Thursday, February 28, 2013

the well written - william faulkner

It is just dawn, daylight: that gray and lonely suspension filled with
the peaceful and tentative waking of birds. The air, inbreathed, is like
spring water. He breathes deep and slow, feeling with each breath
himself diffuse in the natural grayness, becoming one with loneliness
and quiet that has never known fury or despair. "That was all I wanted,"
he thinks, in a quiet and slow amazement. "That was all, for thirty
years. That didn't seem to be a whole lot to ask in thirty years.

- William Faulkner, Light in August

By Me

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

illustration - jenny meilihove

I love these by Jenny Meilihove.  There's nothing explicitly
magical in them, but its there, somewhere in the eccentricity.
A creepy child stuck in the middle of a rug, another playing
the accordion.  The anticipation of a wind-up toy, a peculiar
way of dressing.  There are stories here.

Monday, February 25, 2013

on writing - editing

Bits of encouragement for those presently editing stories short and long:

It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.
- C. J. Cherryh

Put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer.
But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity,
and destroy most of it.   - Colette

So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore
for the reader who reads.   - Dr. Seuss

By Elena Hormiga

Friday, February 22, 2013

a dreamer's wisdom - bryce courtenay

Always in life an idea starts small, it is only a sapling idea, but the
vines will come and they will try to choke your idea so it cannot
grow and it will die and you will never know you had a big idea,
an idea so big it could have grown thirty meters through the dark
canopy of leaves and touched the face of the sky.  It is better to be
wrong than simply to follow convention. If you are wrong, no
matter, you have learned something and you grow stronger. If you
are right, you have taken another step toward a fulfilling life.

- Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

By Steven Curry

Thursday, February 21, 2013

awards - free reads - nebula short story nominees

Robot” by Helena Bell (Clarkesworld)
Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld)
Fragmentation, or Ten Thousand Goodbyes” by Tom Crosshill (Clarkesworld)
Nanny’s Day” by Leah Cypess (Asimov’s)
Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream” by Maria Dahvana Headley (Lightspeed)
The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” by Ken Liu (Lightspeed)
Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain” by Cat Rambo (Near+Far)

Several novella and novelette free-read links available here.

on writing - mary gaitskill

Writing is.... being able to take something whole and fiercely
alive that exists inside you in some unknowable combination of
thought, feeling, physicality, and spirit, and to then store it like
a genie in tense, tiny black symbols on a calm white page. If the
wrong reader comes across the words, they will remain just
words. But for the right readers, your vision blooms off the page
and is absorbed into their minds like smoke, where it will
re-form, whole and alive, fully adapted to its new environment.

- Mary Gaitskill

on reading - madeleine l'engle

A book, too, can be a star, a living fire to lighten the darkness,
leading out into the expanding universe.   - Madeleine L’Engle

Monday, February 18, 2013

photo stories - max wanger

Max Wanger deals with some pretty interesting characters.
Do any of these raise their hands and volunteer a story for
your writing?

The time will come when your characters will write your
stories for you, when your emotions, free of literary cant and
commercial bias, will blast the page and tell the truth.
Remember:  Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow
after your characters have run by on their way to incredible
destinations.  Plot is observed after the fact rather than before.
So, stand aside, forget targets, let the characters, your fingers,
body, blood, and heart do.

- Ray Bradbury, Zen and the Art of Writing

Saturday, February 16, 2013

from unexpected places - pretend vintage magic

These photos - whether real, photoshopped, or manipulated in
some way - are stunning, capturing a vague and compelling
feeling of magic.  Rapunzel, the borrowers, tinker bell, wizards
and witches.  It's interesting to see magical images caught in
photographs instead of illustrations for a change, photos
treated to feign being fished out of your grandmother's attic.
Maybe one of these could inspire a story - what magic and
whimsy is being glimpsed here?

I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother
to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.
- Eleanor Roosevelt

By Charles B. Carma

By Joanna Pallaris

Friday, February 15, 2013

the well written - caitlin r. kiernan

And across the space within her, as my arm bridges countless
light years, something brushes against my hand. Something wet,
and soft, something indescribably abhorrent. Charlotte pushed
me, and I was falling backwards, and now I’m not. It has seized
my hand in its own—or wrapped some celestial tendril about my
wrist—and for a single heartbeat it holds me before letting go.
…whatever it is, it’s been there since before there was time. It’s
been there alone since before the universe was born.

- Caitlin R. Kiernan, "Tidal Forces"
(Full - and amazing - short story available here.)

By Brett Marlin

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

illustration - tatka

Tatka's work is very much about the wonder secreted and
reserved for those on the fringes, for those who go off on
their own and find some special part of the world that few
others know about.  I love the bits of stories she puts before
us and am immediately provoked into daydreaming about
their ends and beginnings.

I learned about the sacred art of self decoration with the
monarch butterflies perched atop my head, lightning bugs
as my night jewelry, and emerald-green frogs as bracelets.
- Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs, Women Who Run With the Wolves

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

a dreamer's wisdom - on writing - william h. gass

The true alchemists to not change lead into gold; they change
the world into words.

- William H. Gass

Monday, February 11, 2013

on writing - short stories

Short fiction seems more targeted - hand grenades of ideas, if
you will. When they work, they hit, they explode, and you never
forget them. Long fiction feels more like atmosphere: it's a lot
smokier and less defined.   - Paolo Bacigalupi

When well told, a story captured the subtle movement of change.
If a novel was a map of a country, a story was the bright silver
pin that marked the crossroads.   - Ann Patchett

The short story form allows evocation, suggestion, implication.
Its potency often lies in what it does not say.   - Isobelle Carmody

By Janice Wu

Sunday, February 10, 2013

on reading - marina tsvetaeva

There are books so alive that you're always afraid that
while you weren't reading, the book has gone and changed,
has shifted like a river; while you went on living, it went on
living too, and like a river moved on and moved away.  No
one has stepped twice into the same river.  But did anyone
ever step twice into the same book? 

- Marina Tsvetaeva

By Tula Pink

Saturday, February 9, 2013

the well written - thomas pynchon

Oedipa, perverse, had stood in front of the painting and cried.
No one had noticed; she wore dark green bubble shades. For a
moment she’d wondered if the seal around her sockets were
tight enough to allow the tears simply to go on and fill up the
entire lens space and never dry. She could carry the sadness of
the moment with her that way forever, see the world refracted
through those tears, those specific tears, as if indices as yet
unfound varied in important ways from cry to cry.

- Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49

By Yoda Navarrete (Lady Orlando)

Friday, February 8, 2013

photo stories - harry callahan

Harry Callahan had a talent for capturing mood.  He was
disciplined, going out each morning to snap some photos,
spending the afternoon editing and developing (sounds like
writing).  "To be a photographer," he says, "one must
photograph. No amount of book learning, no checklist of
seminars attended, can substitute for the simple act of
making pictures. Experience is the best teacher of all. And
for that, there are no guarantees that one will become an artist.
Only the journey matters."  This advice applies to writers too.

Interestingly, Callahan was known for his hatred of storytelling
through photography.  I think stories shone through despite
him, however.  He captured moments, moments any writer
would imagine or spy and know to include in the prose.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

on writing - anne lamott

The realities of writing via Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird:

"But how?" my students ask.  "How do you actually do it?"
You sit down, I say.  You try to sit down at approximately the
same time every day.  This is how you train your unconscious
to kick in for you creatively.

The first draft is the child's draft, where you let it all pour out
and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is
going to see it and that you can shape it later...  The second draft
is the up draft - you fix it up.  And the third draft is the dental
draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it's loose or
cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

a dreamer's wisdom - elizabeth hand

But talent—if you don't encourage it, if you don't train it, it
dies. It might run wild for a little while, but it will never
mean anything. Like a wild horse. If you don't tame it and
teach it to run on track, to pace itself and bear a rider, it
doesn't matter how fast it is. It's useless.

- Elizabeth Hand, Illyria

By Kristi Steffen

Monday, February 4, 2013

illustration - kristin vestgard

Kristin's work is full of melancholy atmosphere, some misty
fantasy meant for lavish words.  Her characters come from
ice, ivy, flowers, wind, and stars.  I love, love, love these
people, whoever they are.  The mood reminds me of the stories
of Elizabeth Hand.  A quote to illustrate:

[Her face] was gray.  Not a living gray, like hair or fur, but a
dull, mottled color, the gray of dead bark or granite.
And not just her face but her hands and arms: everything I could
see of her that had been skin, now seemed cold and dead as the
heap of fireplace rocks downstairs.  Her clothes drooped as
though tossed on a boulder, her hair stiffened like strands of
reindeer moss.  Even her eyes dulled to black smears, save for a
pinpoint of light in each, as though a drop of water had been
caught in the hollow of a stone.

- Elizabeth Hand, Errantry, "Winter's Wife"

Sunday, February 3, 2013

the well written - catherynne m. valente

She stayed in the ground for no more than a quarter of an hour -
but in her memory it was all day, hours upon hours, and her father
didn't come until it was dark.  Memory is like that.  It alters itself
so that girls are always trapped under the earth, waiting in the dark.

- Catherynne M. Valente, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time"

By Mao Hamaguchi

on reading - helen exley

Books can be dangerous.  The best ones should be labeled,
"This could change your life."
- Helen Exley

By Jeff Donovan