Tag Archives: books

Review: Among Warriors: A Woman Martial Artist in Tibet, by Pamela Logan

Just finished Among Warriors: A Woman Martial Artist in Tibet by Pamela Logan.

Toward the end, she talks about the things she tried to see, but didn’t. She takes inspiration and hope in the things left undone. They are the reason she keeps going. The reason she tries again.

She compares this undone-ness brilliantly to kata practice — and the experience of practicing the same sequence with absolute focus and enthusiasm 20 times, 50 times, 100 times in one session without flagging. That’s the thing left undone — the 200th time. The thousandth time. Something impossible to keep striving for.

Even though you’ve done it a thousand times; this time is the first time at this age,
in this light,
at this level of experience.
It is the first and the only time.

That’s what being present is all about. Eternity exists, but it will only ever be now.

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Liebster Nomination, and embarassingly personal stuff

Check it out! Margit Sage of Ominous Whimsy nominated me for a Liebster Award!  Liebe really IST für alle da!https://i0.wp.com/margitsage.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/liebster-blog-award-2.png

Rules:
1. Each nominee must link back the person who nominated them. (Done)
2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator. (See below)
3. Nominate 10 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers. (See below)
4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer. (down further below)
5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them. (Message delivered)

ONE:  What is the soundtrack to a great writing day for you?
RAMMSTEIN
.  At least right now. Ask me again in a few weeks and it may be showtunes, The Duhks, Qntal, Christen Lien; who knows.

TWO:  Is there a song that embodies your favorite character (or poem) that you’ve written? If so, what is it?
Almost all my characters have theme songs. Music helps us set the tone. For one of my toughest, hardest characters, Sirenia’s “Save Me From Myself” jumped out immediately. The song is so mournful, it reminded me of all the impossible choices she made and decisions she refuses to second-guess. She amasses political and martial power because she’s hurting; and no amount of armor will ever be able to make her feel safe again.

THREE: Do you know exactly what each of your characters looks like? Or do you just have some vague notion (or none at all)? Does your visual conception of characters change over time?
Some characters are as clear as day — right down to their cheekbones and the smell of their sweat. Other characters are more vague, as though they’re two blocks away. I have a file of image references, but connect more strongly to their personality than their appearance.

FOUR: Why do you write?
Because I have to.

FIVE: How does your writing begin? With a visual, a concept, or something else entirely?
It always feels like addiction in the beginning. Sometimes it’s a piece of music. Sometimes it’s visual, like a key on a bracelet. Unbearable emotion is another source. If I can’t talk about it — or talking isn’t enough — I apply those feelings in a completely different context and let them unravel there.

SIX: When you write, where are you? What are you surrounded with/by?
I am in the story. I am in the character. Whoever is talking and thinking — whoever the narration focuses on — I am in their soul and their heart, feeling around. If they laugh, I laugh. If they cry, I cry.

SEVEN: What author do you wish every writer you talk to had previously read?
Joe Abercrombie. Or Paulo Coelho. Or both — I love a hard-ass with a soul.

EIGHT: What are your writing goals this year?
Snag an agent for my fantasy novel, finish the steam book, and finish the antichrist book.

NINE: What advice would you like to share with your blog readers right now?
That thing you want to do, you can do it. Seriously. Even if you’re scared.

TEN: What is the reaction you’re most hoping for from your readers? What reaction would put a giant grin on your face?
I want them to feel. I want them to relate. I want them to step outside themselves for just a moment and realize how much more is possible — and then I want them to pass it on.

On a more superficial level, I want to see them dress up as my characters for a packed reading at the Castro Theater. That would be such a great party.

~

Now you, RD, Yvone, TomCarry, Susan, Shana, Bob, Michelle, Kira Lyn, and Drew must answer the following ten questions:

  1. What’s the harshest piece of criticism you’ve grown from?
  2. If you had to be without one of your five senses, which would it be and why?
  3. What material is hard for you to write, and how do you tackle it (emotional rawness, erotica, gore, etc)?
  4. What did you have in mind when you started blogging, and how did your blog deviate from your original idea?
  5. What’s the strangest compliment you’ve ever received?
  6. What question do you wish people would ask you, and how would you answer?
  7. How do you deal with an unhealthy obsession (if you don’t have obsessions, I suspect you’re fibbing — but go ahead and give advice for ‘your friend’ who does)?
  8. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do, and what would be the first step toward accomplishing that goal?
  9. What makes you a great friend?
  10. What does your personal paradise look, sound, and smell like?

The world is not obligated to care.”
– David Drake, from Shared Worlds Exhibit

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return.”
– Eden Ahbez

Damning Orson Scott Card

I’m a little late to the party with this issue. I wanted to wait until I had a solution rather than just a gripe.

There was some activity in the media a little while ago about Orson Scott Card’s conservative politics. He’s religious, and I’ve found that religion and conservative politics frequently go hand in hand, so I’m a little surprised that anyone was surprised.

Shortly after Card’s anti-gay sentiments became public, there was a call to boycott the film version of his most famous book, Ender’s Game this coming November. Good. Great. I applaud people for getting to know the artists, and also for taking a stand on issues they believe in.

I’d like to argue for the other side.

While hiking with another writer friend of mine, we stumbled across this issue and weren’t sure how to proceed. We both loved the book, the goodness of Ender, the subtle evil of Peter and the heartbreaking ending. We loved the moral ambiguity of the piece, and the harsh reality that children must own their responsibilities as they grow start to impact the world around them.

When I was a kid, I loved any story in which a child played an active role in the adults’ world, so I was very receptive to this tale and what it had to say about the different types of conflict from bullying to all-out war.

On the other hand, my friend and I are pretty liberal and don’t agree with Card’s lifestyle or politics. As we turned around and started back down the hill, we asked ourselves: can you love the art and not the artist?

It’s a tricky question, especially when money’s on the line. Presumably if we buy the product, we support the entity in its entirety. This is exactly how I feel about Nestle products, to name an example at random; but with art I feel it’s a little different. It’s easy to love artists who embody and express our own beliefs; but art, like life, won’t always work out that way.

The purpose of art is to express ideas. Uplifting ideas bring us together. Controversial ideas force us to debate, paring away at our perceptions of ourselves and the world we live in. Both forms of expression are valuable.

Do I support homophobia and religious conservatism?
No, I don’t.
Neither does US law, thankfully, which renders such opinions functionally private/moot.

Do I support the idea that kids will have to grapple with hard choices, and should be presented with stories that reflect that?
Yes, I do.

Do I think that in order to damn the man I must damn the art?

Is damning the man worth the loss of the art?

I heard something interesting while listening to the Pseudopod. Neil Gaiman had to grapple with a similar issue when his fans were distraught to find out that Gaiman, (a young, hip guy) listed Rudyard Kipling (a fascist) as one of his literary heroes. To paraphrase, Gaiman responded by saying that the point of the writing was exactly the opposite. The fans were missing out on Kipling’s inspiring work (rather than his uninspiring life) because they were probably told not to read him. Gaiman went on to say that he doesn’t agree with Kipling’s politics; but it would be a sad world if we never engaged with those who disagree with us.

I think we have a tendency to get too wrapped up in our ‘team,’ whatever that may be. From politics and religion to sports and comics, our obsessions have the capacity to destroy friendships, families, and lives and communities. “Destroy the opposition” hits the ear much more neatly than a call for harmony. It sucks. It’s a waste. We’re better than that. We have more common ground than we think. We might be better served – as artists and audiences – to show more sophistication when it comes to interacting with opposing ideas.

In fact, wouldn’t the opposition be more willing to hear us out if the discussion had its foundations in our common ground?

Even if the characters and authors fade from our memory, the lessons from the stories stay with us as we grow. Looking at context, understanding motivations and solving problems by thinking critically are all lessons taught in English classes and in Ender’s Game. Opposition and debate help us grow, help us think, and teach us how to recover when we’re wrong. If you don’t respect others’ autonomy, they will have no respect for yours. The results can be devastating.

Better to learn the lesson early, through a story, than to wait for that horrible moment when the game becomes real.

Know your enemy and know yourself, find naught in fear for 100 battles. Know yourself but not your enemy, find level of loss and victory. Know thy enemy but not yourself, wallow in defeat every time.”
― Sun Tzu

Literature is no one’s private ground, literature is common ground; let us trespass freely and fearlessly and find our own way for ourselves.”
― Virginia Woolf

Opposition flowing in and out of itself in harmony.

 

Addendum:  Card’s original statements on the subject of homosexuality can be found here.

Spine Poetry

This is a fun game.  I took this picture a month or two ago, and then I found other bloggers who did this too. My buddy Bjorn just posted his spine poetry, so I feel justified in posting mine.  He suggested checking out http://dversepoets.com to find more.

Basically, line up your books to tell a story with their titles.

Here’s what I found in front of a bookshop:

spine

The Ragged Way People Fall Out of Love
There are no Children Here
The Last Word
Where the Right Went Wrong
Shadow
Witness
Sex with Strangers
A Beginner’s Goodbye

 

It’s neat to look at things from a different angle. In a way, that’s our job.