The River Runs

When I was twelve, I found a mink swinging from a snare. We were taught to be careful of traplines, but this one was unmarked. That mink, silver wire biting its neck, was the first sign that someone other than ourselves had traveled up the creek.

I’ve seen death, before and since, but something about that mink and its empty eyes, its head at an angle no head should sit, has stuck with me through the years.

I’ve also remembered that space behind the mink, the soft sound of running water, continuing impervious to the drama on its banks.

Impervious to either death or life, its course set and maintained long after my passage.

It’s been a strange year.

One of my favourite comfort writers once said that there were people who placidly moved through life, taking each day as they came. Then there were those who experienced all the highest heights of sensation that the world had to offer, but the price that they paid was that they also experienced all the lowest depths.

I wonder sometimes about the lives I don’t live, but I accept the valleys that I might scale the mountains.

It’s certainly been a year with plenty of both.

I think sometimes that it is easy, in both life and writing, to focus on one or the other – the dead-eyed mink or the impervious cheer of the running water.

But as I think of the most powerful moments of my life, it is the intersection of the immovable and the transient that have held me, have shaped my own life and thoughts.

I followed the stream bank today, back past the mountain shadow and deep into the canyon.

There were no bloody footprints, no signs of a desperate, stilled struggle.

Even in their absence, I know that there are always snares, unexpected.

I stood for a long time on the bank and watched the water move.

I am still standing.

The river runs.

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It has been a year worth remembering. I hope that it has passed well for you.


If you would like to see more of my writing, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor is available here.

 

The Long Dark

As we pass through the Winter Solstice, I think of pivots.

I wake in the dark, work in the dark, go to bed in the dark. This day is the darkest of the dark days of winter.

We’re not meant to spend too much time without light. Energy drains the longer the night stretches, the more we hear of that queer electrical hum that hits when the dark is thickest.

It’s easy, in tales and in light, to dwell endlessly in darkness. There’s beauty and mystery there as well as frustration and exhaustion. For those who wish to sit there endlessly, it is easy to point to the anemic half-light that hits for a few minutes somewhere between dawn and dusk.

“See,” they say. “There’s some light here. But what really matters is the darkness.”

I love the dark.

I also love the way it turns to day.

Eternal darkness does an injustice to the balance of the world.

It is an incomplete snapshot, a story half-told and less truthful than a full lie.

Because the darkness does turn.

Because today marks the waning of its strength.

Because slowly we move towards the first pale fingers of warmth breaking through the mountains.

The darkness is beautiful.

So is the slow, inexorable movement towards spring.

IMG_0549Darkness is a movement, not a static state

As always, I am interested in transition points and movement. Darkness is a significant part of the movement in my own life.


For my own take on darkness and not-darkness, feel free to check out my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It  is available here.

A Moment of Quiet

I get the best sense of whether or not I will enjoy a writer, not by how much I enjoy their moments of tension, but by how much I enjoy their moments of quiet.

While I enjoy (and write!) stories that tumble from one action point to the next, I get a much better sense of how a story comes together when it comes time to take a breath.

In poetry, there are a number of concepts about the place for breath and the speech of the white space. While genre writing tends to use less of a visual layout to illustrate the plot, that concept of breath and pause is equally important.

Sometimes when I read, I feel a bone-deep panic coming from the story when I hit the moment of slowdown. The pause feels less like a deliberate and conscious thought and more like an escaping breath of air as a buoyant idea slowly deflates.

It doesn’t need to be that way.

There is a magic in breathing.

When we look up from the path we’re walking, our eyes made new by the steps we have taken, the things we see and the way we see them can hit as hard as any act of violence or panic.

When I read the stories that pull me under, they take a breath with me, align their pulse with mine.

“Look,” they say. “When the world is silent, what do you hear?”

IMG_9248A silent world does not mean a world without something to say

As someone who enjoys both noise and silence, I am most happy at their intersection.


For my own more frenetic take on tense pauses, you can check out my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, that is available here.