I liked Hudibras and "The Elephant in the Moon", though, and at university I wondered much the same about the seventeenth-century Samuel Butler. He did seem tantalizingly close to being a relation. At the time he was born, my own branch of the Butlers was based in Claines near Worcester. They were solicitors, public notaries and things of that sort. Samuel Butler's family were based just twenty miles away in Strensham, and he spent much of his life employed as a secretary. It all seems very comparable, and a bit of coincidence, but I found no genealogical smoking gun. Also, it turns out that the same possibility had occurred to others before me. Some two centuries ago George Butler (see below) had gone looking for the same connection and come up empty. Which isn't to say it doesn't exist. Old Samuel's brand of satire feels so simpatico.
Then, the other week I saw this at a May fete.
It was only £3.50 and full of interesting coloured maps, so I had to buy it, right? It turns out to be by Samuel Butler, the grandfather of the Erewhon guy. Now, I've no reason to suppose he's a relation, but when you set him next to my great*4 uncle George, their careers seem eerily similar:
Elected Fellow:...................1794 (I think)..................................
Educational Career:.............Headmaster of Harrow (1805-29)............Headmaster of Shrewsbury (1798-1836)
Ecclesiastical highlight:.......Dean of Peterborough (1842)..................Bishop of Lichfield (1836)
Can they really not be related? It's like there's a shadow family of Butlers, all called Samuel, hovering just out of reach. Taunting me with their Sam-ness. And their diff-rence.
This must be resolved.
( Pretty, but shallow. )
Anyway, B____ said that "I could not wait for Death" certainly went to the tune of Yellow Rose. so we looked it up on Wikipedia.
Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
5 We slowly drove—He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility—
We passed the School, where Children strove
10 At Recess—in the Ring
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain—
We passed the Setting Sun—
Or rather—He passed Us—
The Dews drew quivering and chill—
15 For only Gossamer, my Gown—
My Tippet—only Tulle—
We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground—
The Roof was scarcely visible—
20 The Cornice—in the Ground—
Since then—'tis Centuries—and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity—
A critic almost caught it too.
and when she came to poetry, she came infallibly.”
We have no time to stand and stare.
That's the cliche. That's the bit everybody can quote. Lots of you may also know the rest of the poem, but for me, it came as a surprise. Here it is, in full - "Leisure" by William Henry Davies (1871-1940):
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
We are, all of us, busy people. And William Henry Davies was not Shakespeare. But he was absolutely, unarguably, ineluctably right. So that's why I'm not here to respond to any comments you may leave (though I look forward to reading them on my return!) Instead, I'm over on the west coast of Scotland. Standing and staring. Like the man said.
(This isn't me, or the west coast of Scotland, but I took the photo.)
Joan Lennon's website.
Joan Lennon's blog.
Step 3: Play. Shakespeare once said “The play is the thing.” I think that he understood that playing with words, with ideas, with characters in opposition—brainstorming as he wrote—that was the key to writing well.
I quite like the cognitive dissonance that pink crocheted skulls create. :)
I used a 4 ply cotton yarn and a 3.5 mm hook, so it's come out neck scarf sized, which is what I wanted because I thought it would be good for the summer. But other people have done it in wool and with thicker hooks, so it makes a shawl and of course you can keep on going until it's the size you want.
This is the pattern I used.
Curiously, both this and "To Kill a King" (see my last post) are about severely depressed and blocked writers, and both were put on the net on 9th May, 2013. Can this possibly be a coincidence?
The journey by bus from Luang Prabang to Phonsavanh took about 9 hours, though there were lots of stops for leg-stretching, visits to the happy room, and buying little cans of sweet, cold coffee.
There were also photo stops for mist and palm trees
down in the valley
mountains and mist
the mists of time
among the palms
At lunchtime we walked through the local market, where the cooked food stalls had mechanised fly-whisks
TL stopped to show us something
can you guess what's inside?
Who wants to try it?
Brian will eat anything
As well as the stalls selling food and other goods, we found a fairground-style stall with darts to throw at balloons. Three hits wins you a very small prize.
Our room in the hotel at Phonsavanh turned out to be the penthouse - sofa and chairs, floor to ceiling windows, an indoor balcony, choice of beds... Reassuringly, there were lots of things that didn't work - lamps without a plug, and a bathroom in which it was impossible to wash your hands without also washing your feet.
Dinner close by at a restaurant run by a Brit, his Lao wife and their friend. Excellent food. We tried the only alternative to BeerLao, Namkhong, but it really wasn't as good.
Let's go to the plotting and planning first.... I've been on Pinterest for a while, but was really just messing around with it and wasting time before now, and not really seeing the point of it as far as writing is concerned. However, yesterday the light dawned.
Now to the envisioning of characters. That sort of came out of the Pinterest thing too. After a little searching, I found an image of a modern day young man which fitted my idea of what my hero looks like. But I needed to take him back to another time and make him a bit different to fit what I had in mind. How to do that? I have an iPad app called InspirePro (it's the one David Hockney uses) which has, quite literally, inspired me to try my hand at painting again. It's amazing and fun, and has rekindled my love of messing about with colour and technique experimentation. I thought I'd give remodelling the photo a go with that.
Here's the image I found (I wish I knew where it came from originally - apparently he's a male model, but unfortunately I can find no photo credit to acknowledge).
Here's what I did with him.
I still need to do some work, but he's pretty much how I imagine my character to look, barring the nose (which needs to be bigger) and the hair, (which needs to be shinier). Still, it's a start, and I'm going to do the same with my other main characters when I find images which suit them, as this small expenditure of effort has already helped me to connect with who my hero is.
Do any other writers do stuff like this? I'd love to know.
20/52 for the group T189 alphabet challenge
The set theme was: J is for Jettisoned
Whoever discarded this can took the trouble to poke it into the vegetation growing on a wall. It's a shame they didn't make a bit more effort and take the can home with them. :(
( More discarded objects behind here... )
I did this for the theme "high key" for the monthly competition in the T189 group I belong to. As I set the theme, I feel obliged to post something that fits. :)
I've tried high key before and not been very happy with the results, but I'm a bit happier with this.
2. derspatchel trekked into darkness last night and didn't much like what he found there. For this reason I believe we are rewatching a certain other film in the canon tonight.
3. Falling asleep last night, I found myself thinking about a Shakespearean theater company—not a theater company that performs Shakespeare, but a company made up of Shakespeare's characters. Hamlet is plainly a writer-director, though if he thinks it's going to be all fucked-up family psychodrama all the time, he hasn't talked much to Peter Quince. (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern want to do more experimental projects. They'll probably spin off their own black box.) Get Feste for the music and Prospero for lighting and sound design. Viola specializes in juvenile leads. Honest Iago is very good at heroes. I didn't get very far, because I was very tired and it kept bleeding off into other dreams, and then I spent too much time staring at the ceiling this morning when the sunlight woke me around seven o'clock and I couldn't get back to sleep until ten. Someone on Yuletide has probably already written this anyway. (It's like bandfic, only not with bands.) Or Jasper Fforde got there first and I should not try to think about it.
I hope to visit a library sale this afternoon.
(For some California local definition of 'morning'!)
About 30 minutes ago one of our databases (sb-db03) locked up and stopped serving traffic. This was an active database, so the site quickly stopped when it could no longer serve requests. Alas.
I have failed us over to a backup database and now everything should be working again.
I'm not sure yet what happened to db03, but am currently investigating and will update this post if I come up with a root cause for the problem. Edit: It's back up and doesn't have any visible problems. Disks are fine, data's intact, etc. The graphs and logs show nothing. We'll have to keep an eye on it and see if it manifests further issues.
Sorry for the trouble, please let me know if you still see any problems!
Waiting around for a bus or a train or in a queue for a show, or even in the supermarket there are lives being lived, secrets kept, tears held back as people maintain an acceptable public face.
Perhaps you are the person who is standing in the queue tapping their foot or making little sighing noises of irritation because of the time you are wasting? It can be boring or irritating but it doesn't need to be.
It's all about how they sit, or stand, the way they wear their clothes and how they inhabit their own bodies - with confidence or apology, exhaustion or discomfort.
Travelling on the underground can be fascinating. It's not something I do very often so perhaps I approach it with fresh eyes. I noticed that people don't look at each other, they tend to maintain their own private space and avoid eye contact, but even looking down at the floor can be informative.
Are they smart and shiny, but uncomfortable, showing evidence of where they are rubbing at the heel or are they casual, scruffy or scraped?
The shoes a person wears could be telling about you how much care they give their appearance - whether it is that they don't care and place no importance on the state of their shoes, or simply have no time to think about it. Or are the shoes pristine and cared for, evidence of someone who takes great care with their appearance? Are they in bright, garish colours or making a statement about wealth or fashion?
If you are invited to a wedding or celebration, a meeting or any event where you are seated with people you have never met before, take a few moments to check out the people around you. What is their story?
Can you tell the heartache, the selfishness, the heroism or the fear that lurks behind the façade we all adopt in front of strangers?
People are fascinating, diverse and complicated. Everyone has a story, whether they care to share it or not and with a little careful observation and a splash of imagination you never know what you will discover.
Are you a people watcher? What do you think reveals the most about the strangers around you?
Linda Strachan is the author of over 60 books for all ages from picture books to teenage novels and a writing handbook Writing For Children
Her latest YA novel is Don't Judge Me published by Strident 2012
And right now we're doing the largest project we've ever done: a musical retelling of the history of the world according to Norse mythology, from the creation of the cosmos through its destruction at Ragnarok, based on the original sources in the Eddas. This retelling, Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok, is going to be an album, which we are in the process of recording. It's also going to be a play, which we will be performing live and in period costume as the musical guests of honor at Balticon 2013 this upcoming weekend. We've hired a video crew to film the Balticon performance and will be making that available on DVD so that people who can't make it to the convention can still see the full performance.
The music is entirely written, the play is in rehearsal, and we've got some tracks laid down. But the members of our group live in widely scattered locations around the country, and as a group which performs primarily at conventions we don't make any money from ticket sales. In addition, producing and distributing an album has associated costs, as do the filming, production, and distribution of the DVD.
Therefore, we've put up a Kickstarter, which will be running from now until June 16th. Click through for the video of our project proposal, plus embedded audio so you can hear what the music sounds like. Samples include a duet between Odin and Loki describing their friendship and the way it fell apart, multiple versions of the Norse alphabet song, and a preview of the finale song.
The full list of reward tiers is available at the site, but I should mention that various tiers do include the CD in digital form, physical form, or both, the performance DVD, and the libretto and sheet music of the Sundown project. At higher levels, we're offering associated artwork and even the chance for a private house concert.
And if we hit $10,000, Jo Walton, Hugo and Nebula-award winning author and friend of the group, will write an Odin-themed poem set in the world of Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok and post it for the world to see for free on her Livejournal. If we hit $14,000, Jo will write a Loki-themed followup to her Odin poem, which will be sent only to backers.
This is where I urge you to back our Kickstarter for the rather selfish reason that I want to read the poetry.
So, to reiterate: the Kickstarter is here! And it runs until June 16th.
Here's the group's main website.
And thank you for reading this.
I've forgotten where Lewis gets into this, saying that the stories about the city boy who rides the horse that the cowboys couldn't ride, are a more harmful sort of fantasy than anything with dragons. -- No, that can't be right. Fantasy stories are often about the farm boy who kills the dragon that the knights couldn't kill. Hm.