Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

border crossings January 25, 2011

Filed under: Reading — Shawn L. Bird @ 6:49 pm
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She had stood in one of those rare border crossings between the past and the future where one is aware—so aware—that the decision about to be made will change everything. (Charles de Lint’s Memory and Dream, p. 69)

I’m just thinking about milestones.  You know, the mid-life crisis kind of moments when you look at your  life and you think the crucial questions:

  • Is this where I wanted to be?
  • Is this what I wanted to be doing?
  • Is this what I wanted to be feeling?

If the answer to any of those questions in no, then it’s the time to stand on the corner and study the other directions that you could go.  If you don’t like where you’re headed, if you don’t like what you’re doing.  if you don’t like what you’re feeling, then it’s time to take charge of your life and head in a new direction.

Sometimes your heart in your throat and the weight on your shoulder try to force you to stay on the familiar, painful path.  If you’re not happy there, why keep walking it?  If you’re not the person you want to be, you are the only one who has the power to transform into the true self lurking beneath the surface.  

Take hold of your future.  Put your feet on a new path and embrace the adventure of discovery.  Despite all the fears that have held you back from attaining the true connection and the true joy you hve longed for, you may discover a world of fulfillment unbelievably better than what you had before.  Even though you couldn’t imagine more, your new path may lead you to a bounty of joy that you couldn’t conceive of previously.

Look around the cross roads, step over the border into a new life.


reality and fiction June 18, 2010

…the difference between fiction based on reality and fantasy is simply a matter of range. The former is a handgun. It hits the target almost close enough to touch, and even the willfully ignorant can’t deny that it’s effective. Fantasy is a sixteen-inch naval rifle. It fires with a tremendous bang, and it appears to have done nothing and to be shooting a nothing.

Note the qualifier “appears.” The real difference is that with fantasy—and by that I mean fantasy which can simultaneously tap into a cosmopolitan commonality at the same time as it springs from an individual and unique perspective. In this sort of fantasy, a mythic resonance lingers on—a harmonious vibration that builds in potency the longer one considers it, rather than fading away when the final page is read and the book is put away. Characters discovered in such writing are pulled from our own inner landscapes…and then set out upon the stories’ various stages so that as we learn to understand them a little better, both the monsters and the angels, we come to understand ourselves a little better as well. (Charles de Lint. Memory and Dreams. p. 323)

I wish de Lint’s words were my own, because they’re so profound. Consider: “harmonious vibration that builds in potency.” Oh how I hope that Grace Awakening offers the reader such a lingering mythic resonancy! How I hope that as they grow to understand my characters, they understand themselves better, just as I have grown from the process.

When someone asks why on Earth I chose to write a novel with a fantasy twist, I want to be answer as eloquently as this! I am reminded of Bella’s comment in New Moon, “Could a world really exist where ancient legends went wandering around the borders of tiny, insignificant towns, facing down mythical monsters? Did this mean every impossible fairy tale was grounded somewhere in absolute ghost truth? Was there anything sane or normal at all, or was everything just magic and stories?” (p. 293) When it became clear that the story I had to tell required me to embrace myth, it was an epiphany. Once the mythology began to weave between the lines, my words flew beyond me. They started unfurling so much more than the germ I’d started with. Mythology reveals great truth, and I learned a lot from Grace and Ben, Jim and Bright, and the others in their world.  I suspect there is much more to learn.

I’m really looking forward to hearing what sorts of things the rest of you learn from Grace et al. If you’ve read Grace Awakening, I’d love to hear what harmonious vibration is resonating with you.


Dreams and names June 5, 2010

Filed under: Grace Awakening,Literature,Pondering — Shawn L. Bird @ 6:51 am
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Names…had potency. They pulled their owners in their wakes, the way that dreams can, the way you can wake up from sleep and believe that what you dreamed actually occurred. And even later, even when you realized the mistake, it was difficult to re-adjust your thinking.
But if dreams were potent, names were more so, especially the ones people chose for themselves. They might grow into the ones that were given to them, through the familiarity of use, if nothing else, but the ones they chose defined who they were like an immediate descriptive shorthand. (Charles de Lint. Memories and Dreams. p. 298)

Dreams touch us in diverse ways. Dreams of the bizarre, the hoped for, the feared all make appearances in our sub-conscious while we sleep. Usually they remain hidden, but if we come close to waking, to touching reality, then the conscience learns of their existence. When dreams touch awareness, then we touch the mystery and must sleuth out meaning or embrace the mystery. While the fears that wake us screaming in the night can paralyze us, we can also allow our subconscious to use dreams challenge us, inspire us or help us break through to a brilliant neural network of solutions

I often go to bed with a problem on my mind and awake to the solution fully formed. I have gone to bed thinking about right hand melody and left hand accompaniment patterns that would not go together.  The next morning I’ve sat down at the harp and played the previously impossible on the first try. The subconscious is amazingly useful when we harness the power. The dream does actually occur in these cases, contrary to De Lint’s suggestion, because the dreams create reality.

Just like dreams, names are powerful. We gift our children with names that we hope they will live up to. My daughter’s name means “strong and womanly.”  I think she has definitely grown into her name. My son’s name means “victory of the people” and I like the notion that his successes will help others. My name, a derivative of John, means “God’s gracious gift.” I was raised as a precious arrival, and definitely felt blessed and appreciated. Shawn is also, of course, more commonly a male name. Aside from the incorrectly addressed mail and being assigned to the all male dorm at college youth weekend, it hasn’t proven too problematic, at least since getting over the angst of youth. Perhaps I’m more inclined to celebrate the feminine with jewelery and shoes to counter the masculinity of the name.  I think male Shawns are quite different from female Shawns, and that’s an interesting concept! As De Lint says, the name I chose is perhaps more potent because it is a huge choice to join individual identity in the union of marriage.

The names of the characters in Grace Awakening are carefully chosen. The names reflect the characters’ roles and personalities, or are small salutes to special people. I spent hours and hours on name sites getting the perfect name for each one. The names frame the personalities. Click on the Grace Awakening site and scroll to the sub-pages at the bottom to see articles about this.

How does your name define who you are? Have you changed your name? Would you change your name? Why? Why not?


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