The life so short, the craft so long to learn.
Chaucer said that. But so did Hippocrates. Settle into your seat for about a thousand words. I’ve put together a mash-up of some of my favorite quotes and and written down some of the reasons I write.
This is one of my favorite quotes and has been for a long time. The first time I remember capturing my attention was on my tenth wedding anniversary when my husband and I saw it engraved on the wall of one of our favorite restaurants.
What grabbed me (and stuck with me) was the notion that our lives are really very short compared with the to-do list we construct for ourselves.
What we create–whatever form of art we dabble in–will outlast us.
I create art, be it writing or music, because I have a need to make something. Something that will outlast me. Every single day I create the legacy that will be, at least in part, what my grandchildren will know about me. I create because I have no choice. There is something in me that burns to come out. To matter and to last. And in turn, those creations allow me to leave a little piece of myself that will stick around long after I have moved on to some other place. (That’s a different post and a much longer story.)
The other day I decided to search for the origin of the phrase that impacts me so much on a daily basis.
Ready for a history lesson? I’ll keep it short.
You know that guy Hippocrates, Greek Physician. They named an oath after him. The Hippocratic Oath is sworn by physicians all over the world. Here is a link to wikipedia if you want more info about Hippocrates. He certainly left a legacy. You know, Father of Western Medicine and all. He lived around 400 BCE. If you are not a fan of math, that’s like 2400 years ago.
Someone along the way translated his Greek statement into the the Latin version. Ars longa, vita bevis. They just switched the order. In Greek, it was Life is short, Art is long. Same difference though, yeah?
Below is the first line of the ancient version of the Hippocratic oath. (In English, for obvious reasons. The first being that I’m Greek illiterate.)
1. LIFE is short, and Art long; the crisis fleeting; experience perilous, and decision difficult. The physician must not only be prepared to do what is right himself, but also to make the patient, the attendants, and externals cooperate.
Ars longa, vita brevis (the Latin form) means simply:
“Art is long, Life is short”
I happen to agree with this. And so I’ve adopted it. Life is short so I make art, to artificially lengthen my life and my influence. And also, life is short and I’ll never have time to learn all there is to know about my craft.
I didn’t stop my research with the great Greek physician Hippocrates. I discovered that Chaucer had his own iteration.
Check it out.
“The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne”
He said this sometime during his life. (think 1300 CE *ish*). So, you know, he had similar ideas about the shortness of life and the longevity of art (learning it or enjoying it).
To make a long story short (you see what I did there?), I create art because I have to and because it is what will remain.
Settling on a particular time in history (or the future) is not an interest of mine. I want to write in all of them. Since time began and in time that has not yet happened. That’s my sandbox. I don’t like to be put in a box, so I just made the box the size of forever. That doesn’t feel limiting at all.
My first love is historical fiction. My Vanishing series follows Avery Lane on a journey through time as she learns ancient truths about the world that will forever change her. Her story begins in Roanoke Vanishing as she tries to uncover the truth about the lost colony and the intrigue continues in Maya Vanishing as Avery travels to the Yucatan in her quest to understand what led to the end of the Mayan civilization.
Second to my fascination with history, is my interest in paranormal. I am excited by the idea of the existence (fictional or otherwise) of things unseen that influence humanity. I love to weave paranormal into as many stories as I can.
The Immortals: A Vampire Fairytale follows Kate and Michael as they deal with the intersection of humans with a world where vampires, mages, demons, and werewolves dare to tread. In my Kendawyn series, a collaboration with author Amanda A. Allen, I play with the notion of a pocket universe that exists outside of time and space in Goodbye Love. Humans with a magical genetic influence connect with reapers, ghosts, vampires, mages, and werewolves when they are driven to Kendawyn by a desperate need that
can be solved only in this loosely regency-style world.
I’ve published a sci-fi novel set in the Paradisi Chronicles called First Watch that will take my characters into a post-post-apocolyptic future and a new galaxy where they try to scratch out an existence in a place that is not her first home. But the problems that plagued humanity on Earth have followed them to New Eden.
And there’s a super hero origin story that has been in the works for awhile. Don’t hold your breath on that one. It’s more convoluted at this point than not.
I teamed up with Amanda A. Allen yet again in the Inept Witch Mysteries. The main characters, Ingrid and Emily, are shaped around our odd personalities. Their witchy journey begins in Inconvenient Murder when Emily is charged with murder, much to her disliking. In Moonlight Murder, they find themselves caught in another mystery and again in Bewitched Murder. They amuse and irritate the inhabitants of their Northwest
home of Sage Island as they fumble their way through magic and murder. You’ll laugh out loud with these girls because they are just ridiculous. And somehow endearing.
We had such a great time creating Ingrid and Emily’s stories, that we decided to create some spin-off series in the Presidium world. Haunted Ink is the series that follows troubled Mary Martin into adulthood as she tries to flee her hometown and magic. Find out for yourself if she can get off Sage Island in Mary Martin vs. Herself, part of the Presidium Vignette, Volume 1. Mary’s story then continues in the new Haunted Ink mystery series, which definitely feels more hard-boiled and urban than the cozy Inept Witches. The first book in that series, Mississippi Street Specter, will be out late 2016.
I cross the lines of genre, time, distance, and magic to create intriguing worlds that shape my characters. And make my life interesting. In my experimentation with psychological suspense, I wrote The Strong One and The Scent of Death. You can purchase them separately or together (for a better price) in Dark Minds: A Psychological Thriller Duet.
I hope you enjoy spending time in these worlds as much as I do.
Just remember, “Not all those who wander are lost.”
I don’t feel lost but I do love to wander. I do hope you’ll join me.