My Blakean Muse

Rouze up, O Young Men of the New Age! set your foreheads against the ignorant Hirelings! For we have Hirelings in the Camp, the Court & the University, who would, if they could, for ever depress Mental & prolong Corporeal War.

William Blake, Preface to Milton

I have had some insight into a revision I need to make to my novel Hire Idiots. I’ve neglected to make clear the important role played by quislings.

quisling

Quislings are the reason the neoliberal effort succeeds. The hard-line zealots would get nowhere without them. They help normalise, apologise and internalise the reframing of education as assessment. Their efforts to ‘not make waves’ allow the system to drown in mediocrity. It’s always easier to ‘go with the flow’ in the short term, but the long term effects are deadly.

I’ve had more insight in recent years about my inability to conform to neurotypical conventions. Despite accusations, it’s not a pugnacious desire to ‘think outside the box’; it’s a kind of blindness. I can’t see the box.

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William Blake: Apollyon Attacks Christian, Pilgrim’s Progress

Happy Hogmanay!

Here’s my year-end wrap-up, mostly so I don’t skate over accomplishments: it’s easy to feel like you haven’t done much when you don’t keep track. Of course there are things not on this list because they haven’t come out yet (Hire Idiots, Mangled, My Wandering Uterus) or because they don’t have tangible results (e.g. application for full professor, submissions to various things). But there is more than I thought:

Respectable Horror - Front cover web

Respectable Horror Fox Spirit Books, 2017.

“Madonna of the Wasps: Ch 3 – Swan.” The Blood Red Experiment vol 3, 31 Dec 2017.

“Do Anything You Wanna Do.” Spelk: 29 Dec 2017.

“Madonna of the Wasps: Ch 2 – Frost.” The Blood Red Experiment vol 2, 30 Nov 2017.

“Madonna of the Wasps: Ch 1 – Love.” The Blood Red Experiment vol 1, 31 Oct 2017.

“Spirits in the Night.” Short story. Spelk Fiction, 2 Jun 2017.

“Copped It.” A Twist of Noir. 27 Mar 2017.

“Repetition.” Short story. Spelk Fiction, 20 Feb 2017.

“Somewhere in Slovenia.” (as Graham Wynd) Short story. Near to the Knuckle, 8 Feb 2017.

“These Toys are for Tough Boys.” Featured short story. Alibi-Fest.com, 5 Feb 2017.

“Bloody Collage.”Short story (as Graham WyndPulp Metal Magazine, January 2017.

“Chaucer and the Art of the Grift.” Empty Mirror 24 Nov 2017.

“Midwesterner in Exile.” Mystery Readers Journal 33.1 (Spring 2017): 51-2.

History Witch for Witches & Pagans:

Winter Crone

Medieval Consolations

Getting Medieval

Dangerous Fairy Women

Midsummer: Watch Out for Fairies!

Elf Shot in Scotland

Riding with Nicnevin

Charm for Weaving

A Headache in Medieval Scotland

A Meditation on Winter

UPDATE: Also, as I believe Simon reminded me on Twitter, there were the (I think) 34 entries for the serial, The Height of Absurditytoo! A not insubstantial output!

 

What’s ahead in 2018? More of everything! I have many plans, of course. Not all of them are writing either. One cool thing I should mention: The SpeakEasy dames are happy to announce we’ll be curators for one week [Monday, February 6 – Sunday, February 11] of Ione’s Annual Dream Festival (23rd Annual). Go like their page to get in on the exploration of imagination.

Dream big! Chase that muse wherever it leads you —

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Remedios Varo – Exploración de las Fuentes del Río Orinoco, 1959.

Collisions

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I shared my Inspirations Song List today as I’d updated it (Songs that Inspired Stories), then joked that I should make a list of stories that started from collisions. Not literally — although I do have one or two of those — but collisions of ideas.

Example: later this month Empty Mirror will publish my essay ‘Chaucer and the Art of the Grift’ which came from a collision in my head between The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale and David Maurer’s The Big Con. It makes perfect sense to me but maybe this is why I have a hard time getting people to follow my thoughts. Possibly they seem random and incoherent!

But they seem reasonable to me. Here’s a random selection of things what I have written and the collisions from which they sprang:

The Mangrove Legacy: Peter Cook & Jane Austen

White RabbitBlue Sunshine & Seance on a Wet Afternoon & certain London pubs

How to Be Dull: academia & Jerome K. Jerome

Airships & Alchemy:  <— exactly that

Owl Stretching: The Descent of Inanna & Spike Milligan

‘Elf Prefix’: The Maltese Falcon & The Fairy Melusine

‘Headless in Bury’: The Big Sleep & vikings

‘Wordgeryne’: Lovecraft and medieval charms

‘Losing My Religion’: REM, Tony Hancock & social media debates

“Domus inferna Sancti Guthlaci: A Rediscovery of the Twelfth-Century Narrative of The Saint and the Money Pit”: my Pseudo-Society talk that sprang from rearranging the Harley Roll illustrations of the life of the saint so they became a sort of DIY disaster

…and of course there’s a whole random Fall song + whatever random obsession has fired in my brain this week which covers most of my crime writing that isn’t currently inspired by Robyn Hitchcock.

It’s not just me, right?

[Image from the Cosmagraphia Scoti MS. Canon. Misc. 378 via Bodleian Library]

Happy Know Year

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Begin how you mean to go on,

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Take up your weapon of choice,

this-machine-kills-fascists-type

Fill you heart with joy,

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Summon all your powers,

Hecate

And show the world what you’ve got.

carrington nigromante

The Secret to Life

Featured Image -- 9079…can be yours for just $19.99 down and $19.99 a month until you finish buying all my books which should take less than a year, I expect (someone do the calculations: I can’t be bothered). Everything I’ve published over decades could be read in a year. Humbling, eh?

Is that a sufficiently clickbaity title? Apparently that’s all that matters anymore. Nothing has legs, nothing lasts past the news cycle. Let us all hope that tomorrow brings an end to some of the madness. As I said to a friend on the Facebook, I hope after tomorrow I can stop worrying about the destruction of the planet quite so anxiously and get back to worrying anxiously about the destruction of higher education.

(-_-)

But the secret to life: it was there in my review on Friday, right at the top. It is there in my humorous volume How to Be Dull, too — though a bit hidden behind the amusing digressions. It’s even in the pages of my ongoing #NaNoWriMo novel between the murder mystery and social commentary (and you can give a $1 to help kids find the joy of writing).

WWWBD? I have that on the corkboard in my office. What does William Blake say?

  • Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.
  • If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.
  • The busy bee has no time for sorrow.
  • No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.

Or in other words, take care of your self with kindness, pursue the things you love, when troubled create something you enjoy, take pride in your work. Blake died penniless and forgotten, but he was a genius. There are no guarantees in life. If he had been famous, I suspect he would never have trusted it. All he trusted was his inspiration. Be inspired.

Blake Imagined

SA4QE 2015

SA4QE2015Happy birthday to Russell Hoban, wherever he may be in the luminiferous ether. So we remember him every year: and odd writer with unusually attached fans. Such loyalty is not easily won. I recommend his books to you. You’ll find a few to treasure. If you want to understand what the Slickman A4 Quote Event is, read the link. And you can imagine why I shared this quote from Turtle Diary or you can take my word for it that it’s true (and could be my biography).

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Click to embiggen

Unloading Your Head

‘I need a dump truck, mama, to unload my head…’
Bob Dylan, From a Buick 6

The difference between people who create things and people who do not is only that the former follow the impulses which infect their brains because trying to make them manifest is the true joy of being alive. Can I make this thing I see/feel/hear in my head into something real?

Even if it's something incredibly silly --

Even if it’s something incredibly silly —

Often the result is a failure — probably most of the time it is. The perfect vision is difficult to make manifest because we don’t (or don’t yet, we hope) have the skill. We don’t have the right words or the right lines or the right instruments to make it so, but we itch to make it real. We’re elated when we have it in a form that we can share with others, yet disappointed because it was so perfect in our heads and this is not perfect.

But what magic it is to share the ideas in your head with other people.

The distance between your vision and your creation creates ambition and despair. With luck, the former outweighs the latter. Keeping at it is the only way to get better. Be ambitious. Create.

‘What is now proved was once only imagined.’
William Blake

Giraudoux Secret of success