A Garden of Delights

Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

The first thing one needs to do (if one wants to do anything) is to start…

13239297_10208935359048457_5614473794801101084_nThis is me starting…

…yet again.

It’s not a grand plan of attack yet.  It’s a baby step.  I don’t know where I’m going yet.  It involves writing and stories—I know that much at the moment.  It also involves trimming some things.

 

More on that later…

For today, just a quick “Hi, I’m back.”

And a bit of an update…  I’m writing again.  *whew*  It was hard going for a while.  I suspect every year it’s still going to be a bit hard to maintain any writing momentum around the holidays.  This year I almost wished I could embrace the normal busy-ness that normally takes one during that time.  Hopefully next year, and the years that follow, will get easier, and I can stop thinking about the should’ves and could’ves and the people gone.

I can only honor them one way—be the best person I can be.  When I was with them, they made me feel like I was that best person…

We all go somewhere, someday.  If it is a real place, then…  it’ll be fun to say “Hi!  You were right!” to them.

Oh, and my daily wordcount via 750words: 1031 words

jayce_and_the_wheeled_warriors_by_noender-d5zi9mh

credit NOENDER via Deviant Art

Kid TV is for adults

I wasn’t planning on this topic for a blog post this morning.  Actually, I was going to continue along the theme I’d started for my ROW80 Check-in and try writing a piece of flash fiction about a cat and his/her human.  After all, cats do make up a good portion of the internet… and my personal life.

But, I tried something different today…  mostly because I wasn’t finding the words.  I needed help, and I didn’t want to spend too long finding it.  So I hopped over to the One Minute Writer site for a kick in the writer butt.

But the prompt today had nothing to do with cats….

It’s okay though, because Approval Cat said if I could come up with an idea about Kids TV during a one minute writing session, then I should write a post about that instead of cats.  Approval Cat is so very understanding…  especially after some catnip and sardines.

So I’m going to write about inspiration, and how some of the silliest things can trigger one’s imagination and drive her to create stories and art.   I’m going to write about an 80’s cartoon.

Back in high school, I wasn’t the best student.  Bored often, distracted always…  I gave my teachers (and parents) no end of despair when homework was involved.  I liked to draw, but had stopped doing that for a few years because my father had thrown all my work away in a (failed) attempt to get me to focus on schoolwork and not obsess over horses and fantasy worlds.

I firmly believed I couldn’t write.  My grades in English were abysmal, and my best friend seemed to know everything about the subject, could write perfect sentences, spell perfectly, etc., so that felt like her thing, not mine.   And because I had been above-middling in arithmetic all through school without any effort, I listened when people said I should do that instead.

…fade out to middle school and earlier…

Thing was, I’d always created stories.  In the early days, I had created nations with my horse models and Barbies, scribbled little notes and plot lines of an Arabian princess (quite literally an Arabian) named Anocka-Jenay and a helpful rapscallion named Coca-nora helped the queen of the humans find a way to make peace with the equine people against the dangers of…  well, all sorts of kid fears, but usually the “bad” humans.

When my horses were taken away, for a time I still tried to make those stories, but my confidence had never been that high, and I didn’t have the same connection to a lot of other ‘kid things”.  Most of my childhood entertainment had been dismissed by my parents as too juvenile; most of my age peers didn’t talk about Jacques Cousteau, Walter Kronkite, and Quincy M.E. with the same passion I did (if at all).

… fade back in to high school…

There was Star Trek…  I liked it, a lot.  Like a lot of girls (born a decade before me), I thought Walter Koenig was incredibly cute as Chekov, and I did have a short phase of idolizing Spock, though mostly it was a fondness for Leonard Nimoy himself, since In Search Of was also one of my favorite shows, and the “Spock makeup job” made my skin itch.

But for me, Star Trek wasn’t unique.  My parents were avid sci-fi and fantasy readers and watchers, and every weekend there was something genre on the television, either the original Battlestar Galactica, Lost In Space, Buck Rogers, and so many others.  I used to fall asleep listening to Rod Serling’s silken voice drifting up through the floor because it was on so late in syndication.

So, when Shan Jeniah encouraged me (or I encouraged her…  or it was mutual encouragement, I forget now) to start creating a fictional world based on Star Trek because she’d fallen in love with it…  I definitely didn’t refuse.  I did love the show, and I definitely needed an outlet for some of that creative (and often very silly) energy I’d been building up.

But while I enjoyed the show and the writing, I didn’t love it.  And I hadn’t really found something that connected quite right.

Then, one morning while getting ready for school (I often watched cartoons in the morning while eating breakfast), I passed an odd show…  a bit Star Wars-like, a bit corny (okay, a bit more than a bit), with better than average art and cool music.  And, without even knowing why…  I was hooked.  I saw so much potential in these characters for more.  Questions like: why did Gillian have a domed garden before the Monster Minds came; what sort of magic was he using in such a technologically advanced world, flying fish(!), space ships that looked like ancient sailing vessels…  what kind of name for a powerfully intelligent plant creature was “Saw Boss” anyway?!

And..  it didn’t hurt that one of the first real episodes of the show was this one: Final Ride at Journey’s End.  It wowed me.  In the 80’s, it seemed pretty much impossible to find a cartoon that pushed boundaries the way this episode did, leaving viewers wondering if one of the heroes (or somewhat anti-hero) of the story might have died in a suicidal assault on the enemy.

Okay, so it wasn’t that unusual.  But at the time, even my cartoon experience had been severely limited, and though I loved what I’d seen of Robotech, I hadn’t yet seen a whole episode of it, and so didn’t know how dramatic a cartoon could be.  I liked knowing there wasn’t an answer…  answers were offered everywhere in kid’s shows, reassurances like the constant parachutes in G.I. Joe (not that I ever watched that show) or the friendly (read: annoying) commentary of 7-Zark-7 in G-Force that filled in the blank spaces with comforting words about how a town was going to be rebuilt soon or so-and-so was recovering in the hospital and doing well.

As if children needed constant protection against the truths of the world without a huge sugar-coating…

I liked the ambiguity that Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors left me with.  I could work with that ambiguity, and I did.  I created worlds upon worlds based on that ambiguity.

While most of my fiction has moved far away from its roots in Star Trek and JatWW fanfiction (most, not all…  the Was Long Variation and The Dots get regular doses of word love), this show in particular sparked a passion in me that has lasted to this day.  And I don’t see it fading soon.

So, thank you, One Minute Writer, for giving me a chance to speak about an inspiration.  And…  thank you too, Approval Cat, for letting me write about something non-feline.  And thank you most of all, DIC Audiovisuel, for producing this great show.

approvalcat2

Sometimes people mean so much to us that all “things” seem inadequate.  We say we should give of ourselves, but that comes off as so trite.  And it’s hard to define anyway.  I can’t speak for most people, but I try to make myself available and try to do things for those I love without being reminded or asked anyway.  I love them and try to be attentive to them.

Bubbles!  MUST pop Bubbles (credit Ray Paulsen Photography)

Bubbles! MUST pop Bubbles (credit Ray Paulsen Photography)

So what to give a life partner who makes smiles just happen by being in the same room?  Who frustrates me by leaving the butter out and staring at me blankly when I ask if we need anything from the store before I head out then asks me why I forgot mustard when I get home…  Who perfected the infamous Muppet Dance and does pseudo-ballet twirls in our kitchen as I’m moving boiling water around….

I wrote a poem.

Flavor

I don’t like

      Coffee

Flavored kisses,

bittersweet, tangy

      Let me

take one of my

      Birthday truffles

Make sweet, hot, wet

      Drops on your lips.

Warm, melting,

      caress

my lips

      taste of yours.

My fingers reach to your hair

I hold you there

      Dripping sweetness

      lick it up

      take another bite.

I don’t like coffee

but your flavored kisses

            are too brief.

I wrote this before my husband’s birthday, but sharing it is a very different step.  I hope you’ll all indulge me for the moment as I wish Dan Happy Birthday (a few days off).

At the Henge (photo credit Eden Mabee)

A little upkeep is needed here, with a few announcements.

  • First there are some wonderful upcoming features coming up including a review of Diane Ackerman‘s eloquent One Hundred Names For Love (May 14th) and a delightful guest piece in Your Inspirations by Barbara Chepaitis (May21th)
  • I’m in the process of merging both this blog and Many Worlds, but the process is becoming far more emotionally stacked than I would like it to be.  Please stop in occasionally for updates.

For the moment, please allow me to share a piece with you I’d written for the  StoryDam Writing Challenge prompt this week

Spring time is about new beginnings and with new beginnings you have choices. We often are so excited to see the first days of spring turning into warmer days of outdoor fun, new projects, gardening, home improvement, new outlooks and decisions that have to be made if you want to start something new. Is there a doorway you always wanted to go through but allowed something to hold you back? What great adventure might have been waiting on the other side of that opening?

Dam Burst Prompt:

Write fiction or non-fiction, tell us what lies on the other side of the door. Will you take door number two or door number one? What magical wonders are just waiting for you to step through?

Despite writing this piece on the 30th of April, I’ve been unable to do anything with it until today….  It’s fairly raw.  Still I hope you enjoy it.  Sometimes life simply “is”.

——————————————–

Two doors… Where do they lead?  Choices, choices…

Watchman

A watchman stands at the door to the left.  With promises of the stable life, the known life,  everyone else seems eager to enter that door.  Get your papers in order.  The watchman–or watchwoman, depending on how you get here–deals with this every day.  Just pass the information over and let him do his job.

He, or she will compare your papers to a checklist they keep.  (Be careful–these guards all seem to have slightly different checklists!)  It doesn’t matter what the little variation might be….  Child out of wedlock, too many job changes, a tattoo in a noticeable location… There are countless numbers of little things the guards check for.

After perhaps five strikes you have your papers handed back to you, and guard turns you from the line. There a few ways to get through the door even so.  Perhaps you have a bonus supply of money or good looks or chutzpah… even talent can be used as currency to bribe the guard.  If you have a surplus in some area, you still might get through.  You can be one of the ones who has it all.

If you are smart, you may go over your papers on you own . Once you are in line, you’ve made you choice and unless the guard urges you out of line, you have to go through that door.  You really have to mess up once you are on the other side to get sent back out to try again.

Ipsden: inside the church porch Entering the 1...

At least that’s what every one around you in line says, whispering in low, horrified voices, the sheer weight of ostracism held in each letter, each atom the air that is exhaled from their lips. They look askance at the ones that stand in line at the other door… Its blackened, muddied, peeling surface, dented and warped just enough that occasionally a whiff of “something” that doesn’t set well on your stomach escapes it. They have made it quite clear that you don’t want to enter that door.

That’s where those people go. You don’t want to be one of those people, do you? (They motion to their guard and say with pride “Why do you think we have to guard our door? Everyone wants to come in here. We have to be selective, you know.”)

And it does look so much nicer. There are flowers growing on a arbor over it. There is a light. Everything about their door is bright, clean. You once were near enough to catch the whiff of fresh clipped lawns and gentle perfumes as someone was let in.

Roses along a trellis, Interbay P-Patch (commu...

But as you stand in the crowd, knowing that you should decide, already starting to step forward toward the door with the guard, you see someone push the other door open. This person hadn’t even considered the flowered, guarded door. He stepped out of the crowd boldly, he even seemed to smile when he got to the door and found it was stuck closed from having been warped so much. He pushed against it with all his weight, making his body into a battering ram in his determination to get through that door. And behind him, you could hear others calling to him saying “No! Please don’t do this!”

Suddenly, the door opens for him, just as the guarded door is opening for someone else, and you see inside for just the briefest moment. You see the guarded door and the rows of neat little boxes, of neat, carefully manicured grasses and faces, the sameness of it all.

Your eyes take it in in a second before you look back to the unguarded dooor as it creaks closed against the boy who has ducked into its depths. You see a multitude of colors and glaring brightness amidst devastating darkness, You hear music. You smell flowers and refuse and you hear laughter and tears.

You know that it’s all the same then. And why should you ask someone else yo judge you fit to simply “live”

We know the end result of both doors. The long term end that is. The doors all end in death.  We cannot avoid it. Even if we were to try standing still and never move, we have chosen our exit from the world. And what a sad, desperate exit that is too. So what exit do we chose to use?

PHOTO CREDITS:

  • Watchman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Ipsden: inside the church porch Entering the 1761088 and closing the outer door behind you, it soon becomes clear that the porch does not have much in the way of illumination. Not having looked beforehand, I had to reopen the outer door so as to find the handle of the inner door. Here, we look back at the closed outer door, facing south on a bright sunny day as sunlight seeps in through gaps in the woodwork and under the door. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • Roses along a trellis, Interbay P-Patch (community garden), Interbay neighborhood, Seattle, Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Storyteller in Uncertainty

Inspired or nudged or something by both Shan Jeniah and Shah, I’m adding my two cents into Shah’s Storyteller Challenge due today.  Or maybe it was the cool picture–See?

Does she manage to soar?

As She Said

The wings felt heavy, unnatural.  It should have been a clue, but the desire to escape the confines of her day-to-day life seemed so strong, so powerful, Naria accepted them.  How could she not, she thought?  How could anyone refuse the chance to soar free, above the clouds, to live, even for a moment like the birds…

The  djinni had warned that few could wear the wings and make themselves a part of the living bird spirit that existed within them.  Death came to those the bird spirit refused.

But what of those it accepted, Naria had asked, several times, demanding the djinni answer her, even to the loss of her last favored wish.  She had to know.  Could she become as the birds in the sky?  Would she stay human, bird, both?

The answer had been unsatisfying to say the least.  How could a djinni not know such things? He had sworn even to the oath of his royal family in the Planes of Ether that there had been those the bird spirit in the wings had accepted.  Death had not taken all those he had been sent to gift.  And yet, he could only answer her with “They became what they were already.”

A truly unsatisfying answer

Still, even if it were a moment of escape, a moment to try on the life that she would never experience again, to see the world in a new light than than of her husband’s kingdom, her oversight of the servants, the petty squabbles of her fostering ladies…  If she could have but a moment to be more than she was, she would not refuse to take it.

“I won’t fall,” she told herself  as she crept to the top of the highest tower of the castle.  She paused at the window ledge, weary from hauling the large wrapped bundle up the stairs, held as carefully away from her body as she could in the tightness of the stone stairways.  It had suddenly seemed vital to protect the delicate barbs of the fathers from harm.  Every quill must remain solid and firm.

She knew this, and as soon as she’d entered the tiny chamber, she had gently laid out the plumage, inspecting it carefully, soothing it, feeling it, cool yet warm and alive under her fingers.  And, though the djinni had told her otherwise, saying she should spread the wings out inside out and lay upon them till they became with her flesh,, Naria erected them, tenting them over her body as she crouched, bare to any eyes that might see.  The wings felt heavy and unnatural, pressing her body into the stiff straw pad of the bed.

And now, they felt even heavier, drawing back her shoulders as she tried to stand straight and proud the way she’d always been taught.  Chest in, she heard her nurse scold, though the woman had been dead many years now.  Do not show  a man more than he need see to know you are virtuous, her tutors had lectured.  But try as habit forced her to do, she could not, her back wearied from her journey up the several flights of stairs already, and  Naria felt herself drawn forward, chest pressed to the world defiantly.

Forward, unsteady, weary, wobbly, from where she stood, looking down over her husband’s lands.  “I will not fall,” she told herself once more, even as she felt herself totter.  A moment’s panic gripped her, but she vowed it yet again.

“I will NOT fall.”

And she did not try to hold on.  She faced what was to come, whatever her choice would bring.  She could not fall, she realized, because she had already escaped.  She was already free.  She had already done as she’d wished.

Naria did not fall.

There was a second prompt to write about; a timed prompt for 3mins.  It could be in any genre, any form, just three minutes…
————————

Treacle:

TIMED WORD ASSOCIATION:Treacle, Bloated, Yesterday.

Sweet the pudding words you told me, treacle to my ears and heart
Yesterday your mind was showing, you spoke some thing,
Pop art, urban deco, bloated with your self-importance, thinking foolish
hardly worth my time and thought

Yesterday, your words were treacle,they tasted sweet, they warmed my soul
Today your words smell of noxious vapors, putrid bloated in my bowl

I don’t want to touch them, don’t want to taste, don’t to smell.

I can’t even wash them

 

We’re back on schedule here at the Garden of Delights, and that means Your Inspirations.  Today I have the honor of welcoming a wonderful writer (and an incredibly helpful and outgoing person), Martine  Svanevik, the self-named nascent novelist.  When you have a chance, please step over to her blog and read her most recent piece on Stories That Stick or any of a number of others

Writing in Public

cup of coffee

There are two types of writers: reclusive and social. The reclusive writers hide away in corners, go on solitary retreats and lock themselves away so they can write. The social writers join groups and collectives, and like to go to parks or cafes to get their writing done.

Often, non-social writers and readers have the preconception that social writers are hipsters or posers or both. That their Macbook airs are open on blank pages because they have nothing of depth to offer, that they sit at cafes to be seen, while real writers hide away, shaping their words in private. But really, it’s all about the kind of environment you draw inspiration from.

The cafe writer enjoys the buzz of human interaction, she thrives on catching snippets of other people’s conversations, she needs a space where the tap-tap-tapping of fingers on keyboards won’t thunder through an empty room.

She knows that her words are written so they can be shared, and that it’s only in the reading of them that they serve a purpose, so she writes them in public. Or maybe she feels like the only place she can truly be in her own space, is in a crowd. That her muse hides in that special silence you get when you’re surrounded by noise and movement. Sure the laptop sets her apart, but it doesn’t define her.

Now, I’m not saying there’s a right way to write, or that everyone would gain a circumstance bonus from sitting in a noisy crowd. I am in awe of writers who are so comfortable in their own head that they can spend most of their time alone in there. What I am saying is that the search for inspiration might take us weird places, but as long as we’re willing to chase our muse, who cares where she leads us? I’m sure it’s going to be somewhere good.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to steal a snippet of conversation from the girls next to me, and then figure out the definition of a “Toronto bro.”

The elegant, creative Martine

Martine, lovely both inside and out

About Martine Helene Svanevik

Martine Helene Svanevik is a fiction writer from Montreal. She spends her days editing text for computer games, her evenings powerlifting and crossfitting, and her nights writing twisted stories set in a darker world than our own.

She blogs about writing and training over on nascentnovelist.wordpress.com and can often be found wasting time on twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/martinemonster).

With many apologies to our guest, Janet Parfitt, for being a week late with posting this piece, I wish to offer her a warm welcome to the Garden of Delights as she shares one of her writing inspirations with us.  I especially enjoy reading things that Janet posts, because (barring becoming a rock star), we share so many common interests.  It always fascinates me to see the differences that occur even among common threads.

So, without further ado, please welcome, Janet Parfitt:

Cover of "On Writing:  A Memoir of the Cr...

         You only have to look in your local bookshop or go to Amazon to see that there are thousands, if not millions, of books about creative writing.  An amazing amount of people have written on the subject with a lot of conflicting advice.  There are those who tell you basically to just sit down and start writing and then there are those who say you should plan out every scene, character, setting and plot twist before you start.

You might wonder who all these people are and what makes them qualified to give you advice on writing.  But there is one guy who I don’t think anyone in their right mind would question because he is the best-selling writer in the entire universe and his name is Steven King.

King’s book entitled “On Writing” is the best book ever written about the process of creative writing.  I mean, what he doesn’t know can’t be worth knowing, right?  And, as you would expect, it’s very well written; part biography and part writing manual, it’s all good.  My favourite bit is the first sentence of the second foreword which goes “This is a short book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit.[1]”  You got to love the man for writing that!

He goes on to say that “If you want to be a writer, then you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.  There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.[2]”  This is not a book padded out with lists or the same writing tips given out over and over, just phrased slightly differently.  And it doesn’t have that school-marm slightly superior tone that says ‘I know better than you do.’  What he does is tell it to you straight; here’s another excerpt to show you what I mean.  “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends.  In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.[3]

Thank you Steven!


[1] Steven King – On Writing.  P. xiii.  Hodder and Stoughton, 2000.

[2] Steven King – On Writing.  P. 164.  Hodder and Stoughton, 2000.

[3] Steven King – On Writing.  P. 326.  Hodder and Stoughton, 2000.

On Writing

Now in her late 40’s, Janet Parfitt has filled her creative reservoirs with the labors of many crafts.  Diverse jobs such as filing clerk in a tax office, chamber maid in a hotel, vending machine maintenance in the (now closed) Kodak factory in Harrow and Wealdstone (UK) and sous chef in a restaurant supplemented her reading to inspire stories, poems, songs and dreams of becoming a rock star.  Led Zeppelin, animal welfare, words of beauty, the mysteries of the occult stir her passions almost as much as her family and lovely husband.  Raised in North London, she has a degree in history.  She runs a writing related magazine Writing With Fire, a blog Mrs. Bongle, and can be found on Twitter at @MrsBongle.  She is a practising witch.  


First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

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Above Monument Basin

Summer's Light

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