The Stories Begun











I cannot believe England went by so fast.

So, as of right now, I should be bumming it in the Göteborg (Yutuhboreee) Airport reading some Simon Winchester book (he is AMAZING) and waiting for my family to meet up with me.  But we’re going to pretend I’m still on the plane as that’s the major event of today!

There’s something to be said in finding wonder in every day life.  Now, I know that hopping on a plane in England and watching Hamlet’s castle ago by on my way to Sweden can hardly be called every day life, but work with me.  Please.

When I flew home from college, I always knew when I was approaching home because the turbulence would kick in.  It’s just a feature of living in Colorado.  Turbulence=home.  There were times when that was inspiring to write.  When that swelling of the feeling of home from freaking turbulence was so overwhelming that I had to open my computer as soon as I was able.

Then there was the time I was on the beach and the wave kicked up the sand just right and the sun hit that wave at the exact moment as to make it look as if I were swimming in champagne.  That image broke a months long block on a story.  These things can happen.

I have seven hours to wait in the Göteborg airport for my family.  I am hoping, perhaps madly, that the flight over here, will have given me some inspiration for the hours to come.  I fully expect the views to have been stunning, but also the views in these seven hours to come as well.  People watching can be some of the most effective writing inspiration I know.  “Banal” interactions are the best fodder for writing.

The view from the writer’s chair is always beautiful.

Remember that,

RJLouise

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Seriously, just stare at a blank page for a while.  Especially on a particularly non-creative day.  The page begins to haunt you and take over your life!  The worst is when you are having a creative day, a brain teeming with ideas, and as soon as that blank page is before you, the ideas run for cover.

These are the days that all those little exercises to “inspire” you are annoying enough to make you want to throw things (as opposed to every other day when those exercises are just idiotic).  The blank page wins once more.

So how do you combat the blank page tyrant?  There are a few things I’ve done.  They’re all effective at different levels and at different times.

  • Reading:  If there is source material, I often find it helpful to re-read it.  Sometimes all it takes to overcome the blank page is an article or story.  Sometimes it takes a thorough re-read of everything.
  • Notes:  This one works well on its own and with reading.  I’ll write down one or two word phrases (often a chronological list of events (creative) or paragraph topics (essay)) with a carriage return after each.  This identifies each thought as a separate thought, which is surprisingly helpful.  I can jump around the list, rearrange it, add to it, or otherwise amend it (conflation is a popular option).  If I find the need to read source material, I do the exercise as I re-realize the ideas that I lost.
  • Borrowing text to fill the page:  Worse comes to horrible, there is little crime in borrowing text (related or unrelated, I prefer the former) to fill a page or two.  Illusion is an extremely helpful tool in many a profession.  There is no reason not to allow it to become a tool in the writing profession. (However, I am obligated to say: BE SURE NOT TO PLAGIARIZE!!!)
  • Music:  This is my last resort.  I usually listen to music non-specifically during my writing sessions.  If I must, though, I create a specific playlist having to do with the subject(s) at hand and put it on random.  Often times this directs the piece to another path than the one I expected or planned, because I have introduced another set of source material.  Being the control freak that I am, I don’t always like it, but that’s what re-writes are for!

What do you use to combat the blank page?

Good luck in the war against the tyrant!

~RJLouise

By the by, my computer is back!  It’s been back since Monday.  So why, you may ask, is the blog late?  Simple: thunderstorms of epic proportions=unplugged computer AND wireless internet.  😦  At least both my weekly blogs got up today.  One on time, one late.



{June 14, 2010}   Short and Sweet.

Sometimes, that’s the best way to do things.

This week is Scarlett-less because of the wedding I’m in and have been preparing for.  Also, I’m four minutes away from boarding my plane to said wedding, so the time crunch to get this up is contributing.

In the last week, I’ve learned that writing lists is really rewarding.  It’s an art!  They’re short summations of a day (or afternoon, or evening) and all the activities in it.  I love that.  Checking off a part of a to-do list gives a wonderful sense of accomplishment.  Also, conflating a day, afternoon, or evening into a series of short phrases is rewarding in and of itself.

I know I’m not alone in my love of lists.  I’m not very good at it yet (holy cow, my list for packing is still two pages long because I HAVE to plan out each day’s clothing and jewelry for every trip I take), but I’m getting better.  Checking off this item, now, because it’s time to board.

Happy listing, and see you next week!

~RJLouise



{May 27, 2010}   Ze schedule, she is set.

I actually don’t know if schedule is feminine or masculine.  Then again, I don’t know what accent that title is supposed to be in, which would influence the result quite a bit.

However, that is not the point of this mini-blog.  This is just me letting my three readers know that a posting schedule has been determined!  I mentioned in my crappy disciple blog that I was going to begin posting regularly when I finished all my drafts that were just sitting and waiting for me to do something about them.  The last of those hang-arounds has finally been finished.

My updating schedule for all my blogs (if you’re interested):

I’ve already done this week’s update (hooray for planning ahead), so this is all for now!  I thought I’d just let you know for future reference.  And by the way, when I say I update on Tuesday, I mean any time during the day on Tuesday.  Sorry.

I’m off to write, write away! *giggle*

~RJLouise



{May 15, 2010}   Sourcing

I hate it.  But I realize why it is necessary.  Partially because no one believes I’m as smart as I sound when I don’t cite my sources.  Mostly, though, because I’ve learnt the respect owed to those who came before.  I know, intimately, the blood, sweat, and tears that go into each piece I write.  I know hiding the haggard feeling that comes when you stop caring for your physical self in the pursuit of knowledge or a better intellectual self.  I know the pain that comes from not being able to create, and the sweet relief of once more taking on the biblical role of creator.  I know the cautious pride in that creation, hoping for some sort of approval that validates the effort, all the while telling yourself that that validation isn’t really necessary.

That’s why I have to source.  I cannot and will not steal these moments from others like me.  These are the moments that teach me to feel where the art resides in me.  How can I steal the most precious moments of life?

I hate sourcing.  It’s tedious and the rules are mercurial at best.

I love sourcing.  It’s a living testament to art.

Sourcing.  What shall I do with you?

~RJLouise



{November 14, 2009}   Aarne-Thompson-Uther . . .

. . . The super-heroes and banes of my existence.  I promised another blog in “Novella” and felt that this was worth the immediate creation of said blog.  So here it is!

The Aarne-Thompson-Uther classification system is a resource for aspiring (and established) folklorists everywhere.  It’s a brilliant system, and I cannot sing its praises enough.  What I can do is give you a little information so that when I blog and randomly throw out an ATU number and the related title, you won’t be quite so lost.  I do apologize if this next section sounds a bit stuffy, it’s essentially a paragraph from my critical analysis of my senior thesis, where I had to do a similar explanation.

The Aarne-Thompson-Uther classification system was originally developed by Antti Aarne in 1910 as a numbering system of the basic plots in folklore.  He based it off his studies with Julius and Kaarle Krohn, the men who invented and developed the scientific method of studying folktales, known as the historic-geographic method.  In 1928, Stith Thompson, an American folklorist, translated the work from Finnish to English and expanded the system to include 2,500 potential, yet basic, plots that were placed in five categories.  That system stood for nearly eighty years when, in 2004, Hans-Jörg Uther expanded the categories to seven (a couple sub-categories were quite large and deserved categories of their own) and deleted defunct and repetitive plots.  However, he did not change existing numbers, so the old Aa-Th system (you may also find AT system, depending on the writer) that had been used for nearly eighty years could be integrated.  This makes research much easier, because old books are still valid except in the cases of deleted numbers.  Now, Aarne, and perhaps Thompson, would have argued that this system only applies to Western and Near Eastern faerie tales, because that’s about as far as his (and the Krohns’) research went.  However, because of trading, immigration, and a surprising discovery that man is much the same in basic (think Jung’s collective unconscious), there is enough crossover that this system can be, and has been applied to Far Eastern tales with success.  Hooray for the universality of faerie tales!

As a side note, I’ve run across a few books published post-2004 that still use the Aa-Th system, so the integration of ATU seems to be happening slowly.  These two systems work together so well that they’re nearly interchangeable.  Uther’s edition is simply cleaner, less cluttered.  He published a three volume guide of it, which I am planning on getting eventually.  It’s expensive, but well worth having around.

Now, what does this mean for my blog?  First of all: I will be referring back to this system quite a bit whilst I talk about Strains of a Sonant Storie, mostly because that epic has a high research ethic inherent to it.  I go around looking for cultural versions of the ATU number, rather than just going off one version of the tale.  I think total count for Stefan came to twenty-two versions (give or take).  So, if I say ATU 425C, “The Beauty and the Beast,” I am not talking about Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont’s version, one of the earliest and most popular versions (then and now).  I am speaking of the entire collection of world-wide faerie tales that follow this plot line.  I do promise to always include the category title beside the number to eliminate as much confusion as humanly possible*.  Like I said at the beginning, these men were super-heroes, but are also the collective bane of my existence.

I think that’s all for today! 🙂

~RJLouise

*For those interested, ATU 425A, “The search for the lost husband”; ATU 425C, “The Beauty and the Beast”; ATU 425D “Vanished husband learned of by keeping inn”; ATU 245G “Husband recognizes bride when heroine tells her story”; and ATU 425N “The bird husband.”  I have no idea why they skip letters, unless those were letters cleaned out (some spaces are also left open in the assumption that there are tales that bridge the gap, kind of like the missing link between man and monkey–this might also be the reason).  There is some debate as to which one different versions get filed under: I would personally file “East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon” a Norwegian variant of the cursed husband under ATU 425C, but many put it under ATU 425A.  Sigh–we academics can’t ever agree.



et cetera