In the course of the past several days and weeks, perhaps you have had occasion to stop and wonder, ‘That Mr Pond—just where is he?’ Well, I can lift that worry right of your backs, by telling you the answer.
I’ve been writing and publishing, mostly. Sister Fox’s Field Guide to the Writing Life, by Jane Yolen, was made available for pre-order this week over at Unsettling Wonder. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done on this book. It’s a new collection of Jane’s mythic arts poetry, and is as wonderful and moving and provoking and beautiful as that suggests. You can find more about it here.
The embookenation of this blog is now complete in manuscript, and has been sent to the publishers. Its working title is A Land of Giants: Growing Up with Fairy Tales, Dragons, and Harry Potter. Not sure how long production will take, but I’ll give your periodic updates as the process goes. I’ve had a lot of fun working with Unlocking Press in the past, and so will be looking forward to this process.
Third, speaking of Unlocking Press, I’m very happy—nay, veritably delighted—to announce the release of New Fairy Tales: Essays and Stories, edited by yours truly and the wonderful Defne Cizakca. It’s available for purchase on Amazon here, or here if you’re in the UK, both in print and e-book formats. Other outlets to follow soon. There are so many reasons why you’ll want to buy this book—here’s a few:
I just wrote a somewhat light-hearted post about The Many Lives of Mr Galbraith over at the The Hog’s Head. Or rather, I wrote a post about how I was going to write a post, but there have been so many posts written about J. K. Rowling’s secret identity that I eventually found someone who’d already said all I wanted to say. You might want to read it if you’re interested in that sort of thing. Which, if you’re reading this, you probably are.
Also, have you been following Katherine Langrish’s Magical Classics series over at her blog? You should be. Follow it because it’s awesome, and it’s talking about all my favourite books. And as an added bonus, I’ll be contributing a post shortly about The King of Ireland’s Son, by Padraic Colum. I’ll post a link here once it’s written and live. This is a wonderful book, and I’m thrilled to have a professional excuse to reread it. You’ll love it too—listen:
Laheen the Eagle spread out her wings and flew away, and the King’s Son journeyed on, first with the sun before him and then with the sun at his back, until he came to the shore of a wide lake. He turned his horse away, rested himself on the ground, and as soon as the clear day came he began to watch for the three swans.
I recently enjoyed a lively email exchange with the remarkable Katherine Langrish, as she was kindly giving advice about the last stages of a YA manuscript I’ve been working on for rather a while. We started by talking about fish (it made sense at the time) and wound up discussing YA literature in general and Kipling in particular—and round about the time I was enthusiastically looking up quotations from The Jungle Book, it occurred to me that you all might like to get in on the conversation. Here it is, then, reproduced with Kath’s kind permission. Chime in the comments, or email me directly, or both. Enjoy.
The agent just said to send [her the manuscript] whenever it was ready—[…] One thing I have no clue about is a title–even a working title. But I’ve already drafted a short pitch for my second novel…yeah, I’m a nutter…. 🙂
Do try and come up with SOME title, even if something vague, before you send it out. Anything! What’s the river called? ‘The Falls of Something?’ Doesn’t matter what it is, the poor woman is going to want some mental tag for it, and it looks feeble not to name it anything.
I wonder if eels is better than herring, for descriptive purposes.
The title is–gah. A few ideas floating round are ‘Once, Twice and Again’ (a line from Kipling), ‘The City on the Falls’, ‘The King’s Own Players’, and–less seriously, perhaps, but is shows the general desperation–’Fateful Shaman Saina’.
An intriguing idea I had today was ‘Bitter Karela’, again from Kipling, though that’s would be an oblique choice, and may make readers think they’re getting a book about someone named Karela. ‘Remember the Wolf is a Hunter’ was another possibility, the wolf being a main symbol throughout–but if I put the word ‘Wolf’ in the title then everyone and (especially) their aunt will expect paranormal romance. Perhaps a better title is ‘Wood and Water, Wind and Tree’.
Rather an exciting day for me, I must say. Forget, for a moment, the sleet and hail and wind and general wintry wretchedness of the otherwise lovely view beyond my window. Forget, too, the Damoclean spate of deadlines unravelling above my head. Today is the official release date for Unsettling Wonder, Vol. 1, Issue 1 (Winter 2013), Wonder Voyages.
I write all about it at this link, and you can buy it at this other link. I love this little mag, and I’m excited at the direction it already seems to be charting for itself.
And here’s acknowledgments: Special shout out to my fantastic co-editors: Cayt Addison, Defne Cizakca, Katherine Langrish (friend of this blog), Jenna St. Hilaire (my worthy blogaletic partner), and Josh Richards. They’ve made this project what it is. And tremendous thanks to Erzebet YellowBoy Carr, for being willing to publish such a bizarre and ambitious project, and to her husband, Dis, for the timely gift of remarkable software.
This is just the start, really: we’ve a lot more of equally audacious projects to come. Here’s a general announcement, which you are welcome to copy and paste and distribute where you jolly well like. Or follow us on Facebook or Twitter or one of those places. Myself, I’m off to celebrate in true British style: with a nice cup of tea.
We are pleased to announce that the inaugural issue of Unsettling Wonder, a new literary journal of folklore studies, is now available for purchase: http://www.unsettlingwonder.com/shop/unsettling-wonder-v1-1/. Centered around the theme of ‘Wonder Voyages’, the issue includes old and new tales of aimless wanderings, magical journeys, told in stories, essays, poetry, and image. The real purpose of these tales are what happens along the way. They are filled with bizarre islands and stranger people, incomprehensible dangers and unutterable beauty. The voyagers become legends of their own. Some find their destination. Some never do. Not all of them return, or wish to. Featuring works by Claire Massey, Johnny Wink, Patrick Weck, Katherine Langrish, and Jennifer Povey. Cover artwork by Laura Anderson. Available in print and digital editions. (Papaveria Press, 48 pp, £5.00/2.50). For inquiries please contact info[at]unsettlingwonder[dot]om.
Why are we reading? What readers do we write for? And why, and how?
It isn’t just in hopes the writer will magnify my days and inspire me with wisdom, sometimes books take the place of television for me, and I look for the literary version of reality t.v., sometimes reading takes the place of sleep and I want to recreate my dreams – mysterious and surreal, sometimes I really am looking for illuminating, life-lifting beauty and meaningfulness. Am I too fickle a reader or am I indicative of the norm?
Why do we do anything, really?
That’s not a fit of existential angst, that’s an honest answer. I read for more or less precisely the same reasons I do anything else. Because I want to, or have to, or am getting paid to, or might get paid eventually. Or because of the company I’m with. Or because I want to learn something new, or revisit something old. I want to be frightened, or soothed, or contented. I want to improve myself, or I want to put myself to sleep.
We live in a happy enough word that reading can just be part of what we do everyday.
Reading is another part of life. And that’s a very good thing.
As to who do we write for—we write for readers. We write for the people who will read our writing. We don’t always know who that will be. It might be our friends and family, if our writing is our hobby. It might be people we never even thought would like our books, if our writing is a career. It might be people centuries later living in a civilisation we can only dream of, if our writing is either loved enough or archived well enough to be preserved.
We write for other people, other living people who read. It’s as simple as that.
This deeply moving reflection from the marvellous Katherine Langrish, a friend of this blog, is perhaps the best possible answer to why we write, and read.