February 13, 2020

Because her body is winter inside a cave
because someone built
fire there and forgot to put it out
because bedtime is a castle
she’s building inside herself
with a moat
and portcullis
and buckets full of mist
because when you let go
the reins
tumble over cliffs and turn
into moths before hitting bottom
because their hooves leave streaks of midnight
in the sky
because stuffed rabbits
are better at keeping secrets
than stopping hands
because when the world got
shoved up inside her
she held it tight like a kegel ball
and wondered
at the struggle Atlas had
carrying such a tiny thing
on his back

Melissa Studdard

new stories can root

February 13, 2020

When we let ourselves respond to poetry, to music, to pictures, we are clearing out a space where new stories can root, in effect we are clearing a space for new stories about ourselves.

Jeanette Winterson
Testimony Against Gertrude Stein

Gormenghast, that is, the main massing of the original stone, taken by itself would have displayed a certain ponderous architectural quality were it possible to have ignored the circumfusion of those mean dwellings that swarmed like an epidemic around its Outer Walls.

Mervyn Peake
Titus Groan

To me, short stories and plays are very similar in their constraints, actually. They both require extreme economy: there’s not as much room for expansiveness as there is in a novel. You need to get as much use out of everything as possible.

It’s actually really hard for me to switch back and forth between novels and short stories. The short story mode is too dense for a novel; it becomes exhausting to the reader. Novels need a little more breathing room and a little more room for repetition and reinforcement. They may be read over a period of weeks, as opposed to half an hour, and so much of what you’re doing in a novel has to be robust enough to stand up to that sort of break in the experience. Novels have room for more engineering, more failsafes and several engines! Short stories are more like the World War II fighter plane, the Zero: They do one thing and they do it as efficiently as possible, without much tolerance for error.

Elizabeth Bear
Interview with Jude Griffin 26th May 2015

the seven psalms of hell

February 13, 2020

The demon arrived before the town. She fell out of a red oak in the primeval forest that would eventually turn into Schism Street and Memorial Square into a white howl of snow and frozen sea-spray. She was naked, her body branded with four-spoked seals, wheels of banishment, and the seven psalms of hell. Her hair burnt off and she had no fingernails or toenails. The hair grew back — black, naturally — and the 16th century offered a range of options for completely covering female skin from chin to heel, black-burnt with the diamond trident-brand of Amdusias or not.

Catherynne M. Valente
The Bread We Eat in Dreams

tell you LEGENDS by firelight

February 13, 2020

PANCELTS are frequently red-haired. They wear plaids and have NAMES you must consult the glossary in order to pronounce. By the Rules (pronounced GEAS) which govern them, they have to call ELVES Shee (pronounced Sidhe) and refer to the ENEMY as Shadow. Otherwise they are nice people who drink a lot of the water of life (pronounced Uisce) and love to tell you LEGENDS by firelight. They also fight a lot and rather well, since both men and women train hard from the age of ten. But there is no such thing as an ordinary PANCELT. Each of them is either a MAGIC USER or a BARD or a Druid (pronounced like a sneeze), or sometimes all three (in which case you pronounce it Merlin). They are governed by strong and beautiful QUEENS called things like Maebdh Aeiolaien (pronounced Mad Eileen) or strong and serious KINGS called, for instance, Daibhaeaidhaibh MacAeraith (pronounced Dave Mate), and they appear to worship the Welsh Bard Taliesin. It is in this Bard’s honour that they all sing so much, even more than the Shee/Elves do. And, like the Elves, they are prone to go on about how very much better things were in the Old Days, when a HERO could walk in one day from Caer Dibdh to the sea by taking a shortcut through Tir n’an Og (pronounced The Many-Coloured Land).

Diana Wynne Jones
The Tough Guide to Fantasyland