Beauty for Pain: Poetry as Catharsis

The very best writers pull you in. They take all the pain of life, and they return it to you with beauty.

I have lots of imaginary conversations in my head. This one was about poetry, about how you can take the essence of something incredibly painful and return it transformed. Does the act of transformation also take away some of the pain?

I’m basically a happy person. There have been times when I went through hell. I haven’t really written about them, because every time I tried I got angrier and angrier. As a single parent, I couldn’t just walk around wanting to punch something 24/7. But those attempts were all more of a this happened and then this and then…

Not trying to do anything other than record.

I brought it up briefly in the novella I’m doing, but quickly brushed it aside. It’s there, but not present.

The one thing I have not tried is poetry. Of trying to take the pain and turn it into something beautiful and possibly unrecognizable.

I think it might be time to try it. Just as soon as I finish Camp Nano.

Take care my lovelies,

 

Wyn

Keep your mitts off my books!

There’s been a ration of poo slung around this spring/summer regarding women in fantasy fiction and, more recently even romance. I kind of have to shake my head at these posturing potential potenates…. who don’t realize that if the conversation were fictionalized and thrown into a fantasy setting… well. They would not be the hero. Oh, no. They would definitely be the evil wizard/king/crybaby trying to force everyone into their own way of thinking. You shall not pass.

I mean really. Are you truly trying to tell me that Robin Hobb, Lynn Flewelling, Carol Berg and Mercedes Lackey are… lacking? Shame on you! Don’t like the new crop of fiction coming out? Don’t read it. But don’t presume to know what’s good for me.

What really saddens me is that these kind of arguments have been going on for a very long time. Because something is popular with them, the masses, women it must be inherently bad. Suck it up, buttercup, cuz those readers are still going to read the books they want to. They will buy them in droves, propelling them UP the NYT Best Seller list while your own languishes in the stacks. 
 Oh, and by the way? Shakespeare? Wildly popular with the masses. All those bawdy jokes, don’t you know.
While I was at CSU, I often hid what I was reading due to jack asses. Fantasy was fine, but let someone catch me with a romance? I cringed at the thought. Until someone tried to book shame me, in my creative writing class, and the professor said something to the effect of… well… You can support yourself with that sort of writing. Live very well, if you have the talent.
This was the same instructor who told us on our first day not to even try genre fiction (especially horror or sci-fi / fantasy) in his class. I was terrified when I went up to speak with him. But I write fantasy, I said. “Prove it,” he told me.  Turns out he’s not against the genre, just the bad habits of new writers. I wrote my first novel under his guidance, a work of fantasy fiction.
A lot of what I read and write has to do with belonging. About taking what you’ve got and making it work. Finding a way through the darkness. There are books who have held me up (Anne Bishop) during the worst time of my life, and others that echo those days and reinforce that we are survivors (Cathy Lamb). There’s the joy of love (Eloisa James, Julia Quinn), and family and friends.
If you’re so afraid of women in fiction, then I kind of have to ask. What are you so afraid of?
No matter the answer, keep your mitts off my reading material. I don’t need that sort of help.
Ogres need not apply.
 

Hello, You

Hello, You,

I see you. I know your going through some hard times, I know that you’re hurting inside. I also know that there’s not a damn thing I can do about it except for say “I love you, I’m here for you,” I know that the hard part is up to you, but I need for you to know…

I love you. I love your kindness, the way that you care about everyone and show that care. I see the jewel that you are; flawed perhaps… but that just makes you more interesting. It is the flaws that make us who we are, that gives our wings flight.

I see you.

I see you struggling, trying to balance who you are with who you used to be. The struggle to find the ability to make it day by day. That sometimes, it seems to swallow you hole. It’s like you’re swimming in the ocean, in the middle of the night, and can’t see the shore.

Hang on. Please, hang on. Because I promise you…. The dawn will break. It might not be when you want it to, it might be later than you think you can hold on. But I promise, the dawn will break.

I see you. I wish I could save you. But for now, I leave you with this,

 

The dawn will come.

 

Bawling my eyes out…. Thanks, Elizabeth Moon!

It has been a long time since I’ve read a book that literally made me bawl. Had to get up out of bed at midnight, find some tissue and blow my nose. It happens more often with romance than with fantasy fiction, I will admit to that. But it’s still rare.

And then this week I stayed up way too late, bawling my eyes out because of Elizabeth Moon. The Deed of Paksenarrion (contains all three books of the trilogy) did that to me. Right about the end of the second book, beginning of the third. Paks is a female warrior, and at that point she had nothing left from which she drew her identity. She was broken, desperate and alone. I had to stay with the novel long enough that I could in good conscious put it down until morning.

This is something, by the way, that really great fantasy excels at. I may be a female, but I’ve never held anything other than a foam/plastic sword. The only battles I’ve gone into with those swords were pretend, with my son. On a daily basis, it doesn’t matter whether or not I’m a coward.

But.

But…

It doesn’t matter. Because I do know what it’s like to walk away from a life you thought you couldn’t. I know what it’s like to feel that everything that defines you is gone. Somehow, Paks healed herself, became even more herself than before she was broken.

Sometimes, fantasy, especially epic fantasy, uses the framework to pin down a powerful message. And the mesaage was greatly needed, as was the crying session.

 

Check it out, my lovelies. I think you’ll like it.

Wyn

 

Book Review: A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent

 

Anyone who knows me, based on the title and cover of this book, would think that I would be stark raving bonkers over it. Madley, passionately letting my inner geek out to play with the dragons.

Eh. Not so much.

This is one of those novels that I circled around forever. Sometimes, when I finally bite it is a great read. This time, it was a pretty good story, but the voice in it kind of… hmm… how to explain it.

The voice of the character is spot on. Isabella is writing after a long career, obtaining and sharing knowledge of her beloved dragons. A pragmatic scientist in a country and time that didn’t allow easily for women to do such… well… she finds a way. Through her husband.

Using Lady Trent’s voice is both brilliant and little bit off putting. There are clues hidden here and there, among things that she says to her readers or about her editors. Things that contemporaries of hers would know, but we the reader wouldn’t. Such as the following:

(SPOILER ALERT BELOW>> SPOILER ALERT BELOW)

The careful reader will remember that she signs the preface as Isabella, Lady Trent. But her husband wasn’t anything beyond a Mr. Hmmm….. I knew what was coming before it did, but even still…. it just was… too remote.

The voice, however, also puts a wall between action and emotion. It’s a little old fashioned that way. I wasn’t as intently invested in this book as I have been in others simply because of that wall. I may be a lazy reader, but I just didn’t feel like breeching the wall and taking apart the book piece by piece.

I did end up reading it all the way through— if it had been atrocious there was no way that that would happen.

Mixed feelings on this one, peeps. Have any of you read it? What did you think? Have you read any books that you couldn’t decide if they were good or not?

Robin Hobb

I love Robin Hobb. I geeked out so hard on the Rainwild’s that I drove nearly everyone I knew insane. And Fitz and the Fool? Don’t even get me started. I love these two, and she’s starting a new series with them that comes out in August. (I was able to read the first book of the new series through NetGalley, but will wait to post my review until it comes out. Because, you know, that’s fair.)

Barnes and Nobles are having a sale on Robin Hobb’s books on Nook. You can Start the Rain Wilds for super cheap, but even more importantly, the first Fitz book, Assassin’s Apprentice, is only $0.99. For less than a buck (ok, a penny less, but still less), you too can get to know FItz and the Fool. This is important. 

This is very very important.

Because the new series featuring the two comes out in August. And Geek that I am for her..well, you’re gonna need to read the series leading up to it, otherwise… 

Well, you won’t be able to get your geek on with me. 

And we so want to get our geek on! 

This has been a public service announcement for the Epic Fantasy reading community at large.

WHHHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mercedes Lackey can do it…

But does that mean you can too?

Please Note: If you are a fan of the Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey and have not yet read the Last Herald Mage (Vanyel) trilogy, or Brightly Burning (Lavan?). Quit reading this. Right now. Unless you are ok with unwanted spoilers. And these are huge.

Because there’s something Mercedes Lackey can do that most of us cannot. Well, she does a lot of things mere mortal writers such as us can’t do, but this one is very specific and very, very spoilery. In that it might, literally, spoil the novels for you.

 

Are you still here?

I love Mercedes Lackey, I prefer some of the earlier books but I’m still reading her, she can still catch up my imagination and keep me firmly in the grip of the novel. But there’s something she has done in not one book, but two that has floored me. Yes. She did it. It should have made me flee from reading her books ever, ever again.

Ok. So here it is.

She killed her heroes.

I know you guys know I am a firm believer in happily ever after. So how on earth can I stay with an author who routinely does this to me? I’ll tell you why. Because it was the only possible ending to the respective stories. Vanyel and Lavan, being who they are in the books, could have done nothing else. It broke my heart, both times. Made me sob. I gave up reading for a day or two while I processed my grief. Yes, I felt grief.

But I got over it.

Because those two heroes and their respective journeys were breathtaking.

I’ve written a novella here the heroine dies at the end. So does the hero. It needs a lot of work, but I’m still not sure that I’ll take it up and try to strengthen it and make it better or not. The ending makes sense for the story, the heroine already knows how it will end. But readers… we can be a finicky bunch. 

Here’s the thing. I’m *not* Mercedes Lackey. I only wish I could grow up to be like her. But you know what, being me isn’t so bad. Maybe I’ll go back one day and edit that story, tighten it up and make it shiney and new. Maybe it will languish in my Word Documents. No matter what, that story is precious to me, as are Mercedes Lackey’s stories. They taught me that the hard endings can be written, can be written beautifully… And i have the courage to try it.

Oh. And one other thing she can do… She completely took me by surprise with Moving Targets (with Larry Dixon). I didn’t catch on until just about the last minute, and i normally can suss these things out. All I can say is make sure to pack extra snacks. He. he. he.

 

BWAH HA HA

Till next time my Lovelies!