People write for a lot of reasons. It occurs to me one of my primary motivations was something along the lines of “I can never find enough stories of the kind I want to read.” I’ve always found a lot, don’t get me wrong. But there’s a certain point in the process of being a voracious reader (as I started out when I first learned to read) that there simply aren’t enough. So the solution was obvious.
Make my own.
I’ve been doing that for a long time now. It also remains one of my primary metrics for evaluating any particular book or story: “If I didn’t write this, would I want to read this?” And when the answer is an unequivocal YES, then I know it’s a successful story by my own standards. How it fares in the market is another matter, and frankly, not my problem.
This “make your own” mindset applies to other things as well: bread, boxes, garden arches, whatever. Which brings me to the above picture. See, I once played chess. A lot. I was on my college team, though it was informal and we only played one inter-collegiate tournament (I won my game, so there). Still have an episodic interest, usually chess problems and suchlike noodling. I once had a nice tournament quality chess set, but it didn’t make the move to NY, and every now and again I found myself missing it. Thought about getting a new one. Then I remembered I had a 3D printer and a rudimentary knowledge of computer aided design(CAD).
So, with some valuable online instruction and a little time, I made my own. Most of the pieces were easier than I expected. Except for the knight. The knight required a little drafting skill, but after five iterations I got something I was happy with. So there they are.
Next time I feel like setting up the board, I’ll be ready.
Long time readers will know that we’ve been here before. For those who aren’t, I’ll lay it out: I’m a serial obsessionist. Meaning that I grab on to intense interests that may last for weeks, months, even years. I’ve found this to be a useful trait for someone trying to be a writer. For example, I spent a few years in the literature and history of classical Japan. The result was the Yamada Monogatari series from Prime Books. Even when such interests don’t inform an entire series, they usually make their way into numerous books and stories, either giving the initial impetus or fleshing them out with new information, or both.
All of which brings me to the item above. On one such whim, I acquired a 3D Printer, as I’ve also mentioned before. There’s an entire sub-culture dedicated to creating designs strictly to be brought to life on such devices. One can spend an awful lot of time tracking them down online and doing just that. And yet…
You know what’s really fun, and doesn’t get old nearly as fast? Learning the basics of CAD (Computer Aided Design) and creating your own designs. Like that vase above. Nothing really special about it, except that particular design with those particular proportions is something I created myself. I mean, it’s just a vase. It won’t win any design awards, but I’ll lay odds it’ll hold flowers and look good doing it. Also, I have a tsuba (Japanese sword guard) that is normally stored in a specially made box, only the box got broken in our move to New York state some years ago. For my next project I’m going to recreate that box in PLA down to the millimeter. And the best part?
Anyone with an interest in either the literal or the more general “fairy tales,” specifically writing them, needs references. For one thing, a good reference is chock a block full of story ideas waiting to be discovered. For another, and just as important, they help you avoid the Dunning-Kruger Effect of thinking you know more about a subject than you actually do. So with that in mind, I’m going to list my own top five references for information about fairyland (in the very broadest sense) and legends.
Number 1, as should be obvious, is An Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogles, and Other Supernatural Creatures by Katharine Briggs, Pantheon Books, 1976.
As far as I’m concerned, this the Bible on the subject. I’ve lost count of the story notions I’ve gleaned from it, and if there’s a supernatural denizen of the British Isles and Ireland that’s not gotten its due somewhere inside, I’ve missed it. It not only described what is believed known about such creatures, but includes at least some stories/foklore surrounding them to place them in proper context. It’s not going to say much about, say, kitsune, but what it covers it covers very well.
Number 2: A Field Guide to the Little People, By Nancy Arrowswmith w/George Moorse, Hill and Wang, NY, 1977.
This book goes a little further afield, with stories from Britain, Ireland, Russia, Scandinavia, Italy, Germany, etc. Like Briggs’ book, Arrowsmith includes illustrative stories about each creature, and divides the book into sections concerning Light, Dark, and Dusky folk, depending on their temperament. It is not as comprehensive as Briggs, but far wider reaching and a great complement. If I want to get information on a folletti or rusalka, this is where I go.
Number 3: The World Guide to Gnomes, Fairies, Elves, and Other Little People, Thomas Keightly, Crown Publishers, 1978, reprint of 1878 edition.
A bit more archaic in style but covers well what it does cover, mostly Persia, Scandinavia, Germany, Ireland and Britain. Again, illustrates the folklore of the individual creatures rather than giving a simple description. A good book to get lost in.
Number 4: A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Creatures, Carol K. Mack and Dinah Mack, Henry Holt, 1998
Don’t let the title fool you. “Demons” in this context mostly refers to ancient spirits and gods which were demoted when later religions moved into the area. Sometimes fairies suffered the same fate, but the book does try to distinguish between the two. Not as exhaustive as the earlier books, but covers an even broader swath of the supernatural, including creatures from the Middle East, Asia, Australia, South America, etc. If what you’re looking for isn’t in any of the previous references, this is the place to go.
Number 5: The Children’s Hour, Vol 8: Myths and Legends, Marjorie Barrows, Ed., Spencer Press, 1953 edition.
I’m including this because it’s a sentimental favorite of mine, is still a useful reference, and is exactly what the title describes. It’s a compendium of folklore and stories from around the world, including the New World. There’s Paul Bunyan and John Henry, tales from Africa, tales from Greek Legend, Robin Hood, The Apples of Iduna from Norse legend, King Arthur, Cuchulain, The Song of Roland…you get the idea. This is one of the books that gave me my early love of reading and, well, you see where that led.
I have my disagreements with MS Word, and I’ve mentioned them here a time or two. This was the first time I’d ever seen Word arguing with itself.
I was working on a manuscript with editing suggestions turned on. I know that throws some people off when they’re composing but I find it helpful…usually. Sometimes I’m not entirely sure if a comma is in the right place or whatnot and getting flagged in the Review Pane and having the quick check helps me keep the errors down.
Annoying, sure, but sometimes useful. That was, until today, when I caught Word arguing with itself.
That was a new one.
Word flagged a parenthetical statement and claimed that it did not need a comma. I took the comma out. Then Word flagged the new sentence, and I swear now it complained that a comma was absolutely needed. I put it back in.
I see you’re way ahead of me here.
Yep, now it told me to take the comma out. I told Word to take a hike and kept going. The flag is still there, looking all error-ly, but it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Part of writing anything is knowing when to take advice and when…well, not. Especially from a low-level AI that can’t make up its damn mind.
Older picture, but how the hillside looked this morning. We’ve just had our first snow of the season, but a long way from the last. We may be over a month from the Solstice, but it’s pretty much Winter now.
I’ve made some changes to the web site, one of which was to remove the really ugly top page menu with the higglety-pigglety (not a word I use lightly) arrangement of book titles. I’m going to do a proper separate book page instead which I’m working on now. This is a long way from finished, but take a look and tell me what you think. Things that should definitely be there, things that shouldn’t? I’m making this up as I go.