jennygordon: (Skywatcher)
Ideas for stories are always wafting through my head. I jot them down in my beloved Moleskine in case they want to come out and play at a later date. Some of those ideas have been around for a long time, and show up on a semi-regular basis, sometimes with increasing insistence.

It's one such idea that's back to whisper at me at the moment.

It's not a plot bunny (i.e. something that's going to distract me from MoulderingBook). It's ... a surfacing. A seedling that's ready to germinate and reach for the light.

In other words, I think it may be the rousing of the project I'll be working on once I'm done with MoulderingBook.

I have a number of semi-ideas for possible projects on a backburner, but this one seems to want to jostle to the front of the queue.

I love the sense of all these ideas simmering away inside me, bubble-popping to the top of the cauldron from time to time, then sinking back into the stew for a while longer. Some end up stuck to the bottom of the pot and never evolve into anything more. Others may require a notebook of their own at some point ...
jennygordon: (Magpie)
When I was a kid, one of my favourite books was 'Charmed Life', by the late, great Diana Wynne Jones.

'Charmed Life' contained one of my favourite characters, Gwendolyn Chant, who was selfish, devious and greedy, but so entertaining and fun you couldn't help but love her. I think that book is where my fascination for such likeable-unlikeable characters took root. A few years later, the wonderful Miss Weston, my favourite English teacher, had my class write a story titled 'Antihero', and the fascination blossomed from there.

Black and white hold little interest for me when it comes to protagonists; and we all know the best characterisation — the most true to life — consists of shades of grey. For me, the most interesting of all characters are those whose grey leans towards storm-clouds and the edge of night.

I've tried before, on several occasions, to write protagonists who weren't very likeable, and who were sometimes downright rotten, but who had certain qualities that meant they were engaging nonetheless. With MoulderingBook, I find myself playing with the idea again.

As couple of my earliest notes for the book say:

"This is a story about bad people doing good things, though not necessarily for good reasons."


"The heroes are antiheroes, yet you root for them all the same."

It's a challenge, but one I'm enjoying immensely. I rememeber something Sebastian Faulkes said in a documentary a while back: "It's more important that a hero has vigour than virtue." His example was Thackeray's Becky Sharp. Me? My touchstone for the MC in MoulderingBook is Gwendolyn Chant.

And the delicious, decadent, deadly* family at the heart of my story? Well, I have no excuse for them other than my warped and twisty imagination.

(*apologies for the frivolous alliteration).
jennygordon: (Rossetti - Veronica Veronese)
The more life I live, the more I come to believe that there is no such thing as coincidence. The things that come to us come, and the things that happen to us, do so at the time they do for a reason. Our job is to pay attention and do our best to understand.

Case in point: I came across this quote in an old notebook this morning. I originally jotted it down back in September, and now that I've found my way into the story I want MoulderingBook to be, it's speaking to me loud and clear:

"I want the difficult stories, the ones that aren’t easy to believe, the twisted ones, the sorrowful ones, the ones that need telling most of all."

Alice Hoffman, 'Green Heart'
jennygordon: (Froud - Green Woman)
In the spirit of Jane Yolen, who is responsible for my title quote, I'm dropping by to share this wonderful article by Terri Windling, whose wonderful blog, Myth & Moor, is well worth following, if you don't already.

So much of this wonderful article spoke to me, and I'm sure it will to many others. For me, today (because I'll likely be a different version of me tomorrow, so other parts of the piece might speak louder instead), these two things hit a note:

"The mark of maturing, as an artist and as a person, is to stop looking at ourselves from the outside in; to settle, instead, deep within our own psyche, our body, our individuality. To look at the world from the inside out, nested deep inside the deeply-imperfect beauty of the person (and thus the artist) that we are."


"We're responsible for the gifts we've been given; we're responsible for what we put out into the world; and for being the artists who we actually are -- not the ones we somehow think we ought to be. And not the one someone else wants us to be."

There's so much more inspirational food for thought, and comfort food for the soul in the article, so please do take a look, if you have five minutes to spare.
jennygordon: (Froud - Green Man)
Yesterday was the first truly frosty, early-winter's day in my neck of the woods. I love days like that, so I bundled up warm and headed out into the wilds of my local park where the beauty was enough to make my soul sing.

Frosty berries:


And frosty buds:


Mist across the mill pond:


And the last of autumn's colour against a fragile, chilly-blue sky:

jennygordon: (Froud)
So, for various reasons (some of them out of my control, some of them not-so-much) I've been in a bit of a grump with Writer Jenny recently. The necessary hiatus from writing over the past year has roused all those Doubting Demons and the Pesky Piskies of Procrastination have me pinned in a corner.

So this weekend, with gritted teeth and grim determination, I'm going to stand up and faced the lot of them. I will write, dammit. And if I end up producing a steaming pile, then so be it!

It's been a year since you've written properly, for goodness sake, I tell myself. You're bound to be out of practice. Give yourself a break!

I spent some constructive time at work this morning (when I should have been doing other things — shhh!) re-reading posts and pieces by other writers who have inspired and encouraged me in the past, including this line by Laini Taylor:

"You write to discover the story."

And that led me on a train of thought which ended up at this old blog post of mine, and it's subsequent discussion among us. I read with particular interest something [ profile] bogwitch64 (who I miss seeing around these parts) said:

"My "outline," when I do one, is what a lot of people would consider the first draft. I end up with about 30K words of a story told in a stream of consciousness sort of thing. I imagine it's much like someone's NaNo. But I don't say that's draft one. It's the outline I work from--but my first draft is actually much cleaner for it."

I replied at the time that it was an approach I may try at some point, and I wonder if that time has come.

See, in the dozen-odd handwritten pages of AutumnBook I have managed to produce, I've increasingly found myself writing the scenes which shine the brightest, rather than writing sequentially, necessarily. Maybe [ profile] bogwitch64's approach would lend me a hand: chunks of freewriting, interspersed with notes and comments to myself. It'll be like writing with a friend nearby to chat with as I tentatively find my way and regain some of my writerly confidence.

And maybe some time spent freewriting would lend me a hand, since one of the problems I've been having with the story is that, while I have a shiny idea, and a rough outline, I can't hear the voice of my MC yet. It's going to be written in first person, so finding that voice is crucial. Perhaps some nice, unstructured freewriting ambling would help me discover her.

*SIgh*. More than anything else, I just need to sit down for some decent chunks of time and get the hell on with it!
jennygordon: (Froud - Green Woman)
* Alan Bennett.

One of the cases I lingered over the longest on my trip to the Pitt Rivers Museum was that containing keys — all kinds from all eras.

The keys to what? I wondered as I gazed at the pretty filligree examples from the sixteenth century. What did that huge hefty one secure?



When did keys cease being objects of beauty and art and become merely the mundane, ubiquotious Yale kind?


At various points during my life, I've worked with historical and archaeological artefacts, and those that always speak to me the loudest are the small, intimate, personal items such as keys. These are the objects that carry stories of the lives of folk like us: everyday folk.

Keys are symbolic of so many things. Only a few days prior to my museum visit, a straying muse dropped by to let me know that the MC in AutumnBook has a key. It is the key to a mystery, to the story of her ancestors, and to what she has inherited from them.

Imagine my delight when, on my way to the Pitt Rivers Museum, I wandered through an Antique and Collectables Fayre and found me a key of my very own.


It's Georgian, which means it's over 200 years old. Imagine the hands that key has passed through down the centuries before it reached mine. What did it once unlock? And what might it now unlock for me? I hold it in my hand as I think about AutumnBook, and it grows warm with possibility.
jennygordon: (Rossetti - Veronica Veronese)
A few days ago, I went to one of my favourite museums: The Pitt Rivers Museum of Anthropology and World Archaeology in Oxford. It's been over ten years since I last visited, but the place is just as magical as I remembered. For me, the main part of its charm is the fact that it's a "museum of museums" —  founded in 1884, it has been preserved in its original Victorian state, with dimly-lit dark wood cases squeezed together, and artefacts arranged typologically, accompanied by their original tiny, hand-written labels.



(yep, that's a boat hanging from the ceiling!)

It's a small museum, with two balcony levels, overlooking a central court. It's tucked away, like a secret, through a heavy wooden door at the back of the Natural History Museum, and down a flight of steps into the shadows. And it's dark in there — to protect the light-vulnerable objects — which adds to the sense of mystery and secrets.

More than any other museum I've visited — and I've visited a few! — the Pitt Rivers is an Aladdin's Cave of wonderfulness. In modern museums, labels tell us what an artefact is, where it was found, what date it was made. In the Pitt Rivers Museum, a tiny label might comment only that the artefact is a bracelet from Tibet, made of scented woods to ward off fever. And not everything is labelled, so you can invent the stories behind the objects, or simply revel in the wondering.



For those in the know, there's more to be discovered: beneath many of the cases are drawers, full of artefacts packed away for storage. You can open many of those drawers and discover yet more treasures hidden within, safe beneath their protective glass. And the wonderful thing is that that drawers often smell  — of wood and old polish, with a hint of the scent of the objects they contain.

If you find a quiet corner, and listen carefully, you can hear the objects whispering to one another, sharing their stories, gossiping about the visitors, daydreaming wistfully about their past. It's a place of a thousand, thousand tales, and I'm sure a few of them have come away with me.
jennygordon: (Water Lily)
One of my earliest musical memories is of seeing Kate Bush's video of 'Wuthering Heights' on 'Top of the Pops'. Despite my father making the obligatory "Dad jokes" about withering tights, I was utterly spellbound by this strange, beautiful, otherworlldy creature doing cartwheels in her long, white gown and singing what Neil Gaiman referred to in a recent documentary as "banshee music".

I've grown up with Kate's music. While I haven't been a consistent, avid listener, it has slipped into the forefront of my awareness at many of the pivotal moments of my life. One of the first albums I bought with hard-saved pocket money was her 'Lionheart'. I was at art college years later when I heard that, after years of silence, she had a new album out. That album was 'The Sensual World', and I clearly remember my delight when I found it on the shelf at the local independent record shop. Often, the people I have been closest to throughout my life have been Kate Bush admirers too; it's like a secret club.

In the same recent documentary, Neil Gaiman recalls his amazement at this musician who wasn't afraid of books, or of writers, embracing literature and celebrating it in her music. As well as being inspired by Emily Bronte's novel, Kate has made many nods to literature in her work, not least of which is Molly Bloom's soliloquy from James Joyce's 'Ulysses', which appears to great and powerful effecting in the single of 'The Sensual World'. It was actually Kate's song, 'Wuthering Heights' that inspired me to read the novel (at far too young an age!)

Just as writing inspired Kate, in many ways, Kate's music fueled and fed the writer in me. So many of her songs tell a story. I adore the forbidden beauty of 'Kashka from Baghdad' who "lives in sin with another man." 'Oh England, My Lionheart' still brings a lump to my throat as she tells of a World War II pilot who shot down and as he falls to his death, he thinks of all the things he loves about England ("you read me Shakespeare on the rolling turf.")

Kate Bush

There has been something magical in the way Kate's music has woven in and out of my life, forever carrying with it the memories and emotions of other times I heard the songs. Only with 'The Sensual World' and 'The Red Shoes' have I rushed out to buy the albums the minute they were released. The other albums have come into my life and possession at other times, for other reasons. But always, it seems, at the perfect time. There has only been one blip: when 'Aerial' was bought for me, it wasn't at the right time. I barely listened to it before consigning it to the shelf. It wasn't until some years later when I met [ profile] readthisandweep here on LJ, and she wrote about how she listens to the second disc of the double album as part of her morning routine that I dug it out, listened again, and fell in love.

'50 Words for Snow' was released in 2011, yet I have only just felt the desire to order it. Again, this is a pivotal time in my life, and again, Kate's music is a part of it.

Tomorrow night, Kate Bush will perform the first of a series of dates at London's Hammersmith Apollo.She hasn't performed for more than three decades. The tickets for the shows sold out in less than fifteen minutes of going on sale.

Fifteen minutes!

Who knew Kate Bush is loved so much?!

While I'm not one of those lucky people who will be there to see her, I shall be there in spirit.

To celebrate this series of shows, the BBC hosted two programmes about Kate Bush on Friday night: the aforementioned documentary of her career, and a complication of all her appearance at the BBC over the years. They were on quite late, so I set up to record them, planning to watch at another time. I flicked over before I went to bed to check they were recording okay, and ended up staying up to watch, spellbound all over again.
jennygordon: (Blue Butterfly)

"But you have no chocolate? My dear, how will you ever manage?"

Marquise de Sevigne
jennygordon: (Skywatcher)

I took an impromptu bath last night. Well, I was going to spend a bit of time with FallingBook, but on the spur of the moment, decided to pickle myself in hot, rose-scented water instead (and most glorious it was too, thanks). I took the book I'm currently reading with me, and had no intention of doing anything other than relax, which I successfully did for a lovely, long time. And then ...

... From out of nowhere ...

... Inspiration struck!

And dammit, there was no pen and paper in reach, so I had to get out of the bath with all due speed before the idea scurried off again.

Actually, it was less an idea than a solution. See, there's this secondary character in FallingBook who I've already decided I need to rethink in terms of his role, but I was a bit stymied as to what direction I needed to take him in. I don't know whether it was the pickling in hot water or the rose-scented bubbles that did it, but I realised - he's not an observer, he's a catalyst!

Of course he is. It gives me a whole new way of looking at the story.

(Note to self - must keep pen and paper in the bathroom in future!)

In other news, I came across this yesterday and thought you guys might appreciate it.

jennygordon: (Froud - Wood Woman)
Last week, I read this wonderful article on the Writer Unboxed website. It's written by author Robin LaFevers, whose marvellously honest and inspirational pieces often make it to my Writing Bible. This piece deals with the 'almost there' stage of writing, when you're receiving personalised letters from agents, and success is almost-but-not-quite in reach. Robin shares some great practical advice about how to survive the frustration of this stage, and also what to do to move yourself beyond it. It includes this piece of advice:

"Reconnect with the sorts of stories that first awakened the love of reading in you and that have provided you with your greatest reading pleasure. What blew your mind? Showed you the full scope of what was possible? Shook the foundations of your world? The seeds of your own voice likely are hidden in those books."

This really hit a note with me, as it's precisely what I've been doing since FallingBook came knocking (again). The story of FallingBook was very much born out of the kind of books that blew my mind way back when. In a pile beside my bed, I've been accumulating both a selection of those books along with those that have appeared over the years since, and which have spoken to me in the same way.

Re-reading these is part research (what is it that this author did to make this story speak to me so powerfully?), and it's also a journey of re-discovery for me, which I can't wait to embark upon.

For this who are interested, the pile included titles such as:

Charles de Lint, 'Memory and Dream'
Brunonia Barry, 'The Lace Reader'
Mary Stewart, 'Thornyhold'

To which I would add any number of Alice Hoffman novels, Alice Thomas Ellis and Terri Windling, to name but a few.

How about you? Which books shook the foundation of your world and planted the seeds of your writing voice?
jennygordon: (Clock)
As some of you know, due to a current upheaval in my personal life, I'm not able to post on LJ as often as I usually do, or to write as much as I'd like. In fact, pretty much all writing is on temporary hiatus until my life settles down again. That said, I can't possibly be without writing altogether, so I've been keeping my hand in with timed freewriting exercises as often as I can. It was Laini Taylor who provided my kickstarter. From her blog:

"Attic Notebook"

This is a freewriting exercise I used to do back in college. It doesn't really involve an attic. Here's what it is:

Get a notebook and freewrite in it -- random, undirected freewriting -- for a set time every day until it's full. Just write. Poems, scenes, daydreams, character ideas, thoughts about the sky. Try 30 minutes a day.

The key is this: do NOT reread what you have written. Do not look back. Don’t even peek. Once a word is written you must move past it and forward only. And when the book is full, close it and set it aside for a month, still without peeking. Then read it. When I did this, it was like finding a notebook in an attic -- hence the name. I remembered almost nothing I had written. It was pure discovery. I wrote that? I thought up that? Ideas for stories came up and I felt almost like I was pilfering them. . . from myself! It was a really, really fun and rewarding exercise!

Now, for the past many years, my writing has moved from novel project to novel project, with the odd short story scattered in-between. So freewriting is a whole different ballpark for me, and you know what? I've discovered it's enormous fun, and hugely freeing.

I love not being allowed to go back and correct, or even look at what I've just written — I normally get way too tied up in fiddling with my words. I adore starting with a random thought or prompt, and simply going with the flow to see where it takes me. And almost the best part, given the current state of my life, is the fact that I'm only allowed to do it for 30 minutes. After that, it's pen down time. For a start, it takes the pressure off completely, and for seconds, I have to leave what I'm writing at that 30 minute point. It makes the freewritten pieces feel like treasures chanced upon in the tideline, or snatched off an errant wind.

It's going to be fascinating to go back and read them all once the book is filled, and has been shut away in the attic for a while.

Who knows where some of those fragment might lead in future?
jennygordon: (Great Grey Heron)
It's the beginning of December, which means it's time for 'The Dark is Rising.' I mentioned a while back that I was planning to re-(x multiple) read the second book in Susan Cooper's classic children's series about old magic and the ancient battle between Light and Dark. 'The Dark is Rising' (second in the series of five novels, collectively known by the same title) is set around Midwinter, and I like to re-visit it around the same time of year every few years. It now seems extra timely because Susan Cooper has recently won a Lifetime Achievement award (along with Tanith Lee) at the 2013 World Fantasy Convention — and about time too! In honour of this, I've decided to re-read the entire 'Dark is Rising' sequence, and have dug out my omnibus edition ...

The Dark is Rising Omnibus

I first read the series when I was maybe ten or eleven years old. Back then, the editions in print had gorgeous, evocative, and delightfully disturbing covers by Michael Heslop.

Like so many of us who have grown up to become writers ourselves — and so many who haven't — 'The Dark is Rising' series had a huge and enduring impact on me and my imagination. When I visited some of the places the books are set on family holidays, particularly Cornwall and North Wales, I experienced them through the filter of Will Stanton and the Drew children, who are the heroes of the novels. The wild beauty of those places that would have stirred my soul regardless was enhanced by the power with which Cooper had evoked them in my imagination long before I ever saw them for myself. Nowadays, I live in England's West Country, not too far from Stanton Drew stone circle.

Stanton Drew stone circle

Surely it's no coincidence that Cooper names her heroes as she did ...

Just retrieving the omnibus edition from my bookshelf and flicking through the pages, I feel again that familiar stirring of excitement at the story waiting for me there. The poem that accompanies the books, which is also a riddle that foretells the shape of their journey, floats to the surface of my mind, where it has lain, memorised by heart so many years ago.

"When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back;
Three from the circle, three from the track;
Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone;
Five will return, and one go alone.

Iron for the birthday, bronze carried long;
Wood from the burning, stone out of song;
Fire in the candle-ring, water from the thaw;
Six Signs the circle, and the Grail gone before.

Fire on the mountain shall find the harp of gold
Played to wake the Sleepers, oldest of the old;
Power from the Greenwitch, lost beneath the sea;
All shall find the light at last, silver on the tree."
jennygordon: (Hermit)
This one's for all you fellow lovers of fantasy fiction out there. I've shamelessly pinched this wonderful quote from Laini Taylor's blog to share with any of you who, like me, haven't come across it before:

"Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofus, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.

They can keep their heaven. When I die, I'd sooner go to Middle-Earth."

- George R.R. Martin
jennygordon: (Blue Butterfly)
Once upon a time, three writers and crit-partners set up a blog, on which they each posted a piece of short fiction a week. The pieces were posted unedited and often rough (a brave enough thing in itself!) The blog was intended as a place where they could stretch themselves as writers and share and invite comment on their work. At the time they set up the blog, one of those writers was published, while the other two were waiting in the wings.

The blog was called "The Merry Sisters of Fate".

The writers were Maggie Stiefvater, Brenna Yovanoff and Tessa Gratton, all of whom are now successful, published authors. (I know some of you who read my blog are as familiar with the Merry Sisters as me).

More recently, the three Sisters released a collection of the stories from the blog, sampled across the time they were posting and growing as writers. As you might expect, the stories are of varying quality, but they alone aren't the focus of the collection for me. What is almost more interesting than the stories themselves is the fact that each one is introduced and commented on throughout — sometimes humourously, sometimes seriously — by all three writers. It's this commentary, unique in the way it's presented, which makes the collection so fascinating from a writer's point of view.

It's intriguing to see the development of the three Sisters in their craft; to watch them playing with the themes and ideas that obsess them until they find their perfect form. It's interesting to read how the blog often served as a vehicle for them to explore worlds and ideas and characters that subsequently grew into novels. What really stands out is the way all three respect the skills of the others, and how they learn from one another in developing their own weaker areas, striving to internalise the skills the others demonstrate and to use them in their own work.

It's recently been announced that there will be a companion collection, featuring all new short stories by the three. It'll be intriguing to see what they have to say, both via their fiction, and in the associated commentary, now all three have travelled some distance along the publication road. And, indeed, have been New York Times bestsellers, and award winners.

Maggie, Brenna and Tessa are lucky in having found one another and forged their close critique relationship. Whether we have our own or not, the collection highlights for me how vital it is that we respect our fellow writers. We need to retain a healthy dose of good humour about our work and about that of others, and we need to be self-aware enough to recognise what others do well, and we do less well, so we are open to learning the lessons embodied in others' work. Everything has something to teach, even if it's ultimately how NOT to do something. How else do we grow in our craft?
jennygordon: (Magpie)
I posted a little while back about how the idea for MaybeBook came from out of nowhere to land in my yoghurt one lunchtime.

Of course, it didn't come from out of nowhere. It was more the case that a collection of random bits and pieces that have been rattling around in the attics of my imagination chose that moment to stick themselves together and bust out.

Moments like that — unexpected and powerful — feel like a gift.

The way the creative imagination works fascinates me. What was it that prompted those disparate fragments to emerge in a new shape right at that moment? Had they been gathering in secret and laying plans to pounce on me when I was least expecting it?

Most of those fragments have lain in old notebooks for many years, and I've played around with many of them in short story form. Three years ago, I wrote a number of shorts, one of which contained the mood I want to evoke in MaybeNovel, while another contained some of the vital story elements, including the setting, a recurring symbol, and part of MaybeNovel's backstory. That short story took place a hundred years before MaybeNovel, and set in play some of the important aspects MaybeNovel will work with.

And as to where the ideas for those shorts came from ... well ... who's to say?

The attics of my imagination are vast, rambling places, full of cobwebs and locked trunks, and piles of old, yellowing newspapers.

And spiders the size of small dogs.

Not to mention a ghost or three.

Oh, and watch out for that dodgy rafter ...
jennygordon: (Great Grey Heron)
What a perfectly magical morning.

A silver-clear waning moon hung over a mist-veiled countryscape, lit golden by the dawn.

It felt like a gift. My spirits rose, and my heart overflowed with the beauty, reminding me why I love autumn best of all. While nature is closing down for winter's sleep, the glory of the season is waking me up, making me feel truly alive.

It's time to re-read 'The Scorpio Races' by Maggie Stiefvater, which is set during November. And then around midwinter, I shall return to one of my all-time favourite books, 'The Dark is Rising', by Susan Cooper, which is set during the days at winter's heart, and is so intrinsic to them that it fills my thoughts whether I read it again or not. But this year ... this year is a 'Dark is Rising' year ...



... and then, later, while I was at work, a heron came and stood on the roof opposite where I sit. For ages. Just as it did this time last week. Which is why I changed the avatar for this post. I think the Universe is trying to tell me something ...
jennygordon: (Naiad)
A graffiti artist who can philosophise, spell, AND punctuate!

(Seen on a disused public toilet block near where I live).

jennygordon: (Skywatcher)
I've been thinking about Faerie a lot recently, as you do if you're me. Specifically in the context of how I want to convey in my stories what I see as Faerie.

See, Faerie for me isn't about glitter and more-gorgeous-than-life creatures, as so many depictions of Faerie tend to be in contemporary YA fiction. Faerie for me is far more subtle and varied. Like magic in general, it works best for me when it's quiet, half-glimpsed, uncertain, but there all the same. As soon as Faerie, or magic, is pinned down with rules and elaborate show and tell, it loses ... well, it loses its essential magic.

Ari Berk, Professor of Myth and Folklore at Central Michigan University puts it like this:

"Sometimes Faerie is not a country, but a shifting of light upon the land, a wistful song, a moment in-between other moments."

There is something about autumn that makes the borders of Faerie seem thinner than usual to me. I remember one misty early morning last year on my train commute to work, with the sun reaching the most tentative of fingers into the day. That was magical enough in itself, even seen out of a train window, hurtling along at 125mph. But then, in the trees at the side of the track, a deer stepped out of the mist, and I knew — just knew — it was stepping across the threshold of Faerie.

And that reminds me of my first encounter with a deer. That took place in early morning mist too. I was ten years old, and on Guide Camp in the middle of a forest in Southern England. I woke in the early hours needing a pee, and as I crept out to the latrine — the only person awake in the world, or so it seemed — I was suddenly aware that I was not alone. There, in the bracken behind my tent, staring at me as I stared back at her, was a deer.

Fallow deer doe

In mythology, deer are often represented as Otherworldly Guides, showing the way into Faerie. It's moments like those — from the train window, or in the middle of a forest — that give me a priviledged glimpse into Faerie, and which conjure the feel of Faerie encounters for me. Shifting, transient, all the more precious for their brevity in that moment outside of time.

That's the feeling I want to capture on the page: those breathless, mist-spangled dawns when I've glimpsed a piece of magic. Faerie is a place I don't need to go to in order to believe in it. Those treasured glimpses are enough.


jennygordon: (Default)

January 2016



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