Monday, October 17, 2016

Odds & Sods: Halloween, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Writing as Therapy


Not surprisingly, I find myself more excited about Halloween than any other holiday. The first posts of the month here were Elvira-related, definitely in the spirit of the season. Interestingly enough, because of that post I may (I emphasize may) have the opportunity to review her new "coffin table" book. It goes without saying that would be a blast, so let's hope it winds up happening. The plan would be to review it for a website but I'll definitely link to it here. If it happens. Please, Pagan gods of Halloween, make it happen.

Outside of reveling in Halloween-related activities and watching as many horror films as I can this month (which admittedly with two toddlers around is not nearly as many as I'd like), I've also been working on another post for quite a while now. I started it in the summer and it just keeps growing and morphing into something bigger, something more sprawling yet more intimately personal than anything else I've written here. Its scope encompasses the last five years (and occasionally farther back than that), but its taken on the shape of a nonlinear present-tense journal, almost. It seems close to finished and now I'm struggling with the fear of sharing it here. That's because I'm not exactly good or comfortable with exposing my feelings—and I mean really exposing them, not my usual approach of revealing bits of myself through humor and cynicism. We'll see what develops, and how brave I'll be about sharing it. Part of me thinks its too navel-gazing and narcissistic to share here, while another part of me thinks its just therapy through writing. And really, isn't all writing some form of therapy?

I feel the need to write about something incredible that I read recently. Sunday while the kids napped I spent some time reading this amazing author profile of author Ursula K. Le Guin at The New Yorker. I haven't read much of Le Guin's work, in fact I've only read a short story or two and her seminal novel The Left Hand of Darkness during college, but this piece made me vow to seek out more of her work and even reread The Left Hand of Darkness. Julie Phillips has what seems like unfettered access to Le Guin (she's writing a biography on the author) and this leads to an incredibly insightful and thoughtful profile of the living legend. She hates being called that, but I'm going with it anyway because it's the truth. Through discussions with Le Guin and analysis of her work, Phillips does a fantastic job of expressing what makes Le Guin so special. Her work is concerned with taking a hard look at ideas surrounding gender, humanity, freedom, isolation, and politics. She does what all of the best science fiction writers do: she explores the very core of human emotions through dazzlingly creative and inventive metaphors and motifs. I can't recommend this profile enough, so please set aside some time and read it slowly. At 87, Le Guin seems like an amazing person, one who is aware of not only our collective shortcomings but also her personal ones, and her writing is an attempt to make some sort of sense of it all. I'm definitely adding some of her books to my wishlist.

In the meantime, I'd love to fill this space with more Halloween and horror writing as the month rolls on. If that doesn't wind up happening, blame my utter lack of free time. Never fear though, I'll still be enjoying the lead up to Halloween, which is a good thing because it helps ground me while engaging with the sort of memories and emotions I'm wrestling with every time I take a crack at that other, more personal and long-simmering post. Stay tuned.

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