I would probably have to say that reading fiction — those stories fill the space that other people might use religious stories for. The bulk of what I know about human life I’ve gotten from novels. And I think the thing about novels that make them important to the people who love them is that there’s always another perspective.
I do not write every day. I write to the questions and issues before me. I write to deadlines. I write out of my passions. And I write to make peace with my own contradictory nature. For me, writing is a spiritual practice. A small bowl of water sits on my desk, a reminder that even if nothing is happening on the page, something is happening in the room--evaporation. And I always light a candle when I begin to write, a reminder that I have now entered another realm, call it the realm of the Spirit. I am mindful that when one writes, one leaves this world and enters another. My books are collages made from journals, research, and personal experience. I love the images rendered in journal entries, the immediacy that is captured on the page, the handwritten notes. I love the depth of ideas and perspective that research brings to a story, be it biological or anthropological studies or the insights brought to the page by the scholarly work of art historians.When I go into a library, I feel like I am a sleuth looking to solve a mystery. I am completely inspired by the pursuit of knowledge through various references. I read newpapers voraciously. I love what newspapers say about contemporary culture. And then you go back to your own perceptions, your own words, and weigh them against all you have brought together. I am interested in the kaleidoscope of ideas, how you bring many strands of thought into a book and weave them together as one piece of coherent fabric, while at the same time trying to create beautiful language in the service of the story. This is the blood work of the writer.Writing is also about a life engaged. And so, for me, community work, working in the schools or with grassroots conservation organizations is another critical component of my life as a writer. I cannot separate the writing life from a spiritual life, from a life as a teacher or activist or my life intertwined with family and the responsibilities we carry within our own homes. Writing is daring to feel what nurtures and breaks our hearts. Bearing witness is its own form of advocacy. It is a dance with pain and beauty.
[A] couple I had known - who were old friends - asked me what I was going to work on next. I told them I wanted to write a near future book about AIDS concentration camps. They were vehement in their response: they thought it was a terrible idea. Their words both shocked and saddened me. "Do you really want to write a book about homosexuals?" they asked me. "Won't people who read your work be influenced toward sin?"I notice that I don't hear from them much lately.
In other words, I have tried to learn in my writing a monastic lesson I could probably not have learned otherwise: to let go of my idea of myself, to take myself with more than one grain of salt... In religious terms, this is simply a matter of accepting life, and everything in life as a gift, and clinging to none of it, as far as you are able. You give some of it to others, if you can. Yet one should be able to share things with others without bothering too much about how they like it, either, or how they accept it. Assume they will accept it, if they need it. And if they don’t need it, why should they accept it? That is their business. Let me accept what is mine and give them all their share, and go my way.
Do you understand what I'm saying?"shouted Moist. "You can't just go around killing people!""Why Not? You Do." The golem lowered his arm."What?" snapped Moist. "I do not! Who told you that?""I Worked It Out. You Have Killed Two Point Three Three Eight People," said the golem calmly."I have never laid a finger on anyone in my life, Mr Pump. I may be–– all the things you know I am, but I am not a killer! I have never so much as drawn a sword!""No, You Have Not. But You Have Stolen, Embezzled, Defrauded And Swindled Without Discrimination, Mr Lipvig. You Have Ruined Businesses And Destroyed Jobs. When Banks Fail, It Is Seldom Bankers Who Starve. Your Actions Have Taken Money From Those Who Had Little Enough To Begin With. In A Myriad Small Ways You Have Hastened The Deaths Of Many. You Do Not Know Them. You Did Not See Them Bleed. But You Snatched Bread From Their Mouths And Tore Clothes From Their Backs. For Sport, Mr Lipvig. For Sport. For The Joy Of The Game.
My mother used to read to me every night when I was little. We got through most of the major fantasy books of that time. The Narnia books by C.S. Lewis were my favorites and, later, Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. I started making dolls to fill in the gaps of the dolls I had. Obviously we couldn't buy centaurs and fauns and elves and fairies, so I made them to play with the normal dolls I had. I must have been about six years old when I started making fantasy dolls.
When I was a child, an angel came to say,A true friend is coming my warrior to sweep you away,It won’t be easy the path because it leads through hell,But if you’re faithful, it will be the greatest story to tell,You will move God’s daughters to a place of hope,Your story will teach everyone there is nothing they can’t cope,You will suffer a lot, but not one tear will you waste,Because for all that you do for me, you will be graced,For I am bringing you someone that wants to travel your trail,Someone you already met when you passed through heaven’s veil,A warrior, a friend that whispers your heart’s song,Someone that will run with you and pull your spirit along,Don’t you see the timing was love's fated throw,Because I put you both there to help one another grow,I am the writer of all great stories your chapters were written by me,You suffered, you cried because I needed you to see,That your faith in my ending goes far beyond two,It was going to change more hearts than both of you knew,So hush my child and wait for my loving hand,The last chapter is not written and still in the sand,It is up to you to finish, before the tide washes it away,All that is in your heart, I’ve put their for you to say,This is not about winning, loss or pain,I made you the way you are because true love stories are insane,I wrote you in heaven as I sat on its sandy shore,You know with all of my heart I loved you both more,There is no better ending two people seeing each other's heart,Together your spirits will never drift apart,Because two kindred spirits is what I made you to be,The waves and beach crashing together because of-- ME.
Americans may say they love our accents (I have been accused of sounding 'like Princess Di') but the more thoughtful ones resent and rather dislike us as a nation and people, as friends of mine have found out by being on the edge of conversations where Americans assumed no Englishmen were listening.And it is the English, specifically, who are the targets of this. Few Americans have heard of Wales. All of them have heard of Ireland and many of them think they are Irish. Scotland gets a sort of free pass, especially since Braveheart re-established the Scots' anti-English credentials among the ignorant millions who get their history off the TV.
In the libraryI search for a good book.We have many books,says Mrs. Rose, the librarian,and ALL of them are good.Of course she says that. It's her job.But do I want to read about TrucksTrains and Transport? Or evenHorsesHouses and Hyenas?In the fiction cornerthere are pink boksfull of princessesand girls who want to be princessesand black booksabout bad boysand brave boysand brawny boys.Where is the bookabout a girlwhose poems don't rhymeand whose Granny is fading?Pearl, says Mrs. Rose, the bell has rung.I go back to classempty-handedempty headedempty-hearted.
…Obviously, I have always wished I could remember what happened in that wood. The very few people who know about the whole Knocknaree thing invariably suggest, sooner or later, that I should try hypnotic regression, but for some reason I find the idea distasteful. I’m deeply suspicious of anything with a whiff of the New Age about it—not because of the practices themselves, which as far as I can tell from a safe distance may well have a lot to them, but because of the people who get involved who always seem to be the kind who corner you at parties to explain how they discovered that they are survivors and deserve to be happy. I worry that I might come out of hypnosis with that sugar-high glaze of self-satisfied enlightenment, like a seventeen-year-old who’s just discovered Kerouak, and start proselytizing strangers in pubs…
I love our summer game and its letters as much as the next man, and surely no less than my colleagues. I do not, however, repose much faith in its fiction. The short stories are fair to middling, and Conan Doyle, Wodehouse and Ian Peebles have contributed memorably, but my only previous novel-length experience, before the one under review, was of Maurice Moiseiwitsch's A Sky-Blue Life (1953). This penny dreadful, when last I saw it, was windmilling out of my bedroom window. It was resuscitated in 2006 by the misguided folks at Coldspring. Avoid it.
Over the years I have forged intimate familial ties with these characters, who are reflections of a portion of myself. Consequently, even a character who appeared only once in a short story waits now in the wings, concealed by the curtain, for his next appearance on-stage. Not one of them has ever broken free of his familial ties with me and disappeared for ever - at least, not within the confines of my heart.
I compared what was really known about the stars with the account of creation as told in Genesis. I found that the writer of the inspired book had no knowledge of astronomy -- that he was as ignorant as a Choctaw chief -- as an Eskimo driver of dogs. Does any one imagine that the author of Genesis knew anything about the sun -- its size? that he was acquainted with Sirius, the North Star, with Capella, or that he knew anything of the clusters of stars so far away that their light, now visiting our eyes, has been traveling for two million years?If he had known these facts would he have said that Jehovah worked nearly six days to make this world, and only a part of the afternoon of the fourth day to make the sun and moon and all the stars?Yet millions of people insist that the writer of Genesis was inspired by the Creator of all worlds.Now, intelligent men, who are not frightened, whose brains have not been paralyzed by fear, know that the sacred story of creation was written by an ignorant savage. The story is inconsistent with all known facts, and every star shining in the heavens testifies that its author was an uninspired barbarian.I admit that this unknown writer was sincere, that he wrote what he believed to be true -- that he did the best he could. He did not claim to be inspired -- did not pretend that the story had been told to him by Jehovah. He simply stated the "facts" as he understood them.After I had learned a little about the stars I concluded that this writer, this "inspired" scribe, had been misled by myth and legend, and that he knew no more about creation than the average theologian of my day. In other words, that he knew absolutely nothing.And here, allow me to say that the ministers who are answering me are turning their guns in the wrong direction. These reverend gentlemen should attack the astronomers. They should malign and vilify Kepler, Copernicus, Newton, Herschel and Laplace. These men were the real destroyers of the sacred story. Then, after having disposed of them, they can wage a war against the stars, and against Jehovah himself for having furnished evidence against the truthfulness of his book.
I wonder, what kind of life would I have had if it hadn’t been for my mother’s tea-and-cookie parties? Perhaps it’s because of them that I’ve never thought of women as my enemies, as territories I have to conquer, but always as allies and friends - which I believe is the reason why they were friendly to me in turn. I’ve never met those she-devils you hear about: they must be too busy with those men who look upon women as a fortress they have to attack, lay waste and left in ruins.
I have made up my mind to say my say. I shall do it kindly, distinctly; but I am going to do it. I know there are thousands of men who substantially agree with me, but who are not in a condition to express their thoughts. They are poor; they are in business; and they know that should they tell their honest thought, persons will refuse to patronize them—to trade with them; they wish to get bread for their little children; they wish to take care of their wives; they wish to have homes and the comforts of life. Every such person is a certificate of the meanness of the community in which he resides. And yet I do not blame these people for not expressing their thought. I say to them: 'Keep your ideas to yourselves; feed and clothe the ones you love; I will do your talking for you. The church can not touch, can not crush, can not starve, cannot stop or stay me; I will express your thoughts.
I'm not saying it's what I would have wanted. But don't you see? We fuck up our lives again and again and it's always our children who pick up the bill. We move on to new relationships, always starting over, always thinking we've got another chance to get it right, it's the kids from all these broken marriages who pay the price. They - my son, your daughters, all the millions like them - are carrying around wounds that are going to last a lifetime. It has to stop.
Without the Dreamscape, we can’t sleep.My parents remind me all the time about stories their parents told them, of how things were in the Manic Age. The time before our bodies were upgraded to sync with the amazing invention called the Dreamscape. Thirty-eight years ago, people actually had to fall asleep on their own and, sometimes, they would toss and turn for hours. My grandparents said when sleep, in its mercy, did come, it often brought with it horrible images I’ve heard people used to call nightmares.
A lot of people who read my novel 'Smog City' ask me why I never killed off either of the two main characters. To be honest, it's because I've given them life. Not literally of course, but since I spent so much time developing and creating my characters, they've ended up with complex personalities, in fact they're almost sentient in a way, and to write them off as dead would be like killing a close friend to me.
I asked her what a true story was because I thought that all stories were made up. She said a true story was called fact, and a made-up story was called ficton. Auntie May said a made-up story is a bit like telling lies, only the people who read them knew that already and so it didn’t matter
I would wish this book could take the form of a plea for everlasting peace, a plea from one who knows... Or it would be fine to confirm the odd beliefs about war: it's horrible, but it's a crucible of men and events and, in the end, it makes more of a man out of you.But, still, none of these notions seems right. Men are killed, dead human beings are heavy and awkward to carry, things smell different in Vietnam, soldiers are afraid and often brave, drill sergeants are boors, some men think the war is proper and just and others don't and most don't care. Is that the stuff for a morality lesson, even for a theme?Do dreams offer lessons? Do nightmares have themes, do we awaken and analyze them and live our lives and advise others as a result? Can the foot soldier teach anything important about war, merely for having been there? I think not. He can tell war stories.
Lately, because computer technology has made self-publishing an easier and less expensive venture, I'm getting a lot of review copies of amateur books by writers who would be better advised to hone their craft before committing it to print. The best thing you can do as a beginning writer is to write, write, write - and read, read, read. Concentrating on publication prematurely is a mistake. You don't pick up a violin and expect to play Carnegie Hall within the year - yet somehow people forget that writing also requires technical skills that need to be learned, practiced, honed. If I had a dollar for every person I've met who thought, with no prior experience, they could sit down and write a novel and instantly win awards and make their living as a writer, I'd be a rich woman today. It's unrealistic, and it's also mildly insulting to professional writers who have worked hard to perfect their craft. Of course, then you hear stories about people like J.K. Rowling, who did sit down with no prior experience and write a worldwide best-seller...but such people are as rare as hen's teeth. Every day I work with talented, accomplished writers who have many novels in print and awards to their name and who are ‘still’ struggling to make a living. The thing I often find myself wanting to say to new writers is: Write because you love writing, learn your craft, be patient, and be realistic. Anais Nin said about writing, "It should be a necessity, as the sea needs to heave, and I call it breathing."
Years ago, when I was about to go on a book tour for Someplace to Be Flying, my editor at the time Terri Windling and I sat down to figure out what to call what I was writing for the interviews that were to come. Terri came up with the term mythic fiction and I think that sums it up perfectly. There are almost invariably mythic elements in my fiction (as well as bits of folk and faerie lore) and the term doesn’t lock me into writing only in an urban setting since many of my stories take place in rural areas. It never caught on, but when I don’t describe what I do as simply fiction, I’ll go with mythic fiction.
I have long been of the Opinion, says he, that the Fire was a vast Blessing and the Plague likewise; it gave us Occasion to understand the Secrets of Nature which otherwise might have overwhelm'd us. (I busied my self with the right Order of the Draughts, and said nothing.) With what Firmness of Mind, Sir Chris. went on, did the People see their City devoured, and I can still remember how after the Plague and the Fire the Chearfulnesse soon returned to them: Forgetfulnesse is the great Mystery of Time.I remember, I said as I took a Chair opposite to him, how the Mobb applauded the Flames. I remember how they sang and danced by the Corses during the Contagion: that was not Chearfulnesse but Phrenzy. And I remember, also, the Rage and the Dying -These were the Accidents of Fortune, Nick, from which we have learned so much in this Generation.It was said, sir, that the Plague and the Fire were no Accidents but Substance, that they were the Signes of the Beast withinne. And Sir Chris. laughed at this.At which point Nat put his Face in: Do you call, sirs? Would you care for a Dish of Tea or some Wine?Some Tea, some Tea, cried Sir Chris. for the Fire gives me a terrible Thirst. But no, no, he continued when Nat had left the Room, you cannot assign the Causes of Plague or Fire to Sin. It was the negligence of Men that provoked those Disasters and for Negligence there is a Cure; only Terrour is the Hindrance.Terrour, I said softly, is the Lodestone of our Art.