and in less time than it takes to dress a stag was finished and out the door. As he walked back down the path to his men the woman propped herself up on the arm that was not broken and cursed him. She would curse him again the next morning as she set her own arm and again that night. She cursed him twice a day until her daughter, their daughter, was born. After that she ceased cursing the man with the crescent scar. After that she began blessing the daughter she had been given; a gift from the gods and her hand of retribution.

This is the prolog to my new novel called Rune Witch. Actually it’s part of the prolog since I have a tendency to write very long prologs that are almost novellas by the time I’m completed with them. I wrote this before work today. It came out relatively easy, even though I dislike violence against women in any form and especially in fiction. The only reason that it’s there is that the entire story hinges on that single rape and the aftermath. This prolog piece was a departure from my normal routine and it was not safe, as opposed to my being safe in things I do.
The second thing I did today that was a departure was I made a bucket. It wasn’t a pretty bucket. The wood was scrap that had paint on one side and knots that made the cuts wonky. However it was a first attempt at a bucket, something I’ve wanted to try my hand at for some time. In the end it would almost hold water, and would if sealed with bee’s wax, so I was satisfied that the design was sound. By Sunday I will have a pretty bucket and the first of many ready to sell.
So what do these two have in common? They were both departures from the safe. I usually write light prologs that set up the novels and I usually made things in wood that I have a background in to a degree: a nostrepinne is little more than a wand and a hammer is just a handle and a bigger piece of round turned wood. But a bucket is different. And so was the prolog. There was wanton violence with no redemption. It was uncomfortable and that is how you push yourself to be better.
I will finish Rune Witch within the next few months and by fall have a number of bucket styles and if my friend Amber gets her way a butter churn. But both of these started by getting uncomfortable and then getting to work.
And here, my readers, is where the lesson comes. If you stay in your comfort zone you will only make things that make you comfortable. They may be successful and your customers may line up for them but in the end you will be wanting for more. Go back and read the Leap of Faith. Think of the bucket as your metaphor for the leap of faith. What in your life right now is your bucket? Or your prolog? And what are you waiting for?