Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I think it's time to . . . write


                             

So this is what it feels like to go for over a month without blogging. Weird. I'm not sure if anyone else suffers this fate, but the longer I go without writing, the creakier my style gets. If that's even a word. Creakier. That's not necessarily a good thing for someone who minored in Creative Writing. I suppose the only answer to this dilemma is to write more often. However, I do have a partially good excuse for my absence. I'm about 90% sure I posted about my job at Compassion International. The last three months have been spent in training and incredibly busy work days so when I get home the last thing I want to do is look at a computer screen. My job is data entry, so that's a little understandable, I think. But, I must get myself back into the rhythm of blogging since I do enjoy it, although I'm discovering that I'm less keen on reviewing books than I was before I was gainfully employed full-time. That aspect of my blog go by the wayside, or I might review only when I'm really keen on something. We'll see, no promises.

I know that most of my popular posts are about the ISFJ. That's fantastic, and I'm thrilled, but I also need my readers to understand that I don't always want to talk personality types. So, I'll probably take a break from that aspect of my blog for awhile, try something new on for size, maybe even bits of creative writing. There's this fun writing contest for Beauty & the Beast that Serena posted over at Edgy Inspirational Romance that looks intriguing. I've always been partial to this particular fairy tale, but never really liked all the adaptations and re-imaginings that have come down the pike since the original story made its debut. Not a huge fan of Beastly, let me tell you. The contest ends in December 2014, so I have plenty of time to think up a retelling. Of course, if I do decide to participate, I won't necessarily post the writing here, unless it's something I don't plan to put in the final draft. Like an extra scene or a side bit, or something like that, a short as it were. It could be a fun way to spend a few months of my free time.

Some of you are writers, right? Creative writers? Do you ever look back at your stories in awe that you actually wrote the words on that page? That you created those characters, breathed life into them, maybe even killed them off? My new boss wants to read the short stories I wrote for college, so I re-read them first, just to make sure that they were actually presentable to another living human being that wasn't a family member, friend, or teacher. My science fiction story needs work. A lot of it. The original conception was for a novel, and I crammed all of that world building down into 25 pages, barely 5,000 words since it was double-spaced. The one I did while volunteering at the food pantry is an extremely accurate portrayal of my empathy to the people who are down on their luck and don't deserve it. But my favorite, by far, is The Cross. It's about a young man whose parents move him to a small town to be nearer to his mom's dad. This kid ends up spending the entire summer with Grandpa and is forced, unwillingly, to put Grandpa's house in order. What does he find during a cleaning session in the attic, but a box with a Navy Cross, awarded to his grandfather for bravery during World War II. It's a great story, and I'm proud to have written.

I don't want to lose the magic that comes from creating fiction. Nothing is ever truly fictional. Writers are always moved by memories of their past. Writers use people they've met, experiences they've had, even someone they've observed across a crowded restaurant to fill their books and stories. I do it all the time, when I'm writing regularly that is, which doesn't happen as often as it should as my family and best friend can attest. But when I do write regularly, almost any little experience is potentially a story idea. A twist for this character, back history for that character. Writing is magical.

Have you ever read the original story of Beauty & the Beast? Or better yet seen the French film version from the 1940s? It's so magnificent!The Beast was not cruel. He was a gentle, kindly soul who had been cursed by an evil witch. I know, I love Disney version just like everyone else, but I'm partial to that story where the Beast had done no wrong, and suffered dreadfully within the body of a monster for no reason. So gentle, and so understanding of Beauty's reticence to marry him. It's a truly moving story of a righteous man not letting his suffering change him internally into a beast regardless of his outward appearance. That is a story worth telling, a story worth sharing, and it has stood the test of time admirably. That's what good storytelling does . . . it lasts. No one is going to remember Beastly 20 years from now, but everyone will remember Beauty & the Beast.

I know, I know, I'm rambling now. That's what comes of not blogging for a month. I forget when it's time to stop writing. Anyway, I've missed all of my faithful readers, and I promise to look at your blogs and comment over the next few days. I hope, when I do share some of my original fiction, that you'll enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Signing off for now!

18 comments:

  1. I enjoy your short stories. The one about WWII and Grandpa was particularly lovely. :)

    For whatever reason, I rarely write anything inspired by my own experiences when I'm dealing in fiction. I do it with essays and articles to draw spiritual parallels, but I prefer to invent a character than base it on someone I have known. I'm not consciously aware of "collecting" information for my books, but I suppose I do.

    I believe I read the original in a book of fairy tales when I was a child, but I don't remember the nuances of the story -- merely the 17th century illustrations. I've enjoyed the different B&TB retellings over the years (yes, including "Beastly"). It's funny that would be a challenge -- because I've had a twist on the tale in my head for awhile now. I may look into entering the contest as well, if for no other reason than to get the idea out of my head and into the world. Better a story than a book.

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    1. That WWII story stemmed from loving an old gentleman who was very good friends with my grandmother when she lived in assisted living in Idaho. His name was Harold, too, and he did some amazing things during the war. We have a photo of him in uniform, and we even have a small pin he gave to Caitlin with his name on it and a few years he served as commander in the early 80s. The story is entirely fictional, but the man was born out of one person who I found to be remarkable.

      I think maybe it's a Si/Fe thing to connect life experiences in how we write our books. I add characters who remind me of friends, write about places I've seen, name fictional pets after favorite television characters, etc. I pour a bit of my past and present into almost everything I write, minus the sci fi story that is based off nothing other than Sherlock saying that thing about being on the side of the angels.

      I know you love most story retellings, note most, not all. I love Disney's B&TB retelling, but I admit that most modern retellings lack a certain . . . something. My biggest huff with Beastly is that I liked the "Beast" better as a beast, and not as a man. At least in the movie. I tried reading the book and totally gave up. Ah well.

      I think you should participate in the contest! It would be a fun thing to try, and even if you're not chosen, at least the story will be written. I'm letting ideas float around in my head and see if anything pops. The guidelines are very slim so I'm not sure how far outside the original fairy tale I should go. Hmmm.

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    2. It’s sweet that you paid Harold homage in a story. :)

      Yes, you’re right – it’s more of a Si thing to write stories based on your own experiences; Ni tends to go over and beyond experience, to aim for not a story but a subtext, and find characters to support that vision or idea. I never write characters based on people I know, in part because I know I can’t do those real people justice; my characters would be poor imitations. I prefer to invent them from the ground up! I do little homage’s to my favorite things, though, as you well know… drop sentences from my favorite books or television shows into their dialogue, make an indirect reference to something that only other people who know me will pick up on, leave little “love drops” woven into the text. It’s kind of fun to see how sneaky I can be in that regard.

      Truthfully… I always prefer the Beast to the human, in part because I fell in love with the Beast, and now he’s gone. What I love most about Beastly is the enchantress. I love it that she never turns up with the same hairstyle twice! I thought the book was rather bland, so I never finished it, but I enjoyed the movie as a chick flick.

      Contest-wise… my idea is original and I don't know that anyone would think up my twist. I just need to figure out how to work the familiar elements into it, in such a way that they’re not clichéd. Oh, well. Something to think about!

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  2. Ack, I hate that rusty feeling even though I get it almost every time I blog (I've gotta stop with the hiatuses!) Congrats on the job, and glad to have you back! =)

    Nothing is truly original, and yet every author's nightmare is writing cliches. I guess it all boils down to finding unique combinations and ways of disguising the same elements of a good story. Ultimately, they're all just made up of 26 letters. Kind of a scary thought!

    Love the original Beauty and the Beast! Though I haven't seen the Disney movie in its entirety, it's really surprising that Disney made the beast gruffer and meaner than in the original story. Disney's usual method is to make the stories happier and more palatable, e.g. Frozen, The Little Mermaid, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I wonder why they took that approach for Beauty and the Beast.

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    1. Ruby, thanks so much for the congratulations! I do love my new job, a lot. It fits me. We should make a pact to not go on hiatus for periods longer than 2 weeks. :)

      You are so right. Everything we write is comprised of the same 26 letters, from Tolstoy to Austen and everything in between.

      If I do write a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I want it to be original, but without all the things I find annoying in other retellings. That will be a hard thing to accomplish. As for Disney's incarnation, they tend to like redemption stories. Take a mean man, turn him into a beast, and redeem him. They wanted the audience to see a spiritual transformation take place within the Beast's heart. In the original story, he doesn't need an internal transformation because he's already a good man. I do wonder what their movie would have been like if they'd kept the original version of the Beast.

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  3. Beauty and the Beast was my favorite fairy tale. I loved the original French version better than the Disney one, but Disney was still good. I hated Beastly, and the movie was even worse.

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    1. The French movie is a true delight. I love Disney's version a lot, but the live action just captures the story so solidly, and I love having the Beast be cursed by someone evil and not punished by someone good.

      I admit, I didn't read Beastly. I quit early on. And I like the movie in some ways, but I wish he could have stayed a beast because I liked him better that way. It's still a mediocre retelling of such a great fairy tale, and I'm sad to say it's not the only one. If I actually do write a story for the contest, I really don't want it to be one of those mediocre incarnations that loses the magic of the original story. I'll have to be careful so that doesn't happen.

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  4. Glad to have you back! Writing is like exercise -- the more you do it, the stronger you get. Flex those muscles!

    And ha! Fellow ISFJ, I totally write stories that stem from my own experiences. In fact, I just wrote a whole post about that (here, since you're catching up on blogs). I've written stories about things that happened to me. I've written stories I thought had nothing to do with myself, and realized later they were very informed by things I was going through at the time. I name pets after movie/book characters. I name story/book characters after other characters in other books/movies. I named my daughters after fictional characters. It's all tangled together for me, life and fiction :-)

    I haven't read the original Beauty and the Beast story, but now I'll have to track it down! Who wrote it?

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    1. I confess to creating a character named Laurence in honor of Laurence Olivier. And I've considered developing characters where I could imagine Marlon Brando playing them. I have to have a face to go with the characters I create for the most part. Not always, but a lot of the time. Like most people, I have to start with something as a base for my writing. It just doesn't pop out of thin air for me, something I sometimes regret, and other times don't mind at all because then my characters always remind me of someone or a specific time in my life!

      Oh, and the original Beauty and the Beast story was created by Madame de Villeneuve in 1740. There's been a lot of interpretations since then, but she's the original. :)

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    2. I "cast" my stories and bools all the time! A lot of my fanfic comes from me going, "How cool would it have been if Dana Andrews was in a Combat! episode?" and then writing what ended up being 3 stories about a character played by Dana Andrews. My best friend does the same, and we even have a page on our fansite that shows who all we imagined in various roles for various stories.

      Some characters come with their own faces, though.

      But yes, every story for me has a little seed that started it. Some thought or idea that made me go, "Oh! Hey..."

      Thanks for the B&B info! My library doesn't have Villeneuve's version, but it does have a translation of Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont's 1756 abridgment. I've put in a request for it.

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    3. From what I understand about the origins of Beauty and the Beast, Beaumont stole the idea from Villeneuve, who then had it stolen from her, and so and so on. It's a much robbed plot idea, which is a shame. I need to see if possibly my library has the original version, just so I can compare it with the French film I love so much. It's possible the film is based off Beaumont's version and not Villeneuve.

      As soon as I start watching a few Combat! episodes, I'll definitely check out your stories. :)

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    4. And here I thought it was a "traditional" fairy tale like Cinderella, some sort of folk tale picked up by the Grimm brothers or similar. How fascinating!

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  5. Love, love, love Beauty and the Beast. It's my favorite Disney movie and my favorite fairy tale. I've read the Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont version, as well as a few others. Saw the black-and-white French film once -- probably should re-watch it now that I have a basic understanding of the French language. My favorite modern retelling is Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley.

    I've had an idea for a creative retelling of Beauty and the Beast for some time. Maybe I'll finally put it down on paper for this contest. Thanks for the link!

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    1. Marissa, I think my favorite retelling of Beauty and the Beast is Rigoletto. It was a Feature Films for Families thing in the 90s and I absolutely loved it, the story of a man who keeps himself hidden away from the world, but does take it upon himself to train this teenage girl to develop her singing voice so she wins a competition. I think it's supposed to be in the 1920s, possibly. It looks like the Great Depression. It's a beautiful movie, and of course, the "Beast" finds redemption at the end, with the woman he loves who is not the teenager he trained. It's a lovely story.

      I hope you do write out your story idea, Marissa! It would be fun if a lot of my friends entered the contest. I'm still mulling over ideas myself, so we'll just have to see if I come up with anything decent. I'm not sure if it should be modern or history, fantasy or realism. Lots of elements to consider.

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    2. I'd forgotten about Rigoletto when I was thinking of Beauty and the Beast retellings. It's a great movie. Modern fairy tale and beautiful music -- what more can you ask for? I was so excited to find a DVD recently so I can share it with people more easily.

      I just started working on my story. I think I'll stick fairly close to the original plot line, but add steampunk elements. I'm narrating it from the perspective of one of the servants who was turned into an animate object in the castle. Good luck on your story!

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    3. I LOVED Rigoletto growing up. Gorgeous music. I always had to hide my face during one scene, though. I'm sure you know which one! Gosh, I haven't thought about that movie in YEARS.

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    4. I love Rigoletto too! I even have the sheet music. Wonderful movie. I should see if I could get a copy so my kids could see it when they're a little older.

      I always thought it had some Phantom of the Opera overtones too. Disfigured older guy teaches young girl to sing, and all. Only without all the obsessive creepiness of Phantom, of course.

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    5. Marissa, I love the idea of a steampunked Beauty and the Beast. Go for it! And now I have to track down a Rigoletto dvd so thanks for letting me know about it. I hadn't thought of in years, until I wrote this post, and now I'm dying to see it again.

      Rachel, awww that's so neat they have sheet music for Rigoletto! I never even thought of that possibility.

      Charity, Rigoletto is an amazing story. We have the soundtrack on cassette and I listened to it countless times as a teenager. It was just so haunting. I think I will track down a dvd and watch it again. That's one worth owning!

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