Even more than the traditions of various holidays, I love the myriad myths and fairytales from which those traditions spring. I love how storytellers and academics weave the beautifully diverse threads of folklore, history, and pure imagination into a complex web of collective consciousness that defines our celebrations of these special days with layers of meaning and mystery.
Take the origins and icons of Easter. Whether you believe this particular holiday has Biblical or Pagan roots, the secular symbols of this holiday – bunnies and eggs – are ripe with story inspiration. In some versions of the story, goddesses rescue injured birds and then transform them into hares who can lay eggs in every color of the rainbow. Both rabbits and eggs represent fertility and, by extension, the rebirth or resurrection of the natural world after winter’s long reign. They are sings of promises and hope.
I find it both humbling and inspiring that these particular symbols of life reemerging are relatively small and fragile things. They remind me that not all heroes have to be bold and brawny. Not all battles are won by force or ferocity. Sometimes, heroism comes in the form of quiet courage and perseverance, in the ability to patiently incubate an idea or – like the wily hare – outwit your opponent.
Stories are like eggs. Protected from the world by a fragile shell, they nest in our hearts and are nourished in warm darkness by our attention and curiosity. We wrap our thoughts around them to keep them safe and provide space for them to grow, until one day they crack open and release their secrets into the world. I love that, often, we don’t know what kind of creature will emerge from the shell until it’s already hatched and wobbling there before us, blinking in the light as it stretches damp wings or unfurls a long tail. What else could that be but magic?
And once we have embraced the spirit of magic and possibility, the world abounds with all kinds of story ideas. They lurk in the grass at the edge of the road and hide in the ferns at the forest’s edge. If we are willing to walk slowly and observe closely, a whole world will reveal itself to our writers’ minds – a world where anything is possible.
Books I’m Reading:
I read the first book in Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series – Etiquette and Espionage – two years ago. This week, I’ve been listening to the second installment in the steampunk fantasy. Curtsies and Conspiracies is just as much fun as the first book, and an absolute delight to listen to as read for Audible by Moira Quirk.
Set in a massive dirigible floating over the English countryside, these stories follow the cloak-and-dagger adventures of young Sophronia and her classmates as they matriculate at a prestigious school of espionage that is disguised as a proper finishing school for young ladies of quality. Carriger’s steampunk world is populated not only by the usual stock of Victorian characters – both upper crust and Dickensian – but also impossibly proper professors, manipulative vampires, and somewhat uncouth werewolves. The plots have many twists and turns, the characters are well developed and fun to “watch,” and the dialog is crisp and witty. The tongue-in-cheek humor is very appealing and keeps me smiling as I listen to the girls’ get in and out of trouble again and again.
I’m already looking forward to the next book in the series. They seem to be an excellent antidote for the general sense of dread and malaise that seems to be afflicting much of our media these days. If only we had spies as fashionable and resourceful as Ms. Sophronia Temminnick in real life. One can dream.
··• )o( •··
My Favorite Blog Reads for the Week:
- What is a Scene? Understanding and Using the Basic Unit of Story Structure by @aliventures
- The Complete Ten Step Guide to Ghostwriting Fiction by @joebunting via @elizabethscraig
- The Hero Embodies the Theme by @SPressfield
PUBLISHING & MARKETING
- Useful Technology For Authors With Ron Vitale via @thecreativepenn
- 5 Dang Good Reasons Why Writers Should Think of Themselves as Content Marketers by @demianfarnworth
- Why Your Personal Essay Pitch Needs Both Substance and Style by @HelloTheFuture
- Creating Author Websites: The Definitive Guide via @WriteToDone
- The Pros & Cons of Using a Facebook Profile But Not an Official Page by @JaneFriedman
- What Can We Learn From the Prolific Mr. Asimov? via @farnamstreet
- Why enchantment matters by @sharonblackie
- A Proven Method For Finishing Your First Book by Micah Solomon via @BookBaby
- How to Be a Better, Happier Writer by @MahinWriter
THE WRITING LIFE
- Solitude and Solidarity: Creative Artists Need ’Em Both by Jari Chevalier via @brevitymag
- Communion, Devotion and Keeping the Faith: Why I Blog by @MaiaToll
Sundry Links and Articles:
I have long been a fan of Vonnegut. His work is insightful, humorous, and wise. This week, I stumbled across this little gem of a video featuring Mr. Vonnegut illustrating the shape of stories:
Finally, a quote for the week:
I hope you have a lovely holiday – whichever holiday you may be celebrating today – and I hope your world is full of unexpected and wondrous magic. Happy writing & happy reading!
Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.