Lewis and Clarke

That’s CS Lewis and Arthur C Clarke, rather than the American explorers. The two of them corresponded and met once. Clarke wrote:

“Less sympathetic to our aims was Dr. C. S. Lewis, author of two of the very few works of space fiction that can be classed as literature -– ‘Out of the Silent Planet’ and ‘Perelandra’. Both of these fine books contained attacks on scientists in general, and astronauts in particular, which aroused my ire. I was especially incensed by a passage in ‘Perelandra’ referring to ‘little Interplanetary Societies and Rocketry Clubs’…

An extensive correspondence with Dr. Lewis led to a meeting in a famous Oxford pub, the Eastgate… Needless to say, neither side converted the other. But a fine time was had by all, and when, some hours later, we emerged a little unsteadily from the Eastgate, Dr. Lewis’ parting words were, ‘I’m sure you’re very wicked people – but how dull it would be if everyone was good’. ”

H/T: The Inklings blog.

Deep Time

Writing the chapter on the geology of Northumbria, it’s apparent that the reaction of 19th-century geologists against ideas of catastrophism went far too far. Yes, many processes occur constantly and gradually, but the history of the earth in general and Northumbria in particular is punctuated by catastrophic events: most recently the tsunami unleashed by the Storegga Slides, when huge sections of the continental shelf off Norway slid into the abyssal depths and set off giant waves down the east coast of Britain in 6100BC.

Wine Whine

Why has the alcohol content of wine increased so much? 13%, 14%, even 15%. If I want to drink sherry, I’ll buy sherry, I don’t want it foisted on me in an ordinary bottle of wine.

Mental Furniture

We live in a world where everything is a click away and therefore there’s no need to learn anything off by heart any longer. Bu what does that do to, for want of a better phrase, let’s call our ‘mental furniture’? The ideas, images, thoughts, memories that form the backdrop and bedrock of our minds. If all that’s there are the burned-in images from films, or burnt-out memories of excess or sadness, then that doesn’t give us much to fall back on should we ever be reduced to our own devices. Let’s pray we never find ourselves kidnapped or held in solitary confinement, but even in the everyday isolation of travelling on the tube, or daydreaming, or simply allowing the froth of the day’s events to settle, surely such events would proceed better in a mind stocked with beautiful, deep, rhythmical words than stuffed full of screaming headlines.

So, I’ve decided to try and stock my mind with something that’s both defiantly pointless in today’s culture, and one of the few things that actually matters: poems. I’m going to learn a poem a week; fix it firmly in memory and make it an integral part of my mental furniture.

I started with Tennyson’s The Eagle – because it’s dramatic, intense and very short (six lines), and I didn’t know how well my middle-aged brain could handle memorizing things. The short answer: it was a struggle! But I got there, and now I’ve moved on to the Windhover, by Gerald Manley Hopkins. Learning it off by heart has brought new depths to what I already thought was a poem more densely textured than sculpted diamond. And, though written over a century ago, it still reads as more modern than anything written in the 20th century. Was Hopkins, in fact, the last poet?

Anyway, any suggestions for future poems to learn? I’d be interested in any ideas.

Writer’s Resource

Following on from the recent rejections, it meant I had some stories to send out on the road again. Any writers out there, can I recommend Duotrope, the single most useful resource for working writers I’ve found. It features a fully searchable database of fiction and poetry markets, plus the ability to track and record all your submissions, and statistical feedback from other writers on the length of time each market takes to respond, and how picky it is. What’s more, it’s all free (although donations are welcome, and seeing how useful it is, we really should contribute towards the costs).

Rejection Notes – No.3 in a series

Unfortunately, while we liked your submission, so far we have not found a place for it … and it is against our policy to hold onto a story indefinitely. Much as we’d like to, we just don’t have the room to print all the stories we get — not even all the good ones. So sadly, I’m going to have to very reluctantly let this one go.

If it got this far, you can rest assured that your story is of high quality and you should be able to find a home for it. I look forward to hearing from you again.

Better luck next time!