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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The Man of Oak and Stone by Rhian Crockett is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Oct. 13th, 2010 10:39 pm
rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
Optimistically, I have a goal of updating this journal at least once a week. Hmmm! I haven't much to say, at present: I've been diligently working on my plans for my NaNoWriMo project, and thus far have four chapters planned. I've been reading lots of Arthurian texts -- right now I have Wace's Roman de Brut beside me, though I haven't begun it yet -- and attending classes, but haven't found time to write the story I keep promising here.

I have planned stories that aren't retellings, too. I've been wondering about how to deal with the lack of diversity in a lot of retellings: they're restricted by the culture of the original tales, where everyone was white, probably male, heterosexual (or turned heterosexual -- I refer to Marie de France's 'Guigemar', which some critics think is a guide to turning your gay son straight)...

My NaNoWriMo project will give Arthur back to the Welsh, in a way: his court will be placed in Caerleon, and I will use the Welsh spellings for some of the names. I'll also be taking some things from the early Welsh source material, at least to reference. I find the role of Cei/Kay particularly interesting, for example, and I think I'll be using him. So there's that, and I do plan to give several women very important roles, both positive and negative. Still, there's not much room for more cultural diversity than that, and none of the characters so far have disabilities, or are non-neurotypical (or certainly not positively so), or are LGBT figures in any way.

It's hard, in that context, to do things like that. Even if I made a certain knight gay, my main POV character wouldn't have the least understanding of it. I could -- and probably will -- hint, that's what subtext is for, but it's not what I really want.

So, in any case, I have planned some stories that introduce some more diversity into my writing. Mostly in the sense of sexuality -- in this case, "write what you know" applies, at least for a start -- but I do hope my writing will be generally inclusive.


Oct. 6th, 2010 11:29 pm
rhian_crockett: A painting of a castle; there is a red flag flying. (Default)
I come to you from the depths of deep woe with our connection! Seriously, O2 internet with a BT phoneline? Don't do it. Just don't do it.

Anyway, I haven't really said much about myself here, yet. Mostly consciously: I want to focus on writing, not on myself. Not totally consciously, though: partly it's just that I've had an online presence for about ten years now, and I'm not used to starting new. But I do have to tell you a little bit about me and what I'm up to, to tell you about my project for NaNoWriMo 2010.

I've done NaNoWriMo every year since I was fifteen, with various levels of seriousness. At fifteen, I was deadly serious. It was going to be my magnum opus, you know? Since then, I've generally been more blasé about it, sometimes even half-hearted. This year, it kinda matters again, because I've got this big idea and it's going to be a major project and people are actually (hopefully!) going to read it. It's going to be out there for public consumption. And I'm basing it on a story that means a lot to me -- a story I've always loved, with varying degrees of passion. A story that many, many people have loved, but which originated -- as best as can be made out -- from my own culture. From Wales.

(If you haven't got it yet, I'm ashamed of you.)

My story for this year is going to be based on Arthurian legend. It's not going to centre around Arthur himself, as far as I can make out, but that's pretty much a part of the tradition. The main character is going to be Gawain (Gwalchmai), probably supported mostly by his wife (Ragnelle, aka the Loathly Lady), and his brother, Gaheris. I'm going to pull from a range of sources (the earliest being Nennius and The Mabinogion!), but it's not going to be Yet Another Arthurian Retelling with damsels and so on. Instead, Gawain's presented with a rather sticky problem: he and his brothers were the only knights away from Arthur's court when a murder took place. Fingers are being pointed everywhere, and only Gawain is judged neutral enough to investigate.

The first thing I knew was that Gawain would be the detective character. I also knew that Ragnelle and Gaheris would play a part, given that I've developed both their characters in short stories and such, and fallen rather in love with them. After that, I was stumped. Who could the murderer be?

And then I stopped, again. Never mind the murderer, who is the victim? At first, I was thinking in terms of a Nameless Knight -- the medieval equivalent of a Redshirt? -- or perhaps an emissary from Rome, who would be killed for political reasons. (In various of the medieval sources, Arthur eventually conquers most of Europe, including Rome, after they remind him that he should probably be paying tribute to them.)

After that thought came the realisation that it doesn't have to be a Redshirt. Who says this has to be disconnected from the traditional path of the Arthurian canon? And so I had my murderer -- no more hints on that score, though. That's your one and only hint! My choice for the victim came a little later, when I was reading Nennius for a class. One particular character's death clicked into place as an excellent thing to use: a small reference that no one will get, unless they've read that particular source text too, but... that's the kind of thing I'd love to see, if I were reading Arthurian novels right now.

If only my title would come this easily.

I have to say, it's so handy doing a degree like English Literature in which, if I play my cards right, research for my classes means research for my novel/s. I've done a module on Crime Fiction, and now I'm doing one on Medieval Arthurian Literature. Handy!

Still working on a short story to post here. The aforesaid research has been getting in the way somewhat!


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

August 2013



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