Monthly Archives: May 2012

Turning Over a New Leaf

If you are inspired by metaphors (and I suspect almost everyone is, to some degree), it can be important to have the right one. It’s one thing to motivate yourself with imagery of agriculture and harvest, for instance, quite another to rely on images of bloody warfare. Both might be good sources of metaphors for […]

Marie de France and Everyday Mysteries

Part II in a series on fictional characters encountering the supernatural. When I started to think about literary characters reacting to the supernatural, one group of stories came to mind that you wouldn’t find in the Fantasy section of your local bookstore. Marie de France wrote her lais, short narrative poems, in the twelfth century. […]

How Can This Be?

This post is the first in a planned series on how characters in fiction confront and come to believe in the supernatural. It’s a situation that comes up regularly in certain types of fantasy. Characters from the real world encounter a hidden reality, enter an unknown world, or confront elements of the supernatural that others […]


What is this “scratch” that you make things out of, anyway? Apparently the expression derives from a sporting term, referring to “a competitor who receives no odds” (which, in my dim understanding of this sort of situation, is a good thing). The OED defines “from scratch” as “from a position of no advantage, knowledge, influence, […]

Making From Scratch

Recently I made a small foray into a new craft. I came across a beautiful paper shop in the Korean shopping district not far from my house, and discovered that they offered lessons in book-making. I spent an enjoyable hour and a half putting together a little notebook covered in yellow mulberry-fibre paper, with a […]