Archive for November, 2010

The Diuers at Milton Island

Here is the Pseudo Middle English piece that goes with the previous post.

The Text Itself: “The Diuers at Milton Island”

. . .

VI

“We are full sorree,” quod Serge, “to say

Our diues upon the Wolfe we must defer to daye.

The cloudez shed no water clear

But the waues do wallop us sorely.

If they measure eight feet here as we fathom,

Then the Wolfe Islander II is in wilder waters still.

The moorings we could unmoor,

Or worse yet, damage our dory dear.

Our capitan we might well capsize

For lust of aduenture in this abominable stirr.

Lake Ontario is onhospitable today.”

Full twenty woe-betided wetsuit wearers

Gaue groans and gasps at onnes

But the diuer’s pledge said plenty, and clear.

All kenned the canny speech,

I wys, indeed,

Pilfer naught but pictures

Leaue only uacuations of lungs

If a diue appears too dire,

Diue not – await another day.

VII

The ship soon took shelter behind a minor isle,

Milton was the island’s strange moniker,

Not Shakespeare or Sheba or Shadwell, no,

But indeed the scribe of heroic Satan’s woes.

The isle was by two horns of land lineated on either side,

These cut the wind, and calmed the waues, so that peace prevailed.

The locals lounged about with liquor,

Full corious the frogmen for to see,

They offered beer and bread and other hospitality.

It was not an unknown land, but for the waters.

No diuer had here yet designed to diue.

There was an element it sorely lacked in order to attract.

Why diue

A shore with no shipwreck,

An impotent little islet

With no history that any knew,

And yet, the yachtsman spoke…

VIII

“Muchel monies the skipper must needs schardge,

For boats need fuel and must be fed,

Ere they will go a-gadding about.

Why not yourseluen aduantage? Aduenture!

In the safe bower of this uery same ile.

Beware only other boats and currents,

Should ye yonder points pass bi3onde

With the courrante yow must contend,

Sithen the boat is already parked,

Look for fisk and other phenomen,

Know for yourseluen the the nethers of this place.”

“I wys, Milton’s nethers I would know,”

Quod one daring diuer – a maid.

Her full red lyppez were lighted in a smile

And she took up her hood in honde,

A signal.

Milton would be uncouered

To human eyes and fin,

She took up her hood,

And others followed.

IX

Full twenty diuers followed the fair maid

Their equipmente to enjamb anon, and soon

Mony in concert moued to take up:

Booties and bouteilles, buoyancy countrol deuises,

The second parts of wetsuits, watches and weight belts,

Or if the weights were integrated, to insert into uests’

Pockets, the amount of pounds a personal thing,

Depending on corpulence, experience, and compensation,

For tanks fully loaded with air are lightened when air departs,

And the thick tailored suits needing uarying amounts

So that one might descend and in security depart,

When the diue were at an end.

The regulator was another matter, required aboue all else

To be well maintained, the console also managed.

With a manometer for air, a profundimeter

To measure depth, and direction the compass’ desmesne.

Each piece

Relying on the others,

But only as backup

A system of safety

To guard against grauer danger.

X

The maid armed herself always in one order,

As she lyked best: Onnes she hir boots and wetsuit wore,

She then shouldered her uest, and shoued weight pockets within.

It was a Seaquest, and she loued it sorely,

Its inflateur neuer failed, and full oft it hir floated.

There were two surpressure ualues to ensure it neuer exploded.

The clip for weight pockets was full comely,

And easy to reach to readily drop for emergency ascent

It held her tank sikkerly so her head it did not tap,

And full tightly could she fit the straps,

So that comfort and courage could be at onnes.

Heraldry it also held – a diuer’s tag from Fathom Fiue,

Her watch and whistle, and ought else she might need

To clip upon the mighty compensatour.

After the uest,

Her other equipment,

In orders much more particular

For efficacity and efficiency,

To sally shortly into the sea.

XI

After the BCD came her mask and tuba,

That no hair should harry, for fear of a leak,

The seal conteininge the face must be complete.

Next, needing no more manoeuures of delecasie,

Could gloues be grabbed and gotten on.

Hir fins, she felt, should al-weis be last,

For diuers know that euery mon must walk

Side-weis or backwards with fins upon feet

So as to not trip and urgent treatment need.

All this done, she might to her buddy sign “OK,”

And enter the water without more delay –

After, of course, the buddy check, I meant to say.

When assured that the air was on and smelling swete,

That inflators inflated and surpressoure ualues sang, “pfeet, pfeet!”

That the octopus, that extra emergency hose,

Did more than dangle next to hir kne,

A giant step,

And into the water she lepped.

The buddy check was done,

The buddy entered too,

And the diuing was begun.

XII

The maid folded fingres four, and these

Tucked into a fist, the thumbe protruding up.

This she bandied in hir buddy’s sight,

And then her thumbe downwards turned.

This was the sign that they should descend.

Beneath the waues you hear not a whisper,

But the sound of bubbles from 3owurn breath.

So with hondes or writing upon a slate

Is the commoun way that diuers communicate.

As they went down to the depnesse of the Lake,

Their case became clere – the water was not.

Plants, fully two types, them full surrounded

In all directions, an arboretum of plants abounded.

The ropes of stems upon them snagged.

A fine start,

The maze of plantes rooted only here,

Where the shadow of Milton Island,

Protected from the currents,

Was the ideal place to grow.

XIII

The diuers then conferred with their hondes.

The maid pointed to seueral sites, for

They must their direccioun decide anon

Nauigacioun betwain Milton’s hornd protrusions

Presented a probleme – to recognize their shape

And not depass them, which would be dreadfulle, dire.

If it meant the curraunt they must conteste.

A circle is the perfect form, and this hir buddy formed

With thumbe and index to indicate agreement,

Or, “okay,” as the diuers understand it,

When finally she fixed upon an agreable path.

Around the isle, the water was full shalou,

And the swimmers swam sloghely, for the uisibility uexed.

It was not so pouere as standing water, but worse than normal,

For a day that it did not rain, it disappointed.

A sloghe start,

But a safe one, indeed,

Diuers, look before you lepe.

And steady your mental state,

Be thrilled by beaute, not terrour.

XIV

With their patthe proclaimed, they pressed on,

The maid in the lead, watching out for lurkene things,

And tresoures also: bottles, beer cans, boat motors.

She was full uneasy as no true patthe opened up to hir,

The wedes were euerywhere and euery which way that

She might swim – it was full frustrating, and so she

Uented bubbles beyond hir lyppez, the uacuated aire

Dancing to the surface at dauncherous speed,

Expanding as they ete distaunce, a demonstratiue reminder

Neuer to hold hir breath in ascent,

’lest the closed cauite of hir lunges, a sealed conteiner,

Brust with excited air that failed to exit another way.

Yet the daunger was much decreased by educacioun,

For in knowing the riske was the resolucioun:

Let the air out in the naturel way,

And to this accidens your fears could be allayed.

They swam on,

The maid and the buddy,

The needle and the compass,

The air and the tank,

Buddies haue a speciale bond.

. . .

XVII

Full offen were the team entangled,

Like twe inglorious Neptunian goddes,

The wet weeds they wore on tubas, regulators,

Masks and fins, the hazardous threddes clinginge like hairs,

Disarmed when from their roots diuorced,

The diuers fins were a mightfull force.

The maid saw a fisk anon, quickly there and then gone.

She scissored her hond thorough the water in gesture,

Drawing the wauy way that fiskes wynd,

Her buddy had not the fiskie seen, a sheepshead,

To the maid it did seem, cousin to the carp,

And a mightand creatur, full two feet acrois.

She kicked excitedly after it, but it had made its exit.

Ah well,

There would be more fisk to fawn on,

Another curious carp cousin,

Or perhaps a sturgeon, or

A perch ready to giue up its pants.

XVIII

It was weile she strayed in search of the fisk

That hir buddy was startled by something straunge.

On the bottom of the brine was a yelwe glem,

And this drew the diuer’s eye at onnes.

He stopped and stuck his hondes in the muck,

Which closed upon a canne-like straightness within,

But if it were a canne, one of crayfish size,

When he lifted it out, well he laughed,

Or at least as well as underwater allows.

It was twelue-inch with one end in the shape of a squere,

With three uertical slits along the flade of its “spade.”

It was a whit spatula, speckled with blakke and grene.

He caught the maid’s attencioun by agitating hir fin.

And she allowed that it was an awesome find

By many gestures and a uisible grin.

Oh Buddy,

You are the only diuer

Who could find this catch,

This useful utensil,

Of unknowen origins.

XIX

The diuers witnessed one or two more fisk,

A strange lily-colourd lake snewile and

Those two kindes of plantes that plagued them, i wys,

Before deciding that they were well-acquainted now,

With what lay beneath Milton Ile in the Ontario Lake.

They secured the silly spatula to their personage,

Ascertained that to the boat they would swim and then ascend,

And then began to swim full slow so that they would not tire.

They often tangled tubes and hoses in the plantey mire.

An athel alternatiue when diues must be aborted,

Is to haue an open mind for other opciouns

Rather than hauing no diues and nothing to show

For the many labours that lie in the planning.

And so they were well-ready to retreat

When the underside of their ride appeared within their sight.

Diue done,

They broke the surface slow,

Eager to meet their meat

And other fare that would be prouided.

They would feast tonight.

. . .

Advertisements

The Diuers at Milton Island: Foreword

Here’s the foreword to the project that I’m about to post. It was written for my English 261 class in place of a final essay. I don’t know how useful the foreword will be to anyone, but I’ll be posting the text also.

Foreword

 

This project is an attempt to use the alliterative bob and wheel form coupled with Middle English nouns, adjectives, expressions and spelling conventions in order to tell a modern story about scuba divers. The alliterative bob and wheel is not a form that there are many surviving examples of, the most famous of which being “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” a romance commonly accepted to have been written by the Pearl Poet. The bob and wheel refers to a short portion at the end of each section that transitions with a very short phrase about two words long (the bob) into a four-line explanation or comment on the preceding passage (the wheel). The lines in the wheel are usually about half the length of the lines before the bob. The alliterative part of the form is that, within each line, there are usually at least two significant words that alliterate.

One of the major difficulties in writing alliterative poetry and sustaining it lies in the potential difficulty of retaining meaning or making meaningful statements. This is especially difficult for the modern writer because of standardized spelling, whereas in Middle English, some letters are interchangeable, such as ‘g’ and ‘w.’ There are many alternative ways of making the same sounds that are extremely useful in building alliteration. It was challenging to break out of the standardized spelling mode, since it is something that is a part of modern education – with the exception of a few ‘u’s or an ‘s’ in place of a ‘c’ – the types of variations that occur between American and British spelling. I found it very rewarding to be able to play with the sounds of language rather than how it looks on a page.

Another obstacle in writing in this mode was a matter of modern sensibility. There is no quicker way to make a work appear parodic than to alliterate every word. It is a tool that is used sparingly in modern poetry. Similarly, modern writing seems to be aimed at creating concise meaning with as few words as possible, whereas Middle English poetry makes use of elaboration and repetition. The reason for this difference is likely because poetry is at its core a performative art, especially the further one goes back in the poetic tradition. Oral storytelling means that the listener cannot go back and re-read in order to parse meaning. By repeating key ideas and motifs, the poet is ensuring that his or her listeners won’t miss important information that would get in the way of their understanding and enjoying a performance. The elaborate style popular in Middle and Old English poetry is one that modern readers must acclimatize themselves to, or they simply get bored in a too-rich banquet of words that their palates are not ready for. It was similarly difficult to write for these same reasons – I am marked by the trends of my time. Similarly, it was very difficult to resist the temptation to rhyme lines, and in some cases I have left these rhymes in.

I was very surprised to discover that, since I chose not to learn Middle English verb conjugations, most of my phrases looked a lot like Modern English except for small differences of spelling. Many “Modern” words are a lot older than I thought, and I actually ended up choosing alternate spellings of words just for the sake of variation, or trying to make the work appear more authentic. In some cases, I opted to use Middle English verbs anyway, when the conjugation was easy or I had a model to follow. Speaking of models, I am deeply indebted to “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” as it appears glossed in Garbáty’s Medieval English Literature and to the University of Michigan’s Middle English Compendium, which were both indispensable in my word choice and phrasing decisions. It seems to me that there are fewer differences between Middle and Modern English than any glossed copy of a Middle English text would suggest – and indeed an investigation of the glosses reveals that much of the explained words are verbs or actions.

I opted to tell a story about scuba divers because the Romantic quest model of “travel-task-travel” is similar to the structure of dive planning. First, divers travel to a dive site. The general rule for planning a dive is to use one third of the air in a tank to get to the destination, one third at the destination, and the last third upon one’s return and in case of emergency. This is similar to the structure of a story like “Gawain,” where the story is divided into three sections of travel, questing in one place, and then travel to return to Arthur’s court. Another similarity lies in the potential for an arming scene due to the elaborate equipment involved in scuba diving.

Another question that arose when I was planning this piece was how many characters I should follow, and how closely. I felt that a third-person narrator that would occasionally comment on the events directly could help build some characterization for the divers very quickly. I also decided to follow only two divers due to time constraints and the almost solitary nature of diving. It is a social sport when one is above the water, but it is possible to go to a dive site and never see another dive team, even knowing that there are several there with you. Diving is an individual experience because it can be impossible to communicate what one is seeing to one’s buddy – the limitations of communication are too great. For example, I once spent a good 0five minutes underwater trying to communicate something as simple as “captain fish” to my dive buddy in order to point out a fish that was sitting in a wheelhouse. The truth is that it isn’t worth the time, so often experiences are only shared afterwards unless they are truly easy to point out or difficult to miss. Dive slates have similar limitations because one must take the time to write, and it can be difficult to pay attention to one’s surroundings while doing so. This means that one is missing out on part of the dive, and likely to communicate things that can just be said afterwards. The same goes for trying to communicate displeasure under water – it simply better to wait and mention to your buddy later that he or she has hit you in the nose. This is why I chose to follow the individual experiences of a team of two divers only, in order to communicate this feeling of solitude and difference of perspective that can occur even with someone who is at your elbow constantly.

A note about the physical formatting of the text: the story is broken up into fragments by various ellipses throughout the text to create the impression of potential missing sections or places where I felt there was room for elaboration at a later date. The opening section itself is the start of a fragment, and the ending would also likely not end there. These excerpts would encompass most of one book in a series of books about other dives and divers.

Having said all that, please enjoy your read.

Mount Baldie

Should I write comments prior to the stories and stuff in italics? Well, I’ll try it. Let me know if you like it…

Here is Mount Baldie – a story written for my 426 workshop. This is I guess a second draft.

 

Mount Baldie

She must be around four – yes, that feels right. Molly feels it, and with the feeling comes a knowing. In the dream, she has already learned to swim with the Bubble, that oval bladder covered in woven plastic, which, when worn on her back, holds Molly up in the lake. They still make her wear it even though she has three swimming badges from the Y. She knows that she is four because of the swimming, but also because the only French that she knows is Je m’appelle, oui, and non – she has not yet started Pre-K.

Her brother is there, along with the twins, her cousins. For some reason, she gets the impression that her father is there. Her aunt leads the way through the forest with a sword – her dad has one on his back in a leather envelope, a sheath, she thinks. It is the first time that Molly hears the word machete.

Molly has no sense of the passage of time in the forest. She sees only leaves, no branches, only shoes, no faces. They hike single-file, with Molly right behind her aunt, forcing the others to go at her pace. This keeps Molly from getting tired – and tiring. Part of the reason she has been allowed to go is practical – they cannot leave her alone, but the other part is because she has been (pretty) quiet and uncomplaining all morning, her face pleading to be allowed to go. This way, everyone can come along, and no one has to babysit Molly the Pest.

Soon, her aunt points out a pile of perfectly round little pellets that seem to appear as she calls attention to them. Bare inches away is another pile of smaller stuff. Molly sees her first pile of deer poo and rabbit turds side by side. Molly feels hemmed in by green, but the path opens up to her aunt, and where she decides to go, it always looks like a proper trail.

They pass through a clearing that can only be called thus because it is clear of trees. It is filled with ferns, which break and tear where they tread on them, the leaves getting stuck in the Velcro of her pink shoes – Molly’s mind remembers forward to when the right one will stink of swamp water, when Molly misses a rock getting out of the canoe.

When they reach the Lookout, which her dad calls Mount Baldie, the twins drop a bottle of RC Cola down the side – Molly’s aunt yells at them for it. The rock seems to stand out against the trees like a splash of white paint in a patch of grass. There is some moss, but the stone is otherwise bare. To Molly, the Lookout looks like huge hewn steps. Her dad warns her away from the edge, and she is not allowed to look over because it is dangerous. The twins have climbed down onto the next level. Molly doesn’t remember coming back down from the woods.

 

 

Their family called it the country because it was in fact a “country place” in the Canadian understanding of the term. Sam, Molly’s older brother, used to call it “Canada”, as if back home had nothing to do with the lakes and unpaved roads “up north”, which was another thing they called it. As if you had to cross some imagined border to get there. As if the real Canada was only found out there. On paper, it was called “Wentworth-Nord.”

The people that lived there called it Newaygo Junction – and mostly just Newaygo. It was past St. Sauveur and Moren Heights, near Montford (pronounced Momford by their aunt). It was where the Petit Train du Nord (which is not a train at all but rather a trail) ended, that ending still surrounded on either side from time to time by the Canadian Shield, so hard that it had to be blasted, and jackhammers were virtually useless. It was a place where trestles and wharfs were not yet extinct, and places called the Lookout still existed, if you were brave enough to go looking.

This was where Sam and Molly found themselves one Thursday in August, sitting back to back in old easy chairs that had faced the dump in the city, and been rescued and brought up by boat to their aunt’s cottage. Sam was reading one of their uncle’s books, and Molly was reading one that Sam had just finished. The twins had brought up their DVD player, but Sam said, and Molly agreed, that the point of being up at the cottage was to escape the city. If they didn’t do the things that they couldn’t do in the city, what was the point of being up there? They read instead when they wanted a break – usually on a rock or by the lake, and never for long. Today, they were inside.

Sam put down his book. “Want to go for a hike?”

Molly glanced at the clock on the wall. It was around two o’clock. “If you want to.”

“Yeah, only, I don’t want to go to the creek or the road, or to the big rock.”

Sam had just eliminated all the half-hour hikes that they usually did.

“You want to walk back to the trestle?” said Molly, grabbing a peach out of the bowl on the little round dining table.

The trestle was actually a bridge under which the boats passed on their way to the gravel lot where those that didn’t have road access to their cabins kept their cars. Their uncle’s van would be parked there.

Molly bit into the peach, which was getting mushy and didn’t taste like much, watching Sam think.

“Let’s go find the Lookout,” he said.

“Sure.” Molly remembered the last time – they had found the Lookout, that was true, but they overshot the trail on the way back and the only thing that had stopped them getting lost was that they ran into the creek, which, from the house, was half an hour in the opposite direction from the Lookout. They had been gone for three hours.

That was also when Molly realized that she had something in common with her father: she was just the teensiest bit scared of heights. There was a crack in one of the ledges of the Lookout. It was wide enough to fit a skinny person and was about eight or nine feet deep. Molly had hesitated, been too scared to just step over it – so Sam had held out his hands to her, palms up, and she had taken both of them, just like a little old lady, and then she had been able to step over. That had been when she was twelve, and Sam sixteen. She was fourteen now, and braver.

The view had been something like stepping forty five degrees to the right of her mental map of the lake. She could see the swamp where they went canoeing, and the green cottage on the only island in the lake. Only, being that they were several kilometers away from the house, everything looked just slightly out of place. From up there, the Lake looked like several little ponds, divided by the trees that they looked out from. Molly wondered if two years would have changed the view a lot.

This time, they brought strips of plastic bag to tie around the trees so that they would be able to come back the same way and eventually mark the trail with ribbons like the cross-country skiing paths. It was Sam’s idea, and he chose the red Zellers bags from out of the cupboard for visibility. Molly carried the strips shoved in her miniature knapsack, along with a bottle of water. They hadn’t had any granola bars, and she didn’t want another peach.

They left, passing the outhouse to the path behind it. The black flies and mosquitoes found them immediately. They didn’t mark any trees up until they got to the big rock, which was where they turned towards the Lookout. The plastic tore easily when Sam was tying it to the trees, but mostly it tied fine. Molly worried that they wouldn’t have enough strips at the rate that they were going. But Sam was the man with the plan, as her father called him, and he wouldn’t steer them wrong.

Sam started talking about his new girlfriend, Nina, and how he wished that she had been able to make it up to the country that year – she was a good swimmer and would love the lake.

“Seriously, she taught me the butterfly and everything – I bet she could swim across the lake like the twins if I followed her in the boat.”

“You need another person – one to row and watch out for other boats and one to watch Nina – and you’re two in case you need to pull the swimmer into the boat. I could help with that. I know how to use a defibrillator – I mean, an AED, you know – not like an actual –”

“Yeah, I get it. But Auntie does it all the time for the twins. She would be better at it. But you could come along.”

“Well, anyway. Nina isn’t even actually here so it doesn’t matter – and if she does come, you know Auntie won’t let you share a room, and I’m not sharing a bed with her.”

“Why don’t you like Nina?”

“She’s all right,” said Molly. “I just don’t think Auntie will go for it, is all.”

Sam shrugged and kept hiking. “We must nearly be there – I can almost see the sky through the trees.”

Molly started to apologize about Nina, to tell Sam about how she just didn’t want to be a third wheel if Nina came up, but Sam had run ahead – one day he might run into something dangerous – and he couldn’t hear her. She could hear him snapping branches where he passed.

“Find anything?” called out Molly. She couldn’t tell what direction Sam’s voice came back at her from.

“No, but this way is definitely downhill – I don’t know – maybe we should head back up.”

“It’s not at the very top of the mountain, Sam,” said Molly, glad to finally be able to contribute. “It has to be on the edge.”

“Well, which way would you go?”

Molly fussed with the strips of plastic, finally noticing that, on the strips that came from the bottom of the Zellers bags, it said “BIODEGRADABLE WITHIN 12-15 MONTHS.” Shit. Well, she decided, there wasn’t any use in disappointing Sam now about his plan. She pointed right, to where the trees seemed to thin out a little more, and she could see sky. “I think this is the right direction.”

As they hiked on, Sam leading, they came to a clearing full of ferns. Molly spotted a hunting perch in one of the trees – she wasn’t sure what they were called, but it was a bright red seat – and she remembered it from two years ago. She nudged Sam, and they tried to work out which direction to go from there. A couple of times, they ran into fallen trees hidden among the ferns, and Molly barked her ankles no fewer than four times. She set her teeth and didn’t cry out.

They went on that way for a few minutes, aligning themselves like the bearings on a compass. They were close – another five minutes and they stepped onto the side – or edge – of the mountain proper. They had arrived at the Lookout, the God’s-eye view.

Though miniaturized, there was a clarity that was enhanced – or at the least not marred– by the distance about the things that Molly could recognize. She identified two feelings that, though they might seem to be, were not the least bit at odds: an incredible smallness – that classic sense of insignificance, and a powerful sense of pride that was almost lordly. Molly couldn’t place where the words that came to her mind were from – “lord over all that I survey.” That’s what it felt like – like she owned it all. But it was all so huge!

Molly smiled at Sam, knowing that he was feeling the same thing. Of course, he smiled back. They were the same – or rather, they shared a sensibility.

Could he say the same about Nina, she wondered?

She tried not to think about that, knowing that she was just jealous, that Sam would always find time to hang out with her like they did now. She tried to hold onto those majestic feelings that filled her up there on the Lookout. That shared feeling of theirs.

“We’ll have to show Nina this,” said Sam. “When she comes.”

A single intrusive thought ran through Molly’s mind and out of her mouth before she could secure it. “You know, this would be a good place to have an accident.”

An Illicit Desire

This story was written with Lauren Stein’s Poutine Anthology project in mind. Here it is!

An Illicit Desire

I think that the reason why poutine and I went so far wrong is because my mom, to use the technical term in gastronomy, was a blasphemer. There are two main schools of thought when it comes to experimenting with the potato-cheese-gravy trifecta: those that encourage it, and those that don’t, but I doubt that any school could rationalize this behaviour.

The true connaisseurs discuss at length, no doubt, about the ideal cut and texture of those starchy delights, the merits of gravies that include wine, or sauces out of dry mixes versus “from-scratch” (believe it or not, Patati Patata uses a dry mix.) But one generally accepted tenet is that the cheese must squeak against the eater’s teeth; the cheese must be curds.

My mom used mozzarella every time. No, I’m serious.

I’m not sure when I realized that something wasn’t quite…wholesome about my mother’s “poutine” – if you can even call it that. I never knew what curds were until I got older – old enough, say, to eat out on my own, and young enough to still want hotdogs when I did. Small wonder, really, that I didn’t much like poutine, when I was eating but the facsimile of the stuff.

When Poutine and I finally met, we had a lot of catching up to do, and I had a lot to learn. I had a lot of questions about what “family fry” really meant, and whether it was acceptable to put the gravy before the curds, and what made the ideal melt ratio.

But I still dreamt of blasphemy. From time to time, as misguided as those tourists who asked where they could get some Putin (Russia), or where to ask for Puttin’ (Golf Town, maybe?), I dreamt of mozzarella and St. Hubert barbecue sauce in the paper packet. It ruined my relationship with the real thing.

Why did my mom do it? Maybe because curds are even more unhealthy than normal cheese, or because it would be expensive to make poutine with curds for three bottomless children. I don’t know, but one day I hope to forgive her.

Then — and Now.

Just avoiding a certain movie title, you know? Anyhow, here are some notes about the kinds of writing and the kinds of comments that I used to get when I was younger (say, between ages 12 and 16) versus now. A retrospect.

– I loved epigraphs. Still do, but rarely implement them. Seraph Falling has an epigraph for EACH chapter.

– I compared head and heart a lot – a lot of heart.

– I still get some of the same comments about my writing being concise and precise.

– I was more prolific then than I am now, and I think I had more ideas.

– Couldn’t come up with good character names then or now – see Yssandra (A VR).

– titles: A Vampiric Rhapsody, Seraph Falling – ’nuff said.

– I was not at all concerned about my readers or readibility back then (or, say, being stereotyped as a genre writer) – is this better or worse?

– I loved comments back then, and I still do.

– I only realize now how lucky I was to have two constant readers (and more, dad!) who provided me with extremely detailed commentaries.

– I didn’t used to fear being slotted somewhere as a genre writer.

– I was too aware of my own precociousness, and preciousness.

– My prose was more long-winded, looser (despite the earlier comment about conciseness and preciseness).

– My characters were more introspective.

– My pacing tended to be slower, more stately.

– I realized/appreciated the value of writing in the first person.

– I only used to write one draft and add and add. I was additive rather than reductive.

– Anybody / most people who weren’t my main characters were assholes and in opposition to them.

– I still left unseen / solely mentioned a bunch of stuff that my readers wanted to see – transformations, scenes, conversations.

– I didn’t used to research, so I’ve made up some pretty ridiculous (and some pretty plausible but wrong) explanations in  my time.

– I used to sometimes just come out and provide explanations, like a guide book.

– I gave up finally writing “my baby” – the story I used to play-act as a kid, after two pages.

 

Hope that was interesting. It was therapeutic for me.