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.

Mea culpa

Feb. 19th, 2011 11:42 am
rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
It's been a long time since I actually wrote a blog post, for which I apologise. Not good form! I have, of course, been very busy. Unfortunately, it hasn't really involved much writing. I am writing at the moment, but I don't think it's likely to see the light of day beyond the class I'm writing it for -- it's highly autobiographical, and while it's taking a good ol' swing away from reality (names and genders changed, odd new subplots cropping up that never existed in my real day to day life), it's not something I really want to put out there in the world even so. The made-up aspects just make me more worried about what people might assume about my life!

I'd like to remind you all of the diversified fairytale anthology idea. I set a deadline for it, but got no acknowledgements, or submissions, or anything so far. I'll probably change the submission date and talk more about it later this week, but I thought I'd remind anyone hanging around here that it is going ahead and you might want to work on something to submit!

I also talked in that post about work on my anthology of Arthurian stories. I wrote a few more over Christmas, but I still need to do some work to make sure there are enough stories to make it worthwhile. I do have someone -- my mother in fact -- working on a front cover for it, which is exciting. In my head, Camelot looks like a larger version of Castell Coch, but we'll see what my dear mama comes up with. I'll update you on that as soon as she sends me progress pictures.

I've also been reading some amazing books, recently -- I completely recommend Jo Walton's Among Others, and Justine Larbalestier's Liar.
rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
Hello, everyone! It's been a while, I know. I'm knee-deep in writing an essay that's essentially a mythic biography of Sir Gawain, so that's taking a lot of my energy right now. But I do have three things to say.

1) I am still in love (in love all over again?) with the love story in The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle. It doesn't run throughout the text, no, but the ending leaves the reader in little doubt of how Gawain felt about his wife:

She lyvyd with Sir Gawen butt yerys five;
That grevid Gawen alle his lyfe,
I telle you securly.

In her lyfe she grevyd hym nevere;
Therfor was nevere woman to hym lever.

Even though it does say that 'Gawen was weddyd oft in his days', his relationship with her is set apart as special. I do love it.

2) I am planning, after this Christmas, to put together the Arthurian short stories I've written into a book. This will probably require revision of those already existing, adding some new ones, and the subtracting of those that may not be of general interest (or which I haven't personally researched with references to primary sources).

I'm trying to think up what to do about the cover art. Fortunately, my close friend and my mother are both artistically inclined, so there might be some help for it there.

3) The anthology project is going ahead, still. If you want to get people interested in it, I suggest you link to this post, which talks in depth about the kind of things I'm expecting to include. You can ask me any questions here, or by emailing me at rhian.crockett[at]gmail[dot]com. That's also, I think, where you can send any submissions.

I think I will arbitrarily choose 23rd March as the final submission date, since it's a date I can remember for other reasons! Submissions before that are welcome, but I will probably wait until that date to actually make decisions -- the most you will get is an acknowledgement of the story. If there are any problems with your story (not relevant enough, not in line with the goals of the anthology, etc), I'll email you back if possible, so you can revise it or submit something else. Multiple submissions are okay: max of 5,000 words for an individual piece, and do not submit more than 10,000 words total.
rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
It's been a while since I posted about it, but I haven't forgotten about the "diversified fairytales" plan. I've been planning to lead this project, while involving a lot of discussion, so feel free to query any points in this post (or in the comments) and discuss them. Some of this has already been discussed with a couple of people, but it's still not certain.

For those of you who might be new to the project, this is the original post about it, and this is the original idea: to create an anthology made up of 'diversified' retellings, which bring to the fore stories, characters and issues that are typically ignored or deliberately excluded by tradition.

Here are some thoughts I've had on things we need to discuss. I apologise if this seems disorganised: I've never tried to do anything like before.

Things that would not be allowed:
-Fanfiction. It's a legal gray area, for one thing, and we're looking to publish it, so characters and worlds copyright to other people are out of bounds. (There could be some discussion of allowing derivative works based on out-of-copyright canons. If you want to do something like that, let me know before you start work and we'll try to puzzle out the legality of it and whether it fits within the scope of the project.)
-Erotica. While stories should not stigmatise sex, I think we want to make something accessible. Including sex is fine, but I'd say not higher than R-rated, and it should not be the entire point of the story.

Stories that would be allowed:
-Traditional fairytales. Examples: Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, etc. Be wary of using anything Disney can claim is copyright, though.
-Myths. Examples: Cupid & Psyche, the Trojan war, the Mabinogion, etc.
-Legends. Examples: King Arthur, Robin Hood, etc.
-Fables. Example: Aesop's fables, etc.
-Original fairytales/myths/legends. Example: Neil Gaiman's Stardust. By this I mean anything that uses the tropes of fairytales (or myths/legends) to create a new story. If you want to write a creation myth for a hypothetical fantasy world, for example, that would be appropriate.

Basically, one of those stories we tell and retell. I'm going to collect a list of resources for where to get source texts for free online, so feel free to send me links to add.

Ways to diversify:
-Using myths/legends/folktales from traditions not well known in the West. (It may be well known in the country of origin, but it hasn't been taken up by the West.)
-Including characters of different races, or expanding their roles, in texts where they have been excluded deliberately or used as the generic 'heathens', etc.
-Including characters who do not fit into the normal gender roles given by the original stories, or expanding their roles. I don't want to include a gazillion stories that simply recast the traditional ones with flipped gender roles, but women are often given very unsatisfactory roles in these stories. I'm also talking about including transgendered and agendered characters, who have even less place in the traditional stories we tell.
-Including characters whose sexuality does not fit into the traditional roles. This would include homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, and also polyamorous relationships, and possibly also kink-positive ones (bearing in mind that we would want the focus to be on the relationship, not on sex).
-Including characters who have disabilities, whether inherited genetically or received during their lifetime. (E.g. a princess who was born unable to see, or a soldier who lost a leg, etc.)
-Including characters who are not neurotypical in positive roles. Villains can be mentally ill, in these stories, but it's rare for this to be treated with compassion or accuracy.

We're trying to make a collection where there is space for everyone to see something of themselves and their own experiences, in short. Rewrites that simply involve defence of the villainous characters, for example, are interesting, but not appropriate here. 'Dark' retellings are also not necessarily automatically relevant. Either of these could be relevant if coupled with other ways of diversification, of course. The list above is not exhaustive, and I'm happy to discuss adding other things to it -- I have my blindspots, and would appreciate anyone pointing out if I've left something important out.

Other notes:
It's important to remember that this material comes with baggage. Often its deeply misogynistic, and that could even be unintentionally intensified in a rewrite. I'm happy to discuss plans with people, and I'm sure other participants in the project would volunteer to help as well. We as writers also carry our own prejudice, with everything we write, so please be aware of and sensitive to that.

When it comes to the length of these stories, I think they should all be somewhere between 200 and 5,000 words. Microfiction is welcome, as are longer short stories, but we're not going to go as far as accepting novellas!

Re: publishing: my thoughts are pretty much Smashwords, Lulu and the Kindle store, but people with other suggestions to add are very welcome to do so. The ebooks would be non-DRM, and if there is a fee for buying the book, it would be nominal. Personally, I'm inclined towards a nominal fee, and whatever profits we get being donated to charitable causes, but I'm not wedded to any idea yet. Again, discussion is welcome. What this comes down to is that I don't have money to pay you for your stories -- this is a one woman operation, here! Whatever happens, each person would have some space to talk about who they are, what other things they've written and where they can be found, things like that.

I haven't thought much about submission yet. I do want to warn you that I'm not going to automatically accept everything. I will probably ask for a couple of volunteers to read everything and help me decide, but we'll be limited based on how many submissions we get, the diversity of submissions, the quality of submissions, etc. Just because you're my friend will not be an automatic pass.

If you've already published such a story, as long as you still have the right to have it published elsewhere, it's welcome.

We will not only need authors, but someone to make a cover for the collection. I'd welcome volunteers, or we could wait and see whose work will be included and at that point club together to commission a cover...

I will also need help with understanding if there's any legalities I need to be aware of and deal with, anywhere in the process. I am a total newbie to doing this.

Right. Deep breath! I think this is ready to post. As I've said, remember that I intend everything to be up for discussion, and while I do see myself as the final decision maker, I will ask for advice and listen to other people's views.
rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
I'm really interested in "diversified fairytales", by which I mean retellings of traditional stories which give a place to characters not generally included (or not positively included). Examples of this would be my own Happy Ever Afters, which is a version of Sleeping Beauty in which a servant-girl kisses the princess, and Malinda Lo's Ash, which is an LGBT retelling of Cinderella. I'm sure there are other retold fairytales out there: Disney's The Princess and the Frog might count, given that the princess is a person of colour -- I haven't seen it, though. Other ideas might be to include characters with disabilities, non-neurotypical people, people who don't fit into the gender binary...

In any case, I'm really interested in seeing more of this kind of thing. I would love to put together some kind of anthology, perhaps as an ebook and as a 'print on demand' type thing. Problem is, I haven't the least idea of how to do it, and I don't have many people interested in submitting.

So, I turn to you, internet! Please, bring your friends. Retweet. Reblog. Pass it around. Pass the link to authors who would support such an endeavour, and might send me some help! Share what you know. Help me figure out how to do this. If you think you know exactly what to do, talk to me -- maybe we can do this together.

(I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little scared by the idea of leading such a project. Be gentle with me.)


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

August 2013



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