For me, I would rather read a good book, from a contented author. I don’t really care what it takes to produce that.
Some writers need a while to charge their batteries, and then write their books very rapidly. Some writers write a page or so every day, rain or shine. Some writers run out of steam, and need to do whatever it is they happen to do until they’re ready to write again. Sometimes writers haven’t quite got the next book in a series ready in their heads, but they have something else all ready instead, so they write the thing that’s ready to go, prompting cries of outrage from people who want to know why the author could possibly write Book X while the fans were waiting for Book Y.
I remember hearing an upset comics editor telling a roomful of other editors about a comics artist who had taken a few weeks off to paint his house. The editor pointed out, repeatedly, that for the money the artist would have been paid for those weeks’ work he could easily have afforded to hire someone to paint his house, and made money too. And I thought, but did not say, “But what if he wanted to paint his house?”
Taken directly from BoingBoing:
The June issue of The Atlantic has an article about a 72-year-long study at Harvard about how different experiences affect the health and happiness of people. Video above, full text of article here.
Is there a formula—some mix of love, work, and psychological adaptation—for a good life? For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been examining this question, following 268 men who entered college in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age. Here, for the first time, a journalist gains access to the archive of one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. Its contents, as much literature as science, offer profound insight into the human condition—and into the brilliant, complex mind of the study’s longtime director, George Vaillant.
The June class is filling up! There are only three spots left, get ‘em while they last.
“We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them. And if we could only arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful. How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants our love.”
Ranier Maria Rilke
Letters to a Young Poet[?]
There are distinct differences between traditional fairy tales and fantasy short stories. When I teach my class, I ask my students to stick to the former and eschew the latter. I love fairy tales and I believe passionately in the discipline of writing to the traditional fairy tale form. Plus, in a six-week class, there’s not enough time to stray too far from the curriculum.
However, I love fantasy short stories and novels just as passionately. I love comics, too. Any story form that takes me out of the world I know and into a world of surprise and possibility is a story form that I love.
So it is with tummy-tingling, heart-glowy anticipation that I await the release of this movie:
Dave Eggers wrote the script, and while he may be the most maddeningly over-hyped hipster author in print today, he’s also one talented mother[shutyourmouth]. I can’t wait to see how the movie turns out!
This video has very little to do with fairy tales or anything else useful, but it’s awesome and worth sharing.
“Very, very long ago in an Old Russian village there lived an old couple: the woodcutter and his wife. They barely made the ends meet, owing to the old man who cut logs in the forest and carried them into the nearest town. They were poor and had no children, so as they grew older they became sadder and sadder. The old woman often asked, “Who will take care of us? We are so old.” Her husband used to answer, “Don’t worry, old woman. God will not leave us alone, he will help us, if necessary.”
One cold winter day they both went to the forest, the old man to chop wood and his wife to help him. The frost that day was severe. The old man said, “Shall we make a little snow-girl to solace us, as we have no child?” In a short time they had made a “Snegurochka” – a Snowmaiden. It was so beautiful that no tale could describe it and no pen could portray it. They were looking at it and becoming even sadder and the old woman said, “If only the almighty Lord had sent us a little girl looking like this Snegurochka.
Suddenly the Snowmaiden’s eyes twinkled and she became alive, may be owing to the strong desire of the poor good people. There was a precious tiara on her head, her hair was white as snow, a brocade cape covered her shoulders, and embroidered boots were on her feet. The woodcutter and his wife were amazed and could not believe their eyes. Snegurochka breathed, trembled and stepped forward. They grew numb thinking they were dreaming. Snegurochka came toward them and said, “Good afternoon, kind folks, do you want to be my parents? I will be a good daughter to you and honor you as mother and father.” “You will be the joy of our old age. Come home with us,” answered the old man and they led her from the forest.”
courtesy of Coilhouse
A lot has been said against the “Disney-fication” of fairy tales, and for the most part I agree.
Check out the introductory sequence of Snow White, which was released in 1937. It’s dark, dramatic, and exquisitely animated. It leaves The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast in the dirt. The evil queen is genuinely disturbing and, well, evil. The peacock throne is a nice touch.
“… I want to say a word about…the sense of closure and completeness…that I believe every satisfactory story must have. As anybody can testify, experience is a continuous shower, without beginnings or endings. It ravels off from previous experiences and frays off into new ones. Because the record of any experience is not complete without a thinking pause after it, and because most readers have a short attention span, the writer’s job is to contrive a positive conclusion that will pass for an ending of the limited segment of life the story covers. In a plotted story there is a rising action, a series of complications, a climax, a denouement. Somebody or something wins or loses, lives or dies. That is what Hemingway had in mind when he said that all stories end in death—there is no other ending that really ends anything. So we must contrive little symbolic deaths that seem to end something, and we must be careful when we do it; for beginnings and endings, Chekhov said, are the places where writers are most inclined to lie.”
On Teaching and Writing Fiction
This site has a nice version of “Vasilisa the Beautiful,” plus a couple more and some lovely illustrations by Ivan Bilibin. Worth a browse.