Three reading recommendations for you today:
1. Amal El-Mohtar's fine, provocative article on Steampunk fiction: "Towards a Steampunk Without Steam" (over on Tor.com). Amal is the author of The Honey Month, among other works, and co-editor of the mythic poetry webzine Goblin Fruit.
2. The terrific "Fairy Tale Reflections" series that Katherine Langrish is running over on her blog, Seven Miles of Steel Thistles. (And if you haven't read Katherine's most recent novel, The Shadow Hunt, yet: get thee to a book store immediately. She writes Young Adult Fantasy the way Alan Garner writes Young Adult Fantasy: saturated with myth and rich in detail to delight adult readers too.)
3. The "Mythic Friday Interviews" on Lucy Coats' blog, Scribble City Central (with thanks to Kath Langrish for the link). Lucy is the author of Hootcat Hill and other delightful works of children's fantasy.
Have a good weekend.
If you know someone who is ill, it will help you understand why they act the way they do. If you're ill yourself, it provides a useful way of speaking about the constraints of your daily life. This is particularly helpful for those of us with physical disabilities that aren't immediately obvious. If you look reasonably normal (and many of us with long-term illnesses pride ourselves on living as normally as possible), it is easy for others to forget that you are operating daily within a set limitations: that you're not just being lazy when you walk so slowly, or when you take two weeks to answer simple emails, or when you don't have the "spoons" to answer the phone after a certain point in the evening, etc..
What do I mean by spoons? Read this excellent article and you'll find out.
In the video above, my friends & colleages Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman discuss the nature of Story, issues of gender, and the importance of fairy tales, fantasy, and myth. It's a snippit from an interview conducted at the second Mythic Journeys conference in 2006 (just recently made available on YouTube) -- and is, I believe, included in the Mythic Journeys film.
but I have to turn it into fiction in order to give it credibility."
- Katherine Paterson (from The Spying Heart)
...and awfully glad to see my husband and pup again. We celebrated with a walk on the north coast of Cornwall, just over the county line from Devon. (We're on a peninsula here, so we've got coastline both north and south, with the wilds of Dartmoor roughly inbetween them.)
My drawing above is one of the prizes in the Online Raffle to raise money for the Fantastic Fiction Reading Series at the KGB Bar in New York. (You'll find it listed under artwork.) Other prizes include Neil Gaiman's keyboard, three unpublished stories by Michael Swanwick, story critiques by Shawna McCarthy and Mary Robinette Kowal, plus lots of signed ARCs and books and other cool stuff.
"Bird Child" is an original, signed pencil drawing on plain white drawing paper, lighter and less grey than this photograph makes it look. It's 10 inches high by 7 inches wide.
My friend Rick Berry (who is one of the people who first taught me how to paint with oils) has a new series of painting inspired by a stage production of Cabaret -- which can currently be viewed at the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, NH; and also on Rick's website. All of his art is gorgeous, but I've always liked this kind of monochromatic "oil paint sketch" the very best.
"These are not renderings," he says, "but impressions of dancers from the KitKat Klub, the setting for a production of at the Oberon Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As I watched rehearsals, the movement coach, Steven Mitchell Wright, had the performers go through Butoh training. I'd heard of Butoh, seen stills from various dances, but never experienced it in action. Crushing really. So instead of doing some sort of rogues' gallery pastiche (as had earlier been imagined being hung in the venue) I did these. I wanted something like images of ghosts projected on smoke and ash. Just at the moment you think you've resolved them, they shimmer and erode before your eyes. Color paintings of a world that's lost all sense of it."
"I love revisions....We can't go back and revise our lives, but being allowed to go back and revise what we have written comes closest." -- Katherine Ann Paterson (from an address to the Royal Society of Literature, published in A Sense of Wonder)
I'm in Colorado now, high up in the Rockies. Yesterday I didn't want to leave New York, but now that I'm here, it fees awfully good to see that big blue Western sky again. Leaning out my hotel window early this morning, I spotted what I'm sure was a golden eagle circling the mountain peaks above -- which reminded me of this poem by the Navajo writer Joy Harjo:
To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you
And know there is more
That you can't see, can't hear
Can't know except in moments
Steadly growing, and in languages
That aren't always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
We pray that it will be done