April 20, 2014

the geography of the wild soul

All it took was one curtain corner. One moment of going a different way instead of just home. And there was the little forest.

It had been planted on purpose, and as I walked through I felt the sense of belonging-to, of human ownership, which claimed each tree's existence. And yet, deeper still, there was the peace of the wild things.

An essential freedom.

Never mind who planted them; they are themselves.

It is not my forest. And I can only go there at particular times, when the property is opened. (Next door is a public forest, darker, random, for when I want foresting. But it is so different in tenor from this little one.) Despite the restriction, something in me connected with something amongst the trees, an old and silent song which we translate prosaically as home.

A little while ago, I found a suggestion by Sylvia Linsteadt of earth constellations. Ever since, I've been holding it in my hands, along with other foraged things - small treeflower thoughts, memories of cobwebs, old ideas drawn out of dark pools of other evenings - as I think on the notion of geography. I've been wondering about the heartlines which weave me into the place of my birth, and the place I am now, and how I may see my destinies in wild flowers amongst the dry, tenacious ferns, and stretchmarks on water, and unexpected little forests.

And I've been thinking too about how we can ever hope find ourselves in places that are so much concrete, and glass, and traffic. But I've come to no conclusions, only sorrows.

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry
A couple more pictures of the little forest

April 19, 2014

beautiful book titles

Coming up with a title for a book, especially when it is a compendium rather than one single narrative, can be the hardest part of the process for me - until it becomes the easiest. I will shuffle for weeks through words and words, knowing it should be a simple matter of attaching prepositions to adjectives to nouns, getting it almost right, getting it wrong, and then suddenly the title will be in my mind and I will wonder why on earth it took me so long.

I'm one of those people who investigates a book because it has an alluring title. That doesn't mean I'll read it, because sometimes the few words of that title tell me a story I follow with my own imagination, and the description of the book itself suggests a path that goes too far in the other direction. But I still think the author has given me something, and I am grateful. Consequently, for my own work, I'm always seeking a title which is beautiful - and yet meaningful - and that resonates both with the spirit of the book as it is and the spirit of what I dreamed it could be.

Here are some book titles which I consider beautiful, regardless of my opinion of the books themselves ...

Wuthering Heights ... by Emily Bronte
Behind the Beautiful Forevers ... by Katherine Boo
Under the Never Sky ... by Veronica Rossi
Through the Ever Night ... by Veronica Rossi
The Changeling Sea ... by Patricia McKillip
The Light Between Oceans ... by ML Stedman
On The Jellicoe Road ... by Melina Marchetta
The Outermost House ... by Henry Beston
The Book of Lost Things ... by John Connolly
Ghosts of Wind and Shadow ... by Charles de Lint
Seven Wild Sisters ... by Charles de Lint
Memory and Dream ... by Charles de Lint
The Shadow of the Wind ... by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Dirt Music ... by Tim Winton
Cloudstreet ... by Tim Winton
The Solace of Open Spaces ... by Gretel Ehrlich
In The Forest of Forgetting ... by Theodora Goss
Cutting for Stone ... by Abraham Verghese
These Broken Stars ... by Amie Kaufman

What are some titles which you love for their beauty and evocative poetry?

April 17, 2014

the simplicity of being

There's something I always remember near the end of a storm. The wild thing is not necessarily the fierce thing battering at edges and weeping, singing, spinning upon the silenced world. There is wild too in the calm waters and the soft meadow.

I read again this morning that a story must have conflict to be interesting. But I don't know. I've read stories in which there is no apparent conflict, but which have such a sense of place that the silence beneath that space, the old roots that have tangled and been torn apart, rewoven, repaired, to create that space, impacts on my consciousness more than any visible stakes could. The power of suggestion, and of the simple description of something, should not be underestimated. The first time I heard the title of Henry Beston's book, The Outermost House, those words alone were an entire possible story.

I've changed this webspace a little for the inbreathing time of my next book. Winter is coming, bringing words and a wolfish sea.