rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
Five years ago, I wrote a fairytale for my partner for our third anniversary. You can find that here. For our eighth(!) anniversary, I wrote a companion story, which you can find right here. You don't have to read the other one first, but it helps.

Licensed under creative commons BY-NC-SA.

This Is Not A Fairytale )
rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
So! It's the [community profile] three_weeks_for_dw fest here, and there's some interesting stuff going on in turns of writing about Welshness (there's a FAQ here all about Wales). It's been a while since I posted anything, and a while since I wrote anything for myself. And it's a beautiful day, and as I was sat out in the sun, I was thinking about Blodeuwedd. Now, before I go on I'd better tell you her story, briefly. It comes from the Mabinogion. Lleu Llaw Gyffes is the son of Arianhrod, but she curses him because he is the result of a failed test about her virginity. (Welsh myth has lots and lots of issues about women, yes.) One of the curses is that he cannot have a human wife. So, out of flowers, Math and Gwydion make a woman for him. Her name is Blodeuwedd.

The problem is, she turns out to be unfaithful, plots his death with her lover, and when they carry out their plan, he is turned into an eagle. Gwydion rescues him and turns him back, and he takes vengeance. He turns Blodeuwedd into an owl, and kills her lover.

This story takes place after that.

I was thinking about Blodeuwedd, and about how women are always blamed and considered inconstant, and I was also thinking about a prose-poem I wrote, in which Blodeuwedd pleads her case, citing Lleu's hardness and unkindness, and the fact that she is made from flowers and is by her very nature inconstant (since flowers typically grow, bloom and die in one season). I wanted to answer that, in a sense, or augment it, by writing something in which a man is similarly unfaithful.

It didn't quite turn out that way, but the message is still there -- with an added environmental one I didn't intend. I see it as an LGBT retelling, but all that happens is men holding hands and sleeping beside each other, which just meant friendship between men in medieval times (or so I'm told).

The Man of Oak and Stone )

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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)
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.)

Day Two

Nov. 2nd, 2010 09:04 pm
rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
Today wasn't quite as successful, for me. The words came faster, but the characters weren't being so delightful -- Gawain and Ragnelle refused to have the right kind of chemistry. I didn't believe them. And if I don't believe in them, who will? Still, I think changing tack will fix things.

Tomorrow, I'll have a NaNoWriMo update and, hopefully, a post about something I've been discussing with a couple of people (mostly [personal profile] lynnoconnacht, [personal profile] phoenix, and [personal profile] amethystfirefly, I think), re: diversified fairytales.
rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
Two years ago, I wrote a story for my partner, for our third anniversary. We've actually passed our fifth, now, so this is an old story, but I thought it deserved to get out and see the world.

Obviously, it's dedicated to my partner, always, because she makes me believe in true love and sappy things like that.

Happy Ever Afters )


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rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
First off, I've started using Flattr, as an experiment. Basically, if you have a Flattr account and you've loaded money into it, and you click on my Flattr button (in my profile, and possibly in individual posts that contain my writing), I get paid part of that monthly allowance. I like the idea, so we'll see how it goes.

Anyway, I've been promising a story for a while. Well, this isn't the one I've been working on, but it is a retelling from a slightly different slant, and I hope you enjoy it. If you do, feel free to share it, link people to it, etc -- please don't reproduce it elsewhere, though, without talking to me about it first.

Letters Home )


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rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
No one ever warned me how hard it is to write a blog like this! Sheesh. Imposter syndrome like mad, plus the worry that everyone's already said all the intelligent things about this particular topic already. It's possibly true: I'm going to say it anyway.

Anyway, this is the fourth draft of a post that isn't quite the post I was planning to do. I realised I have some things to say about my thoughts on retellings, given that a lot of my work uses pre-existing literature, myths and legends, and given that I also translate Anglo-Saxon poetry for fun. The two processes don't seem that different -- to me, anyway -- in some ways. When it comes to Anglo-Saxon poetry, for example, there are lot of poetic features that don't really translate. Kennings are my usual bugbear. For example, in 'The Battle of Brunanburh', there's a kenning that means 'the leavings of hammers' ('hamora lafan'). You have to think about that kind of thing: do you keep the kenning, to give a flavour of the original poetry? Do you trust that your audience (or the people marking your exam papers!) know that that means 'swords'? Or do you lose the poetic stuff and go for a pragmatic, barebones translation?

Every translation becomes a reinterpretation, too. To translate something in a readable way, you have to decide what it means. Wulf and Eadwacer is my favourite example when it comes to this. Are Wulf and Eadwacer characters? Or is it a literal wolf? Or both? What exactly is happening in the poem? What is the poem -- is it a story? a riddle? a relation of an earlier myth or folktale? If you're going to translate it coherently, you have to decide. You could even decide that the ambiguity of the poem is intentional, and thus try to translate it with as much of that ambiguity as the process of translation will allow. That's still an interpretation.

When it comes to retelling fairytales, or myths, or even history, you're translating it. If you're writing a retelling of The Iliad for an eight year old, you have to leave out the things your audience won't be interested in (the catalogue of ships can hit the cutting room floor first of all). If you're aiming your work at a bunch of academics, you better not take any liberties with the text. Or say you're rewriting Anderson's The Little Mermaid -- this is a pretty good (and hilarious) modern reaction (the link goes to a youtube video called 'Advice for Young Girls from The Little Mermaid'). I can't say it better than that video does.

You also have to do something new with them. Sometimes you can do that just by fleshing out the characters more, making the world richer and wider. Or there's the ever popular change in point of view -- Wicked, anyone? Or even Jacqueline Carey's Banewreaker and Godslayer: they're pretty much Lord of the Rings from Sauron's point of view. Grendel and Mordred and Morgan Le Fay deserve their say, too.

Some retellings change it to become their own stories. If there's no story where the princess kisses another princess, or the prince kisses the frog, write one. Malinda Lo's Ash is an LGBT retelling of Cinderella, for example. Modern retellings of fairytales often flip it so that the princess becomes the questing character, as in Robin McKinley's Spindle's End. Or you can go all metafictional, or use a new style, or add in a new twist at the end...

I think I've done pretty much all of these things, in my retellings. A serving girl kisses Sleeping Beauty. The narrative voice mocks the fairytale even as it uses all the formulae. Mark tells the story of Tristan and Isolde with bitter understanding.

The main project I'm working on is going to be based on Arthurian myth, to some extent. I've been hitting the books: I've read my Geoffrey of Monmouth, my Chr├ętien de Troyes, my Malory. I've also dipped into modern versions (and here I'll pause, to plug Anna Elliott, who offers some of her work for free, and is also involved with Arthurian myth). Hopefully, I'm going to make something new and fresh out of the same old stories. Robin McKinley's written two versions of Beauty and the Beast, at least -- which goes to show there's plenty to mine for in these old stories, right?

I'm also working on another retellings project, somewhat smaller in scale. That might be the next thing I post. If not, I'll try to tell you more about my NaNoWriMo project for this year.

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