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.

IMG_1421

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.

 

To Hold Up a Mirror and Make It So

When the rabbits started to die, I didn’t understand what was going on.

As I continued to read, I was as confused and lost as the characters in the story. It took me years to understand some of the central messages of “Watership Down”, but the confusion and heartbreak of those rabbits was mirrored in myself long before that understanding.

We bring ourselves to the stories we read and I have written about what that does and does not do for our understanding and connection to the tales we absorb.

I haven’t spoken about what happens when a writer deliberately tries to shine the story back upon us.

It is hard to write about areas of social or political concern in fiction, particularly genre fiction.

The dance between polemic and seed of change is a difficult one.

“Watership Down” was a watershed moment for my nine-year-old self. I know that it is not viewed as well by others, so even the definition of success is not a universal statement.

Mirrored moments in stories are often how commentary is worked in, although they can be used for other purposes.

Describing the human destruction of a rabbit warren from the rabbits’ perspectives allows us to look at mundane events in a new light and perhaps see ourselves and our relationship to those events.

This type of mirroring can also be used to create empathy and connection for the characters in the story.

We may not have lived in a cupboard under the stairs, but there are few children who haven’t been lonely, who wouldn’t be awed and excited about a grand magical destiny. Many, many people can see themselves in Harry Potter, but also were able to sink so much more deeply into the world he inhabited because they learned about the world just as he did.

His confusion and understanding were mirrored back to us and our agreement or disagreement with his choices reflected our own understanding of ourselves and our relationship with choice and power.

There are more cynical, and less successful, examples of holding reflections up to the audience. There are stories where the characters or action serve as little more than thinly-veiled mouthpieces for a particular statement or writer’s vision.

The problem is not in the holding of this vision or statement.

It is that clumsy mirrors are worse than no mirrors at all.

There are very few things more likely to break suspension of disbelief or interest than the idea that we are being forced to stare at the writer’s vision of us-

-and it bears no resemblance to what we see and know of ourselves.

I have learned so much through reading, both about myself and the world around me.

The best mirror that I can face in a story is one that subtly, creatively forces me to summon my own reflection-

-and look at myself in understanding.

IMG_0821Our reflections may not always be obvious, but they are often worth seeing

How we see ourselves and how we recognize ourselves in the stories we read has always been one of my favourite puzzle pieces to dissect.


For my work on reflections, metaphorical and literal, you can read my fantasy novel,  The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

Fuzzfest- Dreamed a Little Dream

On good nights, the inside of my head is like a warm blanket.

A warm blanket made of writhing carnivorous eggplants, mind you, but comfortingly familiar all the same.

While I tend to the lucid dreaming end of the spectrum, even my sharpest, most uncomfortable visions have a peaceful acceptance that makes all the edges lovely and fuzzy.

I may be being chased by a large paintbrush who wants to use me for wallpaper, but I will not be at all surprised to discover that I have suddenly found a lake full of turpentine to foil my pursuer.

Maybe I should stop using myself as an example.

I love the inability to disbelieve in dreams.

I love the complete acceptance of the impossible mechanics of the worlds I inhabit, that moment my heart catches in my throat with a wonder that is almost impossible to duplicate in the real world.

I have no desire to become a Lotus Eater and waste away in visions.

But the knowledge of the unending boundaries that are tragic, funny, delightful inside my head, grants me a joy that sits warmly at the center of my identity.

Sometimes the familiar can be grinding.

There is a joy in not knowing where the next step will take you.

In finding the fuzzy borders of the world inside your head and stepping breathlessly into the unknown.

IMG_0070Almost as fuzzy as two cats and some warm blankets

This week is Fuzzfest! Pull up a chair and a warm blanket and bask in my version of light cheer!


For more dreams, fluffy or otherwise, my fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor, is available here.

I Obviously Have Too Few Things To Complain About

the dishes in the sink

my existential crisis

why, dishwasher, why?

IMG_0286Life Philosophy: Bad

 

*For this week, I will be sharing deep, philosophical statements about life and writing through haiku.

*Disclaimer: “Deep”, “Philosophical”, “Life”, “Writing” and “Haiku” may be approximate statements not tied to dictionary meanings. The author is not responsible for any eye-rolling related injuries.

 


If you would like to see some dishes that can take care of themselves, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

A Bittersweet Pleasure

spring’s simple pleasures

a burst of aromatics

this is hay fever

IMG_0183Life Philosophy: Good

*For this week, I will be sharing deep, philosophical statements about life and writing through haiku.

*Disclaimer: “Deep”, “Philosophical”, “Life”, “Writing” and “Haiku” may be approximate statements not tied to dictionary meanings. The author is not responsible for any eye-rolling related injuries.

 


If you would like some non-red-eyed reflections, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

An Artistic Statement

when creating art

please consider the black dog

waiting for his ball

IMG_9474Life Philosophy: Bad

*For this week, I will be sharing deep, philosophical statements about life and writing through haiku.

*Disclaimer: “Deep”, “Philosophical”, “Life”, “Writing” and “Haiku” may be approximate statements not tied to dictionary meanings. The author is not responsible for any eye-rolling related injuries.

 


If you would like to see my non-artistic statements, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

There is No Triumph in Victory

I am so sorry

cat lost in Amesbury Park

I now out-google you

IMG_0329A portrait of my cat. Who is not lost.

Life Philosophy: Good (Seriously. I can’t believe it took this long. Especially since it’s a fictional cat.)

*For this week, I will be sharing deep, philosophical statements about life and writing through haiku.

*Disclaimer: “Deep”, “Philosophical”, “Life”, “Writing” and “Haiku” may be approximate statements not tied to dictionary meanings. The author is not responsible for any eye-rolling related injuries.

 


If you would like to see my appropriately humble writing, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.

An Important Shade of Yellow

banana remains

are a useful reminder

littering is bad

 IMG_0840Life Philosophy: Bad

 

*For this week, I will be sharing deep, philosophical statements about life and writing through haiku.

*Disclaimer: “Deep”, “Philosophical”, “Life”, “Writing” and “Haiku” may be approximate statements not tied to dictionary meanings. The author is not responsible for any eye-rolling related injuries.

 


If you would like to see my non-banana related thoughts, I have also written a fantasy novel, The Guests of Honor. It is available here.