Yoga, tool of SATAN!

Yep, heard it on the train.  Apparently, the mere fact that yoga is connected with Eastern religions means that it’s a doorway for the devil.

Sit down, wrap your right ankle over your left ear, get your transcendental freak on and the very second you succeed in slipping out of your physical body, there’s the Old Boy himself with a butterfly net, ready to grab your floaty soul and whisk it away to realms of eternal damnation.  So the lady on the train was saying, earnestly, into her phone, as she passed on a tale of having recently snatched an unwary friend from the jaws of Yoga Evil.

Well, lawks, is all I can say.  What next?  What untold evils lurk in the realms of hitherto innocent-seeming alternative routines?  Does acupuncture allow Satan to sneak in through all those convenient little holes in the dermis?  Does holding crystals, perhaps, give him focus, acting like a magnifying glass on sunlight, permitting satanic influences to burn the goodness out of one’s soul, leaving only crisp and sooty baditude? 

Anyway, I shall be jolly careful next time I buy some joss sticks, I can tell you.  I mean, they probably don’t even put ‘inhaling pure SATAN’ on the label, or anything.  And as for Bikram yoga, the one you do in boiling hot rooms?  That’s obviously just a preparation for the fires.  In fact, since I’m quite obviously hellbound anyway, what with all the alternative stuff, maybe I should try it out; it’s practically boot camp.

What keeps us going?

Clarkesworld magazine decided to run an interview with writers of epic fantasy, including such luminaries as Stephen Erikson, Terry Brooks, Elizabeth Bear…and, to my startled delight, me. 

It was, although flattering, rather scary to realise my witterings would be up there alongside the words of wisdom of authors I admire immensely. I spent hours frantically polishing my answers in an attempt to sound less than a complete blithering idiot.  This did at least have the interesting and educational effect of making me think quite hard about what I write and why, (though whether the resulting answers were any less wittery as a result of all the thinking is up to the judgement of the reader).

I do believe it’s salutary, sometimes, to think about why we do the things we do, especially when it comes to writing.  Once you have an audience, and are earning money at it, a whole new set of factors come into play – like deadlines, and contracts that you have signed and are therefore obliged to fulfil, and paying the mortgage.  

But why do you do it when you’re not earning any money at it yet?  When no-one who could get you that deal seems to have the slightest interest in anything you’ve created? 

Well, sometimes you don’t do it.  Sometimes people stop, and decide to do something else with their lives, at least for a bit, and maybe they go back to it, and maybe they don’t.

But if you do keep at it, you keep slogging away, and sending out the stories, or the novels, or the poems, and you don’t sell anything, or you do sell a story, but realise that the time it took you to write it and the money you’ve been paid for it works out at a wage of about .0006p a month, or you sell a story and the magazine promptly folds, or someone asks for a full of your novel and a month or a year later the rejection comes back saying ‘I absolutely loved this but…’ and if this goes on long enough, which for most people it does, you get a little discouraged.  Or a lot.

Yet some of us keep trying.  Why?  If we have day jobs, which most of us do, and something else in our lives, like family, or friends, or other creative endeavours, which I hope most of us do, why do we keep on slogging away at that far distant goal of publication, which seems to recede even as we run towards it?  Why don’t we just give it up and watch telly or take up line-dancing instead?

It’s not the same answer for everyone.  It’s not just one answer even for me. 

Some of it was the fact that there are a lot of people in my head who all seem to want their chance to get down on paper, and if I don’t write, they don’t shut up.  But if that were all, I could just have written for myself and never worried about whether it saw the light of day.

Some of it was, I suppose, simply arrogance, a belief that I had good stories that people would enjoy if they read them, and that I had things I wanted to say that I thought people would want to hear.

Some of it, a lot of it, was the support and belief of others; people who read my stuff and liked it and told me to keep at it. 

Some of it was sheer, persistent stubbornness, a determination to keep butting my head against that wall until one of us broke.  And, at least in terms of getting my first deal, I guess it’s paid off. 

But that’s why I did it, and not even all of why I did it.  So I am left wondering, why does everyone else do it, what keeps pushing them on?  If you haven’t yet got to the place you want to be…what keeps you trying?

A bit of the Other

What is it with these people?
Or non-people.  Or nearly-people.
Find self increasingly fascinated by extraordinary prevalence of shape-shifty, were-y, not-quite-human types in genre.  Especially in romantic context.  Everywhere one looks, furry romance abounds.  Well, no, not that kind of furry, is another sub-genre entirely and Not Personally My Thing. 
But nonetheless, bounding tide of good-looking, often bare-chested, partly-human sorts is sweeping away readers on tide of passion.
Cannot help but wonder, a lá Carrie Thing, can’t remember name, lots of shoes, anyway – why this?  Why now?
Humanity always fascinated by Other; in old stories Faery Queens and Elf Kings forever whisking mortals off to play them music, look after their babies etc. (Have to say Faery Court would have rather lacked appeal if invited there as Court Babysitter; small children quite scary enough without addition of ability to turn one into things.).
But in old tales, mortals tended to want to come back.  Other world remained, well, Other – interesting place to visit, perhaps, but wouldn’t want to live there, and mermaid caught in fishing net proved problematic; unsuited to domesticity, had to be thrown back. 
Now, it seems, Other is infinitely domesticable: not only walking  amongst us, but taking us out to dinner and talking about moving in. 
Whole thing adds new dimension to question of What Women Want, or at least What Women Want At the Moment.  As woman, personally, mainly want a chap to be reasonably courteous, affectionate and nice to be around, though capacity of said chap to reduce enemies to quivering jelly with single growl does appeal to self’s darker and more atavistic side. (Mind you idea of being able to reduce thug to helplessness with own mere glare, has always had even greater appeal, if sad lack of likelihood).
But many readers, it seems, also want fur.  Though only occasional fur; man who is permanently in wolf shape is, well, wolf; and preferred type of vampire now apparently much less inclined to steal one’s immortal soul.  Whole idea of souls being endangered by Other has rather gone out window; which is entire different discussion, probably.
So is it Tamed Other that appeals?  One’s opposite, still with attractive Otherness, but without nasty tendency to rip out throats, or at least, much less inclined to rip out one’s own, personal throat? 
Hmm.  Perhaps is something to do with current scariness of world.  After all, still largely run by chaps, and not in a great state, overall, what with war, bombs, disintegrating climate etc.  Perhaps what readers really want is Beauty and Beast: fantasy that beneath Otherness, beneath fur, fangs, growling and tendency to come home covered in blood, is actually nice decent bloke, just waiting for right woman to come along and stop him acting like such an arse.