Thursday, 21 February 2013

Welcome to Otherwhile

They say it takes three steps to get to Otherwhile ...


No, no, that's too fast ...

One ... ... two ... ... three

Much too slow ...

One, two, three.

And that's it!

Welcome to Otherwhile, the home of ... well, to be honest, the home of a writing project I've been thinking about for quite a while now, a project that ...

But no, I should begin at the beginning.

In this case, the beginning is an early morning in a half-dark room, whose furnishings had a surprising tendency to sway and slip out of reach.  There had been a wedding celebration.  There had been things to drink.  There was now a wedding guest whose mind was restless from the celebration and whose body was unreliable from the things to drink.  That guest was me.  Fortunately, someone took pity on me as I clung resolutely to my stackable chair and watched the sprung-floored room spring about.  The someone gave me water and smiled indulgently and did all the things one should do to help a person suffering an uncertain grasp of gravity.  I suspect that someone might have had the odd drink or two herself because after a while she turned to me and said ...

"Tell me a story."

Which is what I did.  It was a story about a boy with one eye of blue and one of lavender, the sixth son of a seventh son, who had to go on a quest to find the Truth.  I remember being very pleased with it, though not as pleased as I was with the smell of the someone's hair or the feel of her tired weight against my shoulder.  Being me, though, the story got hold of me and carried me away and by the time it let me go, with the sixth son triumphant, Truth discovered and evil vanquished, the someone was asleep.  Ever since, I have been far too willing to be carried off by stories when there was something much, much better to do.

That particular story, of the sixth son of the seventh son, was the beginning of Otherwhile.  It's not precisely a world and not precisely a country, though it's been both in its time.  It's not Fairyland or Faerie  (and anybody who spells "magic" with an extra "k" should know it has a distressing lack of designer-stubbled woodcutters and goth-lite princesses).  It's home to stories that have a whiff of homely myth about them, a pinch of Grimm here, a dash of Arabian Nights there.  Some have been quite serious and have had terribly pretentious endings.  Some are quite sweet.  And all have given more flesh to a place in my mind that is neither here nor now.

Now Otherwhile is looking to grow, to become a country and something more, a place with mountains and forests and rivers, a placed that cartographers can march across and measure, a place with people who can be talked to and listened to and cried for and laughed at, a place where deeper, longer stories can be told.  Indeed, it's a place where one particular story wants to grow, a story about a sixth son of a seventh son, with one eye of blue and one of lavender.  And as land and story grow, I'll pop in here to tell you, my (almost certainly notional) reader, about them, giving some idea of how the sixth son's story is coming together and exploring the history and geography of Otherwhile along the way.  I'll also take the chance to let the odd old story shake off the years and scamper around in Otherwhile's green fields for a bit.  The result, I hope, will be in part a writer's blog, in part a gazetteer of a world that until now has only been visible in my mind's eye.

So, welcome again to Otherwhile.  I hope you enjoy your time here.  Things will be a little quiet at first but there's much to come, not least a description of the land of Otherwhile itself and the tale of how the planets were tamed.  For the moment, though, there's just this entry and an old story which someone of a rather gloomy nature might once have told in some out-of-the-way corner of Otherwhile, to be found in The Pasture for Elderly Stories

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