Friday, July 30, 2010

In Which I Attempt a Sonnet

Ribon of ink, a soul's entrails
left from the dead, a story tells
A truth, a lie, a sentament forgotten
A word, a spell, world I am lost in
Incantation from long ago
Bound inside a rhyme I know
World held still with thoughts repeated
World spun on with life unheeded
Mangled mind unraveled with sore eyes
A scholar watches, stricked as he spies
A life lived and then discarded
Poet's words scrawled on empty space
What has a thousand times been said
He writes again for future eyes to trace

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Book Review: Tam Lin by Pamela Dean

The novel Tam Lin is a modernized retelling of the Scottish folk ballad by the same name. Janet Carter starts school at Blackstock College where her father is a professor. Despite her familiarity with the campus joke that all Classics majors are crazy she is not quite prepared for the strange, tight lipped, unearthly talented and eerily beautiful students she meets in that department, her adviser's adamancy in trying to recruit her into it or the ghost of a Classics major that haunts her dorm room. She settles into life on campus well enough with all the usual drama with classes, dating and trying to get along with her room mate with no idea of the secrets that lay hidden in Blackstock's history or that she is on her way to repeating it.

Every other page of this book is filled with quotations from Shakespeare, Keats, Lewis Carrol or C.S. Lewis. As a result I can only say that I enjoyed it immensely. Did it have good characterizations and a riveting plot? Probably. I didn't notice. I was too distracted. Still, I recommend it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Two Things

1) I have decided that I will submit at least one piece somewhere every month just as a way to keep me on my toes. For July I sent a short story "Over the Wall" to Realms of Fantasy Magazine. We'll see what happens.

2) I have decided to revive Taliesin in its paper form after all (not that the blogs going anywhere). If you have anything you want to submit (story, poem, essay, flash fiction, book review . . .) please send it to me ( by August 7 if you would like it to be in the summer issue.

And that is all. Have a super fantastic day.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Things I Learned, Re-learned, and Un-forgot in Writing Class

Over the last six weeks I took a creative writing course for the summer semester. Here are some of the things I managed to learn.

A Raven is too like a Writing desk if that's what you say it is.

Sleep is Important. Sacrifice sparingly.

Writing what is real is hard.

Writing about myself scares me.

Sometimes I need to be a little scared.

There is no such thing as everything you need to know.

Anything can be salvaged. Never throw out anything.

I sometimes sketch ideas for blog posts in class instead of doing the assignment.

Like right now.

Busses are never on time.

I don't know anything about computers.

Some people pronounce 'prelude' 'pray-lude'.

Fresh cut grass makes me think of Hermione Granger.

Just because you already know something doesn’t mean you can’t learn it again.

Just because you already know something doesn’t mean it’s true.

Nothing is ever finished.

There is no such thing as perfection.

Humility. There are so many people who can write beautifully it is frighting. In a good way.

Monday, July 19, 2010

In Which I am Soppier Than Usual

I am not very good at "thank you"s. Especially when complements are involved. I always feel the urge to disbute or make light of it and undermine the person I am thanking's opinion or just babble. In short, complements embarass me.That doesn't mean I don't like them only that aknowledging them is dificult.
I with to at this moment aknowledge you for paying me the highest complement one writer can give another. Reading my words.

Thank you.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Silverlock; A Review

John Myers Myers' Silverlock is an odessey like adventure with the action and cavileir aditude of Robert Louis Stevensons' Kidknapped and the metaphysical undertones of George MacDonald's Phantasies. A. Clarence Shandon is thrown overboard in a storm on his way to Chicago. With no particular taste for life he accepts his inevitable death until he is saved against his will by Golias (also called Orpheus, Wisdith or Taliesin) and dragged through the Comonwealth on one long rambling adventure in which he laughs, drinks and despairs with Robin Hood, Beawulf, The Green Knight, Tam Lin, Job, Faustopheles, Hamlet, Davie Crocket and many others on his journey through storytelling to a better understanding of life.

The character of Shandon is hard to like at first but grows on you pretty quickly even before he starts the more major aspects of his transformation. Silverlock is a wonderful book to explore the effects of storytelling with and a perfect book for summer because most of it is episodic and goes at a more languid pace so you can soak it in little bits at a time. I don't know that I've read a book that made me feel so refreshed upon finishing it in a long time.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Little Pep Talk

I was nine years old before I learned to read. No really. Nine years old. My mom spent hours trying to help me sound out words and fill my head with sight word flash cards but it was all in vain. I recognized some words. If I worked hard enough I could figure others out but it wasn't reading. It was a pain inflicted on me before I was allowed to go outside and play on the swing and had almost no connection to the real stories my mom read to me later in the day.
Then something awful happened. My mom stopped reading to me.
I had always loved stories, beginning with Curious George and the Bernstein Bears and moving on to the American Girl series and Secret Garden but the mystical art of deciphering them was lost to me. I don't know if my mom figured out that I would never read on my own if she kept reading aloud or if she just didn't have as much time but suddenly I was surounded by books and I couldn't get past the covers. They teased me with their titles and beconed me with their illistrations and I wanted nothing more than to crawl inside and see what was there
But I couldn't read. This was a fact. An unpleasant one but a fact. I had tried. I had failed. Over and over. Every atempt had been excrusiating. I could not read.
One day I decided to try anyways. Might as well. Woudln't hurt anything. I picked up On the Banks of Plumb Creek and read the first chapter. Then the second chapter. Wait! How was this happening? I couldn't read. But suddenly all the little pieces and rules I'd been agonizing over fell into place and I sailed through my first novel. When I was finished I read Mary Poppins and the Oz books and Alice and Wonderland (you can see the fantasy bug bit me early on), volumes of folk tales and (to my shame) the Babysitter's Clum books.
I don't think I need to emphasize that reading as since become an ireplacable part in my life. I read. A lot. Its not dificult. But I can still remember that feeling of imposibility, like a chasm between me and those pages that I was never going to cross. I had tried and failed too many times already. If there had ever been any posibility I would suceed I would have learned years ago with all the other second graders. But the barier was only in my head. I just had to be patient and try again. Its a silly little story but most things seem sillier and smaller in retrospect. At the time it was catastrophic.

So what can't you do? What have you already tried too many times?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Little Cat

Little Cat

Little Cat
Sitting on a ledge
Her balance looks precarious
Her place to sit is small
I approach
Feet fumbling in the morning
I am quiet but she looks up
Eyes wide, she sniffs the air
The same early grey as her fur
Between time
Between touch
I reach my hand for the sleek surface of her neck
Eyes wide, she sniffs the air
She turns her head
She looks around
No one there but me
She arches her neck
My fingers move closer
And for a moment

Monday, July 5, 2010

"I Wish I'd Writen It"

Before I begin I would like to say that this is not in retaliation to anything said to me or even based on any specific incident. Only a meandering contemplation based on general opservation. I hope I would never actaully mistake a kind encouragement for an insult and would not encourage anyone else to do so.

There is a phrase that circulates around criteques and book reviews writen by other writers that purplexes me. "That was so beautiful (stunning, witty, informative, insert-other-complement-here) I wish I had written it." I can only ask, "why?"

I can understand a small pang of jealousy. That is part of the elusive chase of mastering words. A longing not to admire, but to pocess, to create. The artist is never quite satisfied, never quite there, always getting closer, always getting further away but though that is a small part of the phrase when someone says "That was so beautiful I wish I'd written it" I feel a stronger expression of someone being inspired rather than jealousy and that is why the phrase baffles me.

You will never have the privlage of reading your own writing for the first time. You will never surprise yourself the same way that you surprise your readers. You will never be able to catch your own breath the way other authors can.

"So beautiful I wish I'd written it." Why? If you had you would never have been able to experience it.