Category Archives: Article

The Short Story, a brief survey

Not written by me!

I haven’t read all the articles (in my TO DO list), so I do not agree or disagree. I just thought to put it here for my own reference, and yours.

“A brief survey of the short story”, a series of articles published on the Guardian, written by Chris Power, organized by author.



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Now We Can Map Every Magical World into a Multiverse |

I love maps and structure and this is intriguing 🙂

“Seanan McGuire’s new book Every Heart a Doorway explores how to deal with real life once the portal to your own personal magical world has closed. It also gives readers a rough guideline for …”

Source: Now We Can Map Every Magical World into a Multiverse |

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Invisible illnesses: what is their narrative?

healthy-life-freeway-exit-sign-highway-street-18212486I was having a conversation with a dear friend (Valentine Oggan) and we asked the question:

Invisible Illnesses, why do people have problems with them?

There are ongoing debates about the stigma of mental illnesses, from Depression to Chronic Fatigue to Dementia and all in between, and how these illnesses and those suffering from them shouldn’t be ostracized or mocked or punished for them, and how can society integrate the sufferers with the non-sufferers and build a more accepting and tolerant, encompassing environment for everyone.

The biggest obstacle is people (non-sufferers)’s lack of understanding of these illnesses. They can’t see it, how can it be true? Is it not all in someone’s head? How can sufferers suffer and still go on vacations and such? Don’t they suffer all the time? If they don’t, then is their illness real?

If you think of illness as a narrative, then these questions become stunningly relevant and significant.

In a narrative, you have a beginning, a climax, a conclusion. Something happens, develops, ends.

In a visible illness, you have the first symptoms, the diagnosis, the cure.

For example, one has an accident and breaks a leg, the doctor/hospital confirms the broken bones with an x-ray, a cast is made and after 40 days, if there are no complications, the leg needs some physiotherapy and it’s good to go. Or, you start sneezing, you may have the flu or an allergy, you get tested, diagnosed, given a cure, and then you recover or control the symptoms.

In visible illnesses there is a clear narrative: a beginning (symptoms), climax (discovery of cause and diagnosis), happy ending ( a cure). Most successful narrative have happy endings, obviously not all, and that’s also where invisible illnesses come into play.

Invisible illness: what is their narrative?

The narrative of invisible illnesses is not a happy ending one. In fact, in most cases, it’s a non-ending one. Or one where the ending is not clear and easily communicated. Non sufferers can’t follow the story along because the story doesn’t end in the ways that are commonly accepted: it’s not a happy ending, or an ending.

The lack of visible/tangible narrative solutions to invisible illnesses makes people uncomfortable and deprives them of indicators of behaviour (complimenting one on surviving the illness/accident, sharing their own narrative and happy ending, etc).

Non sufferers hear a story/watch a film and there is no ending filmed: each narrative provides in itself the means to understanding it, but when those set pieces are invisible (no cast, fever, hospital discharge papers to show), non sufferers don’t see/accept that particular story.

This is in no way a finite thought, just an intuition I’d love to discuss more, and I know there are many out there discussing the narrative of doctors/patients relationships, and supporting a better understanding of invisible illnesses, and I wonder whether these ideas may help in any way 🙂

Do let me know what you think, in comments or by email 🙂



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Back with a vengeance (I wish :) An interesting article on new creative interests in older age

Apologies for the long silence (again). The best plans and all that, and some deeply involving events in life.

However, I bring you a very interesting reblog:

Creativity in the Aging Brain, a guest post hosted on the Artist Road blog (a very good blog to follow, if I may advice)

I believe curiosity, as in learning a new language, how to play an instrument, how to work with clay and so on –  curiosity keeps us alive, makes our bran work in new ways. puts us in contact with new people. I see it happen in older relations, that moment when they think they have done all they had to do in life, and there’s nothing else but waiting for death. I believe in raging against it, and yes, learn new things with passion for the sake of it.

Me, I have a violin looking at me, and a Learn Chinese for Beginners waiting patiently for my older years 🙂

How about you, have you made plans?



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Board Games for book lovers and Sci-Fi for 2013

Ah, Board Games! I love them 🙂 In the back of my mind, I have a deep seated wish to invent one (do you invent a board game? do you assemble it? do you design it?).

In the meantime, have fun with this selection by flavorwire:

10 Board Games (for book lovers)

I support genre fiction in general, and speculative fiction in particular (genre has so many nuances, these days, good and bad, and for some, it excludes literary endeavours, which I really don’t agree with!)

This is an interesting article from the Guardian about the 2013 scifi trends (a HBO series of Gaiman’s American Gods? Sounds jolly to me 🙂

Writing advice:

Give yourself some off time from writing, now and then, and instead read a book, watch a film, have a walk or go to a museum. We have senses that can be stimulated by diverse experiences, and it can all be channeled to enrich your writing.




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Steampunk Fashion, Orientalism & the Ethics of Art on the Steampunk Chronicle

I’m very keen in discovering alternative views on orientalism and steampunk. When I went to the Historical Novel Conference in London, I did bring (and wear) my first attempt at an Oriental (Far East) inspired steampunk costume (photo incoming). Interesting article:)

Beyond Victoriana

Wilhemina Frame posts the second half of our interview at the Steampunk Chronicle

An excerpt:

WF: That brings up to me the whole Victorian concept of Orientalism, which was an art concept, a popular fashion concept, and a fascination that was held in the Victorian period especially in England but in Europe in general. Orientalism as I interpret it now, and this is my own personal interpretation, goes back to the concept of “The Other”. It has no foundation in reality. In Steampunk, if people are using that, but not being “travelers”, and they’re not trying to present an accurate viewpoint of a certain culture at that time — but they are referencing the historical aesthetics of Orientalism — how do you feel about that?

DP: (Laughs) Sorry, I’m laughing because you just asked a very long version of “Is this offensive if I do X, Y or Z?”


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Time for reading: what’s in a short story?

A relatively short time ago, writers were able to support themselves by selling short stories. I don’t know if any writer can still do that, (let me know if you or someone you know do 🙂 but it seems not as feasible anymore.

This article, The State of the Short Story, argues for television and changed habits being part of the influence in the lack of interest in the short story. It also poses longer narratives, such as novels, as occasions for losing oneself in another world/time/character, whereas the short story requires a stringent attention by its readers, and delivers a punch which makes for a less relaxing reading experience.

I’m not arguing with that. I want to point out how happy I am when I travel on the bus and the tube (in the UK) and realize how many fellow travelers are reading: a book, an ebook, doesn’t matter. They’re still reading.

Short stories don’t have the market they could have, not mainstream. But there are plenty of magazines seeking short stories submissions, and plenty of writers skilled in the genre. What I think is missing, and it resonates with my post on Ian McEwan’s preference for the Novella vs. the Novel, is a certain fluidity of the literary/genre market.

The short story is mostly seen, these days, as a trampoline for writers to get noticed, and then move on the more remunerative novel form. Instead, all forms of writing, no matter their word count, should be considered at the same level.

Just because a short story has a smaller word count, doesn’t mean it’s easier to write. Nothing is easy to write, in a way. All forms present their challenges, their flaws, their advantages.

If you’re interested in the short story, you may appreciate Object Lessons, The Paris Review’s collection of short stories and essays on the Art of the Short Story.

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When the Introvert Meets the Extrovert, then Wonderful Things Happen

Many of us take tests on the net to find whether we’re Introverts or Extroverts, seeking a way to develop what we’re better at, and to better what we’re not so good at. However, it doesn’t matter on what side of this particular compass you end up on, it’s all back to the Yin and Yang: both Introverts and Extroverts and all nuances in between are needed. The video below shows it really well (and the illos are lovely).

RSA Shorts – The Power of Quiet.

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Why classic fairy tales are important (for children and adult alike)

I loved reading fairy tales. The classic ones, where the witch did end up burning in the oven, where the bad children were cooked in with the cookie dough, and so on.

I also love writing versions of fairy tales, inspired by Angela Carter‘s revisionist take in books such as The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories.

Certainly, there is more to fairy tales than meets the eye. However, I completely agree with Adam Gidwitz and what he writes in this article: In Defense of Real Fairy Tales. He refers in particular to the original versions of the Grimm tales, and to how much they are nowadays sweetened and diluted by the more contemporary versions, not to mention the Disney/Hollywood’s take on them.

Gidwitz says:

Why, contrary to adults’ expectations and apprehensions, are fairy tales so perfectly appropriate for these children?

In part, the form of the fairy tale offers a complete package: problem, trial, solution, judgment and punishment or reward. And there’s nothing in fairy tales (the real ones, the blood-dripping, gory, Blue Beard ones) that children don’t see daily in their exposure to media. With a major difference: the media communicate facts (or they should).

Fairy tales provide a narrative, and narrative is a way of making sense, of understanding, of imagining ourselves in extreme situations and be shown various possible actions and their consequences.

Narrative is the first tool we can offer the young ones to understand the world. Possibly new fairy tales are needed, but not necessarily, because the old ones deal with human nature, and human nature hasn’t really changed. You may send a message with pigeons, ravens or a text. But the courier doesn’t change the nature of your message: lie, trap, truth, good news. The message will arrive all the same.

Do you remember the fairy tales of your youth?


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Ghosts! Ghosts! Ghosts!

In case you’ve missed it, a collection of links to the Ghost Week on Tor dot com.

It’s a feast of articles, short stories (some favourites like Lovecraft and M. Twain) and more to entertain your dark, scary side 🙂

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