When It’s a Mere Story (fake, fake, true)

It is a story, a fib, a lie (if you like). I prefer reading and writing nonfiction (reality), but like any writer, I sometimes make things up and present them as literature. They also surface as fiction or reflections of imagination in my poems.

In my writer’s tool box are words, ideas, experience, knowledge, limited imagination, and scant creativity (I know where to get it), technology (a long list of software and hardware goes here), language, and some ability to read and write. Admitting my shortcomings as a journeyman of letters, I consider every editor I know to be a (god or goddess) helpful resource along with a multitude of other writers, authors, and critics.

I like to work with parable, symbolism, simile, metaphor, allegory and allusion, analogy, and soliloquy in poems and essays. I am talking about verisimilitude (all 14 letters and six syllables), or the appearance of reality or truth. I found that word on a list as I researched this piece.

When it’s not biographical and is just a story, it gets tricky. It’s not the writing. It’s what (WTF) am I talking about? Fiction resides in reality and truth. Fact can likewise be disguised in fiction. Names, dates, situations, and persons are often fictionalized in truth.

I know twins (grandparents) who, as children, were both present at a memorable and emotional family event. They both remember it well. However, when they discuss it, each has a different version of the same event, even though they stood side-by-side as eyewitnesses. Each is telling the truth, but how each one saw it and remembers it is different.

One of my favorite authors is Pat Conroy. Pat wrote autobiographical fiction. His stories were based on his real life: his family, people he knew and loved, his schools, his job as a teacher, and other real events. Indeed, his fiction was based (often heavily) on real life.

Conroy paid a high price in several ways. A lot of people got mad at him. Some fellow writers looked down on his creativity (or lack of) in using real world events and people to write fiction. I like the ties to the real. But that does not mean there was always such an entwinement. Other autobiographical fiction writers include Tim O’Brien, Sylvia Plath, Sandra Cisneros, and many others.

Sometimes I make up a story from a thought or memory, but the reality is only a setting or a trigger. It is not necessarily autobiographical or about current real-life circumstances. It is not a message to someone, not a plot applicable to my personal life, not real at all. Many people assume it is. However, sometimes (often?) it is all of that.

I like the ‘how-to’ memoir book by Tristine Rainer, “Your Life as Story: Discovering the ‘New Autobiography’ and Writing Memoir as Literature.” While one should never intentionally lie (fib?), it may be necessary to fill gaps in events with things that may not be exactly precise, true, and factual.

I have been told that every writer (artist or person) puts part of him- or herself into everything he or she writes. I agree. Still, not everything I write is real, or happened, or is about any real person. It may be about how I feel or what I experience emotionally.

Indeed, it was or is true or partly true, or the true facts as I recall them. Often, for me, my writing is a search for myself – for my truth, my honesty, my story, my interpretation of actual events. Maybe it’s just psycho-babble, but writing seems to be part of me trying to say something about me. I’ve written a memoir. It is unfinished, but I will get back to it.

I wrote a poem about a door. A suggested title was ‘An Ode to Agoraphobia.’ While the poem was not intended to be about any mental condition, after I wrote it, I realized it was clearly about fear of going out into the world. I’ve never had such a fear. When I researched possible submissions, I discovered that some publications only wanted it if I suffered from the malady. I ain’t sayin’ I do when I don’t.

The mag’s policy made sense technically, but it was a true poem about a real emotional or mental state that I can only imagine. I’ve written stories about men committing suicide and people doing all sorts of things I never have or will do. Human behavior, bizarre or normal, is interesting. Fiction and nonfiction rely on interest.

The catch is that when people assume what I write is directly associated with my life, they’re usually correct. People who know me personally would certainly assume autobiographical or nonfictional writing, especially other writers. They know how I work. However, sometimes it is just my overactive Irish blarney oozing onto the page with a bit of imagination peppered with fib to improve the taste.

And that, my dear friends, is the absolute truth.

Look both ways in fact and fiction.
Let reality peek into the gaps of light in everything.

Wednesday’s Poem

Who do I think I am?

Poetic Dream

Dream and dream and dream,
Is this life my dream within a dream?
My fantasy and my horror?
Is my pleasure only what is seen?

Pity she who cannot dream and feel
sorry for he who cannot visit
the dark night of pleasured dreams.
True pleasure and true fear in the mist.

Dreams wrapped in dreams
nightmares filled with fear and panic,
Pleasure unrestricted by rules
and commitments of fact.

I stand before my mind
searching for the dream of life,
Wanting in and wanting out
to dream and to dream and to dream about.

 

© Bill Reynolds 7/25/2018

 

Dream and look both ways, into the night in the light of the day. Mind gaps of dusk and dawn.

A2Z Challenge: W is for Witches

There are big differences between witches and the other 25 folklore creatures I am writing about. The first is, minus a few mythical ones which may not be, witches are human. The second difference is that I am certain some people who declare themselves witches (including friends of mine) will read this blog. Thus, I may well be brought to correction about what I write. Another difference is, along with elves, I think witches are cool. I like them.

The amount of information available, much of it provided by self-identified living witches, is plethoric. Any library could dedicate and fill an entire section to witch-related topics (I bet some do). All this I say both as an excuse for my brief driveling twaddle, and to encourage the curious toward continued exploratory adventure into the worldly subjects of witches and witchcraft and nature and other witch-related things, such as Wicca.

This link will take you to a list of famous witches from various eras. That page will also provide a link (interesting) to related belief systems (religions). And this link will take you a Wiccan page that will explain 15 different types of witches (I didn’t know).

I have written about witches before (this poem, for example), but only fictionally as I battle my own cognitive dissonance with reality, stereotyping, and fiction.

That said, one category of witchery includes mythology and folklore, which is the category for this blog, according to the A-to-Z Challenge list of categories. To keep between the lines of myth and lore, I present five witches for you from mythology and folklore.

From Homer’s Odyssey, a witch named Circe drugged sailors and then turned them into animals, wolves and lions mostly. For me, that explains a lot. Odysseus worked with Circe on the problem and after a year, he and his sailors were free to go back to Ithaca.

The Witch of Endor used the ghost of Samuel to tell King Saul that he would be defeated and killed by the Philistines in battle. However, he was only wounded in the battle, but then he killed himself anyway. He must have been bewitched. Go figure!

Vampires with toe thing.

The Chedipe is a witch who got pissed at men. She rides a tiger into their homes unnoticed. She then sucks the life out of men through their toes. I have no explanation for her sucking toes to death fetish. The guy dies, and she moves on to the next victim. Have a good night and keep your toes covered. Can a witch also be a vampire? I noticed some talk of prostitution in my research.

The witches from Macbeth remind me of a high school skit I was in. These Sisters of Fate were the agents of destruction for Macbeth and all of Scotland. Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.

Hecate is the Greek goddess of witchcraft, witches, sorcery, poisonous plants, and other hocus-pocus stuff. She is still worshipped by some groups and is the source for the concept of a jinx.

Ignorance then. Now?
I cannot imagine this.

Look both ways for witches from the east and the west, the north and south.
Mind the gaps and the pointed hats.

 

A2Z Challenge: U is for Unicorn

Nice Touch – Wings

I am reluctant to attempt to write anything about these beautiful, almost sadly mythological creatures. However, I know some people who read this blog are expecting (perhaps demanding) them for the letter U. They have told me so.

There are two reasons for my insecurity. One reason is that I am pretty sure they do not really exist, but I am uncertain whether most people agree with me. The second reason is that too many people from age five to fifty (and more) know more about unicorns than I do. Fine. But none has stepped forward to write this post.

Unicorns have been described since antiquity as a horse-like creature with a single large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead. They were depicted on ancient seals and have been mentioned in many old historical accounts, Greek (not mythology) and otherwise. The re’em, of the Bible is translated to unicorn in some versions.

In European folklore, unicorns are described as a white horse-like or goat-like animal with a long horn and cloven hooves. In the Middle Ages they were described as wild woodland creatures, symbols of purity and grace, which could only be captured by a virgin. Some say a unicorn’s horn can purify poisoned water, making it medicinal to heal sickness.

Long ago, Greek writers of natural history were convinced of the reality of unicorns, which they believed lived in India, a distant and fabulous realm for them. Leonardo da Vinci even wrote hunting instructions, which look like a ploy to get your girlfriend to go hunting with you.

The unicorn, through its intemperance and not knowing how to control itself, for the love it bears to fair maidens forgets its ferocity and wildness; and laying aside all fear it will go up to a seated damsel and go to sleep in her lap, and thus the hunters take it.

The unicorn is the symbol of Scotland. It was chosen because it was seen as a proud and haughty creature which would rather die than be captured (liberty or death?), just as Scots would fight to remain sovereign and unconquered.

My proof that unicorns exist can be found in New Braunfels, Texas (USA). The mascot of one of the local high schools is the unicorn. Thus, students are unicorns. So, they do exist in human form. There are a few other schools who have the unicorn as their mascot, but such a mascot is rare.

For the record, I love unicorns. No one should doubt that. I only say or write good things about unicorns, and my disbelief in them is a myth (ignoring my earlier comment).

Now, for a bit of unicorn bathroom humor. This is primarily for certain friends and family (they know who they are), and those among you with such bizarre taste in hilarity.

 

 

Look both ways for unicorn.
If you see one, and you are a virgin, try to capture it.
Mind the uni-gaps.

A2Z Challenge — M is for Minotaur

It is not always the impressive awesomeness of the fantasy creature that gets me. Sometimes it’s the story of how it came to be that I find most interesting. I was gunna go with something different today, but when I read about this one, I simply had to tell you about the Minotaur from Greek Mythology. Seriously, who came up this stuff?

With all the family drama, jealousy, hanky-panky, and bestiality, here is how it all went down. Minos, king of Crete, fought his brothers for rule. So, Minos asked the god Poseidon to send him a snow-white bull. Seeing this, his brothers would back off. The god sent the bull and it worked. But then Minos was supposed to kill the bull to honor Poseidon. Minos had a better idea, and that’s when the trouble started.

King Minos decided to keep the bull cuz he thought it was cool. So, King Dum-dum kills another bull thinking this sea-god will not notice or care. Greek gods can be so persnickety. Not just any dead bull would do. It had to be the pretty white one. Poseidon was pissed.

To get revenge, the god does a thing so that Pasiphaë, Minos’s wife, gets the beasty hots for the white bull. You with me? The king’s queen falls all lusty-love for this freakin’ horny bull. Today, this shite would be all over youtube.

No bull, white or not, is gunna do the dirty deed with the queen, lusty-love or not. So, Queen Pasiphaë had a very skilled crafty guy name of Daedalus make a hollow wooden cow. Can you see where this is going?

It must have been one fine piece of work to fool the bull into climbing on board and hammering away. Anyway, the queen climbed inside it and for the rest of the story, I suppose you had to be there. All I can say is Poseidon had an insane sense of humor, if Greek gods did funny things.

The child born was the monstrous Minotaur. The baby was not so cute with the dad’s head and a mostly human body. Pasiphaë nursed him (don’t get sick on me), but he grew and became a ferocious vile creature, being an unnatural (to say the least) offspring of a woman and a bull.

Minotaur devoured humans (preferably children every few years) for sustenance. Minos, after getting advice from the oracle at Delphi, had Daedalus (builder of the wooden cow) construct a gigantic labyrinth to hold the Minotaur and that is where he lived until he was killed by Theseus.

Look both ways.
If there is a bull in the field, do not climb the fence.
Mind the gaps as you cautiously walk around.
And do not piss off any Greek gods.

A to Z Challenge — D is for Drow

The Underworld of Drow

I have never played D&D, but I wish I had. When it was popular, my kids played the game. Since writing about these creatures, my daughter has invited me to play D&D with her, her hubby, and the grandkids. I discovered on-line role playing several years ago. That was when I learned how little I knew about elves, and I met my first elf who was a member of a sub-race of elves known as drow.

Of all fantasy creatures, I find elves to be the most interesting. They’re followed by dragons and leprechauns. That is a lot to write about. If we add reports and stories on other humanoids, such as dwarfs and hobbits, a literary subfield within fantasy emerges. Since elf crossbreeding, particularly with humans creates an exponential growth of character possibilities, contemporary story telling became fascinating for both creator and consumer.

If you’re not a fan of D&D or role play (RP), you may assume things about elves regarding stature, intelligence, and friendliness which are likely incorrect. In each case, I was wrong. They’re not little, stupid, and sweet. Admittedly, Santa’s helpers at the North Pole do little to correct the stereotype, but all is fair in fantasy and myth.

Dark, or black elves are from Norse mythology and thought to be the ancestors of the drow. These elves are usually considered to be evil in the inborn, bad seed sense. Yet there is ample evidence for a human-like nature versus nurture conflict and all drow cannot be depended upon to be as wicked as others.

Drow have dark grayish skin. Since they are given to self-decorating, green and even purple colors can also be found. Their hair is naturally white, whitish or yellow, but here again, drow know about hair coloring techniques. Female drow are dominant, being both stronger and slightly larger than males. As with all pure elves, neither sex is capable of beard growth. While eyes are normally red, colors can range. With crossbreeding, even human green or blue eyes are possible. But, if you want to see something spooky; a red eyed, dark-skinned drow can tilt your freak meter.

While drow are unwilling underground creatures, they are most often found by non-drow to be above ground for the obvious reason that subterranean existence for a non-drow creature is as a slave to the drow, if survival is even possible in such a wild, violent place.

Drow fight with anyone, and other drow are never off the hook. That helps to keep their numbers down, since when they do get along well with each other, they are also very prolific producers of offspring.

As with all elves, drow live long lives if they manage to avoid a violent and early death. Again, given all their magic and power, it is their inability to get along that manages to keep the population in check.

Despite what sounds like an evil appearance, drow are attractive elves. This causes surface dwelling races to tolerate drow presence if they behave in a non-drow-like fashion. Surface races of elves and other humanoids have been known to inbreed with drow yielding interesting, yet confusing, results: both good and bad.

Drow are fast, agile, and in their opinion smarter than all other humanoids including other elf groups. The most natural and overwhelming feature of all drow is their phenomenal sense of entitlement. While this can be an annoying and dangerous trait, like so much else regarding drow, it is difficult to tell if it is innate or cultural. Drow culture reinforces all forms of evil within their race beginning at a very young age.

Mind gaps to the world of the drow.
Look both ways as elves are poor drivers.

A to Z Challenge — C is for Chimaera

The Khimaira (Chimera or chimaera) was a three-headed monster. If ya Google it without the mythology tag, most options will be links to ghost fish or sharks. This is no fish story.

Like so many monsters of Greek mythology, The Chimaera was the offspring of couple of monstrous sweethearts named Typhon and Echidna, a pair I envision as sort of an Adam and Eve couple of the Greek Mythological Monster class.

This bizarre, fire-breathing cat had the body and head of a lion (good so far). But peeking over its shoulder was a goat’s head rising out of its back. The beast had udders like a goat (no idea why). Away from the business end, the ubiquitous mythological snake rounded out the creature’s tail, with serpent’s head at the very end.

Since nothing good could possibly spring from the union of Typhon and Echidna, this beast ravaged the countryside of Lykia (Lycia) in Anatolia, which is on the southeastern end of Turkey. Contemporary Turkish history does not jibe well with older Greek myth, but at the time it all fit nicely, if fearsome.

As the story goes, this Chimaera cat was just kickin’ ass all over that part of the world until a hero named Bellerophon came on the scene. He was either asked or commanded, depending on who is doing the telling, by King Iobates to kill the beast.

Bellerophon rode into battle on the back of the winged horse, Pegasus, of course. He sought and found Chimaera and drove a lead-tipped lance into its flaming throat. So, the big cat-goat’s fiery breath melted the lead tip, promptly choking the beast on hot molten metal. Lead poisoning for sure. So, the beast died from sucking on a lead popsicle, Greek Mythology style.

 

Turkey has never been known for its geological stability. So, later classical writers believed the Chimaera creature was a metaphor for a Lycian volcano, of which there almost certainly were several.

The Chimaera can look both ways at the same time
and the snake can keep its eyes looking backward.
So, mind the gaps.