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When I was young, I loved to watch my father work. I used to think sparks were dangerous, so I would sit far enough away that the fire could not reach me. But I could still feel the heat, watching sparks rise high into the smoky air.

I was terrified of darkness. I would sleep with a candle burning to protect me, but shadows invaded my dreams. I pretended I was a dragon, filled with flames. Fearless.

Defiant.

No one believes in dragons anymore. No one believes in fire, either. I've grown up into the age of electricity, where fire is too hot and too wild to touch. Why risk burning yourself when light and heat are ready at the flip of a switch? It's much safer to shiver in the glow of civilization than to risk getting burnt.

The lights of cities surround me, outshining the stars. The mess of humanity clusters around the light like moths. They're all just afraid of the dark. I think back to the years I spent pretending to be brave.

When I was young, I loved to watch my mother light a fire. I'll never forget the sight of headlines of newspapers turning into flames.

Maybe that was what first set my heart on fire. I don't know, but I've been burning ever since.

I feel restless. Dissatisfied. Angry with my generation and the ones that came before it. But with that discontent comes determination, and the vision to make my dreams for the future a reality. I no longer think sparks are dangerous. They are beautiful. They are the opportunity to become so much more. I still love the idea of setting the headlines on fire. Maybe something beautiful will rise out of the ashes.

They tell me to choose my battles.
But I'm not willing to compromise. I'll fight every one.

For I am young. I am angry. I am alive.

With my spark I will burn bridges, turn my back on my regrets, set my past ablaze.
I will ignite the world.
Inspiration
Yes, it's been three months since I wrote anything. I won't lie, writing this was absolutely brutal. I don't think I've ever struggled so hard to create something. Unluckily, I had a deadline to force me to finish it. I wrote this for the Be a Spark Challenge.
This piece is all true. I live on a completely solar-powered house far away from the rest of civilization. I think in many ways my very upbringing was the spark for how I view the world now. I feel choked when I'm in the city, unable to breathe, unable to see the stars. I hate the disconnect between the vast majority of humanity and the earth. And I want to end the short-sightedness of the world. We cannot and will not continue to live the way we are today. It's unsustainable. Am I the only one to realize this? No, of course not. But if my spark can ignite real change, then I will fight to bring it to the attention of the rest of the world until we're ablaze with possibilities.
As you can see by the way I've rambled on, this issue is very important to me, and it's hard for me to put how I feel into words.

I did my best.


Technique
Like I said, this was absolutely brutal to write. I used scraps from things I wrote ages ago, adapted them to fit me as a character instead of what I was planning. Other than that, this was the result of a lot of thinking, several headaches and self-discipline.

I still feel like a failure. Writing used to be so easy. Hopefully I can get that back.


Special Mentions
~cherrichan13 for helping me pull through this.
*IndigoSkyes, ~bleusman and ~Nym226 for arguing with me about whether or not am I failure. And *WanderingHere for looking shocked.


Groups
For #theWrittenRevolution members: I just need your thoughts on whether or not this forms a coherent story, and also what you think of the characterization. Is the use of fire over the top, or does it make a good theme?
:iconthewrittenrevolution:


I won first place in the literature category of the contest. Check it out in `PurpelBlur's news article.


2011 Jonathon Reed
deviantART | Society6 | Tumblr
portfolio.jonathonreed.com
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:iconriding-the-wind:
riding-the-wind Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
:heart::heart::heart:
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:iconwizardofunseen:
WizardOfUnseen Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I loved it.I also feel a personal connection with this because I prefer fire to electric light.I am not sure why but I do.I love the analogy of the spark.The spark to set men's hearts on fire.The spark of revolutions.Nice work mate:)
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner May 31, 2011  Student Photographer
:glomp: Thank you so much for the wonderful comment.
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:iconwizardofunseen:
WizardOfUnseen Featured By Owner May 31, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
You are welcome :)
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2011  Student Photographer
:manhug:
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:iconx-aeris:
x-Aeris Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2011
This is so beautiful :O
"It's much safer to shiver in the glow of civilization than to risk getting burnt. " <-- My favourite line! Oh, and you say writing used to be easy, and you wish it would go back to that. I don't know if you watch Scrubs but Dr Kelso has this awesome quote there: "Nothing in this world that's worth having comes easy." And anyway, if struggling through, you can make something as amazing as this, then I can't wait to see what it's like when it's easy for you!!
:hug:
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2011  Student Photographer
:love: Thanks so much, that makes me feel a lot better.
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:iconx-aeris:
x-Aeris Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2011
Ah brilliant! I'm so glad to hear x) You're very welcome!
:glomp:
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2011  Student Photographer
:love:
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:iconmekamouse:
MekaMouse Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2011  Student Writer
This totally makes sense. I like the way you incorporated dragons and how no one believes in so many things any more. And how our use for electricity is an excuse for being afraid of the dark. (I know I actually am. I'm terrified. I'm 18 and I still need a nightlight.)
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2011  Student Photographer
Interesting comment.
:heart: I appreciate it.
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:iconmekamouse:
MekaMouse Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2011  Student Writer
np :)
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:iconadventwinter:
adventwinter Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
This is amazing. I think using fire was perfect because in reading, I could see in the back of my mind a pen blazing thoughts quickly and desperately. The fear is is ever present. Lingering around the corner. But the visions of what could be overcome it. The flames are beautiful. Not to be feared, but admired for what they bring. An opportunity. A new tomorrow.
note: The rambling actually worked and made this sound really genuine and heartfelt.
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Student Photographer
:glomp: Thanks a lot.
Reply
:iconjulietcaesar:
julietcaesar Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Thematically and technically you've nailed this. The extended metaphor of the fire really works well throughout the piece, because it's a theme that we have related to now and then. You didn't go over the top with it at all, and I think that restraint made the piece all the more powerful. The personal element really shone through as well, which really helps with allowing others to empathise with your piece, and perhaps to be inspired from it. I know that piece stirred something within me. :) I can't think of anyone else better equipped to discuss the issues that face our world than you, and to inspire others to speak up as well.

I can see the hard work in this, and it paid off. Everything is where it should be, it is a coherent story, and that makes it easier for your piece to resonate. Congratulations on the first place, Jon. :hug: It's well deserved.
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2011  Student Photographer
Thanks so much, Rachel, I really appreciate it. :heart:
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:iconelerow:
Elerow Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2011  Student Writer
CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!
Reply
:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2011  Student Photographer
Thanks!
Reply
:iconredriddle0:
Redriddle0 Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2011
:iconthewrittenrevolution:

I've been through Hell and back organizing my vacations. I did not forget I had promised to comment... sorry for the delay (and I've been reading some articles on softening my "commenting" tone which I feel is too blunt for my taste).

Anyway.

My first impression of the piece was that of a raw and pure tone of voice. It was indeed marvellous. Strange as it may seem, it reminded me of a chid's voice (for reference and to understand what I mean and with what voice I read it, see the ending part of Yes's song "Circus of Heaven" and listen to the child's voice... it is splaggerblasting). Furthermore, the piece sparkled with a strange inner beauty, undescribable, it was indeed a very harsh, again, "raw" piece of dire and unrestrained emotion in the description. My opinion may seem too flashy and too praiseful for the piece to some readers (ah... as if anyone actually bothered to read other's comment). And I understand. Actually, the piece is somewhat harsh on the edges (some of the sentences seem to me to be a little too wiry, skeletical, as if they lacked some flesh or actually some other more infantile style. It might be that they are simply too crude in their retelling of their story. For example, I am uncomfortable with the progression between "I pretended I was a dragon, filled with flames. Fearless./Defiant." and "No one believes in dragons anymore." It's simply somewhat awkward, as if it didn't fit in my mind. And some of the sentences actually fit downright awkward: "I'll never forget the sight of headlines of newspapers turning into flames." and "I don't know, but I've been burning ever since." There seems to be something amiss with the way the images are expressed; and I find myself unconfortable with what seems to be a divided style of speaker. Sometimes, the sentences and the expression style are infantile; on others, it is juvenile (mainly the ideological part). The contrast does not ruin the story, but it is felt as regards style issues.

However, what is a comment if it is not something to help people improve? So let's start with the feedback questions. The story is actually very coherent: on that sense, the character is well built up (Hell! I actually got a ton of reasons for him liking fire; I have a complete image of his childhood and growing-up; and his ideology) and we should remember this is a short story. Nothing of biographies here. Or backstories.

As a sidenote, however, I would like to point out something I always strive to remember as regards writing short stories. They are set to show the complex through fragments of the complex. That is, a short story or a good short story generally portrays a whole universe through the most important parts of that universe, allowing us to build (or tricking us into thinking we are building) an image of the whole through the parts. On the other hand, novels through their extent are able to build the whole universe through the description of the whole (or the most of it). Hence. Regarding characterization: in short stories it is a sketch of the character, not a photograph of every aspect of his life. Give us some previews, and then give us some mystery. Actually, think that much of Sherlock Holmes character, for example, is built from deductions we take from the fragments of his life we see in each story, not out of a biography. But I digress.

So... the characterization is good, though there is a contrast in style that shocks me a little. It might be a good idea to look into it. For example, we might observe the dragon part, where the sentence "No one believes in dragons" seems to me to stick better to the mind of an eight to twelve years old character. The three sentences following are much more poetic and much more abstract, more juvenile. I will risk the following propositions: the idealistic stance at the end, the promise, seem to me to belong to a much more infantile character (maybe twelve); and thus I would stick to it. So... the most difficult question, how do we change the style? I thought, and this is not an obligation to change the story (I will later explain why), that the most suitable approach I would take as a writer is go to imagery and descriptions that a twelve year old might relate to and feel. Thus, instead of electricity is most known exponent: television. "Now all they do is watch television." Instead of fire and burning, which would go to the metaphorical sense: stories around the fire. "No more stories around the fire. Just the cold glint of a silver screen. No risk of getting burnt." And play with burnt as meaning enlightened too, or culture or whatever. Or talk about the heat and the pain. So, these are my suggestions regarding character style, and sentences, and just transmitting the idea.

As regards the play with fire... I'm not a unconfortable. It might be a much-used symbol but it fits the story, it is not overused or emptily or badly used, and it provides the meaning. And hell, fire is fascinating and fits the character's framework providing him a good motive to tell us this which he writes.

And why would I not change a thing. First of all, it's my philosophy. Just small tweaks, nothing big. What the original idea was it was. We cannot change the Original Idea. Second: I complained about haggard sentences. But hell, it fits the style in my mind and provided me the character I loved, it's raw emotion and pure fury (though it may lack some drama... teheheh). They may not work in some places for me because I like fluffy puffy sentences, but hell, which twelve-year old writes like that? Heck, I've gone through my writing when I was that age and I sucked. So... it fits. If it ain't broken don't fix it. Maybe some tweaks... but it is NOT wrong or anything like that.

Thirdly... though I have critiqued the piece as a fiction piece because the feedback asked so, it is actually not a fiction piece. The author's emotion and sentences and thoughts are inextricably mingled and twined with the piece's fictional character. Hence, in any case, it is not changeable for the sake of the author's thoughts. It is not asking to develop a character's frame of mind. Actually, it is an exposition, much like a speech. And thus, at least I know that I don't like changing those pieces in which I have laid out my soul naked. They are too true to me for that. And who cares what a ranting deviant has to say?

....11:23 p.m. started writing this at 10:17 p.m..... The conclusion will be short. It is a good piece. It shows, however, the brutal pain with which it was written, for the sake of writing something. I know that feeling, I've been there. It's the writer's hangover. When the words slur or simply do not come out at all. It's horrible. So... well.... I liked it. A lot. It might not be the best, but Hell! we cannot write everything perfectly. There are therefore two things I will highlight from the piece. First, the purity. The speaker's purity in speech, his frankness and idealism are heartrending. The innocence is unblemished. Second, the idea behind it. I, as an obscured pessimist might not agree with them, might find them somewhat useless. But I do think one thing about ideas and dreams. The most are generally hidden and tossed carelessly or broken before they even see the light. The few are corrupted, perversed or simply downright evil. And thus it certainly strikes me, as regards this piece, to see a good idea expressed correctly and aptly; and thus gaze, even if briefly, to the heart of a creator that has not the fear to express one of his most heart-felt ideas nor the inability to express it rightly.
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2011  Student Photographer
:faint: Francis, I finally read this. I've been building up the courage/time to read through your critique for a while now, and finally decided to see what you thought.

First of all, very impressive critique! You put a lot of effort into this – it shows – and I really, really appreciate it. I felt kind of taken aback by your attention to detail; this piece was written so ... personally that actual grammar and sentence structure wasn't really bearing on my thoughts, from what I remember.

I really liked what you wrote about characterization in short stories and I'm certainly going to keep that in mind in future works. :nod: Valuable digression.

As for the contrast between the 'infantile' and 'juvenile' voice, I didn't realize it was so apparent. But I guess to some extent it was intentional. There's several mentions of my childhood in this piece, and I think I must have subconsciously altered my voice in those parts. In the sentence you specifically mentioned, "No one believes in dragons anymore." I was trying to provide transition from the childlike part to the more mature style of writing. Would you say it's convoluted or did I succeed at all?

As for the lights vs. television, that's a personal thing. One of the reasons I hate cities is how bright they are – not being able to see the stars, etc. – and one of the biggest things I notice about my house compared to my friends' is the use of fire/candles instead of lights, and how they always leave their lights on. I rarely watch TV, so I can't really relate to that, I feel.

:faint: Your conclusion was fantastic, and I really am amazed at the amount of time you put into this.

I think I'll come back to this critique when I'm able to look at my piece in a more objective manner.
Reply
:iconredriddle0:
Redriddle0 Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2011
Thanks for the answer, Jon!

On regards to the critique itself, I must point out that I wrote it pretending that "Resilience" was a work of fiction and that it was, in that sense, built. What do I mean by this? The fact that characters, imagery and style was therefore an important matter which could be discussed and worked upon. However, I also acknowledge that this is not a work of fiction in the strictest sense, and thus I also observe the fact that, well, it's not built but rather a confession or stream of thoughts which utilizes fiction as a raison d'eitre [however that is written].

If you ask me, the transition is indeed there and successful [well... I did note it didn't I?]. I understand how you work the image: it is a child writer that then, as in the movies, appears all grown up. As regards myself, I obviously feel better with one voice, if it were a work of fiction. As it is not, and the transition serves a purpose, I would say it is successful as well as purposeful.

And for the imagery, don't worry. It's just me meddling with other people's lives.

Cheers!
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2011  Student Photographer
:hug: Thanks a lot Francis.
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:iconlecura:
Lecura Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2011
I think you did an incredible job. `
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Student Photographer
Thank you!
Reply
:iconnickibluis:
nickibluis Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2011
This piece is quite beautiful. I felt it was more of a stirring monologue than a story but that adds rather than takes away from the piece's depth. As for characterization, the reader sees only what the narrator shows, which is fine. There is not enough about the parents to say they are complete characters but as the piece is not about them, this is not an issue. The narrator's point of view and opinion is well represented but as the focus of this piece is so narrow, that is not really characterization in the sense that the reader now knows the narrator.

Although I liked the fire imagery, I felt it was balancing on a very thin line. And then here [Maybe that was what first set my heart on fire. I don't know, but I've been burning ever since.] it went over the edge. This line in isolation is beautiful. However, in context - especially because it interrupts the two paragraphs about burning headlines - it feels... extra.

Overall, it is a fantastic and emotional piece, and well worth the struggle. Keep writing. :)
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Student Photographer
Great, thanks for your thoughts. :hug:
Reply
:iconmidnightsun16:
MidnightSun16 Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2011  Hobbyist Writer

"They tell me to choose my battles.
But I'm not willing to compromise. I'll fight every one.

For I am young. I am angry. I am alive.

With my spark I will burn bridges, turn my back on my regrets, set my past ablaze.
I will ignite the world."

(That was my favorite part.:woohoo:)
First of all, immediately I think the symbolism of fire is perfect for you, especially since you display your dedication so easily through Written Revolution and all the projects you make sure run so efficiently. Amazing, really (:
:clap:
Secondly, I think the transitions in this piece are smooth, enough the story works well. The overall characterization portrays growth and present goals, which is emphasized by the fire metaphors and comparisons.
Once again, another gorgeous piece. (:
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Student Photographer
Thank you!
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:iconmidnightsun16:
MidnightSun16 Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2011  Hobbyist Writer

Ur welcome (:
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2011  Student Photographer
:hug:
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:iconallyrah:
Allyrah Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
This is just so incredibly beautiful. I think it's definitely coherent. And I love the use of fire, it's not over the top at all, it's perfect, it's amazing, just lovely. I'm so in love with this piece, it's wonderful.
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Student Photographer
Thank you so much. :blush:
Reply
:iconcriminalsheep:
criminalsheep Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2011
"The mess of humanity clusters around the light like moths..."

"Turn my back on my regrets, set my past ablaze"

...beautiful, as always. :ahoy:
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Student Photographer
Thank you!
Reply
:iconstoryofmylife054:
storyofmylife054 Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2011
I still love the idea of setting the headlines on fire. Maybe something beautiful will rise out of the ashes.
I love that :D
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Student Photographer
Thank you!
Reply
:iconstoryofmylife054:
storyofmylife054 Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2011
You're welcome.
Reply
:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2011  Student Photographer
:tighthug:
Reply
:iconstoryofmylife054:
storyofmylife054 Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011
:hug:
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:iconwintersmith-angel:
WinterSmith-Angel Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2011
Whoa o.0

Wonderful. =D

I don't even know how to say how brilliant I think this is.

One of your best. ^.^

As usual, you've filled past with present with future, combined memories with realities and hopes. You're a very gifted writer.

Can't wait for more. ^.^
Reply
:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Student Photographer
Thank you so much. :blush:
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:iconwintersmith-angel:
WinterSmith-Angel Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2011
Actually, can I print this out in the hope that I can work it into a painting somehow ? >.< Like the tree one that I still haven't gotten around to trying >.< Haha.
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:iconwanderinghere:
WanderingHere Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2011
you managed to write this. at 10, when you were already exhausted, in a crowded and ohmyfreakinggod so loud restaurant. deserted by your sister, who was falling asleep in the booth. surrounded by strangers laughing and shouting and curiously looking at your computer screen as they passed. and you managed to write this.

you are amazing.
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2011  Student Photographer
:heart: We'll see.
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:iconwanderinghere:
WanderingHere Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2011
XD
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:iconsecretly-broken:
secretly-broken Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2011  Student General Artist
This is so simple but still so beautiful! :clap:
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:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Student Photographer
Thank you!
Reply
:iconsummernight456:
summernight456 Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2011
this is such a pretty piece of writhing. keep it up
Reply
:iconjonathoncomfortreed:
jonathoncomfortreed Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Student Photographer
Thank you!
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