Tag Archives: inspiration

Election Aftermath: A Rose by Any Other Name

I was caught up in the super insidious PSW OnlineGames Trojan Horse and worm. It’s taken several different software programs to remove the cursed bugs. Microsoft has done two priority updates to counteract this problem. So, due to the virus and not the shock of the election, I missed a day.

Canada spent $290 million on our third federal election in same years, to come out with a bit more of the same old same old: minority Conservative government with Liberals, NDP and the Bloc making up the opposition. And no surprise, we hit an all-time low on voter turnout: 59%. The lemmings in Alberta did pretty much as they have doen for ever, as did Quebec. Here are just a few of reasons that voters aren’t bothering to vote:

  • We’ll vote and it will just be the same.
  • We’ll vote but no one listens to us anyways.
  • Politicians make all sorts of promises and never keep them (in fact Harper wanted a mandatory election date and then went against his own rule)
  • Politicians don’t talk to us or have our concerns in mind. (I heard this from several people in their 20s–do politicians talk at the universities at all?)
  • All they do is call each other names and then get involved in scandals.
  • I make my opinion known by not voting.
  • We need proportional representation.
  • I can’t support anyone 100%.
  • Our leaders lack charisma.

Looking at this last point I have to say that Obama has inspired a nation and I bet the voting will be higher in the US than it has been in recent elections. I didn’t hear Elizabeth May of the Green party speak so I don’t know if she has the inspiration and charisma needed. Just listening without watching, I’d have to say that Steven Harper came across the strongest and most confident. Stephan Dione may have been stronger in French than English but he certainly didn’t have that charisma. Jack Layton would like to have it but all of the speeches I heard for any party were just not inspiring. Maybe that’s because they were always jabbing at each other and it’s hard to raise a nation’s love and will if all you do is harp. Charisma, great oration, may not mean you have the best platform or way of governing but it might involve more people.

The people who voice their discontent by not voting, to me, defeat the purpose. There will still be a government, there will still be things you dislike but if you vote, you can possibly get the lesser of two evils. If you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain about the government because you had no say whatsoever in their formation. Just think, if 41% more people had vote (100% then) it could definitely have swayed the outcome.

Besides that, there was the new voter registration requirements. After reading over my card I discovered the notice the third time. The whole card, in maroon and white  doesn’t really set off this notice. A friend of mine went to vote and didn’t have her card because her husband had taken it. Well, it turns out that it was a waste printing such cards as most people didnt’ need them to vote. My friend was told that they don’t go by names but by addresses. So, in fact, one person in the household might have been able to vote for more than one person.

Of course my friend has never actually changed her driver’s licence to reflect her correct address (the house next door) so they wouldn’t take her name and her address because they didn’t match. So, she went home and got the requisite bills with the right address and got back a half hour before the polls closed and the line-up was out the door so she didn’t vote. Her fault but there are many instances of people who had similar experiences: the person who lives in a small island community where everyone knows each other but the people working can’t vouch for the person and the others were of a different polling station but in the same building. Another friend has a PO box for a mailing address but lives in a condo. She didn’t even try to vote. It didn’t particularly help the turnout for voting.

The Conservatives won because they were the only right-wing party with several left-wing parties. If you add up all the votes for the Liberals, NDP and Greens you’ll see that the Conservatives do not represent the majority of those who voted. Yet they’ll govern us all. But then again the whole country’s government can still be decided by the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. The system is being seen as so broken that fewer people believe that they matter in the scheme of things, especially if they don’t live in central Canada. Maybe it’s time for a big change in politics, in attitude and in the voting system.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, history, life, news, politics, security

Worlds of What-If: Early SF

Tonight I was talking with Jean from Quebec City and he had a little piece he had written about his earlier influences as a writer, his interests as a child and how he was drawn in to SF.

I remembered that in grade 7 we had to create a newspaper. This was a project both to be drawn out like a real newspaper, as well as articles. I know we (in small groups of three or four) did a futuristic newspaper and I wrote articles that were science fictional and I drew various pictures of aliens. It’s odd to think that someday soon we could no longer have newspapers as we find all our information online or on downloadable readers.

In grade 10 I comprehended enough of English that I didn’t have to take the regular class but could take Communications instead. What this was, was a creative writing class. I started writing a novel, which I still have–all 50 handwritten pages–, about a woman abandoned by her scurrilous husband (possibly ex) in the desert to die. I don’t think I had quite made it to the section where I was planning to have aliens come into the book. Maybe I did. I’ll have to reread it. I do know in later years I realized the influence of Ray Bradbury and “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell on what I was writing.

I’m always amazed at some of the truly diverse ideas that people come up with and how our early childhood memories and reads imprint their paths.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, fairy tales, fantasy, horror, life, memories, myth, people, science fiction, Writing

The Muse: When a Story Sings

As recently appointed, senior fantasy editor for Aberrant Dreams http://www.hd-image.com/fiction.htm I have the privilege to accept a few stories and the job of rejecting many. In truth, I have several slush pile readers who sift through the stories first. As well, I haven’t been senior editor long. This was in part to move the backlog along. The editor-in-chief, Joe Dickerson, also began publishing some novels. Between that and running the website and making final decisions, well, the webzine was grinding to a halt.

It’s still in the jerky throes of getting up to speed and I certainly can’t speak for the horror or SF editors but we’re now answering within the 5-month limit indicated at www.ralan.com  I haven’t yet seen my first picks go up and it could be a while to get through the accepted backlog, but hopefully we’ll see a bit more new work. Before that, I was a reader for about a year. I took on the job for several reasons. I have, in recent years, wanted to edit a magazine or anthology. If you don’t have your own wad of cash, then it’s working for another mag and the positions are few and far between.

I saw the ad for more editors and applied. My other reason was that by reading what other people are writing I might get a better idea of what the trends are, as well as why some of my own stories don’t sell. Becoming senior editor meant that I also would now choose which fantasy stories would be published.

With every story I’ve rejected I’ve tried to tell the writer why. It helps me concretize what is a good story, both for them and me. I also know that as a writer any constructive comment in a rejection is rare and writers really appreciate having an idea of what didn’t work besides the ubiquitous “it’s not right for us,” which can mean so many things. There have been a few stories I’ve had to reject because I have a quota. Those were the hardest and if several were of a similar theme (magical mystery, ghost, heroic, etc.) then I would narrow within that theme.

A story that I’m most likely to accept is one that sings. It’s how I describe it and what it means isn’t exactly exact. But to sing means it stands out above the rest, is somehow noteworthy and memorable so that I might be thinking of the story or characters weeks later. Some of those singing qualities can be a world/scenario so unique that no one has written on it before (either created completely by the author or a very new POV). It can be a voice (the style of the writing) so catching that you’re carried along by language and description. It can also be flow and conflict; a story so touching, terrifying, thought-provoking that you sit up and pay attention.

It’s a delicate mixutre and some people have a natural knack for it. Most of us mortals have to work at it and sometimes the story, the description, the language, the world, all come together to form the perfect piece. And then the story sings. I’ve learned a few things so far in editing for a magazine. Perhaps it will translate into one of my own stories and the muse will visit more often.

Leave a comment

Filed under fairy tales, Publishing, Writing

Musings on the Muse: Early Inspirations

I always knew I wanted to be an artist (after brief thoughts of being a doctor, a nurse and police woman) from the age of six. At that time it was drawing. But the earliest influence on my mind and expanding my worlds was in reading.

I’ve already talked a bit about some of those books in Worlds of What-if. There were Aesop’s Fables, Br’er Bear and Br’er Rabbit, various fairy tales and myths such as the Norse tales. I began writing around the age of twelve, for myself, and like every teenager, some was emotional, angst-ridden. I still have some of these poems and it was only a small number like that. Many were exploring philosophies; time, infinity, death, birth.

 In grade 9 I took a creative writing class instead of regular English. My spelling and writing were good enough that I could miss it. I think the class was actually called Communications. At that point, I began working on writing a book. It was handwritten and I managed fifty pages of single-spaced text. I still have that partial book somewhere at home. I think at some point in the past I actually typed it up but I don’t think it’s on the computer. I don’t remember a ton about it but the character, Carla Adamson, was in the desert and her husband (ex-husband?) was trying to kill her. But…I think there was going to be an alien intervention.

I was influenced by the fantastic from the beginning. Besides the articles in the newpaper of the future in grade 7, this was probably one of my first fiction scribblings. I continued to write poetry, which was less fantastical and just more straightforward. Then I got a job in a book store; comics, fantasy and SF. Ordering the books, reading the tales every day, cemented the genre in my head. It was then that I started to write a few stories.

I took a writing course at UBC. Then, I applied to the Clarion Writers workshop in Seattle in 1987 and was accepted. That was the true beginning of me taking my writing seriously. I began to send it out then. I’m still not sure it was the right thing, to take it seriously, but here I am, writing writing writing.

Leave a comment

Filed under fairy tales, myth, Writing

Musings on the Muse

94stranger has replied with the following on my original post “The Muse”

hi Coleen,
I didn’t respond at once because I was – and am – thinking about it. It’s all making me feel slightly uncomfortable: because it’s well known, for example, that a scientist can worry about a problem to the nth degree and then get the solution in a dream: in fact the Naskapi Indians of Labrador, if my memory serves me correctly, used to use dreams systematically as direction-finders for hunting.
There’s no doubt that some poems, or sections of poems, ‘write themselves’ – in fact, I’ve written things which didn’t have any clear meaning for me and which, years later, I discovered what they had meant – yet my unconscious – or however you want to express this – knew what was going on all along.
I recently had a similar experience with the following poem: the first two lines came on their own; the next two almost at once, and the rest was a struggle to do something with what had arrived from ‘out there’. I don’t know what the references in those first lines are – but maybe one day I will.
http://94stranger.wordpress.com/2008/03/22/poem-camelot/

I don’t know if this conversation of ours is going to go on: are you O.K. with me re-publishing it on my blog? In my experience, this is a subject which greatly interests the writing fraternity. Over to you!

I’m not sure why you feel uncomfortable. Is it that you think that muse-driven works are misappropriation or that inspiration may not come from the muse, or something else? If the first, I believe that if the muse visits, one is a fool not to use what’s given. If the second, well…a rose by any other name.

The muse may just be detaching the logical linear brain and letting randomness enter. Dreams are sometimes a processing of the day’s events and thoughts. Though for me I find my dreams are rarely mundane and take in other worlds, literally. But is that the muse or just my imagination, or both? When I’m working on a story and stuck I will often take a nap, going to sleep thinking of the story to see if I can jog the plot or conflict to its conclusion. Sometimes it works; often I struggle.

The muse could be completely outside of oneself too. I do believe in divine energy (god, gods, sprites, insert preferred term); that which is greater than me but can sometimes be used in some small portion. The muse, generic, as opposed to the muse specific (Calliope, Terpsichore, etc.) can just be that divine energy funneled into someone and tempered by their own life, events and personality to be shaped into a particular form of art.

Except for that rare exception of “The Fishwife,” where it sprung, like Athena, mostly full formed from my head, I think there is a blend of conscious and subconscious, linear and nonlinear that comes to play with art and inspiration. The use of archetypes is so universal that our cosmic consciousness, as Jung presented, does in fact flow through our processes sometimes at the same rate. I could even be picking up other peoples’ evolution of ideas.

As for your poem, I didn’t paste all of it here as I haven’t asked first to do so but I can tell you what I thought upon reading, besides that I like it very much and the images are crystal clear. You said you weren’t sure what the references were to these lines:

I shall ride high to meet

the lords of barley;

I shall ride by and parley

with the lords of wheat

One thought was of John Barleycorn, from a 16th century ballad. It has various versions, including Robbie Burns’. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Barleycorn

But beyond that, in centuries past there were grain goddesses such as Demeter and Ceres, but there were grain gods too. Lugh brought Lughnasa or Lammas to the Celtic lands and even earlier were the Sumerian and Babylonian tales of Inanna and Dumuzi, or Tammuz and how she sacrifices him to Erishkigal when he doesn’t honor her on her return from the underworld. Coincidentally the sacrifice of Dumuzi corresponds to the grain harvest, as does Lammas. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tammuz_%28deity%29

To me your poem hearkens obviously to Arthurian but older elements of the grain god, and the sacrifice. By “lords” instead of lord, I see that as the wheat fields but the raising of an army, a contention of sorts between the mighty who too will be cut down and sown again. I see the narrator as someone there to appreciate, partake of the natural world before the mighty bring war or strife or blood to that realm. That’s a pretty simplified version as there is a lot of depth in this poem.

I think it’s very strong and visceral. Now, was the muse the calling of your ancestors, your spiritual roots, your imagination, experiences and self-searching; a grain god/Arthurian archetype working through you, or all of the above?

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Culture, fairy tales, fantasy, myth, poetry, spirituality, Writing

The Muse

writingMany people ask writers (and I presume, other artists), where do you get your ideas?

I think, though I’ve never done a study, that some people get their inspiration always the same way. But for the majority of mortals the muse may or may not come and our ideas flow from various sources. My ideas come from many sources. The least likely is that I see a call for submissions on a particular themed anthology, say, spotted flying pigs. If the idea really hits me, or I have something in the works, I’ll give it a go.

A fair number of my ideas begin with dreams. It might be a world, an image or a conflict. Dreams are tricky things, though. They follow their own logic. They make sense at the time but the scene changes are sudden and sometimes psychedelic. A story based on a dream often takes straightening out on the chronology, as well as adding a flow and logic that might be missing or too obfuscating. The novel I hope to work farther on this summer (a fantasy novel on a different and complex world) was based on a dream. It was very detailed, with conflict, hierarchy and politics. I couldn’t pass that up.

Often I will think a what-if. What if people breathed through their eyes? What if flowers grew underground? What if we were invaded, not by highly intelligent and technologized lifeforms, but by microbial life that changed us into creatures unfit for our world? A galaxy of what-ifs. They’re only the starting point, the basis of a setting. The conflict, personalizing (adding the characters) is always the hardest, for me anyways.

Sometimes stories start with a random image, a phrase, something someone says or does. I once had some day surgery, a laparoscopy, which involves several small incisions. Anything invasive takes the body time to heal. I had to wear loose clothing for a couple weeks and would experience some pain and discomfort. I said at one point, “It feels like I have a black hole in my stomach.” From that phrase I started working out a story, which started with, “Jenny has a black hole in her stomach.” I sold that story “Consuming Fear” very quickly to the Northern Frights anthology.

Once in a blue moon the muse truly hits. I’m not sure she’s truly taken over more than once. I was in the middle of a story, writing along when these phrases and images started pouring into my mind. I finally had to just put aside the story I was working on and write the other one. It flowed out in just a few days, in a lyrical style quite different than my style in other stories. “The Fishwife” sold to Descant, again on its second or third submission.

But most of the time we can’t wait for the muse. It’s no surprise though, that through history writers sought their muses in opium dens, drugs of various sorts and drugs. We look for things to inspire us, to move us beyond the norm, to fire our imagination with a story that should be told. I try to remember the muse moments and see if I can sometimes draw on those styles. But in the meantime, I look for ideas and sometimes plod through a story, one paragraph at a time.

4 Comments

Filed under Culture, entertainment, fairy tales, fantasy, myth, Publishing, spirituality, Writing