stories


Random quote of the day:

“That Bible salesman character [Flannery O’Connor] had created from the whole cloth of her imagination had broken free from her control and did exactly what the story demanded he do. That’s a magic moment in fiction, I tell my students. Trust the accidents, I tell them. A story is a story is a story. Only the story counts, I tell my students.”

—Chuck Kinder, Last Mountain Dancer

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

I am tired of trying to write serious stuff. It doesn’t help my present state of mind, or the state of the world. So yesterday I wrote something silly,  more words than I’ve been able to write for at least a week, and today I wrote something silly again, using the same world and characters. I don’t know if this has legs but at least it’s walking.

***

Dragons Are Overused

 

“Dragons are overused, don’t you think?”

“They are the backbone of the fantasy industry.”

“And all that stuff about people riding on their backs! The g-forces would rip humans off within seconds of flight.”

“Well, it is fantasy. And people are very fond of seeing and imagining people riding dragons in their stories.”

“Pfft.” The dragon used the tip of his long, sharp nails quite delicately to pick at something lodged between his long, sharp teeth.

Maynard, the poik with whom he had been speaking, watched with fascinated queasiness hoping that whatever was lodged there wasn’t leftover poik. “Humans will be humans.”

“Lawd, won’t they, though.” The dragon shifted on his bed of ash and straw, craning his neck so he had a better view of the meadowlands outside the mouth of his cave. They were quite nice, as meadowlands went, bucolic and dotted with sheep. He made a tsk sound with his tongue to test his teeth, but apparently wasn’t satisfied he’d gotten what was lodged there for he returned a nail to his delicate work.

Maybe it was sheep, Maynard ardently hoped. “Have you been raiding their habitats lately?”

He smacked his tongue several times and seemed finally satisfied that he’d dislodged the irritant. He huffed and belched a small puff of smoke. “You know very well that isn’t a good idea these days. Too much surveillance equipment out there and jets with nasty armaments.”

“I thought bullets couldn’t pierce your hide.”

“Those heat seeking missiles hurt like crazy, though.” The dragon turned his face away from the meadowlands and laid his head on his folded paws with a disconsolate sigh. “Times are hard.”

“Yes,” agreed Maynard. “Fantasy isn’t what it used to be.”

Maynard himself had a taste for contemporary fantasy, but he’d never admit that to the dragon who, by his very nature, must be heavily invested in high fantasy. At least, that’s what Maynard assumed. Poiks fit well in urban environments, resembling large shaggy dogs as they did. Of course, there were many subtle differences, but most humans didn’t possess subtle perception and never looked twice at poiks. Unless they were fanciers of large, shaggy dogs. Of course, any self-respecting denizen of the Otherlands could shapeshift at least a little. Enough to fool even the rare perceptive humans. Most of them, anyway. Seers would always be a problem, but at least they glowed golden to Otherlanders so were easily avoided.

“Do you suppose my time has come?” asked the dragon, releasing a melancholy and smoggy sigh.

“What do you mean?”

“Am I obsolete?”

“Uhhh…” Maynard wasn’t sure what response would cause him the least pain. Dragons were mercurial at best. No guessing what this one wanted to hear so he turned around three times and laid down on a spare pile of straw.

“I mean,” the dragon continued, clearly not really interested in Maynard’s answer, “several of my relatives have given up altogether and gone into deep hibernation. Some have even allowed themselves to die, which seems excessive, but no accounting for taste. Or strength of character.”

“Mmm hmm.” Maynard scratched his floppy ears with his hind paw.

“As long as I can still fly now and then, snatch up a sheep or a cow or a horse without being observed, life still seems worth living.”

Maynard was relieved that it probably wasn’t poik that had been stuck in the dragon’s teeth. “I can imagine. And how exactly do you manage to fly without being observed?”

“The human mythmakers have invented this marvelous new creature called a yueffo and I can easily pass for one of those.”

Yueffo. At least that’s what Maynard thought he’d heard. “What is a yueffo?”

“It’s an acronym. Humans are so very fond of acronyms. U-F-O. Unidentified Flying Object. Covers a multitude of shapes and sizes and basically boils down to any strange thing seen in the skies. As long as I can surround myself with enough light they can’t really make out my true form and they can’t capture a good image of me on those nasty cameras of theirs. Anyway, most of the time I’m flying over remote areas at night where I can pick off livestock with ease. Although I understand real UFOs only take parts of the cattle and horses they capture and leave the rest, perfectly good meat, behind to rot. Really bizarre behavior.”

“What constitutes a real UFO?”

“Haven’t a clue, Maynard. They must come from the Otherlands, but I’m not sure which kingdom, tribe, or caliotrope they belong to.”

“Very interesting.”

“Yes. They’re all the rage right now amongst the humans. Always something on their televisions and social media about them. I don’t know how they can make something so remarkable so boring, but they bang on and on about it until you just want to scream with tedium.”

“I’m taking a media break at the moment,” Maynard admitted. “Always another tragedy, always some internecine warfare amongst the opinionated set. Gets tiring.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Mind you, the internet has its advantages. You can say whatever you like and no one knows you’re a poik.”

“Or a dragon.”

“Exactly.”

They fell silent, looking out across the bucolic meadowlands. Large white clouds hugged the mountains in the middle distance. Three bright blue lights emerged from the clouds and zipped across the meadowlands at incredible speed, then up and over the mountain hiding the dragon’s cave.

“Show offs,” he grumbled.

Random quote of the day:

“We are lonesome animals. We spend all our life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say—and to feel—’Yes, that’s the way it is, or at least that’s the way I feel it. You’re not as alone as you thought.’”

—John Steinbeck, “In Awe of Words,” The Exonian, 1930

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“My stories come to me as clichés. A cliché is a cliché because it’s worthwhile. Otherwise, it would have been discarded. A good cliché can never be overwritten; it’s still mysterious.”

—Toni Morrison, Black Women Writers at Work, ed. Claudia Tate

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Make up a story…For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.”

―Toni Morrison, The Nobel Lecture In Literature, 1993

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Hold those things that tell your history and protect them. During slavery, who was able to read or write or keep anything? The ability to have somebody to tell your story to is so important. It says: ‘I was here. I may be sold tomorrow. But you know I was here.’”

—Maya Angelou, The New York Times, October 26, 2010

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“The nurture for telling stories comes from those who have gone before. Telling or hearing stories draws its power from a towering column of humanity joined one to the other across time and space, elaborately dressed in the rags and robes or nakedness of their time, and filled to bursting with life still being lived.”

—Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

I’ve been doing some clean-up work on my blog, trying to eliminate duplications and other messes that happened long ago when I transferred it from LJ to Dreamwidth. It’s never been a high-priority thing, but something I dip into when I’m in the mood to do something fairly mindless (and kidding myself it’s productive). (Or as a time waster instead of writing, but we won’t talk about that.)

I ran across an old post from June of 2011 which was just at the beginning of my caregiving for my mother when she was on peritoneal dialysis and still able to do most things for herself. That changed in September of that year when she had her stroke—but that’s not the point of this post. Apparently, in June I had just finished my last read through/clean up of my second completed novel, Blood Geek. I think maybe I had the idea of self-publishing. That idea was overtaken by my mother’s illness and never came about. It’s just as well, I suppose. It was a decent effort, but not my best work.

But that’s not the point of this post, either. In the above-referenced post I was talking about the strange parallel of writing a novel (almost twenty years prior at that point) about a woman whose early life had been constrained by caring for her sick mother. She was just about to break free and live life for herself. In 2011 I was rather amazed by the “haunting echo, now that I am helping to care for my own mother, that keeps bouncing through the chambers of my heart. It’s a little disturbing. I knew more than I thought I knew back then.” But in June of 2011 I had no idea, really, of what was to come, how consuming caregiving would be, how it would leave no room for anything but working and caring, how it squeezed out all time for anything like creativity.

But again, that’s not the point of this post. This is, this paragraph I came across:

And now I am in a different phase of my life. I have no vision for what comes next. I can’t see that far beyond the day-to-day. I do know that when I get back to writing something new again, I don’t want it to echo that day-to-day in the slightest. Which is not to say I might not use some of these characters again—in fact, I fully intend to. But they will be engaged in some other enterprise, something that blows the doors open to other worlds with no fences.

What blows the doors off my mind on this day, in 2020, is that I am writing new things again, and the new novel I’m writing does involve some of the same characters—in a whole new enterprise, a whole new process of growth and transformation. (And I am going through that transformation with them.) I haven’t really thought about these characters much in the last nine years, although one of them, Carmina, kept popping up now and then to insist she had a story I really needed to tell. I poked at her story over the years, but beyond the first two chapters, nothing gelled. I didn’t start last year thinking she will be the one. I started last year just trying to write something, anything. And then I wrote a completely different novel in a completely different universe. Also one I’d used before, but nothing to do with these characters.

Yet here I am. Happy and more than a little surprised that this fall Carmina’s story finally took off.

And that’s why I say that no story I have ever committed to paper or electrons (or, hell, even the ones that knock around in my head that I haven’t bothered to do that with) is every truly dead—until I am. Or until my brain blows out. Even my first completed novel, which if I have anything to say about it will never see the light of day, has produced nuggets that I have mined and used in later books. Like the clerk in the dead parrot sketch of Monty Python fame keeps insisting, these stories are not dead. Even if I’m not aware of them on a conscious level, they’re still in there. Resting.

Random quote of the day:

“Stories are embedded with instructions which guide us about the complexities of life. Stories enable us to understand the need for and ways to raise a submerged archetype.”

—Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“We photograph things in order to drive them out of our minds. My stories are a way of shutting my eyes.”

—Franz Kafka, as reported by Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

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