Modes of Discourse

So, I recently read a marvelously concise summary of the academic categories put to stories. The first point being that context is the determiner of these categories, not content. My personification of Context has no determination, though. Context lounges on the sofa singing, “que sera sera” while accompanying eirself on a plastic ukelele, which Context has never studied. Seriously, though, I can understand this, context, being the unspoken guidelines and sensitivities of a group of people towards these stories.

Myths are believed in: we can infer this from how a body of stories (categorized as myths) can be cited as an authoritative explanation for how things are or how behavior should be. Folktales, on the other hand, are purely entertainment, perhaps I could say that some firewall is more of a given between reality and fiction.

Before I read this, my approach to stories was of a categorization between tales and lore. The tales, the way I use the word, were any ideas, philosophies, experiences or representations thereof that a recorder-writer-person makes explicit in a medium of recorded history or fiction. The lore would be the sense of self, sense of world, relationship, and perceptions inferred and adopted from the tales, and refers to the given circumstances from which the tales would be generated, and lore becomes a sort of tale if I even try to explain what lore is (so, when it gets fuzzy then these terms are interchangeable.)

And, personally, I think I’ll keep it that way. Because I do believe that even the myths survive by sustaining some veneer of coolness and entertainment, and that even the folktales and pop culture stories intended for entertainment in the first place become really popular when there’s some deeper resonance.

What I did consider interesting was the category of a legend, basically running the gamut of attitudes between “well yeah obviously course this is completely made up” to “this might have actually been a thing so keep it in mind” and having one other main distinction: that is, of referring to the earthly rather than the cosmic. Legends have more verisimilitude. Two stories for example:

Story One: Little Red Riding Hood skips through the woods and encounters a talking wolf, which whom she engages in conversation without any pre-establishment of her animal communication superpowers. Myself as a young reader would have some intuition that this story refers to mythic rather than literal truth, or that it’s a folktale. All the humans in this story can speak Wolf. Whatever.

Story Two: Some random villager takes a twilight walk through a familiar meadow, only to find a cave in a hill in that meadow. This familiar meadow had no such hill or cave yesterday. There’s a party in the cave. The random villager’s sweetheart is serving on the wait staff of this party. The random wandering villager is well aware that this sweetheart died of tuberculosis two years ago. What the—just what is going on? What is this??? WHAT. IS. THIS?????

Story Two is, academically, a legend. In my personal categories, I would have sorted Story One among the Tales and Story Two among the Lore before, but now they’re both Tales to me. I appreciate how the flabbergastedness echoes through the generations of telling and retelling of the second one. The firewall of this being fiction is thin, here, and to me it feels like it could be too real.

That’s inevitable, comfortable—and perilous.

I find a contemporary gamut of legend in celebrity gossip and Real Person Fanfiction (RPF). The democratization of any corporeal living person’s image into fictionalization just sat so wrong with me. I personally shouldn’t write about someone else’s life unless I know the canon, if it were an incident belonging in my own diaries, or a result of exhaustive research that I should hope hadn’t become stalking or harassment by the end. What I personally shouldn’t do, though, would itself never stop gossip columnists. I’m inclined to consider the entitlement to another’s existence and life as the same between the sloppy journalists of celebrity gossip magazines or tabloids, and those who write RPF. One important difference is that RPF makes no claims or call to social action for something that plainly isn’t true, and if that absorbs the collective sense of entitlement into a body of harmless fanworks, then I’ve got to not only tolerate that RPF exists but argue for people’s right to write it. Besides, I have no problem with the fictionalization of historical figures, even though, by all this logic, I should. (Respectable news reports are a whole other thing entirely.)

So, I continue to make a distinction between the facts of the Corporeal, the contested perceptions of the Sidereal (my word for a layer of cultural value, so I might write “my corporeal friend Cecilia” or “my corporeal friend Anjie” but the value of friendship is psychological and cultural and therefore sidereal), and the forays and quests into the Ethereal, Incorporeal and Surreal. These have earned their categories by their very different natures in my experience, for the most part, but the firewalls between them can become too thin. So, I’m still mulling over ifwhen a distinction is or isn’t made, versus ifwhen a distinction should and shouldn’t be made.

Otherfic Meta: Spectrum Trilogy

The following entry contains personal details that may be triggering.

So, I reorganized some Otherfaith fanfics I wrote into a series, and thought to share more here about the process. (Edit to add: hey, this is a lot in line with Aine’s post on writing the myths.) Note that I’m all for the figurative Death of the Author, also less known as the Birth of the Reader, so this certainly is not to put out that I heard a voice, or had a dream, and therefore this bit or that bit is a truthier truth.

I.

Ironically, I’d say, it’s Princess Irene’s obscurity (wasn’t named in the Founding of the West, just in the Wikia) and liminality (roles usually being of a mediator and herald) in the existing body of Otherfaith canon that I considered so intriguing and was why I wanted to write more of her.

My thought process during Almost Heroes, a writing experiment not part of the trilogy, went sort of like this: “Ooh, I like her, so she gets a comity-shipping cameo with the Ophelia. Wait, am I mythologizing my real life history? Yeah. Irene’s got to be there when Mary Sue starts crushing on the science teacher lady, because I really wish that some guiding spiritual presence like Irene had been there then, as first loves of lady-loving ladies in a no homo world. Wait, and Irene can turn into a bird? The Laetha’s a bird, if they fought I wonder who would win?” And I thought, “Obvously, the god would win in a fight with a spirit, so what would make it as though there’s tension?” And I thought, “It can’t be a challenge on neutral grounds, then, it must be…a surprise attack on the god’s sacred personal space.”

And then I thought, “Ulp, now my headcanon Irene did a bad thing.” My headcanon Irene did possibly the worst thing, and I never even did get around to revisiting the elation and yearning of what I guess people in temperate climates euphemistically call a spring awakening. How one makes up for messing up was also a very interesting question, though. But I didn’t want to write an Irene whose turning point in character development was…a deliberate Mary Sue, who I’d originally stuck in there to explore the more established, more prominent personalities of the myths, and a way to write the gods and spirits enacting their scopes of responsibilities.

I picked up the story again after I’d read up more on Laetha shards, and figured Aletheia 003 to be the best character foil for this Irene, because of all the meta I caught around The Red Room.

Peace At Last was mostly a way to organize the elements of a complicated idea, not so much to resolve the question or announce the role or method of forgiveness in the Otherfaith.

I may have also caught a sort of disembodied voice shouting, “Libel!” at an earlier retelling of The Red Room that I’d posted, but the main idea that voice pushed for, of reversing William’s and A003’s roles, was still something I thought (and decided) would fit in neatly. So, as far as woo might go, I’d say that’s still par with my just deciding that the Firebird and Irenebird would fight instead of figure out, like a responsible plotter-writer, some avian way they could bond.


(The above painting gives me Irene feels, though Aine tagged it for the Laethan Firebird on the tumblog. They could have a lot in common.) (Also yay Irene has a tumblog tag!)

II.

Upping the woo, lowering the word count. Here are some excerpts from my noxary (dream diary or dream journal, and I write sideways on notebooks with dotted or plain paper, to double the size of a page uninterrupted by the spine.) These inspired the sequel, Songs of the Sunsets. Except for the third dream. That one was just weird.

18 Sept 2015. Princess seated between hourglass and clock stained glass circle before her like anathema device time was set but she still wanted to interfere.

19 Sept 2015. Queen-of-Years-but-not moved the telescope and hourglass. Kaleidoscope window on a balcony looked over indigo twilight.

20 Sept 2015. Wandered a bookstore, bestseller was a romance between an angler fish and a remora.

These records drew similarities to Anathema Device (a character from Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman) although not a correct one because that character was very much for doing what she’s been foretold, and also the Queen of Years from the new Doctor Who although in the dream the red cowl looked worn by somebody bigger than a wee child and I don’t remember more.

I actually shouted when the not-really-Queen-of-Years moved the stuff, and this woke up my corporeal friend and roommate Cecilia, who woke me up to say that I sounded like I was being tortured. It must have been important in the dream not to move the stuff.
Continue reading

All the Ash (A Cinderella Story)

This is the first fairy tale I ever wrote, inspired by the idea of the very European tale of Cinderella having originated in China. As the shoe size was so important, I guessed it had to do with the Song Dynasty practice of foot binding, but there’s a better researched version out there.

This was also conceived as part of this vast high fantasy world that included a retelling of Snow White as a vampire, but Neil Gaiman did that one better too.

I thought it would be a novel, but the simplicity of a fairy tale was at the time the only way I could get this story told at all. The worldbuilding remains a mess, this being a fantasy land that has a fairyland where the fay can still receive portents. The teenager who wrote this was more interested in the idea of economics and bad political decisions leading to civil unrest, and was far more resigned to racism and (hat tip to Elisabeth Fiorenza for this term, although I’m probably using it wrong) heterosexism. The familial abuse and gory dismemberment from some older versions of the fairy tale is preserved.

So please be warned.

ONCE UPON A TIME, there lived a merchant. He may have lived in a kingdom far, far away but because he was a merchant he might have stopped by here long, long ago. Through his trade, he became much respected, very wealthy, and even happy for a time. He lived at one end of the trade route, and married another who lived at the opposite end and had never traveled except to live with him. This bride worked as a midwife, although she could heal anything between almost-birth and almost-death and some needs sidewise of those. Her own lands was civilized enough to let her rest the study of medicinal plants, but her dearest friend was a fairy of the earth named Maya who was an expert. While Maya had a husband of her own in fairyland, he was royal and winged like everybody else in court whereas Maya was not. For this reason, Maya followed the couple to the merchant’s country and became part of the family, godmother to their daughter. They named the child Ciella, which means heaven, and the first nine years of her life she spent in the closest place on earth to it: a home full of love and kind instruction, even with the merchant so often gone; Material wealth that showed in pearl doors (made from leaving regular doors inside giant clams) and gold floor tiles (made by shaping gold into tiles,) and charity, the truest sign of affluence. Ciella even had her feet bound like a noble from her mother’s land, but none of this spoiled her because she was naturally good and unnaturally well-raised.

Ciella’s tenth year of life was no so good: the King knew too late that the kingdom had grown poor. People bought more imports than local products, and did preposterous things such as pearl their doors, and gold their floors, and privately own charities. So, the king declared Ciella’s mother’s land evil and all its people enemies of the kingdom.

In the riots that followed, people were injured, and Ciella’s mother would only think of those in need of medical attention. Her final patients recovered fast enough and well enough to drag her out to a garden pond and drown her. Ciella only survived thanks to Maya’s glamour, which made them both appear not so foreign. Ciella’s mother’s heart, so pure, transformed into a giant carp. Ciella would point it out often, but Maya disbelieved her out of grief and common sense.
Continue reading