Rejection Notes – No.4 in a series

Dear Edoardo Albert,

Thank you for sending us “The Dream of the Night-Shift Power Worker”. Unfortunately we will not be able to use this work. We receive many well-written, compelling, stories, but can only take a very limited number due to constraints of space and style. We wish you the best of luck in placing your story elsewhere.

P.S. It was a pretty good story. Sorry to say no. This is not our customary rejection.

CS Lewis on Writing

Also from the excellent Inklings blog:

I am sure that some are born to write as trees are born to bear leaves: for these, writing is a necessary mode of their own development.  If the impulse to write survives the hope of success, then one is among these.  If not, then the impulse was at best only pardonable vanity, and it will certainly disappear when the hope is withdrawn.

C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves,
The Letters of C.S. Lewis, (28 August 1930)
I have, I think, gone past the hope of success.

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.