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LoQ: Remember Our Roots

Coming at you with this week’s installment of Letters of Questioning:

 

Fireside Writing Dreamland’s Insurgents,

Sometimes I think it is as simple as letting everything go and letting those few scant words grow! Give them room to take root, a bit of sun and they will blossom before your very eyes! A little water and care and you will have that thing finished in no time! I have faith in that.

Your talk of Homer and his ~long~ tale, and how we have moved his place in our lives brings to mind fairy tales. They too have been adapted to our modern times. Not only are there the original cautionary tales, but they have been formatted for our children, seeing as many thing the originals are too gruesome.  What is more, we even see retellings as complete novels and books, not only for young adults, but also in formats just for adults!  Talk about something that withstands the test of time!

Hmmm… I think we need to learn more of this Egyptian god! There is something powerful in remembering of tales. They were originally created that way on purpose.  Our modern times… where one no longer even remembers a phone number could learn a thing or two from those old forgotten times! I am not one to say we should bring them back, and yet… I also feel that we have lost something very valuable, and it would be worth bringing to mind.

I recently learned of this place, I think it is in Germany where they are building this monastery the old way! And I mean old! It is all being done by tools they make by hand, using a beautiful old blueprint that is the oldest known blueprint.  They are taking the time to bring these lost arts back! Maybe it is something that is up to us… maybe we too should be bringing back some of these lost arts of storytelling?  We talk of Writing Posse, of building something bigger, something lasting that we really believe in. What if it were something more than a network? What if it were a school, a place to bring back the forgotten arts? Food for thought…

Seasons don’t really change… it is more of a cycle, just like empires and culture. It all moves in this massive cycle, bringing us what we need when we need it, even if sometimes we don’t think it is what we want. But you are right, we do need the old ways, maybe not exclusively, for there are many things we have created that are for the better, that help build doorways that we never would have dreamed possible. Connecting to others who can help build even more! And yet… we can’t forget those roots!

I am pretty sure madness reigns, but no worries, we are all mad here! As you know, I am all about venturing into the unknown, charting a course, unveiling those things lost, forgotten, and the things we could only ever dream of. But that is part of the beauty of writing, of books! They give us that!

Ahhh yes, Gilgamesh… and yet, would one really want that everlasting life? To watch everything you love fade away? I think we do the opposite because maybe things are not what we need? Fairy tales have taught us that, have they not? But… the sheet that covers the mysteries are part of the adventure! Good, bad, does it really matter, so long as we are experiencing something? Always moving forward! I hope your nap was good, it was well deserved, I am sure, but now… now I say this, How do we move forward?! How do we build that empire?! How do we bring back what was lost? And what exactly should be brought back?

Venturing ever forth,

Ravyn

 

As always, we would love to hear from you! Leave your comments to the letters below, and if you have ideas for where our letters go next, don’t hesitate to leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments as well!  We love to hear from you.

 

 

 

LoQ: Epics & Poets

Here is Dreamland, coming at you with this week’s Letters of Questioning!

Dear mad maven Ravyn,

Writing IS the pits! The dissertation comes slowly. It’s like watching an iceberg move, it’s glacial – and what’s more, the climate has been hostile to its very existence. It melts while it moves! Two jobs did not for a good time make. But the worst is over now, I hope. Today I got a few scant words on the page. Not bad. Either like seeds, they’ll grow, or at least for now take root.

Your musings over meandering mumblers reminds me of two things. First, the classic greek oral epics and their blind poet. I refer to the Iliad and the Odyssey, of course! Can you imagine having to board blind Homer for a few evenings? Those are ~~long~~ stories, and almost as bad as the bible in some spots, what with the genealogy and other boring details. Well at least they don’t ~translate~ in a pleasing way, either in language or time. And yet, at ~the same~ time, there are some good scenes. It adapts well to our other modern modes. We may not let Homer in through our front door, but we let him in through TV, movies, new books. He costs less to feed and clothe that way, too, I imagine, and we don’t have to listen to him snore by the fireside when he’s done improvising his recitation for the night.

But I think too of a very old story, older than Homer even. The story of the invention of writing. It’s from Egypt, which was already old when Greece was young. One of their animal-headed gods got annoyed with the invention of writing. “How will people remember anything,” lamented the hoary old bird, “if they grow weak by referring to what is written!” Poor bastard. His complaint endures but I seem to have forgotten his name.

We seem to think we know why the seasons change now because of science, but I might argue (who am I kidding, “might”? all i ~do~ is argue) I might argue that in a bigger, metaphorical sense, the season changes and no one knows why. The empire crumbles, the culture is stale, the platitudes about truth and freedom feel weary. You’re right; we need the oral tradition again. I’m afraid when the books have screens that even my routes of escape and education are really just spying on me. I’d rather have someone to talk to.

A hearty congratulations on the publications. It’s so pleasing to see hard work pay off! I know the cookbook will bear fruit ~ha~ before too long as well. Does the madness reign or does a productive rain quench its thirst? Whatever the case may be, I hope you manage to take the work by reigns and lead us further into the unknown, uncovering the mysteries of life, the universe, and everything.

Speaking of mysteries, one more old story – from Babylon, which was old when Egypt was young. In the fertile crescent, god-king Gilgamesh was promised the secret of everlasting life. All he had to do? Not fall asleep. No sooner were the instructions given than Gilgamesh fell instantly asleep. I’ve always enjoyed our penchant for doing the exact opposite of what we want. On second thought, the mysteries look pretty fetching with a sheet on top. Underneath might be horror, hell – I think while you’ve got the wheel, I’ll just have a nap.

By the fireside,

~dreamland’s insurgents~

 

LoQ: Storytelling

Coming at you with another Letter of Questioning!

 Dear drowned Dreamland,

I think that the dissertation will be more like a spring, ever fed of ideas, and never going to run dry than a dam that stagnates. Just sayin’.  I think water goes hand in hand because of the creative flowing spirit of writing!

As far as the cookbook, well… honestly I see it as more of ending up celiac is my own personal apocalypse. But I do hope that there is a healthy showing of the connection of words and food.  I mean honestly, words sustain us and without stories the world would be a bleak place indeed! I mean think on this, storytelling has been part of humanity since the dawn of time! In fact, traveling story tellers were treated as honored guests! As time moved on, they were even in every court! They told tales of heroic deeds, explained the changing of the seasons, and helped provide entertainment and learning.

I feel like something of that oral tradition was very important and I feel like in our age of electronics and “too long, didn’t read” mentality, it is something we sorely miss and need in our lives once more!

And yes, I agree, I think that sharing what it is like to live so differently than others, through storytelling, and offering these journey’s to find food one can eat and make themselves offers a beautiful opportunity for those who could never imagine how hard it really is to be so isolated, so removed from the world we live in today.

Ahhh, seems I too am dwelling in the infernal hells. I mean honestly, is not writing it’s own pit of hell? That leaves one suffering all too often? But the rewards are ever so worth it!

Camp is going alright, I am making progress in the cookbook. I just hope that I can do justice to the idea I have in my head of what this can become! And time has passed, I actually managed to get four new pieces published in different genre’s even! Rather amazing to me. How about you? How goes that journey? Any progress on the dissertation, now that you officially have the path to take? Where has life taken you?

From the pits of insanity,

Ravyn

I hope you enjoyed! Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

LoQ: Core

Time for another Installment of Letters of Questioning!

My poor dizzy friend, Dreamland’s Insurgents,

You know… I think you are touching on something deeper when thinking about ideas.  Because to me… whenever I read a book, or when I even look at something I have written, even knowing that it is just an idea that may have blossomed from a prompt, it shows something about ourselves. It shows tiny glimpses of who we are.  Of course, what that says about me, and some of the very dark things I write, I couldn’t really say, or maybe I don’t want to face it, hehehe.  But I think, in all honesty, it is one of the deepest, most almost spiritual parts of writing that is at its very core, and prolly the most important thing to consider when we are looking at writing.

I think that being able to pin point the very core of our processes into a few sentences is what allows us to create/do something so much more, something deeper!  It is from finding that little core bite that allows an author to nail down the deepest part of the plot of a novel, and I think that a mission statement does that same for us in life!  All too often we just let the tides of life batter us around! Well, NO MORE! Stand firm, and find that core! Or keep floundering… I am good at that too.

I have to say, going forward, I am hoping to find my lost motivation.  Not sure where I left it… maybe in my poor little boat that I sank so I would never have to leave the island, that is now battering me with storms?  I am looking at prepping, Camp NaNo is just around the corner and I will work on my cookbook! The stories to be told I hope will find a way to shine! Maybe the cookbook needs a mission statement? At the least it could use a one sentence summary!

What projects does this letter find you working on? In the ever rising tides are you finding that you are still managing to stay afloat of your ever increasing demands on time and life?  Or are you, like me, feeling the tides rising faster and you sunk your own boat?

Trying desperately to craft a raft from sticks and twigs,

~Ravyn~

How about you, our friends.  Where does this letter reach you? Are you happy on a cozy island? Or are you on smooth seas or bumpy waves?  Do you find yourself digging to the core of your writing or instead just letting the tides take you where they will?  Do you have any burning questions? Or maybe you are searching for a treasure with a map of no destination?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

LoQ: Words Kinda Day

Another installment of our very own correspondences, the Letters of Questioning:

Dear island-bound Ravyn,

Oh, the painful irony! Unable to learn make it to your workshop because of an injured foot. A lesson in the importance of mobility? Cruel fate? A metaphorical missed step? Only a coincidence, of course, but definitely the material from which layered, poignant literary material is cut….

Missteps is a nice segue to my academic work. It goes slowly. Days where all I can do is focus on the work that pays the bills – the teaching, the extra job. Some days like today I can get a few hours in at the coffee house and get some serious work done~ Nevertheless, the work is important in its own fashion. The study of literature overlaps with history, anthropology, law, philosophy, art, music, science, even math (gasp!). But to me, the most important feature of that overlap – what literature uniquely brings to the table – is the study of ideology. How do people make ideas? How do ideas turn into a system of beliefs? How are those beliefs structured and how are they visible behind the things we do, say, and make? It’s endlessly fascinating to me. In one sense, I am a step closer today to understanding these things and helping make them legible to others, but in another very real sense, I’m learning over again every day.

So yeah … teaching mission statement. Mission statements are very hard to put into a concise form! This, you and I have learned well! How the hell, I ask you, do we squeeze the entire process of teaching and learning, one of the fundamental things which make us human, into just a few sentences?! (It makes about as much sense as a mission statement for writing!) But yes. They help! There is something you said about making the rewards we, as individuals, feel about writing or teaching sort of a central part of the statement. That helped me a lot. Seeing others grow as writers in my classroom is fundamental. It goes way beyond what the university as an institution can measure, too. For me, it is seeing students become critics, skeptics, trouble-makers in their own right. Cuz the world belongs to the trouble-makers!

Today is definitely a “words are nothing” day. That could mean a lot of things in itself! Words are easy; they are light; it’s nuthin. Or it can even mean the opposite: they’re meaningless, they’re trivial, they refuse to come; there’s nuthin there…. Yep. It’s a “words are nothing” day!

Where are you at when this letter finds you? I love your ideas for a book of prompts. That sounds like a kind of giving back after writing your flash fiction. After so much inspiration from the prompts of others, its time to give folks some prompts of your own! And the cycle goes ever on…. Are words everything, then? Ha!

Stomping in dizzying circles,

~Dreamland’s Insurgents~

How about you, my friends?  Do you find that you see who people are, what their ideas are from the essence of self in their work? Do you ever relate with words are nothing; both from the easy side or the trivial, meaningless side of things? What are your thoughts and feelings? Please, share with us your answers to our questions! This is so much bigger than the two of us, and we want you to be a part of it!  And if you have any burning questions of your own, don’t hesitate, we are always looking deeper!

LoQ: Time of Reflection

Another installment of our very own correspondences, the Letters of Questioning:

Dearest Dreamland,

UGH! The grind never ends does it?!  But we must ever push onward and upward! I have the faith that you will take and twist it to your advantage at the end of the day!  Just as eventually I am sure ~ you and I ~ we can make this tilde a thing!

Man alive, those edits! I didn’t think they were ever going to end! They got me a bit behind on the ‘dream’. But I know I will catch back up. Of course, managing to miss the two bottom steps and dislocating and spraining my foot… that seemed to get me even further behind!  But I digress!  Practice… yes! So much so with these pieces and I honestly am rather thankful for them.

Actually, being laid up leads me to a new topic. Something that I think draws to the very heart of the original intent behind the making of these very letters.  A dream that set us on a path of questioning.  Some years ago I set out on a path, I drafted my very own Writing Manifesto, and recently we were taking a deeper look at mission statements which made me think.  There is something about being laid up that leaves you a bit more time to think than normal, and it seems a wonderful time of reflection, so I have been thinking deeply on why I write.

I know that I shared with you that Tattoos & Knitting left me flustered and ready to quit writing, as it was so well received.  And then you had that Teaching Mission Statement assignment, (how did that go, by the way?), and I reworked my Artist Mission Statement to reflect more on who I am now as an artists, and well… here we are. How important, and well, maybe how much do you think it helps, to have a Mission Statement, a Manifesto? What would you find as important to include?

As far as the mobile workshops, I was sadly not able to make it to that workshop I wanted to attend, due to my inability to walk, but I definitely want to look into it for the future! I mean, how fun would it be to work with a group of people and show them that we can all write a story in just a few moments of time!  Maybe to go with that I need to think about crafting a book of prompts to move forward, and sell alongside a workshop! Oh the ideas, they never seem to end! So many ideas, so little time!

And the koan… wow, yes! That is such a truth. The power words provoke… How about I counter with my own:

Words are all and they are nothing.

Naturally, I am inclined to write an academic article defending both! But who has the time? (Yes, I know, time, like words are just a construct.) I am always ready to join in some anarchy!

I leave you with this: What of your academic pursuits. It is a hard trail to blaze, working on a doctorate, getting that dissertation ready.  Where are you on that path? Are you moving towards what you desire? How do you see that fitting in the greater scope of a writing path?

Ever ready to defend my island,

Ravyn

How about you, my friends?  Do you ever take the time to create your own Manifesto’s? Your own direction to lead your craft, your art, your very existence?   What are your thoughts and feelings? Please, share with us your answers to our questions! This is so much bigger than the two of us, and we want you to be a part of it!  And if you have any burning questions of your own, don’t hesitate, we are always looking deeper!

LoQ: Manifestos & Mission Statements

I hope you are ready, here is this weeks Letter of Questioning! And oh boy, are we delving deep this week!

Dearest Dreamland,

UGH! The grind never ends does it?!  But we must ever push onward and upward! I have the faith that you will take and twist it to your advantage at the end of the day!  Just as eventually I am sure ~ you and I ~ we can make this tilde a thing!

Man alive, those edits! I didn’t think they were ever going to end! They got me a bit behind on the ‘dream’. But I know I will catch back up. Of course, managing to miss the two bottom steps and dislocating and spraining my foot… that seemed to get me even further behind!  But I digress!  Practice… yes! So much so with these pieces and I honestly am rather thankful for them.

Actually, being laid up leads me to a new topic. Something that I think draws to the very heart of the original intent behind the making of these very letters.  A dream that set us on a path of questioning.  Some years ago I set out on a path, I drafted my very own Writing Manifesto, and recently we were taking a deeper look at mission statements which made me think.  There is something about being laid up that leaves you a bit more time to think than normal, and it seems a wonderful time of reflection, so I have been thinking deeply on why I write.

I know that I shared with you that Tattoos & Knitting left me flustered and ready to quit writing, as it was so well received.  And then you had that Teaching Mission Statement assignment, (how did that go, by the way?), and I reworked my Artist Mission Statement to reflect more on who I am now as an artists, and well… here we are. How important, and well, maybe how much do you think it helps, to have a Mission Statement, a Manifesto? What would you find as important to include?

As far as the mobile workshops, I was sadly not able to make it to that workshop I wanted to attend, due to my inability to walk, but I definitely want to look into it for the future! I mean, how fun would it be to work with a group of people and show them that we can all write a story in just a few moments of time!  Maybe to go with that I need to think about crafting a book of prompts to move forward, and sell alongside a workshop! Oh the ideas, they never seem to end! So many ideas, so little time!

And the koan… wow, yes! That is such a truth. The power words provoke… How about I counter with my own:

Words are all and they are nothing.

Naturally, I am inclined to write an academic article defending both! But who has the time? (Yes, I know, time, like words are just a construct.) I am always ready to join in some anarchy!

I leave you with this: What of your academic pursuits. It is a hard trail to blaze, working on a doctorate, getting that dissertation ready.  Where are you on that path? Are you moving towards what you desire? How do you see that fitting in the greater scope of a writing path?

Ever ready to defend my island,

Ravyn

 

What do you guys think?  What are your answers to these questions? Do you have a mission statement? Do you ever think about why you write or do art or whatever it is that you do?  Also, do you have burning questions, we are always looking to the future of our letters, so ask us!

Letters of Questioning:

Hey all, sorry about the missed week and thank you for hanging with me!  Here is this week’s guest letter from Dreamland!

My dear Ravyn,

Please accept my long silence. I’ve had to pick up a second job, as you know, because teaching and writing do not pay much. They apparently aren’t seen as “contributing” to the “economy” in any productive (read: capitalist) way. So it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut once said.

Yeah, you know, when push comes to shove, there’s no such things as “rules” or “law” or even really “words.” They’re all just words. Arbitrary sounds tied to indifferent things. Our associations with them are historical and change over time. What does that mean for writing? I dunno! But I think it means you can just start ~ using the tilde and see what people make of it in ten, fifteen, twenty years. Ha~!

I am impressed with your edits, my friend. You did a lot in a short span of time. Your writing has improved immensely, too. I remember, maybe now ages and lifetimes ago, but really just five or six years, working together on Nanowrimo for the first time. (Well, my first time.) I was impressed then what you could do in just a month! And now look at what you have produced in just over a week or two! Indeed, I’ve watched you grow with steady practice.

So tell me about your latest pieces, and your plans for the future! We’ve had some good conversations outside the letters about mobile workshops and whatnot, but I’ve been so swamped … I want to hear that beautiful dream again.

In closing today – as the capitalist market beckons my undercompensated labor – I leave you with a koan:

Language is a peace treaty and a declaration of war.

The nice thing about koans is you don’t have to write an academic article defending them! There’s some anarchy for you~

The raft is not the shore,

*~*Dreamland’s Insurgents*~*

 

What do you think of language and the rules of writing? Are they there for a reason or should they be abandoned?  What would you like to know about writing, what are your burning questions? We are ever on the quest, please share your thoughts as we love to hear from you!

Letters of Questioning: Rules or Anarchy

Hey Dreamland’s Insurgents,

I honestly can’t say I have read Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, I mean… you know me. I am all about tossing any and all rules out the window. They are not telling me what to do! I write however I want!

Speaking of writing how I want… we have to create our own rule. Because ~ there needs to be reasons to use ~ the tilde! And while we are on the topic of rules, you know… they are all made up anyway. I mean… just like words. They are all just a construct. And what is more, open to interpretation! Our perceptions shape how we perceive everything and how we understand anything.

I don’t think I have been lost in my stories, but instead drowning in edits and rewrites! With a submission deadline fast approaching I have had to put everything on hold, including writing new stories, to just get through these edits and rewrites! But I have to say, in the doing, I can see how much my writing has shifted! Things like, this flash fiction every day, I can already see how it is helping my writing improve. Writing is a practice and something you can learn, just like any other skill; but that is a rant for another day.

“Home” was actually written more as a joke for my husband. It is also the closest I have ever been to writing a fan fiction. It was inspired by our wedding vows, and a favorite series that we have both read. I am glad it allows you time to escape that academian pursuits you are locked in for the time being. As far as “Stimulus”, honestly… it was not even what I had planned to write. I was going to write something along the lines of a character going through a clinical trial that was a government conspiracy, but instead… instead something a lot more powerful and poignant came out, and I honestly think it is my favorite pieces to date. I don’t really think much about these pieces, I just look at the prompt and free-write and these pieces are usually start to finish written in around seven to maybe ten minutes.

Well, the edits are calling my name, but I will leave you with this… What of the rules? Are they actually important? Or should writing be a free for all, anarchy in the words?! Because me, personally ~ I lean towards anarchy and making my own rules!

Swimming madly for the surface,

Ravyn

Letters of Questioning: A Punctuating Lost

A guest post coming at you from Dreamland’s Insurgents! I hope you enjoy.

Dear Ravyn,

Oh, punctuation! That mad devil. If there’s one thing more abused and misunderstood in our language, it could only be spelling. Have you ever read Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style? If not – don’t! Trying to append rules to the english language is like trying to give a constitution to a clowder of cats. In other words: only busybodies bother!

Emphatically – yes! – punctuation is one of the strongest and most overlooked tools of writers. ee cummings, whose very name causes Microsoft Word to fly into a tizzy, pioneered this direction. His levels haven’t been since paralleled! Every punctuation mark is a sign – telling you – how to read; they too convey inflection, emotion, intensity, speed. A sentence without punctuation is like a train line without stops. Direct, sure. Fast? Of course. Efficient. You know what else is efficient? Fascism. “At least they made the trains run on time.” No: Give me miles of countryside, picturesque towns, afternoons to wander strange foreign streets listening to foreign tongues, meandering, up the occasional difficult hill~ twisting – over bridges – gazing into rivers with the heavens*, reflected. I don’t want to get from point A to point B, I want to get … lost.

Have you been lost in your stories lately? I enjoyed “Home” very much (probably why the cat analogy came so readily). I appreciate how the imagination in your stories allows me the time and space to get away from the scholarly pursuits with which I’ve been laden lately. “Stimulus” is one of your stories that strikes me as a good merger of imagination and real-world experience. You managed to make a dreary setting feel literally abuzz with activity and sound and heavy with the burden of emotion. Can you tell me more about how such an immersive story occurred to you? Perhaps not a “muse” story (nor an “amusing” one, though one I’m musing over, for sure), but I’d like to know more about your inspiration.

Well, this insurgency must hit the books again. This uprising never ends! Be seeing you there, perhaps – in the table of contents! Ha!

Punctually yours,

Dreamland’s Insurgents

What do you think? Do you rely on punctuation for the tool it is?  What would be found in your table of contents of questions?  Please share your thoughts and ideas with us!