Writers’ Bloc at the Science Festival.

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Writers’ Bloc at the Science Festival

Writers’ Bloc returns to the Edinburgh International Science Festival for The Culture Collider, an exploration of weird science and stranger arts. The show starts at 8pm on Sunday the 13th of April in the Red Lecture Theatre, Summerhall.

I will be reading a new story. Hope to see you there.

[more info · tickets · more of my fiction]

Haze and howl.

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Smacked down with a jagged little head-cold. Some bits from my phone, remnants of my desultory search for spring …

A mark on a lamppost.

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A squadron of daffodils besieging the links.

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A shrubbery unconvinced by spring’s opening argument.

crinkle

Book Review: The Happiness Project

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happinessprojectThe Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I appreciated the tone of Rubin’s writing, the depth of her research on the topic of happiness, and the overall organisation of the project, I found the read itself to be a slog. This is likely because I was already familiar with (and a little tired of) the premise through undertaking my own self-improvement projects. My friend Mako’s review of the book was so glowing that I wanted to read the book to find my excitement for self-improvement again. The truth is that whereas Rubin’s book would have been an exciting, inspiring read a year ago, I’m now the wrong audience for it. And I’m okay with that.

One quote did resonate with me: “All this thinking about fun made me realize that I had to make time for it. Too often, I’d give up fun in order to work….In fact, though, turning from one chore to another just made me feel trapped and drained….Fun is energizing.” It sure is.

View all my reviews

Fifty-fifty-fifty and burning all your money.

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So I’m drifting on a sea of sadness and the only way I know how to get out of it is to shove this “too busy for [thing I like to do]” stupidity off the raft.

Last year I didn’t read many books or see many films, so this year I’m aiming to consume 50 of each. Throw your favourites at me in the comments.

And today I decided to add another goal onto that: I want 50 rejection letters for my writing. I’d rather get 50 acceptances, of course, but rejection means I’m submitting stories which means I’m writing stories which means I’m doing what I love. I’ll be tallying it up on my fiction page if you want to follow along.

Yesterday I finished the first draft of my story for Bloc’s show in the Edinburgh International Science Festival. As per usual, my first idea completely morphed into something else. It’s become a pattern: the first idea is the cocoon that turns into the butterfly. Or, in my case, the slipstream moth.

My Bloc pal Bram a/k/a Texture is always creating interesting, evocative stuff. He announced his new poetry video a few weeks ago but I just made the mental space to sit down and appreciate it. I was mesmerised. Tell me what you think. And please share it if you enjoy it.

“Your Hands” – A Story by Halsted M. Bernard

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your hands

About ten years ago, I became a zombie. I got better, of course, but it was a scary time for me. (Zombies can feel fear. It’s a revelation, I know.)

About ten years ago, I picked a scab and became a zombie. It was such an innocent, childish thing, that scab-picking, and as a result I contracted a massive staph infection that hung on for months and impacted every aspect of my life.

In fact, it might have been the trigger for my adult-onset celiac disease. It is impossible to know, but since my myriad problems surrounding gluten began shortly after the several courses of antibiotics I had to take to kill off the staph, it is a distinct possibility.

About ten years ago, when I became a zombie, I wrote a lot so I didn’t go insane. It’s one thing to have your body stolen and corrupted, and another entirely to lose your mind too. Something I wrote during that dark time was published this spring in Map Literary. It’s called “Your Hands” and here is an excerpt:

You know the dark continent on the outside of your left ankle. You know its terrain, terrain that must not be touched except with ointment and bandages, terrain that cannot stand to be covered by socks or shoes. You know what lives there, the unseen enemy you fight carefully, gingerly, engaging it in the shower with the high-pressure setting, holding the metal head in your better hand, aiming the boiling water and cringing as it hits.

If you enjoy it, please share it.

Scottish Standard English, Scots, and Fifty Ways to use a Scunner

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cygnoir:

My writing group comrade and friend Andrew C. Ferguson crafted this wonderful post about Scottish Standard English. It even includes a bespoke audio clip of him reading my favourite sentence to hear in SSE. Go, read, listen!

Originally posted on andrewcferguson:

Two things inspired this, the first being a post by the brilliant cygnoir about how she enjoyed hearing Scottish Standard English being spoken every day. The second was from an almost equally prestigious source, the Times of London’s letters page. I’d love to point you at the latter, but Roop charges for Times Online, and frankly, I think getting one of his newspapers once a week is more than he deserves, of which more later.

First of all to cygnoir, who is my friend and fellow Edinburgh-based writer Halstead Bernard. In her December 18 post, she wrote:

“Today I am having a day of expat feelings, so I am going to talk about something I love about living in Scotland and something that annoys me.

I love hearing SSE (Scottish Standard English) every day. In fact, I have done tireless (read: not tireless) research to bring to you the…

View original 1,813 more words

Con de carn.

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¡Estamos en Barcelona! FunkyPlaid and I arrived last night, excited to return but also a bit disappointed. We were due to meet my father and stepmother here, but because of the storms battering the east coast of the States just now, their arrival was significantly delayed. They couldn’t get a connecting flight out of the east coast, so as I write this, they are driving a rental car to Detroit where they’ll be able to catch a flight over the Pond and arrive two days later than scheduled.

Unbelievable. But the good news is that they will land on a sunny 15ºC (60ºF) afternoon and we’ll all have a glass of wine and relax.

Relaxation has been the order of business today. We slept in this morning, and then I sat on the terrace and wrote in my journal while enjoying a piece of gluten-free brioche that we nabbed last night from the 24-hour farmacia in our neighbourhood. After we were ready to face the day, we headed out for delicious salads and patatas bravas.

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After lunch, we spent the day wandering, reorienting ourselves in the city, and unplugging from the stressors of life back home.

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There is something in my brain that quiets and focuses while I am here. I am not quite sure what that is about, but I am content to spend the rest of my life figuring it out.

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And there is, of course, the food. (Meat cones!)

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And the architecture.

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And the unexpected beauties.

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We will have a proper start to the vacation tomorrow when we pick our family up from the airport. For tonight, Happy Valentine’s Day, or happy Friday, or happy day you spend doing something you enjoy with people you love.

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