Tag Archives: Clemency Slaughter

Learning how to work

At school I was taught to work hard, and our wider society also tells us that if we work hard enough, we can be successful and wealthy and have the good stuff. It took me a long time to realise this is bullshit. The biggest indicator of your likely financial success is still the wealth of your parents. This ‘work hard’ thing is mostly a myth that keeps a lot of poorer people running on the treadmills to the benefit of others, and provides a justification for denigrating the poor. If it’s your fault for not working hard enough, no one else has to step up to the issue of what you don’t have.

This year I’ve made a huge decision to change how I work. I’m spending more time not working, in the sense that I no longer aim to churn out a certain amount each day, I shun deadlines, I read a lot, I look at the sky more. My productivity has actually improved for doing this, and the quality has too. I’m also a happier, more balanced, healthier person because I’m resting more.

I’ve also found myself shifting in terms of what I want to create. I have tended towards the dark and serious. Life is too important to take seriously all the time. I’ve been learning to hold things lightly, to laugh at the absurdities, and I think the most serious topics are easier to handle when there’s some light relief. Last year I wrote a novel with a lot of silly elements in it (due out this spring) and I’ve been working to bring more light touches to my work generally. So I’m going to hit you with some verses today. The first one is a consequence of time off and being able to see and respond…

The view from here

Today the crows are fruiting
In naked branches, black on black
Upon an inconsiderate sky.
Some other today, twig bearing
The make new nests, repair old.
Some other today they die and are eggs.
There are always crows.
Indistinguishable to me, as days
Each the feathered centre of a universe.
To me they look like fruit
To them I do not look like a crow.
More, I cannot say.

And this trio, which are total play. This is fan fiction, for Jonathan Green’s Clemency Slaughter project, so I’m just jamming with ideas, because there’s no taking it anywhere, and that’s a good thing. Writing for the sake of it, playing, relearning how to enjoy the words, and the process of writing and having ideas. If writing is a grind and a torment to me, it’s not going to be a whole heap of fun to read, so, I’m not doing that thing, I’m doing this…

Good children are seen and not heard
Thinking naughtiness excessive noise
But the wickedest children are not seen at all
And make sinister use of their toys.

There was a young maid in the past
Who was meant to inherit at last
Wanting the goods quicker
She made plots ever thicker
With relatives dropping down fast.

It isn’t her fault, you must see
That black suits her down to a tee
While good manners make plain
You can’t mourn without pain
So she’ll kill off a granny or three.

(Clemency is here, http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1412864360/clemency-slaughter-and-the-legacy-of-death if you would like to become more fully acquainted with her)

Why death is good for you

It’s generally claimed that awareness of our mortality is what sets humans apart from other animals. I’m wholly convinced elephants have some pretty good ideas about death, and I’ve no reason to think any species of mammal entirely oblivious. I find it harder to make any kind of guess about what creatures other than mammals are thinking, there’s so much less to go on.

Thinking about people though, most of us, most of the time clearly do not live with a consciousness of our own mortality. As the saying goes, no one lies on their deathbed wishing they had spent more time at the office. Come the end of your innings, all the material wealth is of little account. I do not believe the culture I live in is particularly aware of death. We see it as something to delay and avoid (although we won’t drive slower to avoid it for ourselves or others). I think mostly we assume death is for later, or for someone else, and we act accordingly.

I gather (New Scientist article last year) people who are conscious of their mortality tend to move away from rampant materialism and towards a more spiritual way of life. Thinking about death, properly, will make you more willing to enjoy each precious moment you have, not squandering it on worthless things. Death makes you care for your loved ones more. The death consciousness can bring life into focus, making us work out what matters and what does not.

Looking at the consumerist culture I live in, where politicians preach long work hours and adverts sell materialism at every turn, I do not see an intrinsic awareness of our own mortality. Quite the opposite. I see a lot of distractions designed to help us forget that we were all born to die. We’d be so much better off if we gave a bit of thought to how we might feel in that death bed scenario. What might we regret? What will we look back on joyfully? That’s one of the best guides to living you could find. If anything, the animal kingdom is more death conscious than we are. They don’t go around repeating actions that are likely to kill them, whilst convincing themselves that it will be fine. (Binge drinking, drug taking, driving too fast, too tired, to drunk, never getting any exercise, courting heart attacks and diabetes etc).

If you feel the overwhelming need to raise your awareness of death, or someone else’s, I’d like to try and sell you a thing. (Yes, I know what I said before about materialism, and that there may be some irony here, but we all need to eat and I promise, this is a good thing!) It’s the tale of a girl who murders her family for money. This does not go well for her. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1412864360/clemency-slaughter-and-the-legacy-of-death

Clemency Slaughter and the Legacy of D’Eath: A Grim Gothic Tale without a Happy Ending, written by Steampunk author Jonathan Green and illustrated by gothic artist Tom Brown. (Tom being my other half). Having read it and seen the art in progress, I can vouch for this being both lovely, and full of dead people.