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Posts Tagged ‘literature’

1.  A Writer’s Journey: Tips on everything from writing good villains to making time to write.  Excellent site!

2.  Creative Liberty: Creative development across all media; this month’s focus is on developing creative momentum.  Especially good for those of us who practice more than one art.

3.  Beanery Writers Weblog: Home of the Beanery Online Literary Magazine.  Includes articles and tips on writing, as well as some really excellent fiction.

4.  Life of a Writer: Advice on writing, finding writing jobs, and juggling writing with the rest of your life.

5.  A Place for Strangers and Beggars: The blog of teacher and SF writer James Van Pelt.  Includes all sorts of interesting and useful advice from a professional.

6.  Becoming a Fiction Writer: An aspiring writer shares what she’s learning as she goes along.

7. Tripping the Muse: Everything from avoiding sexist language to selling your work.

8. Confident Writing: Tips from a writing coach.

9. Hope Writes: Creativity for writers of all stripes.

10. The Writers Group: “Four women share how they encourage, give feedback, and offer critique as they create their unique literary lives.”  A nurturing sort of blog.

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Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt (1990)

Roland Michell is a literary scholar who specializes in the work of one Victorian poet, Randolph Ash.  One day, while conducting research, he comes across a draft of a letter, written by Ash to an unknown woman, and for Roland, an obsession is born. 

Part literary romance, part epistolary novel, and part detective story, Possession examines the ways in which life affects literature, and the ways in which literature affects life.  Byatt juggles voices flawlessly; each letter, each poem, and each character are completely distinct from each other, switching back and forth from Victorian to contemporary styles.  The story told in correspondence and poems is deeply sad, and touching, in the way that Victorian poems often are, and the modern story is full of hope.

Readers should be aware that this is not an easy or quick read.  The book starts slowly, each event building on the next, and the language is dense; it requires close reading.  But as the characters become more obsessed, the book itself becomes more absorbing, until it reaches a very satisfying conclusion.

Fans of the fairy tales and epics of Victorian literature should not miss this novel; Byatt includes exerpts and entire texts of poems written by the fictional characters, and they are every bit as lovely as those by Tennyson or Shelley or Byron.

Rating: A

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1. Endicott Studio : Home of The Journal of Mythic Arts; tons of well-written, thoughtful information about the folklore and fairy tales of many different cultures. Also, poems and stories by the like of Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint, Jane Yolen and more.

2. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing: An online course in speculative fiction writing from Jeffrey A. Carver

3. Exploring Ancient World Cultures: An introduction to Ancient Greece, Rome, India, China, Egypt, the Near East, early Islam and Medieval Europe.

4. Dave’s Mythical Creatures: A good place to start when populating your fantasy or science fiction worlds.

5. Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions: To help writers flesh out fantasy and science fiction worlds and how they work.

6. SpecFic World: Advice to Writers: Lots of articles specifically for fantasy and science fiction writers.

7. The Best of Legends: Information on some of the most famous legends of all time, including Robin Hood, King Arthur, Beowulf and more.

8. Ralan’s Webstravaganza: Extensive market information for F, SF & H writers; includes pay rates, guidelines and more.

9. Storm the Castle: Articles for writers, but that’s not all. Stretch your creativity with dioramas, model rockets and classical guitar as well. A plethora of information, nicely organized.

10. David Walton’s Writing Advice: Mostly links, well-organized, from a wide range of speculative fiction writers

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I’m asked sometimes, particularly by professors at the university where I work, why I choose to write in the fantasy/speculative fiction genre.

It’s not an easy question to answer.  I like to read fantasy; I always have, ever since my sister gave me a full set of  The Chronicles of Narnia when I was in fourth grade.  I wanted so badly to be able to open my closet door and find a world waiting for me there that sometimes I couldn’t sleep at night.  I didn’t have monsters in my closet; I had fauns and centaurs and talking lions.  My love of fantasy and science fiction didn’t go away when I got older, either, as it did for many of my friends.  I discovered Yeats and Shakespeare and Spencer, and since I read them in classes, nobody batted an eye.  When I read Bradbury and LeGuin, a few of my teachers pursed their lips and became very quiet.  When I read Marion Zimmer Bradley, one of my teachers told me, “But you’re so much smarter than that!”

Excuse me?

The best fantasy is not simply escapist; it uses myth and magic as metaphor, as symbols for the kinds of things we really don’t like to talk about in the open.  That’s what fairy tales are, and that’s what myths are: the verbalization of cultural and collective fears and hopes, the dreams that we may not say aloud.  So we talk about them in hushed voices, with symbols that we may not see immediately, but that we feel nonetheless.  The Dark Wood is everything that frightens us in the night, everything we don’t feel strong enough to confront in open daylight.

I write fantasy because it’s where the “meat” of human existence is, from my point of view.  The fears that stir deep inside the belly, that pull the covers over your head at night.  I also write fantasy because there’s a sense of wonder there that I’ve never found in any other kind of literature.  I want to feel that there’s something mysterious left in the world, something that neither science nor religion can properly explain.  Fantasy, while I’m reading or writing, lets me imagine a world where anything is possible, and there’s no one to tell me that the things I fear and the things I hope for are foolish.

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Well, my current project isn’t a novel (though I have one of those in the closet), but several stories I’d like to get out by the middle of August. Revisions and everything.

Wish me luck!

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