I’m not going back to the office after the Christmas holidays.
I have taken a leave of absence from The Day Job ™ and will be spending 2016:
- not being a lawyer;
- undertaking an MPhil in creative writing (the illustrated variety); and
- illustrating and writing.
The finer detail of that is still being resolved.
I’m still a little startled this has happened at all, let alone so soon. It was a distant possibility six months ago, a concrete chance three months ago, a reality two weeks ago.
It would be nice to write up a little piece on how it came about, and the work and privilege (mine and others’) which have contributed, but I’m not sure yet how to phrase any of that in a way that is useful rather than obnoxious. In the meantime, I recommend David McDonald’s series of guest posts about Paying For Our Passion, and Peter Ball’s post Let’s Be Clear, There’s Privilege Behind My Process.
It has been 5 years since I put up the Very Quick Advent Calendar (good grief). Of course, Advent is well and truly begun. But for those who are starting late, or who like to start the Twelve Days of Christmas from Christmas and count up to Twelfth Night (or both), here is a little piece to colour with only twelve major figures (if you take the chickens as a pair). The image below links to the full-size file.
A little pencil and watercolour fantasy for this week’s Illustration Friday topic, in between book covers.
In other news, here is a post Kim Smith wrote about the experience of modelling for illustrations (not this one): A guide for creating #awkwardreferencephotos.
Prompted by a question on Facebook, this is a list of short stories which have lingered, i.e. which occur to me off the top of my head. They aren’t value judgements, in fact I am certain there are stories that don’t occur to me because they fit so perfectly into the whole of their collection or anthology. But they’ve stuck, and that probably says more about me than them.
- Kelly Link’s “Magic for Beginners” (in the book of the same title, but also online here) because it was wonderfully strange and folded and caught something true and should have been real.
- Dirk Flinthart’s “The Ballad of Farther-on-Jones” (in Striking Fire), because it was lyrical and hopeful and contained all it needed to.
- Shaun Tan’s “No Other Country” (in Tales from Outer Suburbia), because it, like the whole book, is achingly gorgeous. The serious undertones of some of its neighbouring stories enhance the jewel-like quality of this one and its art.
- Karen Joy Fowler’s “The Dark” (in What I Didn’t See – the paperback has a really nice cover;), because it keeps inserting itself into my memory of other collections, and because terrible things happen but people do good things too.
- M R James’ “The Diary of Mr Poynter” because of one particular moment of the mundane becoming unsettled. Almost all his ghost stories do this but this one was particularly low-key. And I like the design element in the plot.
- Dorothy Sayers’ “The Haunted Policeman” (in Striding Folly, but I read it first in the Folio Society’s Crime Stories from the Strand) because it is a miniature painting, and a lovely little puzzle. It was also my first introduction to Peter and Harriet.
- Henry Lawson’s “The Loaded Dog” (warning for some animal deaths) and/or “We Called Him “Allie” for Short, because of Lawson’s laid-back, tongue-in-cheek tone and, in the case of “The Loaded Dog”, the rolling, rollicking, dangerous inevitability of the plot.
- Angela Slatter’s “The Badger Bride” (in The Bitterwood Bible – and by the way, the limited edition hardbacks of this are nearly sold out) because it is a small, perfectly formed legend curled into an angle of the interlocked stories of the collection.
- E Nesbit’s “Melisande, or: Long and Short Division“, because of the knock-on effect of the plot, and the charm, and there being no real villain as such except for consequences (not unusual in E Nesbit’s stories), and because the silliness is played out soberly. Also maths.
There are moments where you go to illustrate something which sounds cool, and then run up against the interplay of avian aerodynamics with traditional tailoring.
I’m currently running around frantically working on illustrations for Tremontaine and a few more post-America pre-2016 deadlines, and winding down on something else big, about which I will blog in due course.
In the meantime, may I commend to you Tremontaine, which I have been enjoying tremendously in draft, Bookburners, the first three episodes of which have been delightful (I’m listening to the audio while I work and appreciating Xe Sands laid-back delivery).
And, of course, Jedediah Berry’s Untine, an in-progress, interactive story guided by Twitter poll, which prompted the suited owls above.