inkscrawl: the journey

It’s half past midnight; I should be in bed. I can never manage this go-to-sleep early thing, even on work nights… *sigh* But before I rush off to brush my teeth and do my physiotherapy exercises (for my neck/back), a quick rec:

inkscrawl is a lovely poetry magazine, publishing speculative poetry of ten lines or shorter. I’ve liked the zine for quite a while – excellent minimalist poetry is such a sharp and direct joy.

The current issue, entitled the journey, is exceptionally wonderful. It’s such a beautiful whole that I really recommend reading all of it, in order – the structure is thought out and works very well.

Some pieces I especially enjoyed from this issue of inkscrawl:

– Alexandra Seidel’s The Adventurer Recalls Showing The Cartographer Her World.
– Genevieve MacKay’s Heptade.
– Peg Duthie’s Even an Empty Life Can Hold Water.
– Adrienne J. Odasso’s Fallout.
– S. Brackett Robertson’s Sowing Passage.
– Sonya Taaffe’s Larva.

…Just go and read the whole issue. It’s full of such beautiful word-magic.

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Flash fiction is rewarding

I went to check out a wonderful art installation by the Helsinki coast today, involving a huge collection of intriguing instruments made so that the wind played them. It was ethereal, gorgeous – wind-spirits singing!

As a result, I got inspired for a stuck-in-space sci-fi story. I wrote the first part on my mobile phone as I walked back through the chimes, bells, percussion and gentle booming played by the sea wind. The rest was written just now.

I may have mentioned that I usually have problems with writing short stuff, except when it comes to poetry. So, it’s pretty exceptional for me to find it so easy to write a story that’s less than 500 words. I feel rather pleased right now. Of course, it’s late again and my early-to-bed scenario looks like it’s failing – but hey! I wrote a complete flash fiction piece! Sleep is lovely, but writing is even better.

‘The Understanding’ out in Plunge Magazine

My poem ‘The Understanding’ is online in the second issue of Plunge Magazine, a zine publishing “quality genre literature, poetry, and essays about queer women” (as declared on their About page).

Read ‘The Understanding’ here! It’s what I call a “secondary-world manuscript edition”. This one’s a translation/edition of a Middle Argental chassiolet, written by a woman for a woman, evidence of the Silopphic love experience in Middle Argental times.

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In case it hasn’t become obvious already, I like history. And manuscripts.

I wrote my MA thesis about three Middle English poems with the subject of servanthood, and have been excited about manuscript studies and palaeography since I did a course on the topic in 2009. I want to pursue a PhD on something medieval and manuscript-related. Suffice it to say, I think manuscripts and editing them are awesome things! And sometimes quite often actually, this love comes out in my creative writing too.

I’m interested in the mysterious spaces left in a text by erasures, water damage, spilt ink, nibbling mice, cat paws, and all the other damage that can leave its marks in a manuscript. The possibilities for conjecture and guesswork intrigue me – and whereas for scholarly purposes it’s frustrating to handle a manuscript with lots of missing bits, when it comes to creative writing, those empty spaces are inspiring.

Fuzzy but finished

My hands and forearms are tingling and aching a bit; my brain is tired, fuzzy but pleased.

I finally finished the first draft of the short-story-turned-novelette that I mentioned here! Word count: almost 14,000. Ooops. The word count will most likely go down a bit during the editing process, because there’s loose stuff and fluff in this draft (as there always is in my zero/first drafts), but still: definitely a novelette here. I’m going to let it sit for a while – I’ll possibly take in the rest of the first draft to my writing group (in parts, obviously), although I dunno, I may want to tinker with it first. The end is much rougher than the start.

Anyway, I’ve been working on this thing on and off since May, so I’m really glad the first phase is done now. It’s got a beginning, middle and end! Huzzah! I love the feeling of finishing a story – it happens so rarely that it’s always a special event. I’ve got a bad habit of leaving stuff unfinished, especially when it comes to prose. I’m trying to work on changing that habit. A crappy but finished draft is better than a crappy unfinished one!

Tomorrow after work: submitting stuff to various places. It’s been too long since I did a proper batch of submitting, so I’m going to bite the bullet. Will also try to edit a couple of stories that are almost ready for the submission cycle.

Sunday recs: Zombies, gender fluidity, alternative families

Time for Sunday recs! I’ve been reading some excellent stuff lately – poetry too, but let’s go for prose first.

Story recs
So, zombies are pretty much everywhere these days, but I haven’t actually read that much zombie fiction. (My consumption has been in the form of comics and films.) This story in Niteblade is a really good zombie story, though, told from an interesting perspective: Compassion, During and After the Fall, by Cory Cone.

My second rec is an SF story about spices, asteroids, and the fluidity of gender – Alex Dally MacFarlane’s Found, in Clarkesworld. Reading it, I could taste the spices in my mouth. Also, it’s wonderful to read stories with characters who don’t fit the gender binary! “I finally realized, two years later, chewing thyme on an outlying asteroid where six people stubbornly survived, that I was like Thyme: ill-suited to ‘boy’ or ‘girl.'”

Final story rec: Super Bass by Kai Ashante Wilson on Tor.com. This is really good – such lush language, really cool dialect stuff. I love reading stories where the writer has really thought about the language, and this is definitely one of them. Also in the story: different gender presentations and polyamorous family structures; and a non-conflict plot!

Finally, a book rec:
Kate Elliott’s newest, the final book of the Spiritwalker trilogy: Cold Steel. I’ve squeed about the trilogy before on this blog, but now that I’ve read the final book, I will squee once more. I haven’t been this excited about a book series for ages! I love pretty much everything about these books: the alternate-world ice age setting with its cultural and ethnic diversity; the living, breathing characters; the dialogue; and the fast-moving plot. I really admire Kate Elliott, and love what she’s done with her alternate Europa.

She describes the overall story (here) as:

an Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency fantasy adventure with airships, Phoenician spies, and the intelligent descendants of troodons.

Add to that a wonderful narrator, spirit courts, amazing characters (both female and male), shark-punching, and revolutionary politics. I mean, really, just go and read the series, you will not regret it!

Poetry sale: Through the Gate

Today’s been a lovely Friday despite the tiredness (it has been incredibly difficult to get my night owl sleep rhythm adjusted to my 9-to-5 job after my holiday). Some of the loveliness:

My poem ‘Boat-husk’ will be published in the fourth issue of Through the Gate. I’m very happy about this! Through the Gate is such a beautiful magazine.

I had my writers’ group meeting today and read part of a story that I’ve been working on for the past couple of months, more intensely during the past couple of weeks. It’s part of the forest world that I think I’ve mentioned here – with this world, I’m attempting the initial worldbuilding process through shorter stories and poems. Incidentally, ‘Boat-husk’ is also an echo of the same world.

I’m really enjoying this kind of secondary world exploration. I hope all the stories I write for it don’t expand on me like this one, though – once more, I’m looking at a 10,000-word story rather than a 2,000-word one as per my original concept. Oooops.

What can I say? I’m a babbly person, and I like drawn-out character development and lush language. Mmm. Tasty, tasty words.