June is for writing

My sabbatical is almost over and I’m back at work at the uni in one month. Today, I got all my academic work in order, made notes about how and when to finish it, and filed it. Because June is for writing. For writing fiction, that is; and specifically cool, magical, medieval, paganish fiction set in places with old trees and mossy stones. I am about to start work on the last novella for my collection The Year of Ancient Ghosts (see cover art below). The novella is called “The Lark and the River” and is set around the end of the 11th century when a new church is built on an ancient pagan site and then the shit goes down. The other stories in the collection are:
* “The Year of Ancient Ghosts” about a woman who brings her daughter to Orkney to investigate her husband’s secret past and then the ghostly shit goes down.

* “The Death of Pamela” in which a couple of Arthur’s knights leave their sister at a spooky castle and then the bathing-in-virgin-blood shit goes down.
* “Wild Dreams of Blood” about a woman who finds out on the eve of her wedding that she is Odin’s daughter and then the frost giant cage-fighting shit goes down.
* “Crown of Rowan”, a prequel to my historical fantasy novel The Garden of the Mad King, in which shit just goes down pretty continually.

I’m super excited!

Looking tired? Try joie de vivre.

While driving past a clinic in Albion last week, I saw a sign out front that read “Looking tired? Try botox.” I can’t begin to enumerate how many things are wrong with this kind of shit, but let’s start with: why pay some shyster hundreds of dollars to inject muscle- and nerve-paralysing toxins in your face just because you’re looking like you’ve lived a little? An appearance of beauty has little to do with smooth skin, and much more to do with vivacity, passion, exultation of spirit.

When I was in England, I watched a fabulous show about Rome hosted by this awesome woman on my right. Her name is Mary Beard, and she’s a professor of classics at Cambridge university, and she’s full of life and light and intelligence and fun. And yet, some limp-dick TV critic  had a crack at her for being “too ugly for TV”. Professor Beard took him down in this restrained and smart riposte, but a few other people have leapt to his defence. Women in the public eye, they say, should take more care with their apperance.

You know what? This obsession with looking “perfect” has simply got to stop. It’s so. Fucking. Stupid. Judging others’ appearance, worrying that you’re butt’s too big, fiddling with your expression: it would only make sense if we lived life in 2D. But we live in 3D. More importantly, we love people in 3D. We love people for smell and heat and texture and sound and energy. All the people I know who are beautiful are full of laughter and energy. We, in turn, are loved in 3D, not for how photogenic we are. I really believe the answer is to get the fuck out of this limited 2D mindset. Stop buying magazines and poring over celeb photos. Stop taking photos of yourself on your iphone and being horrified by how jowly you look or how big your nose seems or any of those UTTERLY MEANINGLESS 2D concerns. Apprehend the world in 3D. Be in the world, don’t be a flat shape in the margins with a frozen smile and your head held at the perfect angle. Live, for chrissake. That’s beautiful.