For Friday, May 20, 2016:
“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
C. S. Lewis
It is my hope that there will come a time, in the near or far future, when we will never stop reading fairy tales. There is so much to learn from them, those of our childhood and folk tales alike. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Women Who Run With the Wolves is a fascinating treatise on how such tales inform and shape our grown-up lives, and I highly recommend it.
If you don’t want to read a fairy tale or two (though I recommend that, too!) then how about writing one? This can be a good exercise on a number of levels. It takes us out of our everyday thinking and actions, for one thing. If we write in genres other than fantasy, too, crafting a new-to-us story form stretches our creative muscles.
Though it’s not my favorite genre to read, I once wrote a zombie short story that turned out a lot better than I thought it would. I’d never written one before – and probably won’t again – but I wanted to try something new, and I’m rather proud of the result.
Zombie stories aren’t fairy tales, of course, though they’re definitely fantasy. The point is to try something new. It doesn’t need to be fairy tales. If you’re a poet and always write sonnets, try a haiku or senryu. If you write essays or memoir, try a short-short story. Can you write a complete story, with beginning, middle, and end, in 250 words? Or use Hemingway’s model of a story (or poem?) in six words. Find a story you’ve written and turn it into a poem, or a poem into a story. Try to make a poem rhyme if you usually write free verse.
Or write that fairy tale. We all have them in us.
Once upon a time, there was a group of writers who excelled at everything creative they put their minds – and pens – to. The townspeople of the place in which they lived expected nothing else, and it was always an honor when a humble townsperson was asked to join this elite group.
One day, word reached the writers that a young woman thought she was ….
Good enough/not good enough to be one of the writers? What happens in each case? How do various characters’ perspectives change? For the better or the worse? What is the moral of the story, what do readers learn?
Go for it!