Lockdown Chronicles — 23 May 2020

In which I read some books, work on my portfolio, read poetry, and quote some poetry

I don’t know if it’s the twilight zone of lockdown that we’ve entered into, but May have flown by with all the days melting into one very long, very strange day. But at least The Writing Closet — also known as the home office — is now properly set up, yay!

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Of Stars, Short Stories, and Portfolios

Be sure to check out “The House With the Blue Roof”, some flash fiction I wrote during the week. It starts to set the scene for the collection of stories I’m busy with for Where the Stars Used to Sing.
Other than that I’ve mostly worked on my portfolio during the week. It’s still not ready (sigh) but I’ll finish it in the coming week and then also put the link to it on the blog. At the moment it’s still safely tucked away in my private folders in Notion.
By the way, if you’d like to see how a portfolio can look in Notion, be sure to watch this Notion Office Hours video on design with Marie Poulin and Lennon Cheng. It was this that made me decide to build my portfolio in Notion as well.

I’ve also worked late a few days this week because of some late press releases that needed to be turned into articles, so I did not get as much time to work on Ruon Chronicles as I thought I was going to have.
Okay, and I also watched a few documentaries on Curiosity Stream, including one on Roald Dahl; who remains one of my favourite authors. Although I don’t think I mention him nearly often enough. I’m sure that his books — especially his short stories — helped to warp the story writing part of my brain a bit. Let’s face it, some of those stories are dark!
There is also a — for the moment — top-secret writing project in the works that will go live towards the end of the week, huzzah!

Books by the dozen!

Alright, not exactly a dozen books but more than two!
Thanks to my sleeping pattern that seems to be all over the place for some reason, I’ve been able to read a lot more (though mostly at 2 or 3 am).
The books that I’ve finished (still busy with The Burning Season by Andrew Revkin) have been mostly books about writing craft, branding, etc.

I think some of it is the need to be motivated a bit after The News of Retrenchment. I’m still feeling crushed by the news of the magazines’ closures and seeing the final issues on the shelves when I do venture out to buy food is painful.
So I decided that I needed a kick not only to get me into gear to look for new work, but also to put more time into my fiction.
Without further ado, here are the books:

I’m still busy with:

I’ll be posting some thoughts on the books (I always feel weird to call them “reviews” as they are never looking at them very in-depth, it seems) over the next few weeks, but I really enjoyed all of these.
I can also recommend The Story Studio podcast to listen to in the meantime (just beware — they do swear in the podcast) if you’d like to get a feel of Sean Platt and Johnny Truant’s styles.

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Some Poetry to End the Post (Because Why Not?)

I was lucky enough to get an almost-complete (I think three volumes are missing?) Harvard Classics set (yes, those in the beautiful dark green hardback bindings, not the e-book; although the e-book is also very handy) for part of my birthday present (precious!). We found them at a second hand shop and the woman sold them for $7 for the set. I kid you not. Anyway…
Fast forward to me paging through one of the volumes (Tennyson to Whitman) after going down a rabbit hole that ended with Dead Poets Society and how it’s awful that one of my friends haven’t seen it yet. If you, dear reader, also haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a huge favour and watch it. (Although “O me! O life!” by Whitman isn’t in the Harvard Classics collection, “O Captain! My Captain!” is, by the way.)
My eye caught “Ode” (1874) by O’Shaughnessy and, although it was just the first three stanzas and not all nine, I immediately fell in love with it. I want to believe that my pets enjoyed hearing it for the first time as much as I did…
Here are all nine stanzas of “Ode”:

Ode by Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy (1844-1881)

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample a kingdom down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself in our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

A breath of our inspiration
Is the life of each generation;
A wondrous thing of our dreaming
Unearthly, impossible seeming—
The soldier, the king, and the peasant
Are working together in one,
Till our dream shall become their present,
And their work in the world be done.

They had no vision amazing
Of the goodly house they are raising;
They had no divine foreshowing
Of the land to which they are going:
But on one man’s soul it hath broken,
A light that doth not depart;
And his look, or a word he hath spoken,
Wrought flame in another man’s heart.

And therefore to-day is thrilling
With a past day’s late fulfilling;
And the multitudes are enlisted
In the faith that their fathers resisted,
And, scorning the dream of to-morrow,
Are bringing to pass, as they may,
In the world, for its joy or its sorrow,
The dream that was scorned yesterday.

But we, with our dreaming and singing,
Ceaseless and sorrowless we!
The glory about us clinging
Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing:
O men! it must ever be
That we dwell, in our dreaming and singing,
A little apart from ye.

For we are afar with the dawning
And the suns that are not yet high,
And out of the infinite morning
Intrepid you hear us cry—
How, spite of your human scorning,
Once more God’s future draws nigh,
And already goes forth the warning
That ye of the past must die.

Great hail! we cry to the comers
From the dazzling unknown shore;
Bring us hither your sun and your summers;
And renew our world as of yore;
You shall teach us your song’s new numbers,
And things that we dreamed not before:
Yea, in spite of a dreamer who slumbers,
And a singer who sings no more.

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By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.

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