Thursday, April 25, 2013

On the Subject of This Blog's Name

Want to hear a cute story?

My fiance was a member of the SCA for over a decade. (For those of you who don't know, the Society of Creative Anachronism is a medieval-history recreation society with branches all over the world. Judging by Linus's stories, their primary aim is to hit each other repeatedly with very heavy sticks, after which they drink copiously. It sort of makes me want to join. But I digress.) Because Linus spent so many years in the SCA, he is intimately acquainted with various forms of medieval weaponry.

So about four years ago we somehow got on the subject of nicknames, and Linus promptly said that he thought a great nickname for me would be Bec de Corbin. Bec de Corbin means "Beak of the Crow" and refers to the medieval weapon pictured below:

Now, some girls might be offended by being compared to a brutal death-dealing device. I was tinkled pink, as Linus had known I would be (that is why I am marrying him). Ever since then, my Valentine's Day presents have been addressed to "Bec de Corbin."

Eventually I started using Bec de Corbin as an Internet name. When I decided to start blogging again,  I wanted to do so as Rebecca, so that people could connect my blog to my Facebook profile and my writing. However, I also wanted to include some reference to the name I've grown so fond of. Hence, "From the Crow's Beak."

Now you know.

On the Subject of Hatching Stories

There are all sorts of phrases for it in the writing community: putting it on the shelf, sticking it in the drawer, letting it sit, etc.  I like to use the phrase "sitting on a story." That way I can picture myself as a chicken incubating a little story-egg. Or something. 

My work generally passes through three distinct phases. First, it is a rough draft--rough like sandpaper. Then I edit it a bit until it is "not embarrassing," at which point I can show it to people. Then there is the final stage: ready to send out to publishers/agents/editors. 

I struggle with impatience, so working my way from rough draft to ready-to-send is incredibly trying.  Right now, for example, I have a story that's in phase two. I have showed it to some people and gotten some good feedback. At this point, I have two choices. I can whip it into shape right away and send it out tomorrow...or I can sit on the story. 

Sitting on the story has a number of advantages. In particular, letting the story rest gives your mind a chance to distance itself from the work. That way, when you come back to read the piece, you see what you actually wrote as opposed to what you think you wrote. That is a pretty important distinction, and an important part of the writing craft.

Unfortunately, this means I have to wait to send out that story. Oh, well. I should be grading anyway.

Monday, April 22, 2013

On the Subject of Alternative Fashion Frauds

I was reading a comment on another blog that sort of struck me. I won't quote exactly what the commenter said, but the thrust of it was this: "I really have a problem with people 'playing' with alternative fashion."

She was talking about faux-hawks and spray-in hair dye, but obviously this could be expanded to accomodate any kind of "mainstream" assimilation of alternative style: fake plugs and nose piercings, Katy Perry, cheap flash tattoos with no meaning, Katy Perry, "goth" Halloween costumes, or whatever your personal pet peeve is. Katy Perry.

Personally, though, unless said faker is making a ton of money by donning the most superficial aspects of alt...I can't really care. In fact, I wish I could encourage it more. I don't think it cheapens the subculture or exposes us to a bunch of poseurs. I think that faking it in some ways--mini mohawk-ish thing or otherwise--lets people have a little taste of just how flat-out FUN alternative culture is.

I call myself goth because it identifies me as a member of a community of people I like. I like those people primarily for one reason: they have a great sense of play. Or whimsy, or imagination, or whatever else you'd like to call it. I get up every day, reach for another black skirt, and smile, because   goth fashion engages my head, not just my mirror or my wallet.

What sort of fabulous fictional heroine do I feel like channeling today? Something quiet and gray and scholarly, very governess, very Jane Eyre? Or is today a day for the imagine-myself-stomping-down-a-spaceship's-metal-corridors, cyber-street-samurai BIG boots?

And I cherish the notion that, by constantly playing with my appearance, I'm not only brightening my own day, but maybe somebody else's, too. Sometimes I picture myself as a Happy Goth Fairy sprinkling Whimsy dust over everyone I meet. All right, now I've completely lost the thread.

My point: being alternative is fun, and if all you can manage is to (metaphorically speaking) dip your big toe into the water with a faux-hawk or some colored hair gel, then be my guest. Because I'm having a blast, and I want you to have a blast, too. And maybe, when you've gotten out of high school or left that shitty job or whatever else was holding you back, you'll come join me and many others in the ranks of the Full-Time Alternative. Or maybe you won't. Either way, it's certainly no skin off my nose.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

On the Subject of Graveyards

I live in Korea, where graveyards are far less elaborate than in the West. Tombstones aren't all that common, and statues are unheard of. Usually, a Korean graveyard is a series of mounds, like this one:

Here's a very fancy one, more elaborate than any of the graveyards I've visited:

My favorite Korean graveyards are the familial plots. Very frequently, on a hill or in the middle of a farm, you'll see a just a few well-tended mounds. One plot I lived near was accessible by hiking trail, and its entrance was framed by an arch of green, twisted pine branches. I used to call it the "Alice in Wonderland" graveyard.

By contrast, for my first manuscript, All the Gods' Children, I chose a very large, exquisite, and famous cemetery: Boston's Forest Hills Cemetery. This cemetery is 275 acres and filled with impressive statuary:

In All the Gods' Children, Forest Hills Cemetery is a secret ghoul city where witch-hunters bring their victims to be executed. That part I made up.

New Blog!

Hello everyone! I'm Rebecca: English teacher, aspiring writer, and goth.

This is my new blog. Here I'll post updates on my work, offer free samples of my writing, and share any interesting spooky facts I come across.

Have a wonderful day!