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If I’ve been more than usually quiet this last month and a half it’s because I’ve been preoccupied moving to Oregon. Turns out there’s even more to it than renting a large truck, packing up your life’s belongings and driving for twelve hours. There’s insurance and licensing and you find out how much stuff you truly need. Like blinds. Bike stands. Waste baskets. Spare sheets. A vet.

But I seem to be nearing the end of the turbulent times of change. Routine is creeping in again, even if that routine is necessarily different from my previous one. In the space it has lent me I’ve been writing, both fiction and letters, and hanging pictures. I have a studio now, and it is assembled to the point that I might begin working in it soon. Which is good, because we are already behind schedule on Perihelion 2017, and we have another ten titles to publish next year.

Which reminds me, I really must apply for that Business Permit.

Bend is a funny sort of city, which is probably why I like it so much. It was until quite recently not a city at all, and there is a tension here between all the people who want it to stay small, yet at the same time really want to be here and are proud of the place they live in. There are a lot of transplanted Californians, which gives the atmosphere a kind of comfortable familiarity. At the same time, these are largely Californians who have self-selected as the kind of person who is compatible with the Oregonian spirit, which appears to be slower, more relaxed, and less inclined to dance in the streets when it rains. There are many other out of state immigrants, but the common thread I find is that most of us came here from places that were not right for us, and, having found Bend, understand just how lucky we are to be here.

For myself I find I am not only a Californian in Bend, I am a writer in Oregon. I feel myself developing a new (if still not complete) understanding of Ursula K. Le Guin. I think it has something to do with the volcanos and the high desert.

So far I think the thing I like best about it is that, within walking distance of my house, there is a yoga studio, at least two bike shops, a frozen yogurt café and a hardware store, plus more coffee shops and restaurants than there was in the entirety of my old hometown.

Instead of being thirty minutes away by car, the vet is five minutes. I can ride my bike to the farmer’s market. I can also ride my bike to the dirt trails which lead up into and across the Cascades. The place is riddled with off-leash dog parks. The place is riddled with dogs, period.

Many people have asked in perplexity, “Why Bend?” when they heard about the move. But these have uniformly been people who either didn’t know me very well, or didn’t know Bend, or both. Everyone who knows me, who has visited the city, has looked at the quirky cafés, the bike shops, the dogs, the artwork rampant in the roundabouts, and nodded sagely.

“Of course,” they say. “This is your city.”

It’s not, of course. (I only just got here.) But somehow, though I never visited before 2013, I have managed to grow up into the sort of person who lives here.

And now I do.

I run. I bike. I work. I walk my dog over streets whose asphalt is made lumpy from all the roots growing under it. The houses crowd in tightly, craftsman and prairie style or modern custom built with funky windows and odd angles. There are ponderosa pines and quaking aspen. Every garage has at least two bikes in it. And there are dogs everywhere.

Now there’s me, too.

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One of the things I was taught when I attended a first aid class was to make sure, before I attempted to help anyone, that it was safe for me to do so. To make sure that I was not putting myself in danger by helping a person in distress—whether from an environmental factor like a fire, flood or toxic gas, or even from the person I was trying to help. The gist being: you can’t help someone if you get into trouble—that just makes more trouble for the EMTs when they show up.

It was not an unfamiliar concept to me. At the time, I’d been working and playing in and on and around rivers for many years, and the number one rule of helping a drowning person is: don’t go in after them. Throw them a flotation device, or a rope, but then only if there’s a safe place for you to stand.) Because you don’t want to be drowning number two—or even the person who drowned getting the other person out.

So the idea that you had to make sure of your own safety before providing aid to someone else made perfect sense.

Changing gears for a moment. A while back I had a visit from a friend. Said friend was going through some tough times, and the stress from this was sending them into periodic bouts of depression and anxiety. In the time they were staying with me I tried to render such care as I was able in the form of getting them outside, providing entertaining distractions, cooking them tasty and nourishing food, and giving as much practical advice as I was able.

But before I did any of that, I made sure of two things: (1) that every day  I got an appreciable amount of exercise, and (2) I got a similar amount of writing done. These essentials were entirely for my own benefit, and though it meant leaving my friend alone at times when I’d rather have not, I recognized that these were non-negotiable levels of care for myself. Taking care of my own baseline needs first was what allowed me to devote the rest of my time and energy to helping my friend, without developing any resentment which would have inevitably poisoned our time together and ruined the visit. And because I was able to be so generous with them, they were better able to deal with their own problems, which made the visit more enjoyable for both of us.

What I was doing in this instance was an emotional version of making sure the scene was safe before providing aid. By putting my own basic needs first I was performing the emotional equivalent of making sure the road was clear before running into the middle of it to save a lost toddler.

Yet as simple and sensible a concept as this is, it can be surprisingly difficult to practice. As a species we are inclined to help people we perceive to be in trouble. As a society we are encouraged (through the glorification of heroes, both real and fictional) to provide this help at any cost.

I live in a town built around a river. There are annual drownings. More often than not, they come in pairs—or more—because someone jumped in to try to save their son, their brother, or their dog. This happens even when the first victim is in a torrent of raging whitewater—something that’s obviously dangerous.

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has recognized this problem and offers a course of training, through their Everyone Goes Home program, designed to help firefighters recognize when a situation has become unacceptably dangerous, and how to protect themselves when this happens. It is called Courage To Be Safe, and highlights the courage it takes to not run into a burning building when doing so would jeopardize your life or the lives of your colleagues.

Let me boil that down for you: our desire as a species and a society to save other people is so strong that we have had to come up with a provocative slogan to help people resist the urge to walk into a fire.

With this in mind, it should come as no surprise how frequently people get themselves into trouble trying to render other kinds of aid when it is not safe for them to do so. I’ve seen people over-extend themselves trying to help people who are, sometimes through no fault of their own, emotional or financial black holes. One could pour loving care and money into these people forever, and they would not get better. All that happens is the caregiver winds up emotionally destroyed or financially compromised, or both.

Con artists take advantage of this desire to help as well. By presenting themselves as people in need they stir up sympathy and soften their marks. Stalkers and creeps take blatant advantage of people—particularly female people—and their desire not to cause offense and to tolerate inappropriate behavior. Listening to stories of women who were harassed in public, when they are asked why they didn’t speak up, one often hears a refrain of “I didn’t want to embarrass him!”

And you can sneer, if you want. Or point out that he was already making them far more uncomfortable, and was taking advantage of their politeness to behave outrageously. But remember: immediate, physical danger is the easiest to react to. If our natural senses of self-protection can be so easily overturned in the face of roaring whitewater, or a burning building, then we really cannot fault people who allow their judgment to be compromised by much subtler dangers—even if, in the long run, they can turn out to be just as deadly.

Which is why I think it’s worth it for everyone to take a first aid class. Not only will you learn useful skills with which to functionally help someone, you’ll absorb the basic principle that you should protect yourself, which can then be applied to all manner of situations.

It is unlikely for the vast majority of us that we will have to resuscitate anyone, or treat a bullet wound in the field. But it is very likely—almost assured—that at some point in our lives we will be put in the position of wanting to render financial or emotional aid that would put us in danger. At that point it is imperative that we remember that our safety comes first, and no matter what outside pressures are on us, our safety and well-being are paramount: since only from a place of security and strength can we truly help someone. Anything else is just jumping into a raging river to save a person who might smother and drown you, instead. At best, we’re making things more difficult for everyone else, since there are now two people in trouble. At worst, we’re getting ourselves killed.

So don’t jump in. Find a good, safe, solid place to anchor yourself, and throw a rope.

And if you can’t do that, then you can’t help them. Which happens sometimes. And it will be hard to walk away. That’s okay; that’s good. That’s why they call it Courage To Be Safe. But by not putting yourself in danger you are already saving someone: you are saving yourself.

And for all you know, saving yourself today might mean you’re there, in a safe position of strength, to save someone else tomorrow.

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I haven’t had a really bad dream—a real nightmare—since I was seven or eight years old.

Before that I had terrible nightmares. Not frequently, but regularly enough that I remembered them. They terrified me; I’d wake up sweating, shivering, and sometimes crying.

These stopped abruptly after I had a dream that started out as a nightmare, but turned into something very different.

I was in a car. It was dark. The car wasn’t moving. I was strapped into the front seat. I was alone.

There was something in the back seat.

I couldn’t see it, but I knew it was there. My skin crawled and a lump of panic climbed up my throat. My first instinct was to scream for help, open the door and run.

But I could’t speak, couldn’t move, and now the something was crawling forward between the two front seats.

I was terrified by this point. Paralyzed and helpless.

And then out of nowhere came a coherent thought:

The something hadn’t actually hurt me. For all I knew, it was as lost and confused as I was. If I couldn’t move, I had nothing to lose by trying to talk to it.

I was able to turn my head far enough to get a look at this thing.

It looked horrible in that nondescript way things look horrible in your dreams. I remember large eyes—too large—and a small, puckered mouth. Everything about it was wrong and it made me writhe inside and whip around so I was staring straight ahead again. But it didn’t do anything, so after a while I forced myself to turn around and look at it again.

It was still there, still just staring at me.

I managed to unstick my dream mouth and said, as politely as I could:

“Hello, can I help you?”

And the something spoke. Its voice was like two wet rubber gloves being slid together, and I couldn’t understand a word it said (in my dream, it sounded sort of like “whup whuhhp”).

That scared me all over again, but when the something still didn’t do anything, it occurred to me that maybe it was telling me how I could help.

Turning back, which was easier now, I said:

“I’m sorry, I can’t understand you.”

And it was like the terror which had encased my mind burst, like a soap bubble pricked by a needle. The something wasn’t terrifying anymore; it was just strange, and a little lost-looking.

Whuuhp whup,” it said, sadly.

It couldn’t understand me, and I couldn’t understand it. So we stared at each other awkwardly until I woke up.

I haven’t had a nightmare since.

I still have bad dreams, of course. Brought on by anxiety or stress or just a weird, upsetting jumble of images and feelings as the result of my brain uncluttering itself. But they’re not nightmares. Any time I feel that creeping sense of terror that used to develop into a nightmare, there’s a piece of me, stronger than the terror, that turns around and asks the equivalent of “hello, can I help you?”

I’ve kept this experience to myself for over twenty years now, but after recently sharing it with my family, it occurred to me that it might help other people to hear it too. Because I realize now, that dream has had a huge impact on the way I deal with fear in the waking world.

To wit: I don’t run from the things that frighten me; I look at them closely. I try to figure out why they frighten me. A lot of the time it turns out there’s nothing really to be afraid of—or I’m actually afraid of something else. Even when it is something legitimately scary, understanding it helps me deal with it reasonably and rationally, which always makes things less terrifying.

I think we can learn to do this without having deeply powerful and meaningful dreams, of course. But I also think lot of my inner strength in the face of adversity stems from the fact that I was as terrified in my dream as I’ve ever been while I was awake, and I conquered that. There is nothing more frightening than our own imagination, as any writer will tell you. So what’s left to scare you after you’re not scared of that anymore?

Many years after I had this dream, I picked up a copy of Sandman by Neil Gaiman, and was a little bemused to find the message of “DREAMS ARE IMPORTANT” repeated over and over again. It fits, of course, with the theme of the comic, but to me it seemed a little heavy handed. I knew just how important dreams could be. I’d known it since I was seven years old.

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Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. She is not sure if this anecdote will actually help anyone conquer their own nightmares, but at the very least it’s an interesting example of how powerful our dreaming minds can be. To keep tabs on her waking life you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also contact her directly.

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One of the questions I get asked most frequently (and sometimes rather impertinently) when people learn of my profession is something along the lines of “how on earth do you make a living at that?”

They don’t always phrase it exactly this way, but this is essentially what they are asking. How do you earn a living writing stories and drawing pictures? Which is actually a little rude, I think. I don’t ask the barista at my favorite coffee shop how much she’s paid per hour, nor do I ask my dentist what his annual income is. Of course, the difference is these are both professions where people have some sort of pre-existing framework for how the people involved earn money: by wages, tips, service fees, etc. Most of the time they are curious about the how of my income, rather than the actual amount of it.

It’s still annoying. Not only because my profession, despite being incredibly rewarding and important, does not pay very well at all, but because there are so much more interesting things to talk to an artist about.

When I was at World Fantasy this year I heard a lot of talk about how people are going about keeping body and soul together in this brave new era of electronic media and crumbling traditional edifices. It is important and relevant that we think about these things, since its difficult to create and publish material when you don’t have enough to eat or a house to live in, but it is also important to remember that life is a transient state, and ultimately the measure of our existence will be taken in the quality of the art we leave behind. In other words, our work, divorced from its capacity as a means to earn money, is worth looking at for its own merits.

Perhaps the most thought-provoking and interesting conversation I had about my writing that weekend took place, not at the hotel or in a conference room, but around the dinner table of my “conservadox” Jewish great-aunt and great-uncle, who invited my Wonderful Mother and I for Sabbath dinner on Friday.

My great-uncle was extremely interested in the kinds of stories I was telling. He’d listened to my “How Riding Got Her Red Hood” short story, and wanted to know if I thought I could use my stories to promote tolerance in the world.

“Intolerance,” he told me, as only an octogenarian Jew can, “is a grave danger to our world. And what you are doing, here, with your work, you have a talent, a power, that not everyone has. And what I hope you keep in mind, moving forward, is how you are using that power.”

Not a single breath was wasted on worrying about how I was going to earn a living while exercising this power. That I would write books, and that these books would find an audience, and be read, was a given, as far as my great-uncle was concerned. He wasn’t interested in the capitalist side of the writing business—only in the creative aspect of it. It was a most enjoyable dinner.

When Ursula K. Le Guin gave her acceptance speech for her National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters she took a more direct approach, but I think she and my great-uncle would get along fabulously. They are both much more concerned with the transcendent quality of modern literature than they are with the money-making aspect of it, which is a refreshing change from the constant barrage of “but how many books have you sold?” sort of questions I usually hear. It is especially encouraging seeing such opinions coming from someone like Le Guin, whom I have admired for years.

While one must admit that a writer needs a certain amount of business acumen simply to navigate the rapids of the publishing river, those skills must ultimately come secondary to our true goal: to produce art that changes the world—for the better. Whether it is by creating tragedies or drama, comedies, comics, fantasy epics or science fiction romances, if you are—to adapt Le Guin’s words—an artist of the imagination; a realist of the larger reality, your ultimate calling should not be the accumulation of wealth or fame, but the creation of transcendent work that will remain, echoing down the ages, long after our flesh and blood and bones have turned to dust, after our homes have been eaten by the jungle (urban or woodland), after the currency we were paid in has lost all meaning, perhaps after even our planet is abandoned.

The best authors, the ones I look up to—Connie Willis, Le Guin, Diana Wynne Jones—have not and do not seem to restrict their writing to what they or their publishers deem profitable. I once heard Willis say, “I just write the books I want to read.” This has certainly been the foundation of every story I have ever written, long before I ever heard Willis speak, and it continues to be the deciding factor in what I choose to write.

In recent years, however, I have augmented this maxim: I will not write what I think will be popular now. I will write what I hope will be enjoyed now. And in ten years. Twenty. Fifty. A hundred. If financial success should come to me in my own lifetime, hurrah! If I am favored with popularity and critical acclaim, fantastic! I shall use it like a trampoline to propel to even greater heights the stories I would be telling anyway.

Because I have been thinking, very hard and for many years, about the power I hold as a teller of stories. And though my ultimate goal—to use those powers for good—is relatively simple, its implementation is complex and variable, and looks to keep me well employed (if not necessarily well paid) for a lifetime that, I hope, should last as long as that of my great-uncle, or Ursula K Le Guin.

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Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. To keep tabs on what she is doing you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also contact her directly.

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Or: Thoughts on the problem of works left unfinished.

Recently my mother bought me a copy of Diana Wynne Jones’s final novel, The Islands of Chaldea. I haven’t read it yet, because every time I pick it up I start crying. Partly out of sadness because she is gone, and there will never be any more Diana Wynne Jones stories. Ever. But also partly out of gratitude, because we get one more ride. This is thanks to her sister, Ursula Jones, who finished the book after Diana passed away.

Diana was lucky, I think, to have a sister like Ursula, who was able to take up the ropes and bring the ship in, as it were. Other writers had no one. Others had someone, but they were not up to the task.

Thinking on this, and reflecting on my own mortality, it has become obvious that I will leave at least one incomplete work when I go. In the unlikely event that I die in a car crash tomorrow, I will leave three novels, a novella, and a whole series of short stories hanging. And since I cannot see an end to my writing—I will hopefully be writing up until the day, if not the hour, that I die—I have no reason to presume that, should I die in sixty years from a degenerative illness, things would be much different.

So the problem of what will happen to my unfinished work will remain. And while I realize there will (hopefully) be a lot of time for me to refine this idea, here is what I would like to happen to my unfinished works (and I cannot imagine it changing much):

I don’t want any one person to finish my work. Even assuming there is anyone I would trust to do so (there currently isn’t), and assuming that they survive me, I still wouldn’t want someone other than me finishing my stories.

Even so, I don’t want my stories to go unfinished. I want my readers to find out what happens. I want them to have closure. So even though I usually abhor the idea of giving the reader the task of coming up with their own endings, this is more or less what I would like done with my unfinished work.

To be precise, all my work that is functionally unfinished (completed first drafts will not count: there must be significant chunks of story missing, and I must have not gotten to write THE END yet), should be given over to whatever fans I have managed to earn, to complete at their discretion.

There will be no One True ending for the works I leave unfinished. Rather, there will be a multitude of endings. Because if I’ve learned anything from the fanfiction community, it’s that they as a body of people are more creative than most individual writers. I would not trust one person to complete my stories, but I would trust the collective writers of ArchiveOfOurOwn.org. I would trust the people who loved my work to come up with the endings that pleased them best, and write them down for other people to read. And if you were a fan, and saw a fan-ending you didn’t much like, well, you could write your own. And it would be just as real.

Far from being left with no endings, my readers would have a plethora of endings, and could build their ideal ending if they pleased. And it would forever be an open field: a person who discovered my work long after I was gone could still join in.

No one might ever arrive at the ending I had intended, but I think the odds are good, given enough time, that some of them could come close.

I’ve heard some writers scoff at fanfiction, and though I respect their opinions, I disagree. I find fanfiction and fanon (fan canon) a welcome relief from the straitlaced world of popular media—that can also serve to keep original writers on their toes. I read fanfiction (though never fanfiction of my own work—if any exists), in part because I want to challenge myself to be as original and creative and brave as the fifteen-year-old girls writing civil war, space opera, or firehouse AUs (Alternate Universes), or post-canon fix-it fics, or just plain-old, wild, gay smut, for their friends.

I tell a lie. There is one person I’d trust to finish my stories for me, but as she is already in a place where her stories can no longer reach the living world, I will gladly bequeath mine to my fans. I can only hope that, should I live a hundred more years, that vibrant community of earnest, loving, devoted writers will still be going strong—and that, by the time I am finished here, I will have managed to earn some who are ready and willing to take on the task.

My only other request would be that, although they are of course free to come up with whatever endings they liked, they remember that I prefer they make them happy ones.

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Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. To keep tabs on what she is doing you can follow her on twitter @GrimbyTweets, and on Tumblr. You can also send her an email at goldeenogawa@gmail.com.

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Hocus Focus

My mom (the Wonderful Mother so often alluded to on this blog) always gets the latest gadgets on her phone. Recently she upgraded the camera and got the ability to take “burst photos.” That is, you press down the shutter button and the camera takes dozens of pictures per second until you take your finger off again. Naturally she wanted to try it out, and asked me to be a subject.

Since we were on our weekly bike ride at the time, she ended up photographing me riding my bicycle through a technical obstacle on one of the trails called The Notch. Usually we don’t take pictures of each other riding; it is too hard to get the timing right, and then the trail never looks as difficult in a picture as it does in person. But with her phone in “burst mode” she was able to simply select the picture that came out the best. However, what I found truly remarkable was the effect you got when you strung the photos together, like so:

NotchRide03 NotchRide04 NotchRide05 NotchRide06 NotchRide07 NotchRide08 NotchRide09 NotchRide10 NotchRide11 NotchRide12 NotchRide13 NotchRide15 NotchRide16 NotchRide17 NotchRide18

Firstly, as a mountain biker, it was interesting for me to get a chance to study my riding skills in such minute detail. In the moment, I do so many things automatically that they don’t register with my forebrain any more. Looking at the pictures, however, I was fascinated by the way I moved my body around, and how I changed from using both brakes, to my front brake, to my rear brake, and finally to no brakes at all. Another thing, and one that is perhaps of more general interest, is how you can track my focus.

Go back and look at the photos again, and see if you can’t spot the moment when there is a shift in my attention. I go from being zeroed in on a spot practically under my front tire, to looking up and away into the distance, even while my bicycle is still in the middle of a tight rocky obstacle.

This is because the Notch is a two-part obstacle. There is the Notch proper, which is exactly what it sounds like: two boulders bracket you on either side, with a third laid flat. This one ends in a steep drop-off—you do not want to ride over it—but there is a narrow notch just to the left wide enough for a single tire. However, if you try to ride it by putting your front tire there, because of the different tracks the front and back wheel take when you go around tight curves, this will cause your back wheel to catch on the rocks and your pedals and chainrings to bounce off the side of the rock—throwing you off and sometimes seriously damaging your bike. So instead you ride your front wheel out onto the flat rock (you remember, the one with the drop-off?) and then turn off it halfway out, let your front wheel drop about a foot vertically, thus allowing your rear wheel to ride in the narrow, smooth notch.

And after all that you have maybe three feet to collect yourself, and try to ride up and over some more rocks (off camera in the pictures, to the viewer’s left).

The only way to string these two elements together successfully, I have found, is to spend the minimum amount of time looking at the Notch. Then as soon as my front wheel drops (the timing here is very tricky, as not going far enough/going too far will result in a crash) I stop thinking about the Notch, even though I’m right in the middle of it, and start thinking about the rock pile coming up.

I developed this method of attention-shifting from riding horses. When riding horses, unlike bicycles, you have to think for two people. You and the horse. If your horse feels that you’re uncertain, they are less likely to do what you tell them. This can be particularly disastrous if, like me, you did a lot of jumping.

The first thing you learn when jumping a horse (other than wow that felt awesome!) is that you must be confident. If you don’t believe, with every shred of your being, that you and your horse are going over that jump, the horse will know. They will know, and realize that, hey, I don’t have to take that jump. I could… run to the side. Or stop completely.

You learn to focus when you jump horses. Focus hard enough for two brains. Then, when you move on to jumping courses, you learn to shift that focus—and quickly!

I ran into trouble in my early courses—I would swing wide coming off the first jump and miss my second one. At the time my trainer explained it to me like this:

“You’re still thinking about your last fence. You have to be thinking about your next fence as soon as your horse’s front feet hit the ground. While you’re still in the air. Let your horse worry about landing, only you know the course, you have to be thinking of the next fence.”

There’s a lot to think about when jumping a horse. Not only, oh my god look at the size of that thing are we really going over it? But there’s striding, leads, and whether your horse (like mine) wants to put her head down and have a good buck after landing a jump. That’s a lot to keep track of, and it was easy to get stuck in one moment. You get so focused on the first fence that you forget you have to change leads, make a hard right, and take another one right after.

We did a lot of tight courses. “Handy Hunters” my trainer called them. I learned to visualize the course in my head ahead of time, to begin looking at the next jump as soon as I’d achieved take off at the first one. Horses need a lot of focus to be ridden well, but there’s only so much mischief they can get up to while in the air. And they can (mostly) be trusted to land right-side up.

So I would focus on my fence up to the point of lift off, and then look to my next one. The difference, as I recall, was immediate and profound. Because horses listen to so much more than your voice and leg and the reins. They will read your body weight. They can tell, by feel, which way you’re looking. And if I was looking at our next fence when we landed, my horse knew that was where we were going.

When I took this training to my mountain bike it was almost laughably easy. Because a mountain bike can’t run out on you, or refuse, or spook at a funny looking stick. Suddenly, I only had to focus for myself, but because I’d trained to focus for me plus horse it meant that I subconsciously treated my own body like a horse. I refused to allow myself to doubt, to dally, to question. I made a judgement call on whether I could ride a certain thing, and if I thought I could ride it, I committed to it utterly. And I would stack up obstacles in my head, like a jumper course. As soon as I was through one section, I moved on to the next. I looked, and bike and body followed.

The result was that I rode a ton of things no one expected me to, and I didn’t crash very much (because I simply didn’t ride the stuff I didn’t think I could). I remember one ride in particular, back in 2003, when I was fifteen. My mother and I bumped into a real pro of a rider, and we took him down the hardest, most technical trail. His reaction (after having ridden everything and making it look easy) was to turn to my Wonderful Mother and say: “Your daughter has really good focus.”

Which I thought was funny at the time (doesn’t everyone really focus on riding technical singletrack?) but in retrospect I appreciate it more and more.

Because this focus, that I developed for jumping horses, that I’ve honed and refined riding trails that hikers have trouble with, has transferred again—this time into writing.

You hear a lot from writers about getting into a space where you’re not distracted. About taking away human contact, turning off the phone, getting off the internet. And all these are excellent and if you have difficulty focusing you should definitely try them.

But there is more you can do, I think, than simply remove distractions. You can also actively practice your focus. Learn how to blot out everything that is not crucial to the task at hand. Line yourself up and commit.

Not saying that nothing can distract me from writing. I got very distracted the other day because I was writing in a coffee shop (usually a place I find quite conducive to concentration) and two helicopter pilots sat down at the next table and started chatting about flying, rescue operations, flying in white-out zero visibility down the side of a mountain, landing their helicopters in between tree trunks with mere inches of clearance. That was pretty distracting—but worth it.

I’ve also written over five hundred words in rather less than an hour sitting on a hard bench at a car wash. It had been a hectic day, and I realized the only way I was going to make my word count was if I simply brought my laptop with me everywhere and any chance I got I would pop it open and write.

Which just goes to show, I think, that training can cross over and affect completely different aspects of your life. I also hope it offers encouragement to people who maybe have trouble focusing. Because one thing I want to make absolutely clear: I was not born with this. My ability to focus was something I had to learn. It is something I’ve practiced for years. And you can too.

You don’t even have to learn to jump horses or ride mountain bikes.

But that might help.

And as to the whole ability to switch focus in an instant, that has definitely come in handy for juggling many different projects, as I do.

Goldeen Ogawa is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist. She has been riding horses since she was three and a half, and mountain biking since she was twelve. Strangely, she has yet to write stories about either of them. You can email her at goldeenogawa@gmail.com or peck at her on Twitter @GrimbyTweets

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NOTE: I wrote this journal some time ago and have been sitting on it. However, this piece in the New Yorker made me realize now is the time to let it out. In her article, Joan Acocella talks about famous novels with bad endings, and postulates about why this is. I’m surprised she never touched on the simplest explanation: writing endings is hard and writers make mistakes. Fumbling your ending, however, is a bad one in my book. Allow me to explain…

On the Importance of Endings

“Then in this ending we find a beginning also. Which is as it should be.”

—Brother Cadfael

Some years ago I stumbled across an article in Wired about Ernest Hemingway’s story in six words. (“For sale; baby shoes, never worn.”) In it they printed some other six word stories from professionals in the field of speculative and horror fiction. As I read through the submissions, some of which were from writers I admired, I had to admit that none of them were as good as Hemingway’s original. Hell, I took a crack at it myself (“Girl found a ring: invisible now.”) and was disappointed that I couldn’t do any better. One thing I noticed, however, as I scrolled past the wall of six word stories, was how very few of these modern submissions did what Hemingway did: just tell the ending.

Most stories can generally be broken down into three parts: a beginning, a middle, and an end. And I saw many writers who would carefully spend two words on the beginning, two on the middle, and two on the end. However, the better stories (and Hemingway’s own) leave off any mention of a beginning or middle, and instead save all six words for telling the end.

If you think about it, the end is really all you need to know. I’ve read short stories that seem, for all intents and purposes, to be the ends of novels plus the minimum of exposition needed to keep the reader from floundering. They are simply a novel with the first seventy or eighty thousand words left out.

Some kinds of stories are like this: all that matters is the end, everything else is predictable and compulsory. So it’s understandable that many writers skip to the good bit, trusting their readers to reverse-engineer the story that came before—and, if that story is simple and predictable enough, most readers will do this without even noticing. Take Hemingway’s story, which is a prime example of just telling the ending:

For sale; baby shoes, never worn. 

That is only the end of a (rather tragic) story, but we make it up out of thin air just from reading ending sentence.

I want you, my reader, to keep this ability of endings to encompass the entire story that preceded them in your mind when I say: endings are important.

Now that I’ve said that, I’ll also point out that with some stories, the ending is not as important compared to the rest of the work. These are “it’s the journey not the destination” types of stories. And even then the ending is still important. Ursula K. LeGuin has championed the notion that a story can be like a big complicated house; it’s all about the rambling around inside, not the leaving by the back door, that’s important. I appreciate this point of view, but I’d also like to mention that all my favorite stories by her (Dragonfly, The Annals of the Western Shore Trilogy, The Lathe of Heaven) have really fantastic endings (and beginnings, and middles; Ursula K. LeGuin does not write the kind of story where you can leave off the first eighty-thousand words; it is those first eighty thousand words that make her endings so good).

So if endings are important even in stories where it is the “journey” that’s the point, then what of more conventional stories, where the ending can define the entire work?

The ending is downright paramount.

And by that I mean: the writer had better, as they value their career, get the ending right. The wrong ending, just as much as a bad ending, can ruin the entire story. Never mind how beautiful and intricate and compelling your setting, characters and plot—if you can’t successfully land that plane, your story will crash and burn.

“Don’t promise a cake and deliver a lemon,” is my maxim for a good ending. In other words, a good ending fits with the rest of the story. If you’re telling the kind of story that wants a happy ending, it better get a happy ending. If you want a sad ending, go back and tell the kind of story that can support one.

Now, tacking a sad ending onto a happy-ending story is just wrong, in my opinion. Wrong like rape; it is a violation of the trust a reader gives the writer when they trust you to tell them a good story—and therefore a good ending. But it is equally wrong, I think, to turn around and put a happy ending on a sad-ending story. That can invalidate all the sadness that went before it.

Of course, figuring out whether your story wants a happy ending or a sad ending can be difficult, so it’s no surprise that writers slip up from time to time—but who ever said telling a good story was easy? Getting the ending right takes judgment and skill and a little bit of intuition and it’s a lot of work.

I don’t like to lay out “do’s” and “don’ts”. I think there are exceptions for every rule. There are no inherently bad ending types, just bad matches. Bad intuition. There are also endings that are premature or drag on too long (bad judgment calls). And there are endings that just don’t make much sense (unskilled).

But I recently saw an article go by (I can’t be bothered to look it up, but since I’m dealing with its subject in the abstract rather than the details I think I can be forgiven) that was talking about the rise in popularity of the “unhappy ending.”

“Nonsense,” my mother said when I relayed this information to her. “Happy endings never go out of style. Not with readers. They only go out of style with writers, editors, and publishers—who have gotten bored and want to try something different.”

She’s right, I think. (My motto, aside from “I am as awesome as I am pretentious, and I am very pretentious” is “Mother is always right”.) We writers can get so wound up in our writing circles, workshops, and critique groups that we can forget we’re not actually writing stories for other writers, but for the vast sea of readers—present and future—many of whom, I think it safe to say (like me) prefer a happy ending. Because there is so much natural sadness in the world, I think fiction has a duty to try to make up the difference.

But this is only my opinion. Yet although I brazenly prefer stories with happy endings, I do recognize that this shoe does not fit on every foot—and more important than making an ending happy or sad or bittersweet, is making it satisfactory.

I don’t like giving advice to other writers. However, I wish to leave some advice here for me. To remind my future self what I was getting at with all this.

So, future self, listen up:

Don’t pay attention to what’s popular or in fashion. Do what’s right for your story. Don’t try to compromise your work just so it’ll fit into whatever slot your agent or publisher wants. Do what you believe in your heart is the right thing. Because popularity rises and falls; fashions come and go; but a good story (with a good ending) can last for centuries.

So how do we writers go about ending our stories? I can’t speak for others, but this is how I do it (and you will have to read my stories and decide for yourself whether it’s effective):

I write for the ending.

It’s as simple as that.

I write for the ending.

I find I cannot begin writing a story until I know how it ends. Until I have something to aim for. From the very first sentence I have a goal, a reward, a release, in mind. Sometimes it changes a little during the course of writing, but mostly it remains the same. I have on occasion written endings to stories I haven’t started yet, then gone back and written the story up until ending can be neatly fitted on, like the cap on a bottle.

My idol, Diana Wynne Jones, once said that endings were the most difficult part for her (apart from titles).(Incidentally, another thing I need before I begin a story: A title. I don’t know what this says about me.) But for me endings have always come easily. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent the whole story fixated on how I’ll get to them, striving for that one moment when all the gears click into place, the scale resolves, the drumbeat… ends. Maybe it’s because I value endings so highly that the few perfect endings I have found in other stories (examples: Prince Caspian—C. S. Lewis, The 13 Clocks—James Thurber, Good Omens—Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, The Pinhoe Egg—Diana Wynne Jones (who admittedly does not always have the perfect kind of endings I like best, but who got better at them toward the end), and Powers—Ursula K. LeGuin), have stuck firmly in my head, and I hold all my endings up to that same high standard. Like bringing a string into tune, I have the pure A of Prince Caspian’s ending ringing in my head as I write, and when I hear my story’s ending coming into tune with it… I stop.

I began this journal with a quote from one great fictional detective, and I shall end it with another:

 

“But he had not that supreme gift of the artist, the knowledge of when to stop.”

—Sherlock Holmes

As important as it is to finish the story (I find ambiguous or “choose your own ending” stories particularly annoying; to me it smacks of lazy and indecisive story-telling) it is equally important that when all things have been neatly put away, to end it.

Now I shall exercise what little artistic gift I have left, and put a stop to this one.

Goldeen Ogawa has been re-writing the endings to other people’s stories since she was six and ret-conned Bambi’s mother dying. Nothing is safe from her: the Forest Spirit lives for sure. You can email her about the things in your head at goldeenogawa@gmail.com or peck at her on Twitter @GrimbyTweets

 

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Those of you who follow me on twitter (@GrimbyTweets) may have noticed my habit of posting links to a webcomic called Angeldevil every Friday. Perhaps you’ve followed them. Perhaps you’ve read what you’ve found there. Perhaps not.

This Friday I’m posting the first chapter of the last volume of Angeldevil, and the last page of Angeldevil will be posted December 31st. With the end so near, I’d like to take a moment to tell you about it.

Detail from the cover of Angeldevil Volume 10. Oil on gessobord © Goldeen Ogawa 2012

Angeldevil began in a doodle in my sketchbook on August 14th, 2004—the day before I turned seventeen. This doodle was a short cartoon featuring the two main characters, Matsuné and Shakuro, and can be considered the comic’s first incarnation. Designs for Shakuro’s character, however, and the concept of the “Angel-devil” (a human soul in a demon body) date back as far as 2003.

In retrospect I don’t know what I was thinking. “Drawing a manga will be fun!” probably. I didn’t think of the sheer amount of work writing, illustrating and publishing a comic would be. I couldn’t possibly know. I do know now, and I think my ignorance allowed me to be brave enough to embark on the project.

In the beginning I thought of Angeldevil as a learning experience. I wanted to teach myself how to make comics, and I felt the best way to do this was to actually make one. As a result, the first fifty chapters or so show a steep incline in the quality of the art—and a certain maturation of the writing style. The earliest chapters are downright amateur, and I can’t look at them now without flinching inwardly. But it’s partly because I drew them that I can now produce pages like this:

Pages 10 and 11 from Chapter 86 of Angeldevil (Volume 8). Pen and graphite pencil by Goldeen Ogawa © 2012. Click image to see it full size.

I have, at times, thought about going back and re-drawing the earlier chapters, to bring them in line with the overall quality of the series. But each time I come up against the limitations of my time and energy, and also the fact that I think we artists have a bad habit of hiding our ugly-duckling first attempts, contributing to the commonly held assumption that skilled artists spring fully formed into being, without ever having passed through an unsteady learning stage. For this very reason I think it’s important not to hide my early efforts. They are as much a part of my artistic landscape as the things I do now. Indeed, they are the foundation of it.

(But note, I do not provide an imbedded sample here. I am not without shame.)

I wrote Angeldevil around a strictly structured frame: 19 pages plus the cover for each chapter, eleven chapters per volume, and the entire series was to fall within eleven volumes. I did it this way specifically so I could pace the production on a steady schedule: instead of writing a script and then sketching and inking one page at a time, I would block out a chapter, then sketch all the pages, then clean them up, then ink them. Having such a structure was in some ways limiting, but also helped me self-edit as I went along. When you only have 20 pages to advance the story a set amount, you learn fast to distinguish what does and does not need to be shown. Because unlike straight prose, it doesn’t work to do the comic and then go back and edit it. Writing is fast. Drawing is slow. You cannot afford to spend five hours drawing a scene and then go back and decide to cut it. Similarly, it is impossible to add scenes after the fact, again because of the drawing. Even if I had the time, I worked in traditional media, which drastically reduced the amount of post editing I could do.

I say I wrote Angeldevil, but the truth is I did not write it as one would write a novel, or even a script. In the beginning I wrote it as I drew each page. This was time consuming, and as the story grew more complex I began to keep running notes about characters and plot points, even sketching out thumbnails for future pages ahead of time. This eventually developed into the method I would use the write the better part of the comic, and all the other comics I’ve done: start with a sheet of paper and do thumbnails for an entire chapter; little miniature pages with frames and images blocked out, and dialogue scribbled in the margins. The running notes eventually ballooned into a blow-by-blow for each chapter, with occasional lines of importance written down. But the detail of the notes varied from chapter to chapter, and up until the very end there were chapters that I fleshed out as I did the thumbnails. I never had a point-by-point script to work from. I literally wrote the comic with words and pictures at the same time.

A sheet of thumbnails for Chapter 91 of Angeldevil (Volume 9). Pencil, © Goldeen Ogawa 2011. Click image for full view.

One of the most useful skills I acquired from seven years of writing/drawing Angeldevil was the ability to put out a lot of artwork over a short amount of time. People have remarked at how fast I draw (a friend of mind nicknamed me “Lightning Pencil”) but this is no accident. I had to draw this fast in order to get four pages sketched in under two hours. Now I can say with near-perfect accuracy exactly how long it will take me to do a comic of any given length.

I’ve also learned how to tell stories with words and pictures, which is distinctly different than telling a story with just words. You have to think about camera angles, how to show time in space, how to convey action. Certain things translate better visually, others verbally. Knowing how to play the strengths of a visual media off the strengths of prose is definitely a balancing act, and one that is just not necessary when writing straight prose. Yet simply knowing that it exists has, I think, made my writing better. Because to draw something you must visualize it with absolute clarity (after all, you’re drawing it), and, not surprisingly, having a clear image in your head makes your writing that much stronger too. (Note: it doesn’t always make it easier to write; this author has lost many hairs whilst trying to translate a visually active scene into prose.)

Page 12 of Chapter 91 (Angeldevil Volume 9) as it appears in the print edition of the books. Pen and graphite pencil, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. © Goldeen Ogawa 2011. Click for fullview.

In February of 2008 I began posting Angeldevil online through the website deviantart.com. This added a new dimension of work: typesetting. Because I did not ink my dialogue, after I’d scanned the pages in I had to go back and digitally erase my sloppy penciled text and replace it with digital type. In doing so I did manage to subtly smooth out some of the early writing—though the confines of word balloons restricted how much I could change. As I was also developing the comic for print books I had to figure out what I was to do about the cropping. In the early pages I would place the frames right up next to the edge of the paper, but with printing you need half an inch to an inch of dead space around the important artwork to allow for slippage and cropping. Also, the aspect ratio of the paper I had been working with was different from standard comic book dimensions. The solution I found was to place the entire page within a frame that extended to the very edge of the paper. The result was somewhat unusual for a comic, though it did have the advantage allowing me room for a running header, and of preserving the entire drawing, so nothing was cropped.

As my art style evolved over the course of the comic, so did the tools I used to create it. Though I never found anything better than Sharpie markers for doing large areas of black, I was continually trying out different types of pen for the thin lines. However, until Volume 11 the media didn’t change too much.

I produced the raw artwork for Volume 11 during the fall and early winter of 2011. It being the climactic end to a saga over a hundred chapters long (for those keeping count, that’s over two thousand individual pages) I wanted to do something special. So I decided to make it all in color.

Color adds a whole new dimension to comics. You’re not just dealing with shapes and shades of gray, you now have hues to work with as well. And although I had been doing color covers for every volume (in oils, no less!) rendering the entire comic in color added significant mental effort.

Also, coloring something in takes over twice as long as inking it in black. So for the last five chapters of Angeldevil I chose to paint in watercolor—the fastest colored medium I use.

Watercolor, I’ve decided, is great for comics. It’s fast, flexible, and expressive. It’s also relatively cheap, portable, and compatible with paper. But the switch to watercolor was still a big leap for me: I had developed methods for speeding up the inking process that could not be applied to watercolors, and in a way I was back to square one. Except I was a much better watercolorist at the end of 2011 than I was ever an illustrator in 2004. And getting to see these characters that had grown and developed along with myself over the past seven years finally rendered in full color was like seeing them come to life all over again.

This is the part where I would show you an example of what my watercolor pages look like, but the fact is I haven’t posted any of them yet. Chapter 111, the first full-color chapter, goes up tomorrow over on deviantART. But I can show you the cover for Volume 11:

Cover painting for Angeldevil Volume 11. Oil on gessobord. © Goldeen Ogawa 2012. Click image for full view.

While the first nine volumes of Angeldevil are available PoD style through Lulu and the entire series up to the end of Volume 10 is available online, if you want to follow the ending of Angeldevil without losing twelve hours to a comics marathon, I have put together a series recap as a promo for Volume 11 which summarizes the story nicely. It is in two parts on deviantART here and here and the entire, 28,000 pixel-tall original image can be found here.

I’ve found that many people immediately associate comics with either the Sunday Funnies, or super-heroes in tight pants. I find this perplexing. Comics (or manga as they are called in Japan), are just another medium for telling stories, like novels, movies, television shows and plays. And just like the others they have their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses.

Some stories work better as straight prose, and some stories work better through illustrated prose, and some not only work better, but indeed can only work in that strange, hybrid environment of words and pictures that is the comic medium.

I like to think that Angeldevil is one of those stories. Certainly it’s not a story I could ever have written as a novel. One thing is for certain: I can now say with confidence that I know how to make a comic.

Shakuro, the main protagonist of Angeldevil, as she appears in Chapter 111.Watercolor on bristol board. © Goldeen Ogawa 2011. Posted November 30th.

 

Goldeen Ogawa considers herself more of a writer than an artist; but only just. In addition to Angeldevil she has also produced two color comic books about the character Tobius Leander, available from Rabbit Valley Comics, and was the co-creator (with her brother) of the webcomic The Iron Wizard (Completed in 2010). She is currently working on an all-new webcomic, Year of the God-Fox, also in watercolor, coming next year. You can email her at goldeenogawa@gmail.com or peck at her on Twitter @GrimbyTweets

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Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S., and I am hiding in my room. Soon I will go and place the massive Death and the Cat print order, but first I want to tell you about something silly that happened.

Last weekend when I was tidying up my bathroom I came across a bauble I had purchased in Toronto Pearson Airport on my first day in Canada for World Fantasy. At the time I thought nothing of it: I bought it only because all we had were twenties and we needed change to tip our cab. I went into one of those ubiquitous newspaper vendors to see if the cashier could make change for me. English was not her first language, however, (neither was French, before you ask,) and I misunderstood her hand waving to mean I had to purchase something if she were to give me change. So I went over to the stand of cheap souvenirs and selected a simple key ring. It had a maple leaf on it and said TORONTO across the bottom. It was about as generic and impersonal as you could get. But hey, it was $3.99 CAD, which would get me the right amount of change.

When I brought it up to the counter the woman was bemused, and explained (as she rung me up) that her hand waving had meant she was about to get me change, but then I had gone away again!

So I came away with change, and a little generic key ring that I put in my bag and promptly forgot about.

Until last weekend when I found myself in need of a keyring. I turned my bags inside-out and finally found my unnecessary purchase, which had lain forgotten in an inner pocket all through the convention, the flight back to the U.S., the week after staying at my aunt’s house, and finally the drive home.

I picked it up… and was struck at once by the strange certainty that this was a magic object. Take a look for yourself, and see if you don’t agree.

Up until my mid-teens, I was always imbuing ordinary objects with magical attributes. Feathers and stalks of long grass became fantastical animals; my Breyer horses all had names and personalities; and my giant stuffed horse which my grandmother had bought for me when I was three was as much a real person—in my mind—as the people around me.

Side note: I still have this horse. She sleeps in bed with me. This is not for any childish reassurance (though she is more patient about being hugged than my cats are), but because when I was five I saw an animated adaptation of The Velveteen Rabbit, and I promised White Star I would never let that happen to her. So even though we no longer play together, and even though I now have a very real horse to ride, I still keep a special part of my imagination open just for her; where I am forever a child, and she is a real friend. It’s not because I feel I need it—not any more—but because I made a promise. And if you can’t keep the promises you make yourself, what promises can you keep?

Where was I? Oh yes, imbuing ordinary things with magic.

All the best games I played as a kid involved make-believe. Sticks became light-sabers, piles of rocks became castles. The family VW bus became a cursed prison (my mother would argue that this was, in fact, what it was).

I did this with small things too: my favorite earrings were magic talismans; I think I had a pair of boots I pretended were seven-leaguers at one point.

All this imagination didn’t go away as I got older—it just became more directed and focused, and instead of applying it liberally to the real world around me, I channelled it into my art and writing. In fact I’ve channelled it so well I realized—staring down at this cheap trinket that I now knew was in fact a magical object that was merely biding its time until some unforeseen danger threatened, at which point it would shoot it with beams if rainbow light and maple leaves—that I hardly did it any more. I simply don’t have the time or the energy.

Like Matilda, whose powers of telekinesis waned as her brain was allowed to study more interesting subjects, my own powers of creation had been redirected to worlds that only existed on the page. The last time I’d taken the effort of breathing magical life into an ordinary object was when I’d bought Dafydd the little fuzzy red gay dragon at a gift shop in Wales, over a year ago.

So I made a point of dropping the cleaning and, for five or ten minutes, I was an intrepid hero (in my imagination I’m like Aragorn but without the beard or affection for Elvish women) on a quest to escort the mysterious TORONTO medallion through hostile territory. There were many dangers that awaited me, I knew, but the TORONTO medallion (I have decided) is a powerful protective charm, nudging the balance of random actions so things turned out better for the one who holds it.

It is currently employed as the key fob for my spare set of car keys. I figured this would be the best use of its magic: my car is actually a TARDIS and will take care of me. I don’t entirely trust her with other people though, so when my brother takes the spare key to drive her at least he’s got the TORONTO medallion with him.

I think, while it is important to remember that the world of our imagination is just that—a separate world, whose rules do not always apply to our own—it is just as important to keep the mental roads between the two open; that these flights of fantasy are a valuable relief from the real world, and our experiences there can enrich and invigorate us.

This is part of the reason I write fantasy, but it’s also why I will, on occasional, drop everything to go off and play make-believe with a couple stuffed animals and a bauble from an airport souvenir shop.

Sometimes the best magic is the kind we find in the things most ordinary.

 ~G

Goldeen Ogawa is very careful to make a distinction about the things that are real, and the things that are real only in her head. You can email her about the things in your head at goldeenogawa@gmail.com or peck at her on Twitter @GrimbyTweets

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Intelligence doesn’t always look the way we expect it to. Human intelligence is one thing… but what of inhuman intelligence? Is it so alien as to be unrecognizable? Or are there universal constants through which we can communicate? Perhaps there are higher truths not subject to the whims of our perception, and through these we may find that intelligence comes in many guises.

“Signs of Intelligence” – Copic multiliner pen, watercolor, white ink on vellum bristol board. 9″x6″ © Goldeen Ogawa 2012

One of the things I’ve always found attractive about fantasy and science fiction was its capacity to explore other intelligences, other ways of thinking. Of course it all boils down to different ways of human thinking, because so far humans are the only ones writing these stories. But it’s still fun to imagine how different the world could look when viewed from the mindset of, say, a dragon. Or a giant tortoise. Or, as in the case above, an alien tentacle monster.

The character in question here is Dave, who doesn’t think at all like we do (he doesn’t have a brain), yet he (a misleading term; his species do not have a solid gender) can still comprehend the same geometric proofs that we do. So even though we communicate via visual and audio cues and he communicates via psychoactive slime, we can still “talk” to each other because we can interact with the same world.

Dave is a character from my Professor Odd series. He first appears in The False Student, and has a minor role in The Slowly Dying Planet. He will be making a rather larger contribution to the next Professor Odd story, The Promethean Predicament, which will be coming… soon? I hope.

Goldeen Ogawa will be exhibiting in the art show at the World Fantasy Con this November in Toronto, Canada, and so she will be posting rather a lot of new art between now and then. Lots more of her pictures can be found on her deviantART account. You can email her at goldeenogawa@gmail.com or peck at her on Twitter @GrimbyTweets

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