Boy, that sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it. This winter, the living skies have been more than usually lively, and have offered freezing rains followed by the kind of temperatures only Antarctic explorers look upon as acceptable, screeching winds, and the usual crop of parhelions (which I understand some places treat as a rare source of wonder).
I mention this for two reasons. First, I am still labouring along on The Novel, from which no vacation is allowed if it is ever to be finished. Second, there has been another flash-fiction prompt from Chuck Wendig, on the topic of travel woes, which I thought I should pursue to remind myself that something other than The Novel exists.
Thus, Getting There is Half the Fun. Yes, a well worn title. I know. My brain is riddled with the cracks of temperature stress.
Alone in the dark? Oh, heavens, no. It’s the solstice, and thus dark for everyone in the northern hemisphere… although I guess those below the tropic line will hardly notice.
It being that time of year, I am once again offering a story for Christmas, because it’s something Charles Dickens and M.R. James did; I am weak enough to hope for if not to quite believe in sympathetic magic, and so try to do what they did with an eye to becoming what they were.
…perhaps, now that I think of Dickens’s last days, this is not a great plan.
Anyway, this year’s story is Snowman. The title is a bit of a giveaway; there is a snowman mentioned in it. They’re a staple of kids’ songs and Rankin animations, but the snowman is something of a rarity here in the land of the living skies; we get snow, but it’s usually so dessicated that you can’t form it.
I hope you enjoy reading it, and I also hope you have plenty of people of cuddle up with in this season of long nights and chill winds. The dark is more tolerable when there’s someone to share it with.
Just a little ephemeral thing I did that I want to preserve… at least for a while:
In honor of the best event the calendar year offers, I’m posting another little look at my own interactions with the misty realms of which we know but dimly, with an explanation of Why I Believe in Ghosts. Like last year’s excursion, the most startling thing about the whole affair is the title of this announcement post. Also like last year’s post, this is not to say that there aren’t chills to be had from reading it… if you consider the broader and ongoing implications of true ghost stories.
The season of incandescent ursine juggling has passed, and I am able to bash out a story in pursuit of the Friday Terribleminds Challenge. The most current item is to be about a tree.
So that’s what I’ve done, and it’s called Sheltered. Like the last time, it’s more fantasy than anything else. I appear to be running all my horror into the novel… and into my reactions to current events, which I will not mention in any further detail.
Well, look at that. I’m holding to a resolution, at least for a second week, and developing a story for the Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge again despite huge if unconscious opposition from the non-writing elements of my life. This week’s challenge was a quite simple one: a story about good versus evil.
He who provides the challenge declares that its inspiration was no more than the fact of watching a horror film. I will admit that I allowed a little of current events to colour the small not-quite-steampunk fantasy of Between Good and Evil, Some Grey; there are some things that you just can’t claim neutrality in without at least tacitly supporting one side.
Yes, indeed. While I am still devoting the largest part of my creative energy and time to the novel, I’ve decided that I’m going to make a serious effort at posting some fresh fiction here more than once every… six(ish) months. I am motivated in this by reading the work of other authors.
Particularly, by the blog of Chuck Wendig. He does a regular flash fiction challenge over there, and while spending idle moments at the day job reading through back numbers, I was struck with this thought– a prompted flash fiction is something that I can probably do during these same idle moments, and a prompted flash fiction with a deadline means I might actually put words where people may enjoy them (hopefully) before the projected end of the second draft effort on the novel. Which may, possibly, be done by early December.
So, today we have I Held Your Heart Once. The title comes from the challenge, as do the first and last sentences. I might have been at this sooner, but those three elements were the products of the previous three challenges. You can, therefore, understand me to be blaming a famous and rather good author for keeping me from posting any new writing here for a month.
You can. But I think I’d prefer if you didn’t. I’ve been busy.
I was listening to a fellow speaking of human sleep arrangements lately, and on the way to his main point, he mentioned some people from the Solomon Islands objecting to what their London hosts thought was lavish treatment, a separate hotel room for each one of their party. “What,” I’m told they asked, “if one of us has a nightmare?”
Dreams are funny things. I can see how people can come around to the notion that they present a window on an actual separate reality, since there is sometimes such a wealth of detail in unfamiliar settings that it is very hard to credit the subconscious with such inventive powers.
…but then there are the dreams in which things are so deeply wrong that you really, really hope there’s nothing at all to that notion, because the partitions between the wings of the multiverse are just not thick enough if that stuff is on the far side.
Guess which sort I’m going to recount for you? I have been battering away at the novel and a story for an anthology I’d quite like to get into, and so haven’t been able to run up stories for this enterprise in a while, but last night’s vision of global, possibly universal, destruction was so affecting, I thought I should at least try to squeeze some of it out of my head for presentation here. So, if you ever wondered idly to yourself, “What sort of nonsense is running around inside the heads of writers,” I offer a small but vibrant sample. Be careful to not get any on you, it is almost certain to stain your clothes.
I do not claim to be a poet. The closest I approach the claim is to wish aloud that I had the attention to linguistic detail that real poetry calls for. However, something fell out of me yesterday that looks vaguely like a poem, and it pleases me enough that I’m reproducing it here so I don’t lose it as it trundles along on Twitter’s endless conveyor belt. It’s not deep, but it’s fun:
I call plural octopus
a crowd of octopodes
more than one rhinoceros
must be rhinocerotes.
I’m offering a story today, Remarkable Value, Unbeatable Location, for which I had to look backward in my own life to get some of the details. I’m currently living the North American dream, revelling in my status as owner-occupier of a fully detached single dwelling. Apart from not having anyone but myself to complain to when the drains get clogged, it’s pretty good stuff. I have previously rented, as the last story indicated, and before that I lived in a variety of apartment situations (although the vertical four-plex in Korea was apparently called a ‘villa’, despite the Korean trouble with the letter V, to distinguish it from one of units in the vast thousand-person blocks). It’s the apartment life that the current story is founded in.
Anyone who has lived in an apartment setting will have a story or two about inconsiderate neighbours– it may be over-egging to call it a common horror, but if you think of is as an induced inability to relax in your own home… well, that’s pretty horrible. The Romans were onto something, calling apartment buildings insulae— like shipwreck survivors washed onto the shores of an island, the people living in a block find themselves sharing accommodation with a bunch of strangers. Even if there aren’t cannibals and tigers, things can get a bit tense because none of them have quite the same idea of correct conduct.