Blog post alert: Kathleen Jennings has a long, amusing, and excellent post on Some elements of ghost stories. Instead of piggy-backing too much on Jennings, however, I chose a picture form John Muth's Zen Ghosts (which includes a Japanese ghost story) because I love both the story and the art.
Picturing a World
This engraved illustration to a page in Edward Young's Night Thoughts by William Blake from his own watercolor design demonstrates pictorial drama, while the thirty-line text shows approximately how long a one-page tiny story could be. Blake reacted to the poem. We, on the other hand, could ignore it and react to the imagery as inspiration for a story. As I said in my last post Kathleen Jennings has a good post on formats for tiny illustrated stories.
A post by James Gurney on Painting Fantasy on Location immediately brought to mind Kathleen Jennings' Floating Islands. I've also just finished rereading A Sudden Wild Magic by Diana Wynne Jones in which a pocket world the size of a giant fortress orbits a planet in its own universe while being connected by magic to its counterpart in another. And then there's Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Petit Prince, surely the most delicious story and artwork ever set on an asteroid. In short, the whole idea of tiny floating worlds has set me thinking about how to approach a story set on one.
Blog post alerts: Two recent posts set me thinking about the exercises and games creative people use to hone their skills or explore their art. The first is The Wiggle Game, which illustrates a parlor game played by painters in Old Lyme, Connecticut: One would draw a set of random squiggles for the others to expand into pictures. The second is Tropes to Taste, which explores an exercise for altering worn-out devices and descriptions in fiction. Personally, I have never carried out such mechanical exercises in any sustained way, but I love reading about them. And I love Stillwater and Koo on the endpapers of Jon J. Muth's Zen Ties!
Blog post alert: Kathleen Jennings, one of my favorite working illustrators, has a terrific post on Art process — designing "the Fairest" for Owen King's The Curator. You can see her progression from first sketches, through the development of concepts, and examples of her use of silhouettes. Owen King is new to me. Thanks to Jennings, I'm giving him a try. As for the jacket design, that belongs to Jaya Miceli—give more of her work a look-see here.
Kathleen Jennings' recent post on Mapping movements in stories sent me surfing the 'net. Eventually, I landed on Misty Beee's map, winner of a 2021 Atlas Award at the Cartographer's Guild. Oh, to be able to create something like it or like Jennings' whimsical communicative sketches! Actually, I do sometimes make rough maps and house plans to help me with my stories, and I highly recommend non-verbal exercises as a way to broaden a writer's experience of her worlds. Here's one adaped from Jennings' post:
Blog post alert: Something I would never have thought of: jotting down quick sketches—graphic or verbal—of what you see in the background while watching television series. Kathleen Jennings did. Read her post on TV Sketching—Backgrounds. Then try it!
My day got off to a good start with progress on my current short story. Afterward, I read Kathleen Jennings' post, Observation Journal—Little Groves on what she likes "about "'little woods and wildernesses' in art and stories and life, and as art and stories." So much to think about, agree with, and send me out looking with new eyes. And then, THEN, I went to the post office. Waiting for me was Ericka V's exquisite miniature version—you can really turn the pages—of the Augsburg Book of Miracles. Perfection.
Blog post alert: For an insider's look at commercial art, ghostwriting, and publishers, the always interesting Kathleen Jennings has a long interview—"Ghoulish but sentimental"—with fellow artist and writer, Socar Myles. Myles's startling artwork is gorgeous. I've never read any of her fiction, whether ghostwritten or published in her own name; but I was fascinated by everything she had to say.
Blog post alert: In Observation Journal: Ten Terrible Things, writer-illustrator Kathleen Jennings illustrates and explores an exercise she picked up from Helen Marshall: As quick as you can, jot down ten terrible ideas for a novel based on the X-meets-Y model. Examples: The Elements of Style as a musical, Where the Wild Things Are if it were a cooking show. Writers can use it to loosen up. Readers can turn it into a parlor game—or in these days when we should not be gathering for parties, one of you can plot a story about a group who did. My quick variation: Ten Terrible Romances, e.g., Heathcliff meets Bridget Jones, Elizabeth Bennett meets Superman. What's yours? (Warning: As Jennings observes, you may find yourself trying to develop one of your wacky ideas. Well, why not?)