Friday, November 10, 2017

Inspirations and Oddities - Second Friday - November 10th

“The circus arrives without warning. 

No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.” 

― Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus

I intend to utilize these Second Friday post to share short inspirations and links to discoveries in our world that have inspired me and my work, if not become part of the world I create.

This week though, I wanted to share with you just one and that's a book that has instantly claimed a spot into my all time favorites. 

"The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern

I won't make this a review because it's been out for a number of years and many of you may already have read it or decided it was or wasn't your thing. 

I am glad that I did not read it until now. It would neve have had the same effect on me, on my heart, even five years ago when it first came out, though I may have loved it then too.

This is meant to be more of a "thank you" to the author, for every once in awhile a book or other form of media comes along that takes us somewhere unexpected. And in this case it occurs to me how, when we read those first words of a book (like those I began the post with above) we have no idea what is in store. 

Nothing could have prepared me for what lay ahead and how much I would fall under it's spell. And the fair question to ask would be "how do you know it is one of your all time favorites when you just read it?" 

To which the only reply is "Because I simply did not want it to end." 

That happens so rarely. I love books and I love reading but 99% of the time I am quite ready for a book to end. Not in a bad way but in an excited to see how it gets wrapped up way. To complete the narrative and allow me to move on to the next in the never-ending stack on the floor. 

I often wonder why no-one writes and approaches more stories in a serialized version but with no intention of ending it. Of course, when authors do this they are often derided for it. Robert Jordan comes to mind and the words "first of a trilogy" seems to induce eye rolls as often as not these days. When I think of my favorite books, they all struck me this way. I wish they had gone on, not in a grand sweeping story arc. . . but just the world, the characters, the magic. 

The one thing these favorites all have in common is the world they take you to is usually quite enchanting and magical. The Night Circus is no exception.

If I had to choose one other thing I adore about it, that would be the descriptive prose. I have read so many writing advice blogs where people seem to be so against overextending the use of details and description and if that is you, then this book will likely not please you. Every chapter is awash in the details and they are always, in my eyes, nothing short of enchanting. 

It's like the author took every mundane thing in a scene and said "but what if?" and then went two steps furthers. Clocks, tents, clothing, food. . . nothing is mundane and ordinary and yet, it all perfectly works without seeming to be "too much". 

If you are a fan of audio books then this is a must too as the reader, Jim Dale ( he read the audio book versions of the Harry Potter series) is beyond amazing in his delivery, characterizations and accents.  

The book was written originally as part of the NaNoWriMo, over three successive years, and writing it and the following success of it seems to have had a profound effect on the author as well who writes, "I wrote book about a nocturnal circus. . . and then my life became one." 

And it is a book that is really about storytelling itself under it's complex and magical surface. Just when you think the story is resolved as the end draws near, there are more chapters that unveil this aspect very clearly. Passages like:

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.” 

All great storytelling, be it in book form or the stories we attach to our own experiences and lives, shares that truth I think. It's why I am so set on telling a story with/for everything I create. 

Beauty, execution and form may attract but we stay for the stories.  .  . especially the ones we have yet to tell. 

And magic. . . you should of known it was about magic. .  and despite the wonderful magic that is laced through almost every chapter of the book in one form or another, the revelation of the magic is in it's accessibility and presence in the most mundane of things. And I was stopped in my reading tracks at the character explanation as to why it is not more prominent in the world. In our world. 

"All of this, this is not magic. This is the way the world IS, only very few people take the time to stop and note it."

And yes, there is a thread of a love story woven into it too but that's the magic of "The Night Circus" as well, that aspect of the story might be the fourth or fifth most prominent thread and it's written and handled in such an endearing way.  

Alright, that's enough. Next week I will get back to inspirations and oddities the way I intended them to be presented. Thank you, as always, for reading along. :)

And THANK YOU Erin Morgenstern.  I cannot say enough about the magic I found within this book or how it has inspired me. I just wish it had not had to end.  


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Beginning in October of 2017 I started to follow the following format for my blog, posting every Friday and under the following headings:

1st Friday of Each Month - New work ( New to the shops and a look at the making of one item each month)

2nd Fridays - Inspirations and Oddities (Links and thoughts about what inspires me) 

3rd Fridays - The Making of a Maker (advice and shared experiences of how I got "here" to where being a "maker-of-things" is my full time job.)

4th Fridays - The World of Bewilder and Pine ( peeks into the world of the Bewildering Pine, the stories and books to follow and all around fantasy world making)


  1. I will definitely be getting this on audible.... it was on my wish list already but I will
    Move it up the list.
    I just finished 'the bear and the nightingale' that you recommended earlier. I really enjoyed it. I took a break from audible for the summer and actually read some books but I am back listening while I walk on my breaks now. I am most excited though because I just saw where Alice Hoffman has a new book out, or coming out!!!!! All of hers make me want to stay inside her world a bit longer.

    1. Andrea I hope you will love the story too! I love Alice Hoffman too! There were quite a few articles/mentions about her new book in the Autumn issue of Faerie Magazine and she is a regular contributor to it. We are getting into the audio book routine when we work. Podcasts are our usual go-to but we burn through them fast and are trying very hard to avoid anything too "real world-ish". lol I am so glad you liked the Bear and the Nightingale! :)

  2. Wonderful post Nicolas! Thank you for introducing us to this book! Big Crow Hugs!

    1. Thank you so much for dropping by Stacy! I've been able to coax a handful of crows outside our studio windows to land on the porch roof below and let me feed them there. I think they just got tired of fighting 30 or so other crows for the main feeding spot. lol Funny how they are just a bit closer on the roof then when I feed them outside but they look 5x bigger! :)

  3. I think audio would be the thing for me here. Sounds really interesting even though, admittedly, I prefer non-fiction. My far, my fave book in the last 10 years has been Mari Kondo's "The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Magic of Tidying up."

    I love this bit of info you wrote: "The book was written originally as part of the NaNoWriMo, over three successive years, and writing it and the following success of it seems to have had a profound effect on the author as well who writes, "I wrote book about a nocturnal circus. . . and then my life became one." "

    1. Michael that's funny because we just listened to a podcast called "By The Book" where the hosts picked one of Mari Kondo's tidying up books to try to live by for two weeks to see if it helped them in their day to day lives!

      I really do love her philosophy behind keeping only what brings you joy. How did that book affect you/your day to day life, if at all? Are there parts of it that have maintained? We've incorporated her vertical storage/folding methods and it made a huge difference in the space we had for our things and it just feels good to have them be in a neater order. :)

    2. Funny, the ONLY thing we did NOT incorporate was the vertical storage aspect. LOL.

      Oh yes, it made a huge difference to our lives, even though, admittedly neither of us had much stuff and are quite tidy but even so!

      When we moved to UK last year to help take care of my mother in her ongoing decline, we needed to get rid of so much as we really couldn't afford the storage fees and weren't sure how long we might end up being there.

      The year before we had actually already had a massive yard sale where we sold about $400, practically giving things away. Yet, after doing M.K's method, we ended up with another sale and sold about $500 of stuff, giving away brand new xmas tree for $2 and a new tent for $1 etc! We were totally committed to the method-- if the things we had kept from the year before did not "without question or doubt" give us joy we rid ourselves of it (except for one drawer on legal docs that could not be stored online).

      The more we went through every item, the easier it got to identify if it truly bought us joy or not so by the time we left, all we had between the two of us was 16 boxes--that is it for EVERYTHING we own, all art supplies, clothes, etc, everything but 1 car (which we stored) and our dog who went to someone else to be taken care of during that time. We got rid of every piece of furniture too but two little bedside tables.

      Marie Kondo promises "magic" with that tidying up and decluttering--ALL of which we can vouch for.

      1. Everywhere we look bring us peace and joy. There are more "empty" spaces too for mental rest. Less stuff demands our attention and as such there is no need to keep a mental list of everything as its all readily accessible and we know where EVERYHING is. We never lose things (but my glasses at times). As such, we also don;t waste time looking for things or wondering what we might need and we don;t stroe things out of fear of the future, as she talks about, or a guilty, unhealthy attachment to the past. We are free! Literally. Material possessions don't own us, encamping on our personal space and lifestyle but we own them because we truly want and enjoy those things. No clutter, no garage full of junk, etc.

      You will find that the mental peace decluttering her way brings. Or minds are free to explore other things instead that creative muse. We feel more creative, and even, as often happens weirdly with letting go of things, both lost about 20lbs each in a very short while. While our home is tiny, about 800 sq feet, it is very peaceful and seems big, even without high ceilings. Ppl notice it too.

    3. Michael, You and Alexandra are very inspiring! Sofie and I talk about that process but we've never gone thru it all at once. More one room at a time. We recently got rid of our huge bed a a few months ago when we both discovered that sleeping on a Japanese floor futon with no frame is actually ideal for our bodies. I haven't slept this well, waking with zero back aches or twangs in years. Then it made space since the futon just rolls up against the wall each day. And we got rid of our couch too which I was using as a writing desk while sitting on the floor (which I prefer) so bye bye couch!

      We've maximized this space and yes, I would love to have it be a little less cluttered for just the reasons you shared but our art supplies and work space are a huge part of the home (more than 50%) so we do it all in about the same amount of space you have there! That includes a floor loom and a tapestry loom for sofie and a small recording set up for me in a closet. :) We rarely have people over but those few who do get into the fortress of solitude find it to be rather surreal and inspiring. We made the world fit our creative one and so there are works in progress everywhere you look.

      Though in just the time that I wrote this response I was looking at a windowsill across the room that has become a little cluttered and found 5 things on it that do not bring me joy sooooo out they go!

      See, you are rubbing off! :)

    4. Ha, well, I think as you sculpt adn make a living doing these art things, you really do need a lot more stuff. What is right for one person, isn't for another as we all have different needs but we all too can know what we truly need or love and what we don't.

      One thing Marie Kondo talks about is to NOT go piecemeal, or room by room, as it does not work. the reason? One tends to hold onto things that one might not if going through every room and putting all items the same in one pile. Only then one might find out that one has three rain jackets, three umbrellas, or 4 toothbrushes, etc, scattered in various rooms. We often have far more than we realise but when we see it all together we realise we truly don;t need 12 dish cloths or what have you. :)