Friday, April 30, 2021

Week 14 Lab: Advice to Writers

 Advice to Writers

    One of the reasons that I was initially drawn to this class was that I wanted to get more into writing. Now that I have passed most of the way though this class, I definitely want to continue on my writing journey! As such, I was interested when I saw that "advice to writers" was an option for a story lab, I was intrigued. I feel like I have made some strides in writing in this class, but there is always more to learn!

    The first piece of advice that resonated with me was that creative writing needs solitude. I definitely agree with this - some of my best writing has been done in the wee hours of the morning once everyone else has gone to bed and the world is quiet. Something that I might add on to that is that I think that creative writing (and honestly, creativity in general) needs time. Not only because of the obvious - making art takes time - but also that it takes time to get into the right head-space for being creative. Making art is somewhat like meditation - you can't just dim the lights and think that immediately everything is going to just happen. It takes work and concentration (and repetition) to get your brain where it needs to be. 

    The next piece of advice that I liked was the insistence on persistence (hehe - see what I did there?). I think this is hugely important. You cant just think that you are going to make some sort of masterpiece on your first round. If you look at the best composers, artists, writers, etc of the world, most of them have an immensely huge body of work. Out of these, only a few are considered the "hits". The only way to produce "good" art is to start of by just producing art! 

(The value of real advice. Source: 1077TheJewel)

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Reading Notes, Inayat. Twenty Jataka Tales: The End of the World

Bibliography: Inayat. Twenty Jataka Tales. Story: The End of the World

Notes: This was another one of those stories that I was drawn to initially because of the name. What a hook! As with the story earlier this week, it was one that had a pretty thinly veiled moral, but again was one that I could wholeheartedly get behind! Too often in our society we see people running with the lemmings. Most recently, I have been having some frustration with the whole lemming phenomenon in regards to vaccinations. I have been volunteering a lot recently at vaccination clinics trying to help get people vaccinated and get us back to some semblance of normal! Although everyone there is obviously getting vaccinated, I have been hearing a lot of stories about their friends and relatives who are too scared to come in because they either have the traditional fears of vaccinations (that they cause autism, etc) or that they have bought into the recent "vaccinations have a chip in them" fear. 

     These fears sounds very similar to the ones from the little rabbit in the story. They are born out of legitimate concerns (for the rabbit that is fear of the world ending, for people not getting their vaccines this might be concerns about the good will and protection of the government and privatized healthcare system), but what is being said has no basis whatsoever (for reference, the man who published the falsified paper saying that vaccines cause autism is now in prison for writing that paper). And yet, those fears spread like wildfire. 

     One thing that I liked about this story was that the lion did not belittle of laugh at the little rabbit after finding out that the sounds was just a fruit falling. I think this is a really important to genuinely listen to people's concerns and then to try to address them in a way that will make people feel comfortable. 

(Vaccination. Source: DiscoverSociety)

Reading Notes, Inayat. Twenty Jataka Tales: The Quarrelsome Quails

Bibliography: Inayat. Twenty Jataka Tales. Story: The Quarrelsome Quails

Notes: Well, the moral of this story was not very subtle, now was it. Work together and be successful or quarrel and fail. Honestly, it's pretty hard to argue with that... 

     What initially drew me to this story was the title. I am a huge fan of alliteration, and try to use it in a lot of my own titles. If I choose to write on this story this week, that is something that I would definitely want to keep! 

     I have been really getting into the Jataka tales, but decided to try to mix it up a bit this week by reading the Inayat Jataka tales rather than the Babbitt Jataka tales. I have to say, now that I have read both, I prefer the Inayat tales. They just flow a bit better and the dialogue seems more natural and not spliced in. I am exited to read more of these tales this week!

     Anyway, on to my own plans with this story. Immediately, I want to make it political. Nowadays, I am always so frustrated when I listen to the news and hear how people in government positions are more concerned with arguing with one another than they are with trying to overcome our differences and work together. The result? Congress is frankly ineffectual because people keep fighting one another. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? 

     I did just write a story last week making pointed political commentary on capitalism (or, at least, trying to), so I could just continue on with that story- essentially write the sequel. Since it is Terry Pratchett's birthday today (he is my absolute favorite author) and he excelled at writing political satire, continuing on in this vein only seems fitting. That being said, I am going to have to work pretty hard before I can hold a candle to Sir Pratchett. 

(A quail. Source: Wikimedia)

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Week 13 Story: An Orwellian Farm

    "Hey. Hey you!" Little Red was hunched behind the pig pen, and his cramping limbs were happy to finally see the Pig. He'd been waiting to talk with him for most of the day. 

    The Pig started and peered cautiously around the corner. "What are you doing here? Shouldn't you be out plowing?" he asked haughtily. 

    Little Red tried not to let the Pig's demeanor get to him. "I'm here to help you, you fool. I have a warning."

    The Pig continued to look cautious, but some of his aloof stance was replaced by one of curiosity. 

    "All of that fancy food you have been eating- its to fatten you for slaughter! The farmer's wife is getting married, and you are to be the main course." continued Little Red. 

    "Ha. There are words of caution coming out of your mouth, but all I hear is jealousy. I see you across the farm, working from dusk 'til dawn and only getting a meager ration of hay in return. Don't try to come here and convince me that I am the one actually getting the short end of the stick." scoffed the Pig. 

    "I'm not going to pretend like my life is perfect, but listen here, pal - I'm sticking my neck out for you here. My dad, Big Red, was too scared to come and tell you himself - didn't want to get caught by the farmer, ya see? Don't believe me? Fine. Just ask yourself what happened to all of your pals after they got all nice and fat. Really believe, I mean deep down believe, that they were sent off to some nicer farm to frolic around? Come on. Stop kidding yourself. That's a children's story." 

    Little Red started to turn around and leave, when suddenly the Pig pipped up, fear lacing his every word. 

"Ok! Ok. You've got me listening. What's the plan?"

(The next story to read. Source: Flickr)

Bibliography: Babbitt Jataka Tales. Story: The Ox Who Envied the Pig

Author's Note: I thought that the moral of this story might have been more sinister than the original story let on. The original seemed to suggest that one ought to not envy those around us who have more because they are destined for disaster. I thought, however that the moral was that, in the system set up by the farm, there really was not winning. Either you get to live a long life but toil and get no real rewards, or you get to live high and mightily, but only for a time. The only one who really "won" in the story was the farmer who got the oxen to work for him and got to eat the pig. It seems like the only sensible thing for the animals to do is to rise up and revolt.... 

Reading Notes, Babbitt Jataka Tales: The Ox Who Envied the Pig

Bibliography: Babbitt Jataka Tales. Story: The Ox Who Envied the Pig

Notes: Hmmmmm. I don't know what to make of this story. At first glance, it seems that the story is trying to tell us not to envy the people who have more than we do, because they are destined for failure (or, in the case of the story, food). Yet I think that the meaning of the story might be more sinister than that. If you think about it, the oxen don't actually have some wonderful life. Sure, they are actually alive at the end of the story, but they only reason they are is because they have use as beasts of burden. In return for their labor, they are fed rather poorly. Not that the pig's life is much better. He gets to live high and mighty, but only for a while... 

        Looking at it this way, the moral of the story seems more to be that you can't really win. There is no way, at least in the setting that has been established in the story, to live both well and for a long time. That is, unless you are the farmer. It must all seem rather dystopian to the animals, this way of life. 

        I think that this might be an interesting way to approach a story- a dystopian setting for a dystopian moral. Perhaps there could be tidbits of a revolution thrown in there as well as the characters realize that what is needed in order for them to escape this caged existence is for them to revolt against the farmer character. The real moral could be, essentially, that rampant capitalism is bad. The farmer represents the 1% who literally feasts on and exploits the other 99%. Very Animal Farm..... 

        I just also think that it would be more fun to write this story in a dystopian setting than in the "real world". 

(Storytelling Inspiration. Source: Flickr)

Extra Credit Reading Notes, Babbitt Jataka Tales: The Sandy Road

Bibliography: Babbitt Jataka Tales. Story: The Sandy Road

Notes: I am really intrigued by this story. A number of the Jataka tales that I have read have been somewhat untraditional moralistic tales in that they have not really presented a moral. I don't really know if it is fair for me to be comparing the stories to "moralistic tales" since that may not actually be the point of the stories, but most stories tend to have a deeper meaning, which I have struggled to find in some of the stories (though that may be more of a personal failing than one of the story). This story, however, is unconventional in a different way. Most moralistic tales (I will just continue to use this classification because I think it is the closest one I know to use) have "good" and "bad: characters or "wise" and "foolish" characters (think "The Wise and the Foolish Merchant", though I had thoughts on that that can be seen in my reading notes on the story). This story combines both of those tropes into one character. The merchant is both the foolish one and the wise one. He is the one who makes the questionable decision to throw away the water and firewood before they are out of the desert, but he is also the one who does not give up and finds the place for the well. I really like this actually, since it presents a much more realistic view of how the world works. There are not completely "good" or "evil" people, neither are there completely "wise" or "foolish" ones. People make mistakes. Yet, as my grandfather used to say, "It is only a mistake if you don't learn from it." Perhaps in a re-telling of this story I could have the merchant, now old, telling his grandchildren this story and incorporate my own grandfathers wise words in there as the "moral". 

(A sight that would make most people want to give up. Source: pxhere)

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Week 12 Lab: Crash Course Mythology

What is Myth:

    Wow. I had no idea that the definition of a myth would be so complicated. I guess I could have baseline told you before that there is some difference between a myth and a folk tale, I had never really thought about quantifying that difference. I think that the definition of myth is like that of "art". I think that staying power and humanistic significance are both important aspects to it. I would also add that I think beauty plays a role in both definitions. For "myth" this might present as "is it a good story- did I like listening to it". This aspect might have more to do with the storyteller than the story though. 

Theories of Myth:

    I think that a really interesting theory of myth is that of using it to explain the things that we don't understand. Isn't that the point of most stories? Fables use myths to explain morals that children might not understand yet in terms that they can (haha) come to terms with. I think that one of the big differences in myth and religion is- do we understand these things now. Thor and the legends that surround him are thought of much more in a mythological sense in current society. We now know how thunder and lightning work, so his stance as a religious figure is no loner quite so pertinent. However, we still don't know what happens after we die, so most of the tales that surround that particular issue remain in the realm of religion. 

The Hero's Journey and the Monomyth:

I really liked being able to look at this list of "heroism". I think that it will be a really helpful thing not only to keep in mind when I am reading other stories, but also when I am producing them myself. I like especially that the typical story of a myth includes the re-integration into society. I have been on a couple of really long trips in my life, and have found that "culture shock" is weirdly often worse when coming back than it is when starting a new adventure. You do not expect yourself to have changed so much on a journey, so it is often really disconcerting when your relationship with what is supposed to be a familiar setting is so different. 

(The newest book on my reading list. Source: Wikimedia)

Week 14 Lab: Advice to Writers

 Advice to Writers      One of the reasons that I was initially drawn to this class was that I wanted to get more into writing. Now that I h...