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Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

It’s been a tough week for us all, one way or another, and one reason is that it is now obvious that all this . . . [gestures to everything] . . . is not going to end any time soon. In addition, I took my own advice and spent much of the week listening and learning from diverse voices. I’ve been rethinking and reevaluating many long-standing notions of society and America. You might have been doing likewise, and like me, you may have found it both depressing and exhausting.

But this post isn’t about any of that.

This post is about how I’ve been taking a moment here and there to brighten these dark days with a really, really bad book.

After sharing what I previously described as “the worst piece of professionally published fiction I have ever read,” a friend loaned me a book he felt was even worse.

And boy-oh-boy was he right.

It’s a self-published work, so my stance on “Man-Gods From Beyond the Stars” remains unchanged, but while “self-published” is by no means a synonym for “crap,”—I’ve self-published a few works, myself—there is a lot of the latter contained within the former. A whole lot.

And this book, well, it is utter crap.

And it is also absolutely adorable.

Seriously, it’s just adorable. From the mistake in the dedication straight through to the formatting error on the last line, it is chock-a-block with typos, malaprops, misused homophones, and errors of grammar and punctuation. Stylistically, it’s a hot mess. Unwieldy character names abound, used in every line of dialogue and the attached, adverbially enhanced avoidance of the word “said” (e.g., “Not to worry, Gondranth. I’m a trained professional,” stated Ik’nolt greedily). It has (dis)continuity issues that make you flinch and wonder if you’ve just had a minor stroke. And there is So. Much. Telling.

But here’s the thing: it’s just so earnest, so fervent, and so . . . enthusiastic . . . that it’s impossible not to cock your head to the side and say, “Awwww, how sweet.”

I won’t mention the author or title or even the genre here, because my point is not to humiliate the pen that created this trashy treasure. This book is an obvious labor of love, a gift to friends and family, and the author isn’t trying to be famous or “strike it rich” as a bestselling novelist, and isn’t complaining about the heartlessness of the publishing industry. This author just wanted to write a book, an homage to their favorite genre, and share it with others, and I will not make them feel bad about that.

I haven’t, and I won’t read the book in its entirety—frankly, I’m not sure that’s possible—but when I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by [again, gestures to everything], I will pick it up, open it to a random page, and chuckle at such fervid prose so inexpertly crafted.

We should all be that passionate about something. I’m glad this author found their dream and congratulate them on achieving the goal.

k

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As a youth, I was not “into” comic books. The reason for this was two-fold.

First, the nearest store that had a rack of comic books was a two-mile walk from my house. Now, a two-mile walk wasn’t unusual for me—I spent all summer and many school-day afternoons with friends up in the hills, trekking miles from our suburban homes—and a gaggle of us would frequently walk or ride our bikes down to that store, but once there, the primary reason came into play: as a kid, I was never given an allowance. (more…)

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When I do die, I hope it is in spring,
though not for me, no, not on my account.

For my part I would rather die whilst deep
in Autumn’s arms, to meet my final slumber
as the Earth trades out her riotous robes
for melancholy hues, and hones the evening’s
cool-lipped kiss into a thing that bites.

To die at such a time, in synchronized
conclusion with the fading world, it seems
most apt and natural, but still, I would
not have it so.

Those friends who rue my end,
I would not have them grieve in chill and growing
dark, nor hang with crepe the holidays
of friendship, love, and hearthfired warmth, nor mute
their joys with mournful tones, like minor chords
that linger in cathedral vaults.

Instead,
for them, my dearest few, I hope to die
in springtime, just as Nature’s hand arrives
to balance any sadness with the fresh
and unrelenting joy of life’s renewal.

I would ask the sun of warming days
to light each face, have blooms and birdsong lift
their hearts, and let the season’s boisterous breezes
dry their briny tears, all while surrounded
by the freshness of a world reborn.

k

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First, a bit of business.
My third Quarantine eBook Giveaway is live, today through Monday.
Free books! Tell a friend.

Now, onward to a writing quandary that has been rattling around in my pea-brain this week.

When I was writing speculative fiction (alternate history, high fantasy, science fiction), my process was unaffected by changes in modern life. I was writing about times past, alternatives to the present, or imagined futures, so I didn’t have to worry about current trends or innovations. At most, if a piece was set in the near-future, I might have to extrapolate forward from the day’s news, but in general, I had free rein and could build the world as I wished. (more…)

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It is that time of year when I take my slouch hat off its peg, step into my old green Wellies, head out into the garden, and contemplate shallow graves.

Last week, heavy winds cracked a twenty-foot long limb on the windward side of my blue spruce. As the limb fell the fifty or so feet to the ground, it took three lower limbs with it, all landing with a surprisingly hushed whump amongst the periwinkle. Sadly, one of the falling dead took half of a Japanese maple with it, but thankfully the maple, like the spruce, will survive.

This week, while the wind and snow and rain took a well-deserved breather, I donned my gear—the aforementioned slouch hat and Wellies, plus a billhook, machete, and saw—and made my first foray of the year out into the gardens to address the damage.

My garden in winter is not a lush thing. Though greenery still abides—the mostly moss-green lawn, the leathery green of the swordleaf ferns, the deep green of the periwinkles, and the blue-green of spruce and noble fir—on the whole the garden is spare and somewhat barren. The maples, the fruit trees, the ash and sweetgum, the lilac and willow, they all stand naked and unadorned. Remnants of last year’s blooms—gooseneck, crocosmia, spirea, and rose—huddle with their kind, shriveled and brown, ready for my pruner’s knife. And this year, of course, there was also the pile of timber that the southwesterly gales had so unkindly sent down from the canopy.

As I worked, wielding my blades, hacking branches from limbs, twigs from branches, my thoughts wandered and it struck me that though I usually think of my winter garden as a place of stasis, of rest and preparation, in truth it is more a place of death. My winter garden, amid the snows and rains and gusts of wind, is a locus of liminality where the world waits, caught between one life and the next, existing in both and in neither. All that was of the Year Gone By now lies in a shallow, leaf-strewn grave, ready to rot and return to the earth, while the Year To Come lies ready to burst forth from that very same earth, grave and cradle both.

My New Year’s Eve is not the chimes at midnight, the fireworks’ boom, the pop of champagne. This is my New Year’s Eve, this long turning-over, this slow walk from yesterday into tomorrow, when I can bury the mistakes of my past in the hopes of reaping the future wisdom that grows from their bones.

Life is a cycle, of birth and of death, but life is also cycles within that cycle, patterns within patterns, an intricate and delicate complexity that forms our years, our days, our breaths, the beating of our heart.

It’s not just a garden.

It never was just a garden.

k

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thoughts upon thoughts
memories upon memories

last week
I remembered
the day we met

yesterday
I remembered
the day when I remembered
the day we met

this morning
I remember remembering
that I remembered
the day we met

now
I hold infinity in my mind
remembering all my 
rememberings
past and future
of the day we met
from that first moment
to the end of time

memories upon memories
thoughts upon thoughts


January 29, 1982, 7:29PM PT

k

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The 2000-oughts and -teens have been a Spartan period, where society repeatedly pared and trimmed and shaved away at norms, ushering out elements deemed unnecessary in favor of brutal efficiencies and ever-more-draconian austerity plans.

I am, of course, speaking of typography. (more…)

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