Relief from a carved funerary lekythos at Athens: Hermes as psychopomp conducts the deceased, Myrrhine, to Hades, ca 430-420 BCE (National Archaeological Museum of Athens).
CC BY 2.5
Thought I’d put a little piece up about some of the great publications I’ve been reading this week. Some discovered through competition submissions and deadlines I’ve completed this week and others just little gems come upon along the way.
Psychopomps magazine had a competition deadline lask week and so I’ve been devouring lots of stories from there past volumes, as well as getting my hands on a hard copy edition that I’ve been wanting a while (the one in question has Lovecraft’s The Shunned House in its, so enjoying the building sense of dread that ensues each time I open the cover). It’s an unusual style and genre in the magazine.Their fee-free submissions window is open until the 15 March, so still time to polish up your weirdest and most wonderful pieces. (Incidentally, a Psychopomp was a guide to the souls of the dead in Ancient Greece so this will give you an idea of its tone).
The other one I’ve subscribed to to take a look at as there’s a fast approaching short story comp. deadline coming up is Mslexia. I was pleasantly surprised with what a lot this magazine has to offer to its fm ale readers: competition listings, interesting articles about self-publishing, guidance on how to foster a writings comunity and keep up motivation in your writing, submissions calls for short stories, poetry and columns where extracts of work are critiqued, as well as a wonderful collection of short stories and poetry all on this month’s theme of ‘monster’.
The last I’ve been reading this week was The Coastal Zoo, a collection of short stories from the Exeter Writers and the prize winning entries from the last 5 years of the Exeter Short Story Competition. Thoroughly enjoyable and when reading the prize winning pieces you are struck by the reoccuring themes. All the work is uniquely beautiful, but you do start to notice a pattern: loneliness, love and loss time and time again.
Well, off to read some more dreadfully frightening stories!
I’ve lately been getting into writing flash fiction and have found it an excellent way to be able to work on something new every week and experiment.
Through reading around I found an article by David Gaffney that, I think, sums up the point of flash fiction really nicely and has tips think about when writing it.
I decided to get the writer’s book and although it’s not my cup of tea, style wise, I think it’s got a lot of flash fiction pieces within that exemplify these points and are useful examples, plus I was sold on the title – Sawn Off Tales.
And remember, sweat your title!
I have found myself a little obsessed with the sea over the last year (since taking up diving – I know, you couldn’t tell, right!) and I’m sure that’s part of why I enjoyed Conrad so much recently. Reflecting on this I was reminded that I used to have quite a different fantasy a few years ago. For light relief after a hard day at work, I used to dream of a more peaceful lifestyle, away from the crowds of the city (I think this was a symptom of growing up in the countryside) and this was my go to site:
Now it has been replaced with looking at dive sites, scoping out which reefs and marine life I’d most like to visit, as well as eyeing up the occasional boat.
Ok, direct question – if you’re reading this what’s your fantasy and why? Has it changed over the years? Or if you’re a writer – what about your main character? What do they long for deep down?
Leave you with a Conrad quote:
“Sunshine gleams between the lines of these short paragraphs – sunshine and the glitter of the sea.” (Karain: A Memory)
I wrote a little about vampires not that long ago in a post about urban fantasy. At this time of year lots more people start thinking about these beings. Whether its Twilight, Vampire Diaries, Vampire Academy or any of the many more books, TV shows and films out there on this subject, there certainly is a fascination for the subject. I think it only right I make a respectful acknowledgment of these intriguing creatures too.
Let’s pause and reflect for a moment on this immortal. He beckons you, easily summoning you to him and you feel as though you would be content to remain with him here if only due to his handsome appearance and the intelligence in his gaze. Yet, it is his contradictory nature that makes you linger in the shadows.
- He is dead and yet hungers for life
- He is wise and yet possesses something primal
Before you think seriously of sidling up to this fellow, I must warn you – you can never fully know him. He is outside of time and nature. He has a consciousness, an awareness of what it means to be human, but with each passing day it dims; so that in the end, time is inverted and the past is far more palpable than the present moment.
If you do still want to draw nearer I recommend reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula and watching the 1992 film adaptation this Halloween weekend. I’ll also be treating myself to Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire and the 1994 film of the same. I believe the latter is the best of all vampire literature.
If I feel I haven’t had my fix I may throw in The Hunger, 1983 and Queen of the Damned, 2002. Admittedly these are less about substance and more about style with David Bowie strutting his stuff in the first and the songs of Jonathan Davis from Korn providing the voice of ‘The Brat Prince’. If nothing else, these two sure show that immortality gives you time to develop an impeccable sense of style, and taste.