By way of apology

It doesn’t look like I’ll have an illustration up for last Thursday. My excuses are divided three ways and evenly among new parenthood, a fairly heavy lecturing load last week, and ‘scheduled maintenance’ on the host servers, which seemed to shut down my ability to post for most of the week. By way of offering up something else, pasted below is a link to a couple videos recorded at the Sussex Folktale Centre. I have no connection with this centre, and found the links via Terri Windling’s rather wonderful blog. They are exactly the sort of obscure thing that is hard to find, except by accident. Well worth watching.

A link to the videos here.

Thoughts on what to think aloud

I’ve been thinking about what sorts of things I’d like to discuss here. Although, like everyone, I have political views, I don’t feel this is the forum to air them. Although I have a life and people in my life, I want to be careful about how much of that is brought out and waved around in public. This endeavour is (kinda) anonymous after all. Kinda, because it’s not very hard to work out my actual name. I haven’t hidden it in any careful way.

I’m also little uncertain about getting into the craft of writing too deeply, because magicians and curtains, and all that. I might go that route, but I’ll have to think about it for a while first.

I can write about books I’m reading, of course, and will do. And maybe some generalised life thoughts.

So, what did I want to say here. I went for a walk today with my partner and our week-old newborn. There is a park right nearby that is a bit wilder than the usual urban park. There’s a good amount of undergrowth, and the wildlife is more wild than the usual urban park. There are bluetongues and king parrots, and some of the locals claim that there are echidnas too. There could be. Not very far away are grey kangaroos and wombats. It’s not like we’re out on the urban fringe either. We’re only 30 minutes by commuter rail to the city.

Anyway, the park always has people in it, circling around, walking themselves, or their kids, or their dogs. We were stopped today by an elderly man, easily well past eighty if he were a day, asking if he might see our newborn. Age was claiming the man. He was frail, walking with a cane, wrinkled and stooped around the shoulders. He had a cap on, and the sort of casual clothing you can get away with if you are a student, or retired, but not so often in the between years. He really lit up looking at our newborn. He made a guess at age, ‘Is he a week old?’, and was right on the money, and then said with this nostalgic glow in his voice, ‘You’re in for some happy times.’ I asked him how often he made it around the park, expecting the answer to be once or twice a week, but he answered, proudly, ‘Three or four times a day’. We had to move on after that. The sunlight was getting bright, and upsetting the little one. So we said goodbye and moved on, into shade, to sit by the creek that has sleeping pobblebonk frogs*, waiting for next summer, near children playing on a jungle gym in the shadowmottled light of eucalyptus trees. There is nothing much more to the story than this. No end. No startling twist. But that is life, isn’t it. It just struck me as somehow beautiful, the old looking at the new and remembering good years gone by, and telling us, with a firm conviction that we have good years to come.

* Isn’t ‘pobblebonk’ the best name ever for a frog species?

Journal and updates

I’m going to see if I can start up some posting with updates and (hopefully relatively brief) thoughts and reflections on writing. I’d like these to stand out from the ongoing fiction I’m posting. To that end, I’m going to play around with fonts and colours.

These life updates won’t be regular. It’ll largely depend on me having something I want to say.

And, yes, this post is awfully short, I know, but it will have to do for now. It’s getting onto be late and I’m barely keeping my eyes open. Time to sign off for the day.

 

New Years Thoughts

Well, it has been an interesting, odd and difficult year. Personally, 2016 was full of both wonderful life events and a lot of hard trials. I have come through it, and although I am perhaps not unscathed, I am feeling positive about the future. Yes, it has been a somewhat bleak year for me in many respects. I ran right into a swamp of fear and misgivings that I did not anticipate at all, and spent much of the middle of the year wondering if I was perhaps being very foolish about this whole writing thing. I got myself tangled up with fear in a very serious way. Worries about mistakes and failures ground me down into a place where I simply stopped writing for several months. This was quite serious for me. I haven’t stopped writing for more than a couple weeks for the last twenty-odd years. It got to a point where I wasn’t quite sure that I knew who I was any longer.

But I am feeling more my old self again. A bit of time away from work to regather my thoughts, and allow myself some stillness, has helped a lot, as did the support of people around me. I don’t now how the next year will pan out, but I have reached a point where I feel that I have accepted some things, and understood some things, and these things will be a help to me in the future.

So what is my advice to myself this year? Sometimes we have to take time to shore up the bricks of our own identities. Sometimes we need to actively, not passively, do some work on self-confidence. It is alright to like the things you like. It’s alright to be you. And you know what? It’s also alright sometimes to look at yourself, your work, life, family, whatever is valuable to you, and just feel good about it. Sometimes it is just fine to make a cup of tea, and sit, and watch the leaves of trees blowing in the wind outside, and just say to yourself, well, this is nice, isn’t it? I don’t think I’d rather be anywhere else than here, and here is just fine by me. Sometimes, we just need to give ourselves a break, in both senses of the word.

Rather neglectful update

starry_night

Starry Night
Jean-François Millet

 

It has been quite some time since I posted any updates or writing. I did consider spinning a story about how Auberon sent me off to beguile a bean-feed mooncalf, or similar, but the truth of it is that lecturing this semester has run me off my feet. I have an outline and some of Fair Upon the Tor written (The Winter King 3), although not enough for me to be very certain when it will be ready. My teaching semester has slowed down, and it is time to get back on the writing horse, so to speak. Ironically, I have all of Book 4 and a fairly comprehensive draft of Book 5 written, but Book 3 needs work, which means that I can’t release the down-the-track and complete works without there being quite a substantial jump in narrative.

On a side-note, I recently trawled through my inventory of short stories and have realised that I have about fifty completed short stories sitting in various files. Of these, seven have sold and been published, but I haven’t submitted a short story since 2011. I’ve kept writing them… I just haven’t sent them anywhere. I will try to remedy this within the next few weeks. I’ll also relaunch my other blog, the one I shut down when I split my writing into Hob Goodfellowe (e-book) and Christopher Johnstone (traditional publishing). My short fiction is published under my actual name, and I think it’s about time that I uploaded my previously published short stories to that blog so that the stories don’t vanish utterly into the obscurity of long defunct publications.

Where the Green Shadows Sleep

pirongia

Yesterday, we went for a walk up Mount Pirongia in the Waikato region of New Zealand. The New Zealand forest is a myriad of greens, primordial and ancient. Mosses and lichens drape the rocks, glistening liverworts grow over ochre soils and the canopy of grey-green kahikatea casts shadows and sun-dapples down through treeferns and onto the red-green tongues of the parataniwha. New Zealand forest has a mythic feel to it, and yesterday did not disappoint. Besides the tangles of supplejack vines and strange little gullies and hollows, the tangles of roots form themselves into strange magic tunnels along the trackway. Gloomy little holes, where it’s easy to imagine old things of the earth might lie sleeping. I took a photo of one of these little elemental lairs so you can see what I mean. Quite the suitable home for some charmed flax-fairy, tipua or patupaiarehe.