January 3rd, 2004

bear by san

All stories are true. Many things..

A new character just introduced herself.

Something pale, elevated on a wet stone, caught his eye not far ahead, and Keith slowed his pace to a casual amble. He knew the slender outline and the scent, even over the salt-rich, half-rotten scent of the sea. He stood upright as he came forward, wolf melding into man, the stones that were nothing under callused pads now sharp on bare feet.

The woman in the white gown watched him amusedly, seeming impervious to the cold wind that pinned the cloth against her wiry body and raised her coarse grey hair like a ragged banner. He wasn't surprised.
He didn't feel the cold either. "Fionnghuala."

"Keith," she said, and slithered down off her rocky perch with a smile and an outstretched hand, unfazed by his nakedness. He caught it, a steadying grasp she did not need, and squeezed her long fingers lightly. Her skin was almost as translucent as silk in the moonlight, and the bones underneath it delicate as reed flutes. She winced when her bare feet touched the stones. "Welcome home. Where have you been?"


The funny thing is, I know exactly who she is and what she's doing in this story. I apparently have far too much mythology stocked away in the back of my brain, and it bubbles up when I am not looking, like the things that bubble out of septic tanks into the leaching field of literature.

Also, I have a fever. And my neck and ear really hurt. These things may not be unrelated to my sudden bursts of weird creativity.


from discuss_writing:

101 Opinions on Writing


Congratulations to colomon and his lovely, Jen!


Anybody remember the dust bowl? Has anybody noticed the severity of the current drought out West? Is anybody doing anything about it?


They're making it worse!
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bear by san

"Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

Sometimes you find that what you thought was 'beginner writing advice' is actually a Zen koan, and the more you learn about writing, the more that 'simple beginner advice' means.

Bleed on the page.

Choose the right word.

Show don't tell.

Omit needless words! Omit needless words!

Write what you know.

Tell a goddamned story.

I've had to reassess my estimation of what every one of those sentences means at least half a dozen times over the past ten years.

Here are some more pithy bits of wisdom.

More recent ones available here.


You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

--Jack London


I just found a Tolkein riff in Bridge of Blood & Iron that I forgot was there. There are a bunch of Tolkein riffs in it. Also a bunch of Shakespeare, Bible, balladic, and Arthurian riffs, and a Zelazny homage or two...

But I had forgetten the scene where one character asks another, slyly, "Haven't you ever wanted to see elves?"

It's even a selfconscious Tolkein reference, because the character is doing it on purpose.

How do we manage to forget writing this stuff?


Don't say you were a bit confused and sort of tired and a little depressed and somewhat annoyed. Be tired. Be confused. Be depressed. Be annoyed. Don't hedge your prose with little timidities. Good writing is lean and confident.

--William Zinsser
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