a burning green

Last night I finished this new novella, which I discussed a bit just the other day. I didn’t expect to be finished so soon, since I thought I was taking kind of a relaxed pace to this, but I finished it in about eight days. Which, I guess, is pretty relaxed for me, since I’ve finished novels three times this length in roughly the same amount of time.

The first draft is around 21,000 words, and it feels oddly satisfying to already have two novellas finished this year. I thought I’d be taking a long break from writing after finishing Songs of My Mother, but that seems to’ve unintentionally instilled some kind of work ethic in me, or at least a writing habit.

So hopefully I can keep this up, though the next idea I have is for something quiet a bit longer. Perhaps 100,000 words. It’s going to be sort of my largest statement about anarchism, in that I’m building a continent like Europe that will basically just be a bunch of functioning anarchic states.

It should be fun.

But this new novella, it had a pretty unpleasant name during the writing process, but I’ve landed onĀ Born Under a Burning Green for now. It might change, and it might change often, but I like it right now, and it’s pretty appropriate.

It’s about 90% dialogue, really. Most of it is funny to me, though that might just be my own preference. But these two women with pasts that are only ever obliquely alluded to just talk about the world and their place in it. Sort of a pseudophilosophical text in a fantasy world. In many ways, it’s meant to mirror the standard epic fantasy quest storyline while also removing everything that makes that a typical story. So there is a quest, but the reader isn’t really aware of what it is. There are great actions taken, though many of those are left undescribed. And in most stories, these two would be villains, since they do little more than murder humans and monsters alike.

So it’s a black comedy, I think, but also kind of an aggressive text, in that it’s pretty unfriendly. Brutal characters who are, essentially, living in a peaceful world. They don’t so much fight other humans. They butcher them in an often gruesome manner, though a lot of that is left to the imagination. The only things they fight are the monsters which roam the continent. Strange, foul monsters.

But, yeah, weirdly proud of this, partly because of how peculiar it is, but mostly because it’s a very peculiar thing for me to write, and it’s told in a manner that’s unusual for me as well. There’s very little outside of quotation marks. So the whole narrative and world is given through dialogue, which is just kind of a wandering, fun, accidental experiment.

But, yes, it’s finished. I hope you get the chance to read it someday. And I hope you love it.

sacred power

The way goes on forever nameless.
Uncut wood, nothing important,
yet nobody under heaven
dare try to carve it.
If rulers and leaders could use it,
the ten thousand things
would gather in homage,
heaven and earth would drop sweet dew,
and people, without being ordered,
would be fair to one another.

To order, to govern,
is to begin naming;
when names proliferate
it’s time to stop.
If you know when to stop
you’re in no danger.

The Way in the world
is as a stream to a valley,
a river to the sea.

Lao Tzu
Ursula K Le Guin’s version

Le Guin’s commentary:

The second verse connects the uncut, the uncarved, the unusable, to the idea of the unnamed presented in the first chapter: “name’s the mother of the ten thousand things.” You have to make order, you have to make distinctions, but you also have to know when to stop before you’ve lost the whole in the multiplicity of parts. The simplicity or singleness of the Way is that of water, which always rejoins itself.

Be like water, my friend. A billions parts of water is still water. A flood is just one thing: water. Though, in reality, it’s billions upon billions of bits of water.

It’s an interesting idea here. To find order but to remain simple. To create names, but not too many. Again, I’m reminded of the world we live in today, though I won’t go too much into this. But everyone demands a specific type or category for themselves, which is their right, but I’m not sure policing language in this way is effective or even productive.

Especially because the good intentions that created the proliferation of identities has also weakened language to the point that Nazis now call themselves the much less offensive termĀ alt-right, which, oddly, is also their right. They can call themselves what they like, and while we say it’s good manners to call category X and Y and Z by their preferred nomenclature, we find it unutterable to do the same for these fascists.

I don’t think that’s wrong. I just find it interesting, and this poem reminds me of it.

Strive for simplicity, my friends. In all things.