Ten Rules For Writing Fiction

December 14, 2018

1. Turn up for work. Discipline allows creative freedom. No discipline equals no freedom.

2. Never stop when you are stuck. You may not be able to solve the problem, but turn aside and write something else. Do not stop altogether.

3. Love what you do.

4. Be honest with yourself. If you are no good, accept it. If the work you are doing is no good, accept it.

5. Don’t hold on to poor work. If it was bad when it went in the drawer it will be just as bad when it comes out.

6. Take no notice of anyone you don’t respect.

7. Take no notice of anyone with a gender agenda. A lot of men still think that women lack imagination of the fiery kind.

8. Be ambitious for the work and not for the reward.

9. Trust your creativity.

10. Enjoy this work!

Jeanette Winterson
Ten Rules For Writing Fiction
Guardian February 2010

Fairy tales — the proper kind, those original Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen tales I recall from my Eastern European childhood, unsanitized by censorship and unsweetened by American retellings — affirm what children intuitively know to be true but are gradually taught to forget, then to dread: that the terrible and the terrific spring from the same source, and that what grants life its beauty and magic is not the absence of terror and tumult but the grace and elegance with which we navigate the gauntlet.

Maria Popova
The Importance of Being Scared: Polish Nobel Laureate Wisława Szymborska on Fairy Tales and the Necessity of Fear

Free

December 14, 2018

It’s no secret that I love wild little girls. The ones with unbrushed hair and torn leggings; the ones who won’t hug Great Aunt Maude just because she expected it. The ones who just won’t learn how to act in a skirt. But here’s the deeper thing: My wish, my fragile dream, is to raise a woman who never stops being wild.

Maybe she cuts off all her hair because it was a bother. Maybe she grows it long because it’s beautiful. Maybe she always wears skirts. Maybe she never wears skirts. Hopefully, she trusts implicitly in strong arms and legs, clever fingers, quick wits–in herself. But for others, her trust must be earned, like a cat’s. Like a cat, she stays in your lap exactly as long as suits her, and no longer.

I want to raise a woman who never has to re-learn how to be free.

Source

Eat me up, my love, or else

December 14, 2018

Everything in love is oriented toward this absorption. At the same time real love is a don’t-touch, yet still an almost-touching. Tact itself: a phantom touching. Eat me up, my love, or else I’m going to eat you up. Fear of eating, fear of the edible, fear on the part of the one of them who feels loved, desired, who wants to be loved, desired, who desires to be desired, who knows that there is no greater proof of love than the other’s appetite, who is dying to be eaten up yet scared to death by the idea of being eaten up, who says or doesn’t say, but who signifies: I beg you, eat me up. Want me down to the marrow. And yet manage it so as to keep me alive. But I often turn about or compromise, because I know that you won’t eat me up, in the end, and I urge you: bite me. Sign my death with your teeth.

Hélène Cixous
Love of the Wolf

What do women want?

December 13, 2018

I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what’s underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty’s and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I’m the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I’ll pull that garment
from its hanger like I’m choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin,
it’ll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.

Kim Addonizio

golden lion roaring

December 13, 2018

I like autumn. The drama of it; the golden lion roaring through the back door of the year, shaking its mane of leaves. A dangerous time; of violent rages and deceptive calm, of fireworks in the pockets and conkers in the fist.

Joanne Harris
Gentlemen and Players

T. S. Eliot helped me

December 13, 2018

I had no one to help me, but then T. S. Eliot helped me.

So when people say that poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read at school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers – a language powerful enough to say how it is.

It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.

Jeanette Winterson
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

ruins of the world

December 13, 2018

Daughter of the moon, you illuminate for me the ruins of the world.

Yvan Goll
In My Beating Pulse
tr. Donald Wellman

I will wade out

December 13, 2018

i will wade out
##############till my thighs are steeped in burning flowers
I will take the sun in my mouth
and leap into the ripe air
################################################Alive
######################################with closed eyes
to dash against darkness
##################################in the sleeping curves of my body
Shall enter fingers of smooth mastery
with chasteness of sea-girls
###########################################Will i complete the mystery
###########################################of my flesh
I will rise
#######################After a thousand years
lipping
flowers
################And set my teeth in the silver of the moon

ee cummings

WITCH-WOMAN

December 11, 2018

“Witch!
Witch!
Cursed black heart,
Cursed gold heart striped with black;
Thighs and breasts I have loved;
Lips virgin to my thought,
Sweeter to me than red figs;
Lying tongue that I have cherished.
Is my heart wicked?
Are my eyes turned against too bright a
sun?
Do I dazzle, and fear what I cannot see?
It is grievous to lose the heart from the
body,
Death which tears flesh from flesh is a
grievous thing;
But death is cool and kind compared to
this,
This horror which bleeds and kindles,
These kisses shot with poison,
These thoughts cutting me like red knives,
Lord,
Thunderer,
Swift rider on the clashing clouds,
Ruler over brass heavens,
Mighty ruler of the souls of men,
Be merciless to me if I mistake this
woman,
As I will be merciless if I learn a bitter
truth.
I burn green oil to you,
Fresh oil from fair young olives,
I pour it upon the ground;
As it drips I invoke your clemency
To send a sign.
Witches are moon-birds,
Witches are the women of the false,
beautiful moon.
To-night the sign
Maker of men and gods.
To-night when the full-bellied moon
swallows the stars.
Grant that I know.
Then will I offer you a beastly thing and
a broken;
Or else the seed of both
To be your messengers and slaves forever,
My sons, and my sons’ sons, and their
sons after;
And my daughters and theirs throughout
the ages
For your handmaidens and bedfellows as
you command.
How the white sword flickers!
How my body twists in the circle of my
anguish!
Behold, I have loved this woman,
Even now I cry for her,
My arms weaken,
My legs shake and crumble.
Strengthen my thews,
Cord my sinews to withstand a testing.
Let me be as iron before this thing,
As flashing brass to see,
As lightning to fall;
As rain melting before sunshine it I have
wronged the woman.
The red flame takes the oil,
The blood of my trees is sucked into fire
As my blood is sucked into the fire of
your wrath and mercy,
O just and vengeful God.”

Body touches body. How sweet the
spread of loosened bodies in the coil
of sleep, but a gold-black thread is
between them. An owl calls deep
in the wood.
Can you see through the night, woman,
that you stare so upon it? Man,
what spark do your eyes follow in
the smouldering darkness?
She stirs. Again the owl calling. She
rises. Foot after foot as a panther
treads, through the door—a minute
more and the fringes of her goat-
skin are brushing the bushes. She
pushes past brambles, the briars
catch little claws in her goat-skin.
And he who watches? As the tent –
lap flaps back, he leaps. The bearer
of the white sword leaps, and follows
her. Blur of moonshine before —
behind. He walks by the light of a
green-oil oath, and the full moon
floats above them both.
Seeded grass is a pool of grey. Ice-white,
cloud-white, frosted with the spray
of the sharp-edged moon. Croon—
croon—the wind in the feathered
tops of the grass. They pass—the
witch-white woman with the gold-
black heart, the flower-white woman
—and his eyes startle, and answer
the bow curve of her going up the hill.
The night is still, with the wind, and the
moon, and an owl calling.

On the sea side of a hill where the grass
lies tilted to a sheer drop down,
with the sea splash under as the
waves are thrown upon a tooth of
rock. Shock and shatter of a golden
track, and the black sucking back.
The draw of his breath is hard and
cold, the draw of the sea is a rustle
of gold.
Behind a curl of granite stone the man
lies prone. The woman stands like
an obelisk, and her blue-black hair
has a serpent whisk as the wind lifts
it up and scatters it apart. Witch-
heart, are you gold or black? The
woman stands like a marble tower,
and her loosened hair is a thunder-
shower twisted across with lightnings
of burnt gold.

Naked and white, the matron moon urges
the woman. The undulating sea
fingers the rocks and winds stealthily
over them. She opens the goat-skin
wide—it falls.
The walls of the world are crashing down,
she is naked before the naked moon,
the Mother Moon, who sits in a
courtyard of emerald with six black
slaves before her feet. Six—and a
white seventh who dances, turning
in the moonlight, flinging her arms
about the soft air, despairingly lift-
ing herself to her full height, strain-
ing tiptoe away from the slope of
the hill.
Witch-breasts turn and turn, witch-
thighs burn, and the feet strike al-
ways faster upon the grass. Her
blue-black hair in the moon-haze
blazes like a fire of salt and myrrh.
Sweet as branches of cedar, her
arms; fairer than heaped grain, her
legs; as grape clusters, her knees and
ankles; her back as white grapes with
smooth skins.

She runs through him with the whipping
of young fire. The desire of her is
thongs and weeping. She is the green
oil to his red flame. He peers from
the curl of granite stone. He hears
the moan of the crawling sea, and
sees—as the goat-skin falls so the
flesh falls….
And the triple Heaven-wall falls down,
and the Mother Moon on a ruby
throne is near as a bow-shot above
the hill.
Goat-skin, here, flesh-skin there, a skele-
ton dancing in the moon-green air,
with a white, white skull and no
hair. Lovely as ribs on a smooth sand
shore, bright as quartz-stones speck-
ling a moor, long and narrow as
Winter reeds, the bones of the skel-
eton. The wind in the rusty grass
hums a humeral-chant sat to a jig.
Dance, silver bones, dance a whirl-
igig in a crepitation of lust. The
waves are drums beating with
slacked guts. Inside the skeleton is
a gold heart striped with black, it
glitters through the clacking bones,
throwing an inverted halo round the
stamping feet.

Scarlet is the ladder dropping from the
moon. Liquid is the ladder—like
water moving yet keeping its shape.
The skeleton mounts like a great grey ape,
and its bones rattle; the rattle of the
bones is the crack of dead trees
bitten by frost. The wind is desolate,
and the sea moans.
But the ruby chair of Mother Moon
shudders, and quickens with a hard
fire. The skeleton has reached the
last rung. It melts and is absorbed
in the burning moon. The moon?
No moon, but a crimson rose afloat
in the sky. A rose? No rose, but a
black-tongued lily. A lily? No lily,
but a pruple orchid with dark, writh-
ing bars.

Trumpets mingle with the sea-drums,
scalding trumpets of brass, the wind-
hum changes to a wail of many
voices, the owl has cased calling.

“White sword are you thirsty?
I give you the green blood of my heart.
I give you her white flesh cast from her
black soul.
Thunderer,
Vengeful and cruel Father,
God of Hate,
The skins of my eyes have dropped,
With fire you have consumed the oil of
my heart.
Take my drunken sword,
Some other man may need it.
She was sweeter than red figs,
O cursed God!”

Amy Lowell