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December 2012

On Winter Solstice

Winter 2012

"It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it."   - Anaïs Nin (from The Diaries)

"You're an artist ... that means you see the world in ways that other people don't. It's your gift, to see the beauty and the horror in ordinary things. It doesn't make you crazy--just different. There's nothing wrong with being different."  - Cassandra Clare (City of Bones)

Winter 2012

In praise of the impeded stream

Rain runs down the hill, swirls past rocks and storm debris, cutting new channels through the land.

“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say 'It is yet more difficult than you thought.' This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” - Wendell Berry

Let me be like the water, flowing past every obstacle. Fearless. And singing

Changes, house-cleaning, and a golden goose...

The Golden Goose by L. Leslie Brooke

As you may have noticed, I've been doing some tweaking and house-cleaning on my website, including changing the name of this blog...which I gather has caused a bit of confusion. Jane Yolen recently wrote to ask:

"When did 'The Drawing Board' become 'Myth & Moor'? Did I miss the grand opening? Was there a ribbon cutting with some royal there with big scissors? Did we just walk through that open gate? Or did you do a sneaky run and we, all aglee, ran after you, our fingers stuck fast to the golden goose?"

Oh golly. I wish the truth were quite so magical -- but it fact, I simply forgot to announce the change! My apologies, dear readers. So here it is,  the overdue pronouncement:

The name of this blog is hereby officially changed from The Drawing Board to Myth & Moor.

And here's the reason behind the change:

After some gentle arm-twisting from Ellen Kushner and kind aid from Katharine Duckett, I now have a Tumblr site for my art. It's named after the house I live in, Bumblehill,  and supports my Etsy shop, The Bumblehill Shop.

Since "The Drawing Board" sounded art-focused, which could cause confusion between the two sites, I decided it was time to re-name this blog, in keeping with its broader focus on writing, books, music, and the wide-ranging field of mythic arts. It's still my primary home online, however, and nothing but the name has changed.

Terri Windling & Rima Staines, photographed by Tom Hirons, 2011

The name Myth & Moor has been rattling in my head ever since Rima Staines, Tom Hirons, and I sat on the hill behind my studio (on the day Tom took the picture above) discussing what we would name an art gallery (should any of us ever be so fortunate as to have one) dedicated entirely to local mythic arts. One of my suggestions was Myth & Moor...which was partially inspired by silverandmoor, the jewelry studio of my friend and hillside neighbor Miriam Boy-Hackney. (One of her gorgeous pieces is below.) I've been intrigued by the name Myth & Moor ever since, and recently realized it was perfect for this blog...particularly now that I'm settled here on the moor full-time (instead of dividing my time between Devon and Arizona as I used to, pre-marriage, family, and Tilly).

Pendant from silverandmoor

So that's the explanation for the name change. I'm still updating and house-cleaning my whole website, as I tend to do once a year or so. But nothing else major is changing on this blog. Tilly and I are still here, Monday through Friday -- still starting each day on the hill and in the woods, and bringing our stories back to you. The Tumblr site, by contrast, will be art-focused and image-based -- dedicated to bunny girls, bird boys, and other critters of Bumblehill (and the things that inspire them).

Meanwhile, the conversation continues here. And I'm glad you're all part of it.

Illustration above: "The Golden Goose" illustrated by L. Leslie Brooke (1862-1940)

Bird by Bird

A bird child for Wendy Froud

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he'd had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”  - Anne Lamott (Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life)

I'm on writing lock-down this week (with a few holiday errands thrown in), both excited and daunted by the path ahead. So I'm just taking it bird by bird, bunny by bunny, and Bordertown elf by Bordertown elf....

Here's some more good advice from Anne:

“Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. When you're conscious and writing from a place of insight and simplicity and real caring about the truth, you have the ability to throw the lights on for your reader. He or she will recognize his or her life and truth in what you say, in the pictures you have painted, and this decreases the terrible sense of isolation that we have all had too much of.”


The gate into magic...

Woodland gate, 1

Here's the gate in the woods behind my studio again, this time on a different day, and in a different light. I keep thinking that one day I'll open it and walk into another land altogether -- a place even more enchanted than the beautiful hills I live in (if that's possible). Like the wardrobe into Narnia and other magical portals in a century's worth of fantasy books, this gate between wood and hill is a liminal place...where anything can happen....

Woodland gate, 2

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”  - J.R.R. Tolkien 

Woodland gate, 3

Tunes for a Monday Morning

I'm in the mood for Of Monsters and Men this morning, so here's hoping that you are too.

First, "King and Lionheart,"  performed in a studio session filmed for Billboard magazine. This one goes out to Ellen Kushner (my writing partner) this morning, as I think she'll like the lyrics (and the brass! All very Bordertown, yes?)

In the second video, the band plays "Dirty Paws" at a music festival in their native Iceland. This one's for all my fellow animal lovers out there.

The illustration below is by the fabulous Julianna Swaney, in Portland, Oregon. Please visit her website, blog, and shop for more.


Recommended Reading

Little People by T. Windling

Some interesting articles to pass along....

* Paul Kingsnorth (author of the excellent book Real England: The Battle Against the Bland, and one of the movers-and-shakers behind The Dark Mountain Project) discusses Green Man symbolism in Aeon magazine.

* Yuka Igarashi discusses the perils of editing in a charming post on the Granta website. (My own take on editing is here.)

* The BBC reports the discovery of a new story by Hans Christian Andersen. (For more on the life of H.C.A., go here.)

* Two interesting articles on artistic collaboration: one by Maura Kelly in The Atlantic, and one about Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyen (co-screenwriters for Peter Jackson's Tolkien films) in The New York Times.

* A provocative article by Sarah Mesle on boys in YA fiction, in The Los Angeles Review of Books.

* Noah Shachtman discusses the history of Europe's secret societies,  in Wired.

* Sophie Elmherst has published an interesting profile of Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel, in The New Statesman.

“I think if I hadn’t become a writer I would just have suppressed that part of my personality," says Mantel. "I think I would have put it in a box that I never opened. I’m not sure I would have been happy doing that. Sometimes people ask, does writing make you happy? But I think that’s beside the point. It makes you agitated, and continually in a state where you’re off balance. You seldom feel serene or settled. You’re like the person in the fairy tale The Red Shoes: you’ve just got to dance and dance, you’re never in equilibrium. I don’t think writing makes you happy, not that you asked that question, I’m asking myself. I think it makes for a life that by its very nature has to be unstable, and if it ever became stable, you’d be finished.”

Hmmm. I'm not sure if I agree with that or not, but it's an interesting comment.