Andrew Bailey

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Caddy on Thomas

So there’s a review of John Goodby’s new Dylan Thomas book in the current Tears in the Fence that includes this, to cut out and keep:

Thomas clearly shows that there are immensely successful alternatives to writing closed, one-dimensional poems derived from a stable, expressive self that validates and personifies landscapes and animals, claiming inside knowledge of other human beings, has epiphanies in the garden or bath, and has a lovely mother. No wonder that Kingsley Amis and other Movement poets disliked Thomas with such intensity.

It’s a likeable review in general, but I particularly like that rhetorical squelch of the first sentence.


It’s been long enough since I posted here that this may be an appropriate soundtrack to press play on:

I’m thinking about soundtracks as I’ve just been to Lille and spent the last afternoon in the Palais de Beaux Arts. They’ve got AIR doing some guest curation, which means there’s soundtracks to several of the galleries as well as the generally silent paintings and statues normally expected. It’s powerful, as what they’ve written slots right into the mental space that supports concentration. As a slightly noisy room is easier to talk in than a silent one. As the longer the silence here continues the harder to pick up again. Not yet a thought out response, then, but something other than silence. Also videos from the galleries:



A hedonistic salesman, you say?

So I found a new online toy: rpgsolo, by someone called Mark. I like the ability to outsource decisions. Here’s a speedy go with it:

This tower has stood undisturbed for many years, patient ghosts within it continuing the work of the Sleeper in the solar room at the top. But who comes into view now?

Hedonistic salesman.

A seller of pleasures, then? Yes, she rides her mule-cart stocked with affordable pleasures but false. Is she coming to the tower itself?

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No.

but did she know it was here?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes.

It must be a strange journey for her to be taking a detour to this forsaken cliff top. What bars her usual route?

Worg rider.

That would do it. How many riders are there?

7 = 2[d4]+1[d4]+1[d4]+3[d4]

Seven, a mystical number to the goblins. Are they aware of her?

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but…

ah, I see, she is about to stumble into one of their charmed alarm circles. There it goes. She claps her hands to her ears, and the mule bucks. Will she turn and make for the tower?

(Likely | 5[d10]) No, but…

when the worgs break the treeline she has little choice. The mule sees them and runs, her wares rattling in their drawers and cabinets. Do the tower doors open for her?

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but…

as she hammers at the oaken doors two of the ghosts pass through them, above her head, and point menacing fingers at the approaching riders. Are they intimidated?

(Likely | 7[d10]) Yes.

enough to flee once more?

(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes.

and away they go, back into the trees. Is the merchant also scared?

(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes.

of course she is, quivering at a corner she’s made between the tower doors and her shaken cart. Is she right to be?

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes.

“You have trespassed,” speaks one of the ghosts, “and you must atone. You must pay with blood.” Do they mean enough to hurt her?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes.

and will she do it unquestioningly?

(Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and…

the request is enough to turn her fear into anger. “No atonement,” she says. “I will give thanks for the fear you have put in the goblins, I will offer you goods from my stock in exchange, but my blood is my own and will stay so.”

Does it cow the ghosts?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes.

They retreat through the doors. Do they open them?

(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and…

the merchant feels a force pushing her back from the tower, as if an invisible bubble were expanding from its walls. Will she let it drive her away?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 3[d10]) No.

No. She draws a dagger from her boot that glows with a blue, unnatural light, and there are sparks as she sinks it into the magical membrane. Does it work?

(Somewhat Likely | 7[d10]) Yes.

A tear forms below the sparks, crackling light arcing between them, and she steps through. Painlessly?

(Unlikely | 6[d10]) Yes, but…

the blue light fades from the knife. Whatever anti-magical charm was bonded to its surface has failed.

Her mule and its cart are pushed, inexorably, to a spot twenty feet away. She looks at her knife, sadly, and slides it back into her boot. Has she managed to bring anything else through the tear, now sealed behind her?

Wine, Wire, Camera.

Well, that’s something; a valuable wineskin slung over her shoulder, a hank of wire in one pocket, and in the other a mirror enchanted to duplicate what it shows upon parchment pressed to its back. She unwinds a small length of the wire to probe the tower door – does that work?

(Unlikely | 6[d10]) Yes, but…

with a red crash the opening door releases a small but dusty explosion in the merchant’s face. Ow! What’s behind the door?

Unusually tough zombie.

It shambles towards her slowly. Normally, she thinks, you can just outrun these things, but she’s shaken and hurt from the explosion, and with her knife discharged there’s no way through the barrier. She gets to her feet and looks around. Can she climb?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 6[d10]) No, but…

the ivy that’s too loosely attached to climb up is still pretty strong. She runs the creeper across the doorway, and when the creature steps across it, she lifts and tries to trip him with it. Does it work?

(Likely | 3[d10]) No.

The creature’s legs are stronger than the creeper. Curses! it breaks, rather than unbalancing him.

What now?

She must use her advantages, her speed, and chooses to throw rocks at the drooling beast.

She hits him a few times – enough to hurt him?

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and…

it seems one lucky shot has left him blinded, mashing his one clouded eye. She scoots behind him, leaps, and sinks the blade of her knife into the back of his neck. There’s a long groan as the thing goes down to its knees and topples forward. Is that the end of it?

(Likely | 3[d10]) No.

No, it’s enchanted. As the merchant pulls her knife out, the flesh starts healing over. With all her weight, she pushes down on both ends of the blade, hoping to decapitate the thing. Surely that’s going to do it?

(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and…

with its death, one of the tower’s ghosts appears above them, holds up its hands and dwindles to nothing.

She steps in to the tower and looks up.

Image by Perspectiva from http://perspectiva.deviantart.com/art/Fantasy-Tower-318095645, used under a creative commons licence. I found it after the writing part but it’s perfect.

What Pinterest thinks

This is what Pinterest thinks I should be interested in. It’s not wholly wrong.

hedi slimane
christmas stories
silver linings
powder paint
sticky notes
baby llama
wood sculpture
green skirts
funny babies
dark places
being along
wood engraving
book ends
the rock
mama bear
sacred geometry
big eyes
nerd cake
world history
one word


I read a tumblr post by someone I’ve seen being great about trying to remember how to write poetry, about how any first scraps of a draft lead to disgust at the thought that they could even have been considered worth the ink that’s wasted on them, and I identified. I’ve been in a very similar place for months, with only deadlined poems getting done (napo and occasional ones) and even blogging being impossible. Well damn it, I thought, it’s Lent, let’s actively stop. Let’s move from not to do to to not do. It’s a little bit heartening that something within me rose up and resisted that thought, so I’m trying to let that wrestle the monkey mind down. Here’s a link, then, to Geof Huth and writing as a personal urge.

It’s later. It’s like when you break your arm and keep seeing casts, as here’s a tunnel from Shane Jones too. Wasn’t Light Boxes great?

How to Write an Ending that Swerves

A J Bailey:

A tweet from PANK led me to a blog article at Read to Write Stories that led me back to PANK again for a story. Sort of a circle come out of a swerve.

Originally posted on Read to Write Stories:

"Poinsettias" by Myfanwy Collins was published in PANK Magazine.

“Poinsettias” by Myfanwy Collins was published in PANK Magazine .

Sometimes an ending can seem too much like the conclusion of a composition paper. The writer is moved to swerve away from the predictable, to untie the ending from the sense of inevitability that the story has spent its entire existence building. But how?

Myfanwy Collins gives a lesson in excellent endings in her story “Poinsettias.” It was published in PANK, where you can read it now. (Seriously, it’s short and wonderful, and you can read it in three minutes.)

How the Story Works

This kind of last-second-swerve might seem like the famous epiphanies from early Modernist writers. But, it’s actually quite different. To demonstrate, here are two of the most famous epiphany endings:

“Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger”

View original 759 more words


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