Muse 4: Swans! At the Lake in Annaghmakerrig!

Today, after a hard day of writing, self walked down to the lake:

Swan Sighting at the Lake!

Swan Sighting at the Lake!

And saw her first swans! (Actually, that’s not quite right. She was down at the lake yesterday evening, and saw swans then, too)

Self will share with dear blog readers that it was because of the swans she saw in Ireland that she wrote a story called “The Ark.” And, earlier this year, it was published by Local Nomad. Which, self just wants to say, is a really beautiful on-line journal. And it is all done by one woman: Jean Vengua.

Her story begins thus:

There were great stores of food laid up, for Noah knew that the flood would last a long time. The hull began to groan with the weight, intensifying his anxiety.

Two Swans!

Two Swans!

And here are swans, diving for food:

DSCN0430

And now, back to the writing desk!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Judith Barrington

from Judith Barrington’s classic Writing the Memoir

  • What we really need . . . are new images of of what it means to be a writer: images that include healthy food, exercise, a sane attitude, and a tranquil soul — all of which are surely more compatible with great writing than is being a physical and mental wreck. We need to encourage one another in these directions and reject the old stereotypes; we must remind one another that fighting with our families or suffering through a love affair that denigrates us are not essential pastimes for a writer. After all, writing is hard enough without adding alcoholism, drug addiction and angst to the qualifications. There is no evidence that good writing requires any of them. What writing does is require that we nurture the stamina it takes to work hard and that we stay fully conscious — and alive.

— Chapter 11 of Writing the Memoir (“Watch Out for the Myths”)

Randomness: Saturday, 20 June 2015

Today the weather is all mixed up. Self felt cool-ish this morning so she put on a turtleneck sweater.

Sometime in the afternoon, it began to shower. Only briefly. Only the merest whisper of moisture.

Now, it is hot. So hot it is really punishing to keep the sweater on. But since she’s been traveling so diligently, most of her clothes are in need of washing. And she brought very little with her (because she knew she’d be hitting buses and trains and hauling her own luggage all over the UK). And she is also feeling somewhat lethargic. And it is too much bother to change into something else.

It occurs to self that a number of distinct words describing negative emotional states begin with the letter “D.” Such as:

distracted * distraught * distressed

It occurs also to self that it is hard to write without using the letter “E.”

She just tried doing a challenge on Jennifer’s Journal. Here it is, for those who care to try.

And it occurs to self that Word Riot, several years ago, published a piece by her that was a Dictionary of sorts:

It began thus:

A

Ask. Ask and thou shalt receive.

Assumpta est Maria, you sang every week in the auditorium.

Angels. Angelus. Angelic.

Admit, admit this was all your fault.

Against. Must you always — ?

And on it went, all the way through the alphabet, self pulling random objects from thin air.

And she did it. She got all the way to the letter “Z.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Second (Or Third) Re-Read of CLOCKWORK PRINCESS

Self had quite a busy Sunday.

She went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Then she walked around, taking lots of pictures.

She finally, finally did a little work on her WIP, A Myriad Wildernesses.

She spoke to Joan McGavin.

She heard from Zack.

She began re-reading Clockwork Princess.

(Dear blog readers sigh)

She loves, loves, loves the angst.

Clockwork Princess opens with Tessa Gray in a gold wedding dress.

And Cicely Herondale trying to goad her brother, Will, into writing a letter to their parents, who he hasn’t seen or spoken to in five years.

Cecily:  Would you consider a wager, Will?

Cecily was both pleased and a little disappointed to see Will’s eyes spark, just the way her father’s always did when a gentleman’s bet was suggested. Men were so easy to predict.

Self likes Cecily! Got a lot of spunk, that girl does. Sort of reminds her of Arya Stark.

Let’s see, what else did self do today? She got herself a ticket to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which is showing at the Gielgud. She hopes it’s as good as the Broadway production, which just won a bunch of Tonys, including one for Alex Sharp, who plays the male lead. Well, it should be just as good, since the play originated here, in London.

On Wednesday, self is seeing King John at the Globe (Hurrah!) Self loves the Globe. And this time, she won’t be alone: Joan will be watching it with her.

Self’s first time to experience the wonder of the Globe was last year; she caught a production of Titus Andronicus (which was properly billed as “theatre without mercy”). It was brutal, it was shades of Quentin Tarantino, it had people walking out before half-time. Self nearly barfed at the chopping-off of hands scene.

While walking around today, self saw a huge sign plastering a building: Fifty Shades of Grey, now out on video. Oh my oh my oh my oh my. London is like some futuristic, anachronistic, fantastical Victorian Steampunk city.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Future: “First Life”

A short piece self wrote about a classroom of the future has been accepted by Juked.

This was the magazine that chose “The Hand” to win first place in their fiction contest, 2007.

Self still remembers when she got the call. She had to sit down. It seems like yesterday.

She never could have imagined that, eight years later, she’d be writing science fiction. She loves writing when she can play with the sound of the words, which is what she was trying to do with her story, “First Life”:

The human organism has proven itself completely willful. Narcissism results in confusion. My present condition.

And the consequences? The consequences of this confusion?

Well, extinction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Forces of Nature 2: Around Banff

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is FORCE OF NATURE. Since arriving in Calgary several weeks ago, self has been truly awed by, to borrow a phrase from The Daily Post prompt, “the sheer scale and power” of the physical surroundings. And even more since getting to Banff, which is in the Canadian Rockies.

Self had signed up for a one-day tour to Lake Louise, today. But she got the meeting place wrong, and by the time she found the Eric Harvie Theatre, the tour was long gone. Anyhoo, self was all right with that, because she ended up doing more work on her novel-in-progress (Working Title: That Wilderness).

Apologies for her photographs being smaller in scale than she was expecting to post today. But the human imprint is also a “force of nature,” isn’t it?

A path leading to the Eric Harvie Theatre

A path leading to the Eric Harvie Theatre in The Banff Centre. Well-traveled. Clearly.

Bridge Over a Gully -- Stumbled Across During A Walk This Morning

Bridge Over a Gully — Stumbled Across During A Walk This Morning. Puts new meaning into the phrase “river of stones.”

And this was the view yesterday, from the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. One of the other writers, Sheila Stevenson, asked if she’d like to go there for a fancy drink. We were joined by writer Jill Frayn. And self had her first Canadian beer. The three of us shared a huge appetizer of Nachos with Flatiron Steak. The beef here in Alberta is really good.

from the Rundle Lounge of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

from the Rundle Lounge of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

The hotel was crowded yesterday: full of families and wedding parties. There was live music. And many Asian tourists.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

What Is Story?

Maple, 1989: A Painting in Lloyd Hall, The Banff Centre

Wendy Allen, “Maple, 1989″: Collage, Mixed Media, Lloyd Hall, The Banff Centre

A few thoughts self scribbled down after yesterday’s symposium/discussion between mentors and participants here in the Banff Writing Studio:

  • The end of a novel is not the end of a STORY.
  • The writer is not responsible for hope.
  • Sample story: Someone comes. They make someone miserable. And then they leave. (Or maybe they don’t leave. Thereby extending the misery? Wouldn’t it be so Deus ex machina for the cause of misery to just pick up and go?)

Self this afternoon finished reading the first story in the Bluestem Spring 2015 issue:  Meagan Cass’s “ActivAmerica.” Oh, it is a good one. Here are a few of the gorgeous sentences:

Out on the track, the cold settled over our bodies like wet cement.

*          *          *

“No weather exceptions for non-management,” the monitor told us, his face shining with Vaseline, heavy lines around his mouth, dark shadows under his eyes . . . “You’d have to check the binder . . . I think there’s a liability clause.” I didn’t want to know his story, what they were paying him and who was sick in his family and why he needed the money. I only wanted to kick him in the shins.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

WIP: The Wilderness

Sometimes you just have to quit trying, and DO.

And then DO SOME MORE.

Self is writing like crazes here in Banff.

Below, an excerpt from a novel-in-progress, Wilderness. It’s about Spain in the 18th century:

Winters were bitter cold, summers an agony of heat. Matias learned to use this to his advantage, remaining closeted in his room. A headache, he told his parents. Dizzy spells.

He read books. His father made sneering remarks about Matias’s laziness. As soon as the shadows lengthened, Matias would gather up his books and leave the house. At night the town’s labyrinth of streets could be dangerous, swarms of beggar children turning aggressive under cover of darkness, finding innocent marks and beating them with heavy wooden staves.

Matias was born into a landscape of suffering. The countryside surrounding the town was reeling from a severe drought that had dragged on many years, and from a pestilence that killed off half the population.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

WIP: “Problems With Sleep”

Sunday was when I met Heather.

I felt I should think of something Ellis and I could do together on Saturday. The Aquarius was having a Monty Python festival. I looked up the Saturday schedule and saw that Life of Brian and A Fish Called Wanda were showing. “Ok,” Ellis said. “When are you meeting your friend again?”

Been working on this story for a long while. Maybe self will finally be able to finish it here in Banff.

Stay tuned.

Poem-In-Progress Self Wrote on Twitter

Self has no idea what #PoemCrawl is. But in no way, shape or form did this prevent her from tweeting a nondescript poem last night. It goes:

An island. Notes written on an island.

An island big enough for games.

Where the death of Jesus sounds like today’s headlines.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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