Jul. 7th, 2011

rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
I'm finally back to working on the series of short stories I intended to get published in time for my mother's birthday (which was in February). I can never seem to work during the semester: there's always too much else to think about, so that the stories can't percolate properly in the back of my head.

Anyway, I'm at work again at last, and have just finished the first of a new set of stories to fit into that anthology. Hopefully, they're going to pick up the thread of Mordred and Agravain, which was left somewhat hanging originally, while I focused on Gawain, Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere. I just did a retelling of the story of Erec and Enide. So far, I've tried to stick close to my sources: I even refused to write properly about the cauldron in my substitute for a grail story, the voyage to Caer Sidi, because what we've got says they don't achieve it. Only seven return from Caer Sidi, and one gets the distinct impression they're not triumphant.

Which is great, except I just identified Erec with Gaheris, on very little grounds, if any. Oh, I know other contemporary writers have done it -- one at least: Sarah Zettel -- but it doesn't quite sit right with the work I've been doing so far. At least in theory. But in practice, to me, it feels right. It fits. It leads on to other stories and links back to others. It makes the story of Erec and Enide urgent to the reader, because they already care about Gawain and Gareth, and Gaheris is their brother.

The thing about Arthurian literature is that it's not a tapestry executed by one person, but more like a patchwork quilt made up of whatever each author had to hand. You can't match your colours and thread to all of the others, because everyone used their own material and what's there already doesn't match. You just have to pick and choose what works for you -- and that's one of the things that appeals to me about Arthurian literature, and about doing my own retellings. It's a riotous mass of colour and life, held together by the basic framework which everyone knows.

So, I don't think I'm apologising for stealing Gereint/Erec's story and giving it to someone else.

Next up: a reworking of Yvain, working in a backstory from a Scottish ballad, which is also sort of cheating when it comes to sticking to my sources. I'll leave you to wonder about that one, at least for now.

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rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
Rhian Crockett

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