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WiP updates

A torch against a dark background

I spent the last week or so updat­ing the out­line to “Praise the Torch When ´Tis Burned” (work­ing title, but I’m pret­ty attached to it). I got to the end—a final con­fronta­tion between The Drag­on and the ship’s-queen—and real­ized I did­n’t know exact­ly how I want­ed it to end.

Today, wash­ing dish­es, I had an inter­est­ing insight that might solve my prob­lem. In the first draft, the sto­ry was told as a con­fes­sion to an unnamed 3rd par­ty. As I start­ed the 2nd draft, I dis­card­ed that idea; it did­n’t work, mechan­i­cal­ly. But I still liked the idea of the sto­ry-as-con­fes­sion, and now, I think I might have a way to bring it back in.

Also, as the idea unfold­ed in my head (while my hands were warm and soapy), it expand­ed my under­stand­ing of the ship’s-queen and The Dragon.

This could work. (I mean, it could back­fire, too; but it could work.)


The title, for those that a) don’t know and b) would like to, is tak­en from a stan­za in Hávamál, or The Say­ings of Odin:

At evening praise the day, the torch when ´tis burned,
the blade when ´tis tested, the maid when she is married,
the ice when ´tis crossed, the ale when ´tis drunk. 

…rough­ly. (Depend­ing on the translation.)

This is also the source of one of my favourite say­ings: “Praise ice when over it.” It’s a very win­try ver­sion, in my mind, of “don’t count your chick­ens till they hatch”.


Pho­to by Igor Lep­ilin on Unsplash.

Awards Eligibility 2021

Milky Way closeup

I had two sto­ries appear in mar­kets in 2021.

First up, in the spring, my super-short sto­ry “The Atlas” appeared in Cloud Lake, Vol­ume Two. “The Atlas” is 325 words long, and fea­tures an erased nation, a hunt­ing knife, and a bot­tle of absinthe, among oth­er delights.

Jen­nifer said her great-to-the-nth-grand­moth­er came from Untille. The coun­try, erased in some primeval war, exist­ed now only in folk­lore. On the atlas page it bor­dered Iraq, Uqbar, Syria.

—“The Atlas”

And then, in the fall, my sto­ry “Sum­mer­time in the Void” appeared in Alter­nate Plains (ie, the sequel to Par­al­lel Prairies). It’s got vari­coloured pills, theft, con­fes­sions, road trips, ghosts, and an answer to “What hap­pens if the Rap­ture (or the Sin­gu­lar­i­ty) does­n’t want you?” (And yes, if you’re won­der­ing, I absolute­ly stole the title from the I Moth­er Earth song.)

The upside-down sun glared down on him from a cloud­less blue sky. He’d tried explain­ing once to a friend what the sun looked like when it was upside-down. It had­n’t gone well. The best he’d man­aged to come up with was “You’ll know it when you see it.”

—“Sum­mer­time in the Void”

See you in 2022!

Inspiration is where you find it

fountain pen on notepad

We’ve been enjoy­ing the episodes of Richard Ayoad­e’s show Trav­el Man that CBC has been play­ing. If you haven’t seen it, the premise is this: Richard and anoth­er British celebri­ty trav­el to a touristy des­ti­na­tion for a hol­i­day week­end, take in the sights, do the tours, and make mer­ry. The humour is high-brow, rapid-fire, and often more than a lit­tle meta. (eg: in this past week’s episode, Ayoade points out that “this show’s lack of suc­cess is pred­i­cat­ed on edit­ing based on slights” (trust me, in con­text, that’s hilarious)).

This week’s episode saw R. A. joined in Dubrovnik by one Stephen Mer­chant. They enjoyed oys­ters on the seashore, went on a tour that crossed mud-bog­ging in a dune bug­gy with pos­si­ble death by land­mine (“We’re not sure,” the tour guide explained, as they explored a WWII-era for­ti­fi­ca­tion, “that all the mines have been removed”), and took anoth­er tour of the loca­tions where Game of Thrones filmed.

It tran­spired that nei­ther come­di­an has actu­al­ly seen an episode of Game of Thrones, but that did­n’t seem to slow the guide down at all. Stephen Mer­chant point­ed out that he enjoys see­ing film loca­tions, even if he has­n’t seen the film.

I laughed. Then I thought, That’d be an inter­est­ing char­ac­ter quirk for one of my char­ac­ters; specif­i­cal­ly, one of the wiz­ards in “The Slow Apoc­a­lypse”. Ha ha, I thought, that could be a cute throw­away line. You’d rather see the loca­tions where they filmed Lau­rence of Ara­bia that actu­al­ly watch Lau­rence of Arabia.

But then I thought about it a bit more, and… I think it might actu­al­ly be a per­fect insight into his char­ac­ter. He’s got a tal­ent for cut­ting straight to the hid­den truth of things. A pref­er­ence for real­i­ty over arti­fice would slot very nice­ly into that personality.

In fact, on my way to the gro­cery store, I envi­sioned a new scene, a flash­back: he’s dat­ing the woman who will lat­er be his wife. They go to a movie about King Arthur. He’s so very irri­tat­ed by the false­hoods, the bla­tant mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions, that he has to leave the the­atre for a while. (He’s immor­tal, or near­ly so; he was there, in Eng­land, at the time, and most of what he’s see­ing is bull­shit. Some oth­er city—Prague, Dubrovnik—standing in for the Lon­don of the day. And it’s so ear­ly in the rela­tion­ship that he can’t tell her the truth, the why, of his reac­tion. Maybe it’s their first actu­al fight—I’m still mulling the scene. Work­shop­ping it here, in fact, so if you’ve got com­ments on it, let me know.)

November bike ride

I went about 26km on my bike today. I sus­pect that’ll be the last ride of 2021.

  • Orange hearts on the hillside
    The site of Bran­don’s res­i­den­tial school
  • A broken tree
    Parei­do­lia makes me see a face in here
  • The Brandon water tower
    The ol’ water tower

Series: Bike Ride Photos

The entire series: Down by the riv­er; Bike ride birds; The ex-gar­den and the weir; Snap­shots of a ride; Across Town; Black­bird; North Hill cam­pus; Lilacs and coun­try roads; A pop of colour; Back lane flow­ers; More Breniz­ers; The riv­er is high; A bird and a reflec­tion; Rideau Park; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers; Storm dam­age, sun­flow­ers; Eleanor Kidd gar­dens; Scenes from today’s ride; All right, autumn can be pret­ty; Bike ride, April 10, 2021; Bike ride wildlife; Bike ride, May 16, 2021; Some flow­ers for you; Lilacs; Under the bridge; A fence, a tree, and the sky; Tur­tle Cross­ing; Ceme­tery crit­ters; On Reflec­tion; Week­end rides; Upon Reflec­tion; Deer and paparazzi; Sep­tem­ber Bike Ride; Corn & Sun­set; On Reflec­tion: Oct. 1st; Autumn Trees; A bit of graf­fi­ti; Novem­ber bike ride.