What can’t be taken back (1:5)

When I first read about Leslie Silko in Thomas King’s The Truth About Stories, I was very excited: I was lucky enough to take a class last term on her novel Ceremony (and some equally fascinating secondary works about her life and her impact), and am glad that this course is also giving focus to her work. The following is my attempt at a story about how evil came into the world–definitely not as well-written as Silko’s, but I gave it my best!

Earth was always the favourite planet, the others knew this to be true. She had potential, and Sun made it clear who he liked best, so they said nothing. They orbited around him in neat rows,  pressing year after year away like flowers between pages as Sun and Earth paid attention to no one but each other.

“Why do you find me the most beautiful?” Earth would ask, and Sun would wait a while, sometimes a whole orbit, before answering.

“Because you have life,” he’d say. “I wish I knew what it was like.”

She’d blush, always facing him, warming herself beneath his golden fingers. She liked having life, taking care of something, and for the most part, her tenants were pleasant–they were good to her, tilling her soil, taking care of her plants and animals, bathing in her oceans and streams. They spread themselves across her collar and breasts, never daring to move where Sun’s hands didn’t reach.  But eventually, they grew frustrated with her infatuation.

It’s always hot, they’d say. Sun’s light hurts us, after a while. It burns our children and makes us sick from the heat. Please, just a small break, even for a little bit.

Earth listened to them, though it was difficult. She didn’t know why she’d been chosen, why she had such potential, but she did, and it was her duty to do what was best for them. She thought for a long time about what to do, and decided to tell Sun.

“Your heat is hurting my people,” she said. “It burns them, and they need some time to cool off.”

“They’re overreacting,” he said, brushing at her face with his hand, leaving a burning trail in the wake of his fingers. “I give you light, I give you warmth. What more do you need?”

Earth was torn between Sun and her people. “But I’m not delicate like they are. They need a break from it. Let’s compromise. I’ll turn away from you for a little while, but I’ll come right around before you know it.”

Sun wasn’t happy with this decision. “I give you light, I give you warmth,” he repeated. “You don’t want to see what the darkness will bring.”

Earth was scared, but she knew what she had to do for her people, and she turned herself with all her might, closing her eyes as Sun seemed to shift out of her view. She opened them into the cold. The world without Sun was darker than she could ever  fathom, and as she looked at it, she felt as if something was looking back. She could hear her people screaming, taking their fear out on one another, her life chaotic in the darkness. It wasn’t worth it, this world without Sun, and she closed her eyes again, waited to feel his touch, his warmth, before opening them.

“You were right,” she said, “I don’t like the darkness. There’s something frightening out there. I promise I won’t turn away again.”

Sun shook his head. “You can’t stop turning once you’ve started. Things that move can never be halted.”

Earth knew this to be true, even as she tried to knot herself into place. Her people begged her not to turn, preferring the heat and the burns to the unfathomable darkness, but Sun was right–she kept turning, slowly at first, and then seemingly faster and faster, turning her face once again into the darkness, and she couldn’t meet his gaze as over and over he slipped out of her sight.

A funny anecdote about telling this to my floormate (and on the record, I had a very difficult time telling the story, as I much prefer writing my thoughts down than speaking them aloud): “That doesn’t make sense–people live all over the world, right? So some of the inhabitants would always be in the darkness! Your story was flawed.” I guess creative license dictates that in this story, only one hemisphere of Earth is inhabited (and I promise I have taken enough Earth science courses to know that from the get-go), but I’m glad the overall takeaway was so profound.



Allen, Paula Gunn. “Special Problems in Teaching Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony.” American Indian Quarterly (1990): 379-386

Barnett, Louise K. Leslie Marmon Silko: A Collection of Critical Essays. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico, 1999. Print.


Instant Gratification, Self Publication, and the Hyperlinked Internet (1:3)

This blog post is in response to Question 7, relating to the impact of widespread publication and hypertext on literature and story.

The internet has provided many ‘new frontiers’ in the world of literature: eBooks are rising in popularity, and digital libraries allow anyone to freely access information that once was contained to brick-and-mortar establishments. One aspect of digital literature is of particular interest in the context of a blog-based course: the world of ‘self-publishing’. This idea of ‘self-publishing’ can manifest in many ways: aspiring writers can publish on Amazon, Facebook makes it easy to share everything, and anyone can publicize their opinions through blogging platforms like WordPress or Tumblr. Many people criticize self-publishing: though traditional publishing is highly regulated, anyone can self-publish their work if they so desire. While some may argue that unregulated publications decrease the worth of available online literature, I fully disagree. Regulation of literature can very easily lead to overzealous censorship, and the opinions of the individuals in charge of regulating literature do not necessarily reflect those of the general public. Self-publication creates a fascinating online environment in which no one idea is of objective greater worth than another, and allows marginalized and non-normative stories the potential to flourish.

Similarly, the rise of hypertext within digital media is extremely fascinating. To preface this, before I decided to take English 470, I devoted no time or energy to the idea of hyperlinks. I’d occasionally get sucked deep into VICE’s article archives through their hyperlinking network, but that was pretty much the extent of my experience. The attention to hypertext within the parameters of this course has spread to other aspects of my online life, and as such, I have noticed two particularly interesting facets of hyperlinking in relation to digital literature and media.

The first element of hypertext I have noticed is that it adds to the immediate nature of our internet consumption. No longer do we have to copy a link and paste it into a new window—we can just click a phrase or sentence and instantly delve into new, contextualized information. I admit that I am much more likely to explore a hyperlinked source than a traditionally-referenced one because of its streamlined simplicity, and this immediacy enriches my digital media experience by exposing me to new ideas that I likely wouldn’t have accessed otherwise.

The second element of hypertext I have noticed is in complete contrast to its immediacy of consumption. Hyperlinks provide direct access to relevant information, but this access is layered, available only for those interested enough to pursue it. This is reminiscent of the endnotes and footnotes of paper books (the first example that comes to mind is Infinite Jest’s elaborate, 100+ page endnotes-within-endnotes system), which gives the dedicated reader a more complex learning experience than if they were to stick to the surface-level text. Hyperlinking is fascinating because it simultaneously makes our digital media experience easier to access and more challenging to comprehend, allowing the digital media user to control the extent and depth of their own online world. Both hyperlinking and self-publishing aid in creating an uninhibited informative experience, and enable stories that may have otherwise stayed silent to finally be heard.


“Digital Public Library of America.” Digital Public Library of America. Web. 20 May 2015.

Wendig, Chuck. “Self-Publishing Is Not The Minor Leagues.” Terrible Minds. 27 Jan. 2014. Web. 20 May 2015.

“Magazine Archive | VICE | Canada.” VICE. Web. 20 May 2015.

Russillo, Steve. “Steve’s Infinite Jest Utilities Page.” Steve Russillo’s Maundering Mess. 9 Dec. 2012. Web. 20 May 2015.


And so it begins.

The places I’ve called home.

Hello there, and welcome to my blog! My name is Hava, and I am entering my fourth (and hopefully final) year at UBC, where I am a double major in Creative Writing and English Literature. As such, I am very interested in the idea of writing as a medium of self-expression, and am particularly fascinated by the many story-telling opportunities that this course presents.

Whenever I tell anyone that I’m taking a course on Canadian literature, they have one of two reactions. The first reaction is a chuckle: I’m not a Canadian citizen, and I’ve lived in the US, Canada, and Sweden, so people are often amused at my decision to take a course on the literature of a country that isn’t “mine”. The second reaction is a question: “Oh, cool. Like Margaret Atwood, right?” Nope! While Atwood’s contributions to Canadian culture and the literary world at large are nothing less than extraordinary, one of the reasons why I chose this section of English 470 was because it didn’t focus on the traditional Canadian literary canon. An English course I took in second year focused on the writing of indigenous Canadians such as Tomson Highway, and I found this to be much more beneficial to my educational experience than rereading writers I was already familiar with. I am looking forward to making further discoveries like this throughout the duration of 470.

The biggest thing I am looking forward to about this course is learning more about the “non-traditional” literary world that is present in Canada. However, I’m also very excited about the prospect of an online seminar. I have not taken many distance education courses while at UBC, and the set-up of a blog-based class is quite daunting (it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out how to post this entry, yikes), but I hope that this will help me to sharpen my web-skills, if nothing else! I am looking forward to reading the blogs of my fellow students, and hope to make connections with others as we begin our summer of learning. Best of luck to everyone!


“Create a Map: Map Customizer.” Create a Map: Map Customizer. Web. 13 May 2015. <http://www.mapcustomizer.com/>.

“2015 Summer Session: ENGL 470 Canadian Studies (3 Credits).” UBC Department of English. University of British Columbia. Web. 13 May 2015. <http://www.english.ubc.ca/courses/summer2015/470-98a.htm>.

“Tomson Highway Official Website.” Tomson Highway Official Website. Web. 13 May 2015. <http://www.tomsonhighway.com/index.html>.