November 23, 2015
October 13, 2015
You really must read this:
In this nearly magical room, amid fire-crackle and clink of glass, you can hear them talking. Pipe smoke is in the air, and a certain boisterous chauvinism, and the wet-dog smell of recently rained-on tweed. You can hear the donnish mumbles of J. R. R. Tolkien as the slow coils of The Silmarillion glint and shift in his back-brain. Now he’s reading aloud from an interminable marmalade-stained manuscript, and his fellow academic Hugo Dyson, prone on the couch, is heckling him: “Oh God, not another fucking elf!” You can hear the challenging train-conductor baritone of C. S. Lewis, familiar to millions from his wartime radio broadcasts; hear the unstoppable spiel of the writer/hierophant Charles Williams, with his twitchy limbs and angel-monkey face; hear the silver stream of ideas and argumentation that is the philosopher Owen Barfield. They are intellectually bent upon one another, these men, but flesh-and-blood is the thing: conviviality is, for them, a kind of passion. The chairs are deep; the fire glows gold and extra fiery in the grate. Lewis’s brother, Warnie, rosy with booze and fellow feeling, serves the drinks. And the walls drop away, and the scene extends itself backwards and forward in time …
Philip and Carol Zaleski’s The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings is a mental map, a religious journey, and the biography of a brotherhood. Plenty of distinguished Inklings came and went over the years, padding across the carpets with a Warnie-provided drink in hand, but the Zaleskis zoom in on (and out from) the primary axis of Tolkien, Lewis, Williams, and Barfield, the four among whom the invisible correspondences of thought and affection were strongest. Christians all, these men formed what the Zaleskis call “a perfect compass rose of faith”: Barfield the proto–New Ager, Tolkien the rather prim orthodox Catholic, Lewis the noisy and dogmatically ordinary layman and popular theologian, Williams the ritualistic Anglican with a taste for sorcery.
June 24, 2015
In this outstanding talk on storytelling, Neil Gaiman expands our understanding of longevity — and why some stories stick around longer than others.
June 11, 2015
Have enough aesthetic and literary knowledge to know what you’re up to. You need not be up to a lot, you just need to know how to do what you’re up to. That way, knowledge and intention can meet, and you will produce a complete compositon. — Colin Foote Burch
This hit me, so to speak, where I live:
“Limit situations are moments, usually accompanied by experiences of dread, guilt or acute anxiety, in which the human mind confronts the restrictions and pathological narrowness of its existing forms, and allows itself to abandon the securities of its limitedness, and so to enter new realm of self-consciousness.” — Chris Thornhill, via Karl Jaspers (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Let’s not forget that writing is convenient. It requires the simplest tools. A young writer sees that with words and sentences on a piece of paper that costs less than a penny he can place himself more clearly in the world. Words on a page, that’s all it takes to help him separate himself from the forces around him, streets and people and pressures and feelings. He learns to think about these things, to ride his own sentences into new perceptions. How much of this did I feel at the time? Maybe just an inkling, an instinct. Writing was mainly an unnameable urge, an urge partly propelled by the writers I was reading at the time.
September 12, 2014
The criteria for “challenges” include a flash-fiction writing prompt of 4 elements, exactly 500 words without the title, and 5 days to complete the work. Four writers compete.
The 4 elements for “Challenge 80” were: Furby, Peel Trident (car), a lost emperor, and Dr. Pepper.
Here’s my flash fiction for the challenge:
By Colin Burch
Monkey always had these gifts coming in from the endorsements, so sometimes our parties were based upon whatever we could do with a garage full of whatever product.
At the end of last summer, Monkey had an entire slot of his four-car garage full of Dr. Pepper in 12-packs.
I was responsible for figuring out what to do with the Dr. Pepper. A website suggested the “Flamin Fro” – a quarter ounce of Southern Comfort, a quarter ounce of Bacardi 151, and a half ounce of Dr. Pepper. Pour it all into a shot glass. Light it up for 7 seconds and shoot it.
So Monkey invited 80 girls to his house for this party, plus me and Spidey and Strongarm.
“If I’d really wanted you three to get lucky at this shindig,” Monkey said, “I’d have invited three hundred girls. Because you all are 1-percenters.”
I ordered a dozen cases of Southern Comfort and a dozen cases of Bacardi 151. Spidey arranged for the buffet and finger food.
At party time, not one girl showed up.
We started shooting Flamin Fro concoctions in Monkey’s big, open kitchen.
“Hey, guess what showed up today?” Monkey asked. “A case of Emperor’s Irish Cream Liqueur. And it’s heaven on ice cream.”
He ran the circuit from the garage freezer back to the kitchen before we realized the next shot of Flamin Fro had quit flaming.
The Emperor’s Irish Cream on Breyers Vanilla ice cream pushed all the booze and sugar deeper into us. We got thickened up with a gorgeous feeling.
“You know who you are man?” Spidey said. “You’re the Emperor of Booze Cream!”
We laughed until Strongarm spilled a Flamin Fro across the countertop, blue fire spreading for a moment, and then it burned out so we laughed some more.
Monkey went through a guest room to relieve himself in the adjoining bathroom. When he hadn’t come back in a while, I stuck my head in the darkened guest room.
I heard snoring. I went back, sat in the kitchen.
“The Emperor of Booze Cream has already passed out?” Strongarm asked. “Not happening.”
Strongarm got up and lurched to guest bedroom and flicked the light switch.
“It’s a Furby,” he said.
Spidey and I had no clue.
“One of his Furbys is snoring,” Strongarm said.
The room had a bookshelf full of Furbys. In the guest room.
Monkey wasn’t in the garage, either, but the doors were open. A collectable car was missing, too.
“The Peel Trident,” Strongarm said.
We looked up the long driveway. Before a turn, we could see the Peel Trident in front of a tree.
We got there and saw the Peel Trident had not been parked but had smashed into the dogwood.
No Monkey. No blood. No crack on the bubble-like windshield. Nothing like tracks in the night’s dewy grass.
Monkey just vanished. Spidey, Strongarm and I have been here for three days. The cops have crawled everywhere. The Emperor of Booze Cream is gone.
LiturgicalCredo.com has a new editorial mission: contemporary mythopoeia, parables, fables, and fairy tales of 300-500 words in the forms of flash fiction, poems, and brief nonfiction.
New myths, parables, fables, and fairy tales allow storytellers to work with archetypal characters as well as fantastical settings. As enduring genres, they give writers economical modes of re-imagining contemporary conflicts, relationships, habits, assumptions, and beliefs.
In these modes, perceptive storytellers force us to find new grips on reality by showing us situations more true to our lifelong inner experiences than our moment-to-moment workaday lives. The best handle on life, we realize, is not quite where we thought it was.