March 17, 2018

The Old Songs of Imagined Lands

Sometimes a story will continue to whisper to me long after it's written. Usually when that happens I just go back and read it and am calmed. But one that has continued to bother me unappeased for the past couple of years is Aftermark, the story of a peaceweaver bride, told in The Coracle Sky. I've probably told you this already. I tend to be repetitive, I know.

I've been advised that the characters of this story are my least appealing, and perhaps that's right. But it's the two kingdoms I love best anyway. Over the past couple of years I've found myself unintentionally compiling a collection of Erlish folk songs and old poems from the dragon king's library. Copper and roses, fishing boats and swords, war and sunlit dreaming. I've drawn maps in my mind and walked their coastlines, their hedgerows. I miss the wind over the northern moors and the fragrance of the ornate gardens in Celanthwy.

I doubt I'll do anything with this. (For a start, I could never write a novel about someone called Igrane - what on earth made me name my heroine that? Secondly, I'm working on one of the stories I mentioned in my previous post.) But there's a strange, lonely loveliness to wishing for a country that does not actually exist. I know many people feel that way about Middle Earth, Pern, and other imagined lands. (I myself certainly wish at times that I lived on Pern, but only if I could be a dragonrider, and only during Falls.) But there's a limit to how far a fan can explore such places, whereas one advantage a writer has is that they possess the entitlement and authority to invent anything they like within their own worlds.

A lullably in Erland would sound something like this, whereas music in Celanthwy tends to be more elegant, like this. I would like to live in Celanthwy myself, so that I could long to live in Erland.

For me, dreaming of other worlds is not about escapism, but of living more imaginatively than daily existence can allow me. We enrich our homes with scent, plant flowers in our garden; filling our minds with imagined wonders is much the same thing.

What paper worlds do you wish you could visit? (I'm betting at least one of you answer with Ursula le Guin's land of the Kesh.)

photos found on pinterest