Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Limits of Enlgish and Song

My latest flash fiction has me thinking about language and what I want to write. I'm not sure, but I think I want to be some kind of Neo-Pagan Phillip Pullman. I was going to say Neo-Pagan C. S. Lewis, except I share many of Pullman's critiques of Lewis's religious fiction.

The manuscript in question was critiqued by the Wordos Tuesday night. I think most people enjoyed some of the ideas, and some of the language, but there were some loaded pronouns (Eve, Adam) that threw people out of the story. One of the characters (an Aslan figure) sings everything. It's important that he sings everything. The only other popular characters I can think of who have sung their dialogs are Aslan (from The Magician's Nephew) and The Mother Thing (from Have Spacesuit, Will Travel). Judging from last night's critiques, I'm neither C. S. Lewis nor Heinlein.

I've been able to write alien dialog, but last night's manuscript had a definite feel of "lost in translation." Looking at it, and during the writing process, there were a couple of points where I felt the limitations of English. One really clunky thought was to write a glyph and then have a footnote with a translation. Another thought was clunky exposition explaining how the character is always singing.

It's too bad that I can't use color... or make the character's dialog appear as a matrix of words and notes. Hmmm. Or maybe it's easier for me to imagine the piece as an opera.

I guess if it ever turned into a pod-cast I would vocode that character's words (or whatever it is they did to Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking's voices in that one "song" of theirs).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Update.

This morning started out as a bothering kind of day involving working around other people's schedules and telephone menus -- and very likely a sick switchboard operator, given how long after eight AM the "our offices open at 8" message greeted me.

Now I'm working on some special awards for the Wordos. For the Most Stories Sent Out to Paying Markets, I'm working on an icosidodecahedron. I'd hoped to make some of the faces have postage stamps on them, but the paper I used is probably around 20 pound weight, and the tabs bent when I tried to slide them into eighty pound construction paper. I'm thinking the icosidodecahedron will have a "crown" of stamps.

The rains are gearing up and we may have a thunderstorm tomorrow. I'll be glad; Mark has sanded down the kitchen door so it will close, but the crack in the wall probably won't close up until we get enough rain.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What Song Are We Singing?

Here are some of us from the Pearwood Pipers singing at Shrewsbury Faire main stage. I'm guessing that we're singing "Of Beare."... no, we'd have ale mugs. Maybe we're singing "Ah Robin," and about to swap girlfriend stories. No... looks like we're singing different parts. Oh well, we had fun.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dreams and Shoulder Meds

Lately my dreams have been very present and at the same time difficult to recall. "Present" is the closest I can come to the description of how they've been different the last two weeks -- I was going to say "more real," except all of my dreams feel real to me. I was going to say "less removed," except, now that I think about it, the point-of-view of the dreams really hasn't changed that much, being about the same ratio of me watching the dream as if I were watching a movie or TV (or floating above myself) to me dreaming the events happening to me.

Snip One: It was day. I have an impression of red rock cliffs. I was flying in my black and purple cloak. Sometimes I have to really concentrate on flying to do it; sometimes there's a sense that my cloak is operating like wings; sometimes I have to flap my arms. This time, I was flying as easily as walking.

Snip Two: It was early morning. I was outside in a kind of swamp or jungle, only not very humid. I saw a white heron with a subtle blue glow fly by; a trace of light around feathers and wings. It joined a whole flock of herons in a small, mediaeval, wooden sailboat behind me.
Together with all the other herons, a blue glow lit the white sail. The boat flew into the air with all the herons in it.

Snip Three: In another, very convoluted dream, Cher was a sort of Storm character (from The X-men). I was a cross between Wolverine (X-men) and Batman (Batman). Lots of fight scenes. Cher/Storm was abducted by The Bad Guys and made into serve as a kind of sexual dynamo powering their (hey, this was a dream!) Evil Mind Control Country Music.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I just got back from the faire and most everything is unpacked.

Most of the lows involved me discovering the limitations of my shoulder -- the most serious being that I can not do all the hand motions to The Shark Song.

The highs:
  • Dancing the Bromley at 7:45AM in the fog Sunday Morning (and freaking someone out who thought they'd slept through the fair opening). Probably the best moment was at the end, when I turned around, the Bromley was winding up, and the seeing sunbeams through the trees and fog.
  • Finding the (unfortunately $300) crown and being encouraged to model it. Sometimes being a Capricorn is enough of an excuse to wear one.
  • Discovering (the morning after) that The Shark Song has somehow become a Shrewsbury Tradition.
  • Singing madrigals, both with the Pearwood Pipers and with a Mob of Willamette Valley madrigal singers.
  • Although I couldn't dance the Bromley properly this year, there was something satisfying about seeing a look of je ne sais pas on a guest's face and flitting over to them with a Bromley Flyer just as they were turning to a neighbor to ask "What are they dancing?"
  • Shouting instructions during the various opening and closing parades along the lines of "SMILE!" or "BE HAPPY!" or "WAVE!" or "THIS IS FUN!" while walking (and in some cases, skipping, backward).
  • Seeing many friends I only see once a year.
  • Seeing the bright constellations early this morning (mostly Orion, but also Cassiopeia, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Monoceros, and Taurus).

Whew. Off to sleep.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy New Moon

Happy New Moon!

I'll be at the Shrewsbury Faire this weekend singing and dancing with the Pearwood Pipers.

Now... off to load the truck (and have lunch).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


The Shoulder For those of you not following me on Twitter or Facebook, I messed up my left shoulder somehow. The current theory is that it's a combination of banging my elbow really hard at the end of a water slide, sleeping on my side, one or two "sword fights" that stressed my shoulders, and reaching too far for a mouse. The end result is I can't lift my left arm much higher than my head, and on days when I don't use ibuprofen, my left wrist, elbow and shoulder feel like they are in vice grips. Oh, and the driver's side seat belt of a car feels extra ouchy as it rubs against my shoulder.

Ice helps. Ibuprofen helps. With any luck this is just a really bad case of bursitis and not some sort of rotator cuff thing. I'll know more next week when I get to have a sonogram (which I've never had before).

Shrewsbury In just a few days it'll be that time of year again: The Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire. Dancing this year will be difficult. I won't be camping on site in order to keep my shoulder off of the ground, and I'll have to not dance The Bromley.

That will be hard. When The Bromley works well, I feel like I'm stepping sideways through the faire. It's not quite a trance, usually because part of me is thinking about where to lead the procession to. I guess that having other people learn how to do the dance and watching will be a good thing in the long run.

I think I should be able to harp -- I'll have to make sure that I don't stress my left arm too much.

WritingAs usual, I need to write more and I need to keep more stories in the mail. I made a sale to Thaumatrope last month. There's something attractive about writing for Thaumatrope... I don't know if it's the puzzle/haiku factor, or just the shiny cool 140 character thing.

I'm slowly working through story starts. My goal is to go through and either trunk beginnings that have been languishing on the laptop or finish what I've started. Some of the stories seem to want to be novels -- so I'm going to see if I can write one.

Wordos appears to be gearing up for an autumn expansion, so I expect there will be more manuscripts floating across the table than there have been lately.

Dreams Now that things are settling down, I plan to get more consistent sleep. This is always good for my dream life. And... speaking of dreams... I should go to bed.

Happy Equinox (and New Moon) to everyone!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Rejection and Uncle Conrad

Whenever I get a string of short story rejections, I think about my Great Uncle Conrad. He grew up near Astoria, Oregon; the son of Norwegian potato farmers.

He spent a large portion of his life translating the Bible into a Native American language. The rejection letter from the publisher he sent his translation to went something like this: "Thank you for this manuscript, it is obviously a work of devotion. Unfortunately, the language you have translated the Bible into is a synthetic language, a mish-mash of several native tongues used in the environs of Fort Clatsop as a kind of trade language to enable fur-trappers and fort personnel to speak with different local tribes. It was in use for only about twenty years. I'm afraid your translation has no market value, being an object of curiosity and interest to a narrow niche of language specialists."

I am sure there's a metaphor (and a cautionary tale) in there, somewhere.