Imagination doesn't just mean making things up. It means thinking things through, solving [problems] or hoping to do so, and being just distant enough to be able to laugh at things that are normally painful. [Some people] would call this escapism, but they would be be entirely wrong. I would call fantasy the most serious, and the most useful branch of writing there is.
--Diana Wynne Jones

Friday, January 21, 2011

Elevating Gossip: "It Takes a Hero to Make a Poem"

I was trying to dig up a Robert Frost quote today that had something to do with my book, and I came across a great old BBC interview of Frost explaining what he meant when he said the poem is a "momentary stay against confusion." 

So many gems in there.

Here's one of my favorites:

"One of the three great things in the world is gossip, you know. First there's religion; and then there's science; and there's - and then there's friendly gossip. Those are the three - the three great things. Philosophy is just a thing that trims religion, you know - that prunes it and all that. And you've got science. And you've got this: the biggest of all, is gossip - our interest in each other ."

Where does that leave us writers? Ha. Eavesdropping little gossip-mongers.  Which is nothing to  be ashamed of, if Frost is right: 

"It is hero-worship, you see, and one of the things that makes you go, is making a hero out of somebody that nobody else had ever noticed was a hero....It's in making a book, you know. And it takes a hero to make a poem."

Which makes sitting around the house in your pajamas all day, hunched over the computer, banging its keys, sound practically noble.  I mean, well, it ought to be noble. Who needs a business suit, anyway? Or a paycheck?

Right. Thanks, Rob. For justifying the insanity.

*To read the full interview, go here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cutting Through the Dregs...

 The dregs of winter upon us, I needed a little Hardy today. Maybe you do, too, so I share.

The Darkling Thrush
by Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate
    When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
    The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
    Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
    Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
    The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
    The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
    Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
    Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
    The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
    Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
    In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
    Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
    Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
    Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
    His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
    And I was unaware.

Playing High and Dry with Sourdough

Lately I've been playing with dough. It's become a sort of a compulsion. Maybe because I'm tired of driving all the way to som...