Ye Barrier Between

I wanted to write a story about a monstrous tree, and so I search'd for such on Google and found this magnificent specimen. Ye burls at the bottom of the trunk actually inspir'd one of my story's characters and help'd to give me the idea that the story shou'd not make sense. The "barrier" in the title is the psychic wall that separates reality from dream, reason from insanity, life from death. The story is intended for an anthology concerning dreams and nightmares to be edited by S. T. Joshi, and I completed ye polish this morning. I wrote it in a different manner than usual. I like to write a story slowly and polish portions as I go along. I decided I wanted this new thing told in three separate segments; and so I wrote the first segment in rough draft, and then I typed it in polish'd form. I then wrote the second segment in rough, and then that portion in polish. Yesterday I worked on the rough of the final section, and last night I typed much of the polish, which I then completed very early this morning. (Ye writing of a new story often disturbs my ability to sleep; I keep churning over the tale and its scenes in my mind, and finally I need to leap out of bed and get to ye keyboard.) I also try'd to write a story that was in no way Lovecraftian. I have to get into ye habit of writing non-Lovecraftian stuff for this new book I am writing with Jeffrey Thomas, a second collection of Enoch Coffin tales. Jeff and I have decided to try and make the book non-Lovecraftian; but that will be difficdult for me because Enoch lives in Boston, and I cannot think of that city without seeing its Lovecraftian aura. 

Anyway, my new story comes to 2,870 words, a good length. I try now not to exceed five-thousand words when writing some new thing, with 3,000 words as my ideal length. 

Although this new story is in no way Lovecraftian )at least I hope not!), Lovecraft did indeed inspire my approach. There is in Lovecraft's fiction a nebulous nature, and we cannot be certain if what we are reading is the record of an actual incident or the memory of a dream. Or something in-between. I noticed this aspect of Lovecraft's fiction clearly last year, when I was rereading "The Music of Erich Zann" in the handsome Variorum edition of Lovecraft's Work. The entire mood of the piece is one of mystery and faint enchantment--but it then becomes outlandishly weird, to the point where incidents don't make sense.
[spoiler alert--if ye haven't read ye story, you may not wish to proceed with reading my investigation of its conclusion]
Here is ye ending of that tale as recorded by S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz in their An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia:
"...a sudden gust of wind catches up the manuscript and bears it
out the window. As the narrator attempts to save it, he gains his
first and last look out that lofty window, but sees 
'only the blackness of space illimitable, unimagined
space alive with motion and music, and having no
semblance to anything on earth.'
The narrator runs into Zann in an effort to flee, encountering
the mad player still playing mechanically even though he
seems to be dead. Rushing from the building, he finds the
outside world seemingly normal. But he has, from that time,
been unable to find the Rue d'Auseil."
Now this is all very strange. What is this aspect of nightmare that impinges on sane reality? What is the narrator really seeing when he looks out the window and is encounter'd with naught but ye blackness of ye void? After having fled the place in utter fear, why does ye narrator then become obsess'd with finding the haunted street again, and what outre circumstance makes it impossible for him to find, ever again, the Rue d'Auseil (at least in wakefulness--we know not if, perchance, he finds it again--in dream). "The Festival" is another curious story, the beginning of which seems plausible enough, however weird; and the realistic events told by the narrator suddenly take on a bizarre aura. He is tramping through snow-filled streets with his ancestral throng, and he looks back to the area where they have just walked.  "I turned once to look at the outside world as the churchyard phosphorescence cast a sickly glow on the hill-top pavement. And as I did so I shuddered. For though the wind had not left much snow, a few patches did remain on the path near the door; and in that fleeting backward look it seemed to my troubled eyes that they bore no mark of passing feet, not even mine." What can this possibly mean? Is the fellow, who confesses to having "troubled eyes", hallucinating? It doesn't look solidly as if there were no footprints in the snow thus crossed--"it seemed". Nothing is for certain. Is this walk through snow something that happened, or ye memory of a dream? As the story progresses to its fantastic conclusion, the entire incident seems naught but sheer lunacy.

So I have used this aspect of blending the barrier between what is real and what is imagined, between reality and dream, and used it as the core motif of my new story. I sure hope S. T. likes it! He and Mary have just invited me over for dinner this coming week-end, so I'll find out then.


  1. Trees have been portals to the Faerie Realms as far back as mankind's memory can stretch. Faerie Rings of course grow in forests and many are the tales of unwary mortals stepping into these enchanted spaces, never to be seen again. That is an awesome tree. Trees are the sentinels of the earth and must be treated with care. They are our friends. Good luck with the Dreamlands story! G. ;-)=


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