Mythmaking

They say that sometimes the earth will grow dark, for a great wolf tries to eat the sun.
They say there were once giants, who walked the land and would eat those that smelled overmuch like Christians.
They say there was once a boy born who never grew taller than a hand is long, but that he made up for his size with cunning and bravery.
They say there was once a cat who was smart enough to talk and wear clothing like a man, and that is why cats are so much harder to cow, teach, and intimidate than dogs.
They say sometimes a star will fall to earth, and it grants a wish to the one who throws it back up into the heavens.
They say barriers of running water and sunlight will keep all supernatural monsters of ill intent away from you, and keep you safe.
They say that under the ice of Antarctica there is a secret tunnel where you can go and meet the strange and alien people living within the earth, down below the oceans.

Mankind has created all manner of myths, sparks of imagination and passion, fire and smoke. Every myth has its origins in truth, too. Even if you choose not to believe accounts from the days of the Romans, or the detailed memories of the oral histories and runestones of the Northmen, or the writings of Catholic monks, dragons can be believed from dinosaur bones at least. All kinds of stories have grown over the years, whether they are silly like the Easter Bunny or serious like how nations are made of laws instead of people who share heritage and language; fish stories are the least of our troubles and tangles with mythology!

I’m a firm believer in knowing your foes, and mythology the most pleasant and entertaining of foes to a truth-seeking and civilized soul. Join me today in writing a myth about why February has fewer days than the other months—it need not be long or drawn out! Here is my story…

Chronos, the great master Time himself, had given command of the shining days of the future to twelve of his children: The first, Janu, was an anxious boy and eager to please, so he kept his hand tight about the days and lets them go one by one, each much darker than most other months. His older brother Decem also holds onto the days and so they are dark, but that is because he is lazy and does things at the last minute. Jul and Aug were boistrous twins, young and happy, and in their hot energy they fling the days away into the hot rays of the sun rapidly so the days are very long in the summers. The oldest boys June and Octo are the most mature and sensible, so they are very balanced in sending out the days. Mara, April, and May all try to measure up to their oldest sister Sept, who is most beautiful, but they are always trying so hard and excited that they never quite capture her level of grace. Februa, the youngest girl, felt she could never ever do so well as her sisters or her brothers, and so towards the beginning she lost heart and went down to the pond to sulk, putting her days out one by one and watching their reflection in the water. She was absent, thinking sad thoughts in her little heart, and before she knew it a big fat frog had eaten up two of her days by mistake. “Oh no, you bad frog!” She cried, and tried to catch him, but the frog leapt away. She hasn’t stopped feeling sorry for herself and so each year the frog snags a few of her days, but sometimes she does catch him; that’s why in leap years we get an extra day in February!

Did you enjoy the myth? How did yours turn out? Share it with someone, or put it in the comments below!

Old Scribbles and Throwaways

I have a box of old papers from my childhood: Church bulletins, napkins, ragged journal pages and curled and faded sticky-notes. At any given time I might call any one of them junk, but when I sit to write and do not feel a particular creative spark I have found a simple glance at the box sometimes jars me into remembering.

I became enthralled with other worlds, with the godlike power to mould and shape and reason out whole countries and cities, empires that spanned the void and people who walked the ether as though the worlds were neighborhood houses, magicians and dragons and monsters that defied definition to my child-mind. That spark has been tended, and though it may get blown out from the candle I carry I always remember to keep close at hand something to light my fire again, and a place to record valuable tinder.

There are three indispensable tools, for those who desire to write for a living:
– Memories of the past: This is knowledge of the world, evergreen and ever-growing, as well as remembering what it’s like not to know fully. Without that you will grow conceited and stop advancing into productive drive and high-quality works.
– Concrete for the future: Without clear goals, nothing will be achieved just as without hurdles to jump or lines in the track and a timer running a sprinter is merely a lad at play. You need metrics to produce your best; some people love time crunches or competitions, making money or love sharing their stories… the motivation and where exactly the chalk-lines stand in the field is up to the individual, but without them you will drift. These are actually the bricks that build a city.
– A slate for the present: Many great ideas are lost each day for want of a pen and a napkin, and many stories have been told of how a wonderful bit of writing was once begun very humbly. Keep a notebook and pen always at hand, even if you usually use a smartphone or electronic record like I do. You can’t regret it, and you don’t have to blind yourself to record a dream or some terrific vision either. Get comfortable writing in a journal too. A daily devotion to remembering will harden your mind and sharpen its teeth to catch ideas for you to use as you solve problems letter and word by sentence and paragraph by page and chapter.

In taking a break between publishing my first book and compiling the other three in the series, I came to realize just how important the habit of daily writing and journaling is to my creative process, and just how vital it is to have the ability to jot down a quick idea to resolve later and keep it from distracting me yet also not losing it. They only appeared in reflection, and I wondered what all had been recorded. Almost forty pages, line by line, of new ideas, characters, cities and speeches and plots and stories and stubs of differing grades. If I ever find a place for them in my continued work, I have only the close proximity of my tools and the mindfulness that I developed to thank.

These four books—my first—are all compilations from my past and present that reach forward into my future from a daily habit of writing. I chose to publish them because they might help others. Perhaps even you. It is no small drive that makes an artist, but a great one that flows from the heart with strong enough hands to keep it from running away with the head; it is all too easy to forget that wrangling it takes time, devoted time that you must choose to limit your focus, shut off sections of your imagination or turn them inward to focus on one area.

But you cannot waste things, or you may be found wanting them later. Start building your shoe box and that pile of ratty old journals you’re certain nobody will ever want to read. They can’t be your muse when you’re older if you don’t make them now to remind you, you cannot leave a legacy to inspire fans and enrich your children’s lives if you leave only your public persona behind, you cannot afford to forget where you have come from if you wish to live a compassionate and graceful life. Set up your marker-stones and remember for tomorrow instead of simply passing through like a migrating animal. The moments of life and health we are given are even more precious than our simple ideas, and we can use them well.