Forgive the shadows—
I can only cast so much light,
skeins of spellwrought glory
curling through the wood,
kindling memory and hope.
A century’s wait, two, more—
and you a flicker of dream
reflected in a cursed mirror,
a voice heard like distant thunder’s
promise of storm.
I gave you a bitter blessing—
the sharp-edged future
in all its bright pain
and glorious failure,
and take a madman’s love
in trade. No bargain this—
our loss woven into the pattern
of any glimmer of success.
A touch, a touch
and a fading bloom,
a witch’s gift born of blood
and faltering courage.
It was very hard to decide upon a winner for the faux bio contest. I procrastinated for a few days, hoping for some kind of extinction-level event to take the pressure off, but I suppose those never happen when it's convenient. (Also, if it did happen, the collection would never see print, so . . .)
Without further ado, I present to you the glorious winner of the faux bio contest, happy_gogogo
"Deep within the foggy and dense forests of New York, Jennifer Crow weaves spellbinding works of literature while taking care of her family. In her spare time, she can be found on fossil digs attempting to complete her private dinosaur exhibit, as well as training her army of crows against the oncoming zombie apocalypse. Ms. Crow also enjoys knitting and volunteering."
I have to admit, this won on the strength of a private dinosaur exhibit and an army of crows, because SERIOUSLY, how awesome would that be?
Honorable mentions go to asakiyume
and to Joshua Gage. Though sadly, this only gets you bragging rights, plus a year's supply of my admiration.
Thanks to everyone who entered, and stayed tuned--I'll let you know when The First Bite of the Apple
is going to be released into the wild.
I think I had a revelatory moment, driving to Barnes and Noble this morning to write. For a while now I’ve been mourning the state of the publishing industry, especially as it applies to me. You see, I realized that no matter how hard I work, I can never have the career I once dreamed of, because that world just doesn’t exist anymore. That’s just the way things have shaken out, and in the general sense I’m not inclined to wring my hands overmuch. Change is woven into the nature of things, and it’s what makes life interesting. People are still writing good stories, regardless of whether or not the format or springboard changes.
That being said, it’s a bit shocking when it dawns on you that the road you set out on has petered out into a trackless wilderness. I had a very clear picture in my mind of what I wanted and how to go about getting it. I worked with that end in mind. I bought into the myth that if you just work hard enough for long enough and believe enough, sooner or later I’d get to that published-ever-after part of my story.
It’s hard not to grieve the death of that dream. It’s been hard not to get lost in that grief, pummeled by the storm of voices that tell me how it REALLY is, what I must do NOW, where the money is going to be in a decade . . . It’s super confusing, even if you’re not watching something precious die.
I wish I was the kind of person to just get over things. But I’m not. I cling to dreams and hopes and ideals far longer than they serve me. One of the downsides to that is the perpetual ‘stuck’ feeling that inevitably follows when you trudge along on a path that doesn’t actually exist.
So today, on the road, I was thinking about what metaphorical journey I’d like to be on, what I can let go, what I need to keep in order to still be ME. And the truth is, more than anything I want to tell stories. I want to tell stories and have people read them. Read them and maybe come away from those tales changed in some way, or freed, or just lifted for a time out of the mundane.
I’m a storyteller; that’s not a part of me I’m willing to let go. But the thing that dawned on me is that, while I’m sad that I can’t have the life I dreamed of, it also frees me. I don’t have to keep doing the same things over and over without seeing any results. I can be a writer and also choose to be sane and productive and maybe even happy one fine day.
So, though I’m not sure what road I’ll find myself on next, it’s time for something different. It’s time to let go of the past and figure out how to have joy in the things I love instead of that incessant sense of inadequacy and failure.
And for the first time in a long, long time, I’m starting to feel a little excited.
Just a reminder that I'm closing the faux bio contest at 7 p.m. today, so if you'd like a chance to win my new poetry collection, come up with an awesome fake bio for me and post it soon.
For those who may not have seen the announcement on Facebook and Twitter, I have been agonizing over the bio for my upcoming poetry collection (The First Bite of the Apple, coming soonish from Elektrik Milk Bath Press. It will contain a selection of my poems with folklore, mythology and fairy tale themes) . . .
And then, inspiration struck! Why should I toil over a description of my dull life, when my friends could make up something way more amusing?
So, if you'd like your very own free copy of my collection, write me an outrageous, amusing bio. I'll choose a winner next weekend, which means you'll need to post your (my) bio here, on Facebook, or on Twitter by 7 p.m. EST on October 11th.
If you have any questions, fire away. Otherwise, I look forward to reading your creations.
I'm just finishing up Max Barry's Lexicon
, which besides being a bang-up thriller, is a meditation on the power of words. Most of the characters are 'poets,' people who have the ability to influence others through their understanding of human nature and language. But there are some words beyond even their power, and the whole scenario gets tied back to mythology about the confusion of tongues (like the Tower of Babel story from the Bible).
I love words. There's a thrill, especially in writing poetry, in finding just the right word for what I mean to say. I think it also ties in to what people have been saying about performance in asakiyume
's journal. When we tell a story, or sing a song, or recite a poem, we're (hopefully) building power. In Barry's novel, the poets break down listeners' resistance bit by bit, gaining their attention and working through the layers of the mind, until at last they're in control. Performance isn't that invasive, but at the same time, there's a sense of building rapport and using it to affect the audience on an emotional level. First the hook, then the rising tension, the notes you have to hit just right
, and finally the climax.
Reading this book is going to change how I look at my work as I rewrite, which makes it one of the best kinds of stories. I'm actually kind of excited to grab one of the novel drafts and start revising.
"God does have a name. It's not what you think."
The quote above is one made by James Morrison on Twitter last week (more or less--I don't have the exact phrasing with me at the moment). It was one of those lines that raised the hair on the back of my neck, and I knew I'd have to write something to go with it. Hopefully it does justice to its inspiration.
Normally I don't publish drafts publicly, but I told James I'd let him see the end result. (And James, if you read this and end up writing a story, I'd love to read it.)
The Secret Name of God
You might have fallen
into the thousand outstretched hands
for you called, called
out to that comforting presence
you longed to remember.
While your knees ached
and your shattered heart
battered the walls of your chest,
you whispered all the worshipful names
etched into your being
over a lifetime in purgatory.
You desired nothing more
than this: the comfort born
in silent suffering, the sacrificial
offering laid out on cold stone.
But human voices can’t speak
the secret name of God, unforked tongues
stumbling over harsh syllables
driven like nails into soft flesh.
Given this truth, this irrevocable law
decreed in the heavens, cast
like flaming stone into the fragile
dwelling-place of the soul,
every tear you wept sank
into sterile soil, and salt built
like a poison between you and this deity
who reclines on a throne
so far beyond your imagination
you cannot touch its footstool,
not even in dream.
Perhaps, should you weep long enough,
copious offering of griefs unassuaged,
your god will turn your life sideways,
a pillar of salt lodged in the throat
of the world. And in that moment,
tell God to choke on your wrath, and
let him feel the absence of heaven
that is the silence you leave behind.
I've been productive so far this year. Specifically, I read through The View from Execution Bridge, which is the working title of the novel in progress, made notes on the draft. And today I put together an eight-page synopsis which incorporated most (I think) of the stuff I want to fix.
I hate synopses, but I figured it was the best thing I could do at this point, to make sure all the disparate threads were pulled together in the end. Now I'm going to take a few days to 1)read other stuff, and 2)think about how I can build theme and resonance as I work on the next draft. And also how I can fill in the gaps where I could swear I wrote the scene, but now it's vanished. I'm losing it, I swear.
Greetings, my LJ friends. If 2012 was a good year for you, I hope that bounty continues. If you've struggled, I hope 2013 is a breath of the fresh air of success.
The coming year is going to be challenging in many ways, with the twins getting ready to head off to college, and many things I want to accomplish. I'm going to try to begin as I mean to go on, taking better care of my health, writing regularly (and revising what I write) and trying to find what makes me happiest and living it.
Happy New Year!
Okay, so I'm checking out LJ's new format here, which is way fancier than I'll ever need, and I see a tickybox at the top that says 'sticky'. Is it complaining about the state of my keyboard, or is there some deeper meaning?
Also, after 3 hours of 'Vexed' and 4 hours of 'Jane Eyre,' I feel I need a dashingly handsome Toby Stephens icon upon which to rest my eyes. Not much luck in my first search, but perhaps the icon gods will be good to me if I try again.