Tag Archives: April

Reorganization

I realized, recently, that I’ve put quite a few pieces of original fiction on this blog. And that it would behoove me to make it more accessible.

Thus I have reorganized the navigation links at the top of the blog, and created this Handy Page.

Also, as I do periodically, because I love it, I am pointing you all towards Bekind Rewrite’s short, hard-boiled Noir Mystery, The Mysterious Case of the Marshmallow Mushroom Forest

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Of flowers and world-building

I am no J.R.R. Tolkien. The thought of even trying to create something as deep and profound as his Arda makes me want to give up.

Still, world-building is important even when one is not writing about a fictional world. If I write about my home city, I still have to build it into the story for the benefit of people who do not know it.

But the truth is, I am not writing about my home, or even my world. A while back I made the decision, rightly or wrongly, to not fear using elements from Earth. This may cause confusion (and a major re-write) later on, but my thought-process went something like this:

I am writing in English, with the characters speaking English, which means I am already acting as a translator (because it would make no sense for these people to speak English).

Moreover, these people are human, which begs all kinds of questions on a world which is not Earth.

I borrow from cultures around me (one must begin somewhere, and “write-what-you-know” applies to fantasy and sci-fi, too).

It makes sense to borrow ecology, weather-patterns, geology and other world aspects, as well, for two reasons: 1. I am not clever enough to come up with a working world whole-cloth  and 2. if I manage to make it all up, I lose all of the rich symbolism and cultural significance that already exists in our world (and therefore needs a lot less explaining).

Ok, then, I will go ahead and write the story around what I know and go from there.

My reasoning might be quite flawed. I would love for you to chip in and discuss it with me, if world-building interests you.

So, what has this to do with flowers?

Floriography is a word for a tradition found in several cultures in which plants or flowers are used to convey meaning or even a message. It’s fascinating, though not very reliable. Even in the same culture, some flowers have very different meanings, and when a flower’s meaning relies on its color or variety, things get even more complicated.

In the cultural history of my home state, both indigenous and colonial, this symbolism sometimes reaches the level of belief or superstition. Instead of symbolizing something, a flower or plant is thought to be a vessel of the thing itself. That kind of superstition has bled into my writing and is becoming a significant thread in the narrative.

The thing is, I don’t agree with many of the “meanings” given to flowers in the past. That isn’t an indictment of tradition, but a mere matter of taste. For my story, different significances and superstitions may be needed, and to that end, I am creating a new floriography as I go along. If this ever happens to be published, such a list will probably be in Appendices for those who are interested.

So, you see, my world-building is rather haphazard. Some things echo Earth (oh, hey! There’s an oak-tree and some raspberries, and is that person singing Wildwood Flower?) and some things diverge (there are several fictional plants already, plus, you know, mythological beasties and stars and more than one moon…).

Why am I telling this to the internets? Well, I am looking for thoughts and opinions on this matter. I can’t make a good, informed decision on anything without input. So, what are your opinions and preferences when it comes to world-building? Are you a stickler for consistency? Do you try to science out if the place you are reading about is Earth (past, present, future, parallel)? Do you like fictional worlds to be completely new and interesting? Do you like familiarity? Do you even notice when there’s an oak-tree in T’naké’lorilin’arpa’liél?

For me, I think what is most important is whether or not the world, in and of itself, makes sense/works. I am not above or beyond changing my opinion, though.


Roaring Farce

I mentioned, in my last post, that there was another quote from The Four Loves that I wanted to post. It requires a little introduction.

Lewis is discussing good and bad forms of patriotism. He compares the overtly harmful ‘we are superior and therefore we crush lesser peoples’ to the more insidious ‘we are superior, therefore we are obligated to help lesser peoples by ruling them.’

I am far from suggesting that the two attitudes are on the same level. But both are fatal. Both demand that the area in which they operate should grow “wider still and wider.” And both have about them this sure mark of evil: only by being terrible do they avoid being comic. If there were no broken treaties with Redskins, no extermination of the Tasmanians, no gas-chambers and no Belsen, no Amritsar, Black and Tans or Apartheid, the pomposity of both would be roaring farce.

The Four Loves, by C. S. Lewis (the emphasis is mine)

Honestly, I stopped dead when I read this, and I re-read it several times as I let it sink in. The idiotic arrogance of such twisted “patriotism” has been clear to me from an early age, but because of the horrors associated with it, I had never thought about the farcical angle.

I think Lewis is on to something. Pride, greed, lust, gluttony, sloth, wrath and envy… which of these, if stripped of its monstrous consequences, is not simply ridiculous?

Alas that, for now, we cannot laugh for long without weeping.


From The Four Loves

“Say your prayers in a garden early, ignoring steadfastly the dew, the birds and the flowers, and you will come away overwhelmed by its freshness and joy; go there in order to be overwhelmed and, after a certain age, nine times out of ten nothing will happen to you.”
The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis

I’ve been busy, and I will probably be taking an internet hiatus soon. I recently finished The Four Loves, by C. S. Lewis. As always, when I read him, I was overwhelmed by his ability to express himself. Over all, I found the book fascinating and enlightening. I also wish I could get in touch with the man and debate some things with him, but ah well.

The above quote is something that struck me, when I read it, for I’ve had just the experience he is talking about. My relationship with God effects every single aspect of my life, even the ones that, on the surface, would seem to have nothing at all to do with spirituality, religion or faith. Prayer effects the taste of an apple and the sound of my cats’ asking for breakfast.

There’s another quote I will share, soon, but I figured I would go ahead and post this one.


Hamlet Statistics

I am puzzled by something.

I do not have a super-popular blog (and to be honest, I like it that way. If I got too popular, I might flee), but I get at least a few hits every day. Naturally, my main-page has the lion’s share of hits, but I have noticed that nearly every day since it went up, my post Ay, madam, it is common gets at least one.

Out of curiosity, I looked up my all-time statistics, and while I was not surprised that the above post was second in the number of hits, I was a little shocked by the numbers.

So, since I started this blog on December 27, 2011, my main page has received 2,572 hits.

Since its publication on January 15, 2013, “Ay, madam, it is common” has received 454!

The next highest ranking post, from October 18, 2012, has only 210.

Being of a curious nature, I can’t help but wonder why. The relatively high rank of The Hobbit read-along post isn’t surprising. It was a social effort, and with the movie coming out, a lot of people have been searching for Hobbit-related ramblings. Many of the search-terms that lead people to my blog are Tolkien-related (a fact that surprises no one).

The other is more of a mystery. The phrase I used in the title has, according to my stats, only led two people here (or one person twice?) and as far as Hamlet quotes go, it isn’t one of the more iconic.

The subject of the post is practically universal for writers, but it seems strange to me that, even so, the traffic to would be so significant and consistent.

Has it been linked somewhere without my knowledge? Why is it so often viewed, and by whom? I want to know!

Sadly, it remains a mystery to me. I would appreciate any insights, even if they are simply wild speculation involving alien cacti and the feline mafia.


t-615

The other day a fellow blogger payed me a compliment. Referring to the blip on my gravatar profile, he said that I am “not merely ‘another tree in the proverbial forest.'”

I am honored by his opinion.  Yet I do not agree.

Where most folks notice deer, or birds, or even people, I notice trees. Persimmon mosaics, scarlet oaks like frozen lightning, sycamores like living bone, loblolly pines with their spicy scent, some old, some young, twisted, smooth, and each with an intricate story. They remind me a lot of people.

Thinking I am like a tree, then, is no false humility. It would be base pride, save that the people in my life remind me, constantly, that there is a vast forest around me. This forest is amazing, wonderful and terrible. It contains horrors I cannot wrap my mind around, and feats of love and bravery (large and small) that astound me.

The tricky thing about being a “tree” is trying to figure out where you fit in the forest. A maple trying to be an oak won’t get very far, and will commit the crime of failing to be a maple.

My friend Emily Landham and her friend Lauren Carpenter recently had the courage, when faced with the overwhelming horror of modern-day Slavery, to ask themselves what they could do. They have the wisdom to know that they are not prepared, equipped or called to do all that needs to be done. So, instead, they sought out a way to use their own strengths in the fight. I will let them speak for themselves:


t-615 is our response to join and advance the abolition of modern day slavery. The victims must remain silent to survive, so we must do the shouting. We will use our creativity to share their story. Specifically, we will wear their story. We invite you to do the same. Twenty-five percent of our profits go to safe houses around the world where rescued victims are loved, protected and empowered to embrace their freedom. Together we can be a voice for those forced to silence. We can raise funds for those who are equipped to rescue, to protect, to heal, to council.  –t-615 website

I will only add this: I see integrity and dedication to the cause in my friend. She is diligent in seeking the best way to make the funds raised by t-615 directly impact victims of human trafficking. She is using her gifts, and I am supporting her with mine.

We need your strengths, too.

I am number 82. My mother is number 8.

I am a number, I am a tree, I am a person.

Photo by Harry K. Whitver

Photo by Harry K. Whitver

p.s. I didn’t realize until I published it, but this is my 82nd post. Wow.


Requiescat in Pace

Columbine

Marky Pace, the mother of a dear friend of mine, passed from this world and on to the next the night before last.

She is known for the warmth of her heart and the love she showered on so many in her lifetime. I imagine she was welcomed home with joyful singing, and she always did love the sound of voices raised in music.

Rest in peace and joy, Marky, and may the blessings your life gave to your family and friends comfort them until they meet you again.

God, comforter of grieving hearts, be with all of us who are, for now, left behind.


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