Charcoal Burners, Black Sails & Magic

Uskglass Charcoal Burner

Admittedly I’ve not left the house since I got here, but don’t let my indolence fool you! I am ready to rise to the opportunity and sure enough, I will be. Thanks to Cailleach’s Herbarium mentioning it on Facebook, I got on the waitlist and now have ticket in hand to attend ‘The Supernatural in Early Modern Scotland’ this Friday. A workshop at The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, it looks to be a fascinating day (see the whole list of speakers here).

So many interests colliding in useful ways! It’s great to have the feeling you’re in the right place at the right time.

And speaking of collisions: the above illustration is of course the lovely Charles Vess. It’s for the last story in Susanna Clarke’s collection The Ladies of Grace Adieu. In my usual way I had hoarded the last few stories last summer, thinking when I read them there would be no more of her writing to read as she has nothing else out at present (yes, that’s how my brain works). I didn’t know the interest I would develop in charcoal burners in the meantime! So it was the first thing I read when I got back here. A delightful tale with saints (including Brigit), Uskglass and of course the titular charcoal burner.

Total collision count: dissertation subjects, two forthcoming conference papers, and the new all-consuming medieval project, Rauf Coilyear. I’m teaching Rauf in the upper division medieval class this fall. I love it when a plan comes together.

Meanwhile I am playing dolls with Miss C and catching up on Black Sails with my sweetie. Life is good.

Film for a Friday: Sweet Charity

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I just needed some Fosse to get me motivated on finishing grading. Some great stuff but no time to enjoy it all — but I have some really sharp students (of course!). Once all this is done and graduation over, I’ll be updating more frequently. And having a little fun, laughs, and good times.

What I Learned from the No Year

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Tallulah is so done with 2016

On January 1st of this year I vowed to have a Happy No Year: a chance to reassess how I ought best to spend my time. It was hard. The better part of my academic life has been saying yes to as many things as possible to get a job, a better one and then tenure.

Now tenure may no longer matter (but that’s another post or ten).

I learned a lot in saying no. I’m still learning. I said yes to things I truly wanted to do. Of course I didn’t know that a few days later the death of David Bowie would set off a year long farewell to so many icons that signal a kind of sea change that we’ve all been feeling.

All the post-apocalyptic narratives that have been pouring out of creators in recent years? Our subconscious knew what we refused to see — what my friend Byron has been repeating Cassandra-like to us all: Tower Times.

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Pamela Colman-Smith’s version

While we’re all reeling from the shock of blow after blow upon very bruised flesh, life goes on. You need to mourn, you need to recover,  but you also have to decide what’s next. For me that’s plotting ways to embody radical hope in my work and in my teaching.

I am trying to remember to be generous, too: although I am fiercely protective of my time (a most precious commodity) it’s important to spend it wholeheartedly where it will do the most good. The system that surrounds us tries to make us believe we’re in a zero sum game: that’s why people trash the things you like in order to praise the things they like, as if both cannot be true.

You’ve been lied to: it’s not a zero sum game.

While the old guard are doubling down on fossil fuels renewable energy is at last growing quickly. While industrialists poison our food chain, local food has become a movement. And against the Puritan desire to make people work however useless the labour, the concept of basic income has gained ground.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s still a need to fight against every venal retrograde plutocrat and would-be oligarch in the festering rot of neoliberalism. I will also embody ‘Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker.’

And it wasn’t all NO: I got the draft of Hire Idiots down, which I’ll be sharing with folks in January. Respectable Horror should be out shortly, as well as a few other things, including a crime novella. I was in an Anthony-award nominated anthology and in an Anthony-award winning anthology. I have a fantastic story that was only available to supporters of the Cultural Gutter (which may become a script because it was just so fun). And here are other things what I did:

HOW TO BE DULL by Basil Morley

All my columns as History Witch

“Elf Prefix.” (as Graham Wynd) Short story. You Left Your Biscuit. Fox Spirit: Dec 2016.

“The Oven.” Short story as Graham Wynd. Spelk Magazine, 27 Jul 2016.

“Songs of Defiance (for William Blake).” Poem (reprint). Do Something: Hope Not Hate. Factor Fiction, Jul 2016: 26-27.

“The Cabal.” Short story as Graham Wynd. Pulp Metal Magazine, 21 Jun 2016.

“Deliberately Lost SF Classics.” Humour. Short Humour Site: 14 May 2016.

“Nenn’ mich nicht Liebling.” Short story as Graham Wynd. Pulpcore: Horror und Crime Anthologie, May 2016.

“Hope.” Poem. Short Humour Site: 26 Apr 2016.

“Fur Baby.” Short story. Spelk Magazine, 15 Apr 2016.

“It’s a Curse.” Short story. Drunk on the Moon: A Roman Dalton Anthology. Ed. Paul D Brazill. Blackwitch Press: March 2016 (new edition). Also “Broken Bicycles” as Graham Wynd.

“Inevitable.” (as Graham Wynd) Short story. Paladins: Stories for Henri. March 2016.

The State of the Church of Bowie in 2525.” Pulp Metal Magazine: 13 Jan 2016.

“Subtle Hues: Character and Race in Dorothy B. Hughes’ The Expendable Man.” TEXT Journal of Writing and Writing Courses, v20 n2, Oct 2016.

“The Sound of Magic.” Sounding Out: The Sound Studies Blog, 54 (May 2016).

Chaucer and the Art of the Grift‘ and ‘Are you tweeting this?’: Best Practices and Possible Guidelines for Social Media in the Academy – A Round Table Discussion. International Medieval Congress, University of Leeds, 4-7 July 2016.

‘The Sound of Magic.’ Digital Britain: New Approaches to the Early Middle Ages, Harvard University, 25-6 March 2016.

 

So, the list feels a little thin to me only because I’m still getting used to dividing my time. Oh, the luxury of those two years of idleness. I must get more time off [plots].

Happy New Year, folks. May you feel recharged.

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In New York City

I can’t vouch for the lord‘s whereabouts but this afternoon I head down to the city for the Occult Humanities conference at NYU, which includes a visit to the lovely Katja so that’s a definite plus. I’m sure I will have stories and photos to share upon my return, though be warned that things continue just as hectic hereabouts while I constantly change hats as I move from project to project.

I never managed to make it down to the city last semester other than heading to the airport. Making plans to get back down again soon, maybe with the lovely QoE Stephanie Johnson to see the cards exhibit at the Cloisters and a few other things (there are always things to see).

 

 

The Great Grey Beast

thiefusp3‘The great grey beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive. Here he was, buried in the belly of that smothering month, wondering if he would ever find his way out through the cold coils that lay between here and Easter. He didn’t think much of his chances…’

It’s rare that those words do not pop into my mind when February begins. Clive Barker’s hero in The Thief of Always is bored in school and desperately longs for excitement. I’m rather the opposite at present. I’ve been so busy I long for boredom and quiet but it’s not on the horizon.

This weekend I got two complicated grant applications done; one sent off, the other will be today once I look it over again. I’m contemplating a third. Next weekend I’m off down to the city for a fab conference with an amazing art exhibition attached to it — and staying with a friend so excitement abounds.

I’m trying hard to remember my Happy No Year declaration as exciting calls for stories and papers come my way. So many opportunities! But I must remember I have neither the time nor the funds for all the shiny shiny things. No, you can say it, Kate. No.

I’m glad to see February in a way. September and January both seem like the longest cruelest months. Transitions between my two lands, return to teaching, meetings, forms, etc. all add up to a hectic time which makes the month seem even longer. So hello February, hail Brigit. Have you put away your Yuletide decorations?

CEREMONY UPON CANDLEMAS EVE

by Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

DOWN with the rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and misletoe ;
Down with the holly, ivy, all,
Wherewith ye dress’d the Christmas Hall :
That so the superstitious find
No one least branch there left behind :
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected, there (maids, trust to me)
So many goblins you shall see.

2015-09-12 07.06.08

Happy ‘No’ Year

Happy New Year! I plan to make this the year of ‘no’: it’s not as negative as it sounds. For many years I have said ‘yes’ to far too many things. I am always hungry for experiences. And I generally only do things I actually want to do (I’ve become much better at not doing things I don’t want to do). When it comes to writing though, much as I write, there are only so many hours in the day. I use them well, trust me.

However, there were those years I had off from the usual working-two-jobs life. Yes, I work two full time jobs, which a lot of people seem to forget. I am a full time faculty member: I had a note to amend this depending on what we heard in December from the CSR administration. We lost 23 faculty members, many tenured, and more than two dozen programs. Make no mistake: this is part of an ideological battle for the soul of academia in this country. At present we’re losing. If we cannot prevail, true education will be only for the elite. The rest of us will just be part of the corporate supply chain. This is taking a lot of my energy.

I am also a full-time writer. It’s not a hobby I do sometimes when the muse finds me. The muse knows where to find me and I am always working even when she isn’t. I have deadlines and responsibilities. I make and remake to-do lists.

That’s how I get things done.

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But those two years I had off for the Fulbright and for my sabbatical (which have since been suspended by the growing phalanx of administrators who don’t think faculty ‘deserve’ such ‘luxuries’) skewed my expectations for how much I could get done. Fall term is always busy, but this year particularly so because there was so much time spent at meetings organising, protesting and planning on campus. I took on administration of two new websites, including directing the new Digital Humanities Initiative, which taught me that it’s extremely difficult to get a new project off the ground at a campus where people fear they will be losing their jobs (no surprise).

That’s in addition to managing my own four (?!) websites, as well as a variety of social media for both Broad Universe and our local Sisters in Crime chapter, Mavens of Mayhem. Oh, and the website for Universal Pathways. And this was the first year I didn’t edit an anthology for Fox Spirit (technically, I start reviewing stories for the next anthology now). I tried not to take it personally that it was also the year they won a major award.

Writing will always come first — fiction and non-fiction, short long, middle lengths.  Then there’s the reading, too. Not enough of that happening except when I’m traveling. The thing is I’m a bit of a casualty of my own success in teaching people How to Keep Writing with a Full Time Job: I have to remember I don’t have to do all the things. I don’t have to Always Be Writing.

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So, I’ll be saying ‘no‘ a lot more. I will say no to things I probably would enjoy doing, to things that I will feel sad at passing up, to opportunities that will probably launch other people into success (because I can always be counted on to do the wrong thing — or maybe just the impractical thing — at the wrong time), and to things that I ‘could’ do but probably shouldn’t.

Of course, there are a very few people I can never say no to (*cough* Adele *cough*) and gigs that pay upfront will be given priority. However I plan to have more golden hours of luxury (i.e. reading) and not give in to the lure of the hectic life. Idleness will once more be my aim on a daily basis, not just when I escape. In short, I plan to be dull.

I began writing this over Thanksgiving weekend. I suspected even then that I might delete the post or just keep it to myself. Yet I think part of keeping myself to the task is a public repetition of the message. I suspect I’m not alone in this endeavour. Maybe other folks are feeling overwhelmed by the need to always do more, too. Let us enjoy our lives. It’s okay.

Barrie Golden

And to remind myself that I got more done than I remember — and to remind myself that I don’t have to feel nervuos when a week or a month goes by without something new coming out (I swear I will get used to that), here as far as I can remember are the things what I wrote and/or published this year:

Airships & Alchemy. Women’s League of Ale Drinkers (Aug 2015)

Dream Book. Short Story Collection. Fox Spirit Books (April 2015) which had 2 new stories.

Knight of the White Hart (as Kathryn Marlowe). Tirgearr Publishing. Jan 2015.

“Elf Prefix.” (as Graham Wynd) Short story. You Left Your Biscuit. Fox Spirit, forthcoming.

“Inevitable.” (as Graham Wynd). Short story. Stories for Henri, forthcoming.

“Broken Bicycles.” (as Graham Wynd) Short story. Drunk on the Moon anthology. Blackwitch Press, forthcoming.

“Intoxicate Me.” (as Victoria Squid). Song. Open the Window. Linear Obsessional Recordings, Dec 2015.

“The Ransom of Red Witch.” Short story. Things in the Dark: A Fox Pocket Anthology. Fox Spirit Books, Dec 2015.

“Life Just Bounces.” (as Graham Wynd) Short story. Murder Under the Elms: Bouchercon 2015 Anthology. Art Taylor, ed. forthcoming Oct 2015.

“Mesquite.” (as Graham Wynd) Short story. Protectors 2: Heroes, ed. Thomas Pluck: forthcoming Sep 2015.

“Batter My Heart.” Poem. Medium: 24 Jul 2015.

“Pink.” Flash fiction. Spelk Fiction: 12 Jun 2015.

“The 9 stages of a new Fall album.” Humour. Medium: 26 May 2015.

“Wicklow Street Lobster Reel.” Humour. Short Humour Site: 11 May 2015.

“This is Just to Say (Forgive Me, William).” Poem. Short Humour Site: 12 Apr 2015.

“Bonkers in Phoenix.” (as Graham Wynd) Short story. Rogue: A Near to the Knuckle anthology. April 2015.

“Ham on Heels.” (as Graham Wynd) Short story. Pulp Metal Magazine. March 2015. Illustrated by S. L. Johnson.

“Toy Monkey.” (as Graham Wynd) Short story. Pulp Metal Magazine. Jan 2015.

“Frenching Mr Ripley.” Clues 33.2: September 2015.

“Tyrant Muse.” Journey Planet 24 – In Memory of Richard III: 17 Aug 2015.

“Strange Men and Magic.” The Cultural Gutter: 30 Jul 2015.

“From Ritual to Bad Romance: Drums and Dogma in Mad Max: Fury Road.” Vex Mosaic: 5 Jun 2015.

“The Myth of the Medieval Setting: Masculinity and Heroism in Modern Film.” VexMosaic: 18 May 2015.

A New Hat

Mad HatterActually a couple of them: first I want to announce the new Digital Humanities Initiative at the College of Saint Rose, for which I got approval from the Dean this week and hastily mocked up a website (social media sites to come). In contrast to the dominant narrative of the arts & humanities as ‘luxuries’ we will endeavour to show their absolute necessity in the 21st century.

At least employers seem to grasp that fact! I seem to have got a few people willing to jump aboard the train, so we will chug away from the platform.

Also we have a brand new AAUP chapter to better facilitate our participation in the ongoing process of retrenchment at the college. Seems all that freewheeling spending that took place while I was away has had some serious repercussions — and will continue to do so.

So yes, busier than ever — the madness continues.