All posts tagged: Writing

On the process of writing.

tennis-john-catbagan

Rhythm, Hippocampus Magazine

I’m pleased to have a flash piece published in the January issue of Hippocampus, an online magazine dedicated to entertain, educate, and engage writers and readers of creative nonfiction. Rhythm is a 750-word meditation on the “zone” one can attain while playing a sport or writing a story, along with the fleeting joy that ensues from tapping into the flow. There is a part towards the end where I compare this mode with what it might be like to be an animal, of being wholly present, fully embodied in the here and now, the beauty in that certainty of being: “… For one length, the twenty-second out of the thirty-four I would eventually complete, I was a seal, dark and torpid, and my arms were fins with which I used to shape the world. For one length, just one, I shed all meaning, instead was meaning, until nothing was left but presence, before strength failed and form broke, and I was human once again.” Read the Piece Here

Great Horsetail_Luc_Viatour

More Than Ferns: Oliver Sacks’ Oaxaca Journal

When I finished the preface to Oliver Sacks’ Oaxaca Journal and found that the late neurologist and author shared my love for natural history travelogues, I knew I was in for a treat. What I was not expecting to discover was a potential new writing muse and a possible kindred spirit. If you harbour no interest for ferns, travel writing, or Oliver Sacks as a person, this slim tome may not be for you. Luckily, I’m fascinated by all of three elements, and so found Oaxaca Journal an Ekostory well worth exploring.

Unless - The Lorax

The Lorax and Literature’s Moral Obligation

I recently came across a wonderful piece in The Atlantic exploring some of the ideas that have been rattling around in my head ever since I started Ekostories. Using Dr. Seuss classic The Lorax as a starting point, author Lydia Millet makes a case for the importance of activist-minded fiction. What role should literature play in voicing the great and pressing challenges of our time? Should it convey messages and courses of action? What constitutes preaching? What can transcend it? Here are a few sections that resonated with me: On the urgent need for eco-literature: “Shouldn’t the cascades of extinction and rapid planetary warming register in our literature? And yet, despite the fact that most Americans support the work of saving species from winking out, and increasingly support strong action to curb climate change, the highly rational push for the preservation of nature and life-support systems often appears in the media—and certainly appears in most current fiction—as a boutique agenda. Climate change is shifting that marginalization, but not fast enough.” On what makes the Lorax powerful: “What makes …

Baird's Tapir

Zoomorphic Magazine, A Tapir’s Tale

I‘m pleased to announce that Zoomorphic Magazine has published one of my personal essays titled “A Tapir’s Tale”. From scientists and conservationists with research to share to nature writers with stories to tell, Zoomorphic is a great read for anyone interested in writing that “deepens our connection with wildlife and the more-than-human world”. “A Tapir’s Tale” begins with a childhood animal book and delves into an encounter I had while in Belize for field school a decade ago: “…When I concentrate memories begin to surface as flickers, like glints of minnows scattered by diving kingfishers, like flash sightings of otters slipping into dark waters. The dull knife edge of a nearby karst shore against palm. The airy wake trailing a pair of fishing bats on hair and scalp. Their wheeling forms crossing filigree shadows cast by overhanging trees. A ripe fig falls in the water and ripples out. Interplay between sound and silence. Layers and moments circling a creation unfinished. You shattered that tranquility for me.” I’m looking forward to delving into the latest issue. …

Surface waves water ripples

The Drop That Contained the Sea, by Christopher Tin

Recently while sorting through my soundtrack collection, I came across an old and beloved piece of music. Titled “Baba Yetu“, it was the feature song for Civilization 4, an entry in a popular strategy game series that came out in 2004. While humming the tune and falling into the timesink that is Wikipedia, I learned that the song is a Swahili translation of the Lord’s Prayer, that it was the only videogame song in history to win a Grammy, and that the composer Christopher Tin‘s latest creation was a classical crossover album around the theme of water called “The Drop That Contained the Sea“. “The message [of the album] is that, essentially, in the coming century water, and water management, is going to be the most important global issue to all people and across all countries,” Tin says, “Between melting Antarctic ice sheets and rising ocean levels and droughts and increased devastation from hurricanes and so forth, water is literally going to shape the way we draw our maps.” – Christopher Tin, Public Radio International Needless to …

Elephant eye up close

Bearing Witness: The Animal Dialogues by Craig Childs

It began with pronghorns. As a child growing up obsessed with creature comparisons, the main allure of the pronghorn antelope was naturally its cheetah-esque speed, evolved to evade the North American version of the same predatory cat now ghost. Now in latter years and slower-paced days, other characteristics came to the fore: Those long-lashed doe eyes; that sly, set hint of a smile; the pair of ebony horns, sheathed in keratin; the trace of melancholy that comes with knowing that it is the lone survivor from its family, the last of its kin. It was a fortuitous flip to the essay on pronghorns that swayed me to pick up Craig Childs’ The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild. It didn’t take long before I knew I had to write about it. In each intimately wrought tale on antelopes, hawks, and red-spotted toads, I found a writer and translator infinitely more versed in the subtle tongues of the non-human world than I will ever be. Childs honours the weight and magnitude of his encounters with creatures …

Hong Kong Cityscape

Place and Memory: Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities

I’m not sure how to describe Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. It isn’t traditional fiction on a structural level, having no story arc or a defined ending. Nor is it conventional fantasy, doing away with the worlds it creates almost as soon as it forms them. Even the broadest definitions of historical fiction and magical realism don’t quite fit, as Calvino blends real and imagined details into a concoction of seemingly irreverent tales. Invisible Cities is a travelogue to places that do not exist. It is a work that brushes aside conventions of form and narrative to ruminate on ideas of memory and place, touching on everything from trajectory of civilizations to the limits of communication. At times delightfully whimsical and intensely melancholic, Invisible Cities is a testament to the power of an author at the height of his powers to provoke, enthrall, and connect.