Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Something ‘clicked’ for me yesterday about the distance between reading and writing fiction. Or rather, about the distance between receiving and creating fiction (because the actual writing part takes effort, but that’s a whole other question).  I think it’s minimal, more to the point, I think it’s always been minimal.

Sir Kay breaketh his sword

Sir Kay breaks his sword in the tournament. Arthur has to find a new one for him later…

I started off by thinking of character degradation in terms of Sir Kay in Arthurian legends.  According to Wikipedia, the earliest written stories of Sir Cei come from Welsh legends, and predate Geoffrey of Monmouth (I’d heard that before).  He was a young man when Arthur was crowned, and a cousin.  He went to Arthur’s court and had the king trim his hair (it was a thing) then went on adventures with and for him until Arthur said something snarky, then he went on his way in a fit of pique.

That’s a long way from the step-brother who tried to claim Arthur’s sword for himself, isn’t it?

It was Chretien de Troys who began the path which turned Kay into the putz we all know and love today.  Somewhere in there, he became Arthur’s seneschal (keeper of the purse).  Yeah, what else is an author to do with a character he wants everyone to resent – make him the bean counter.  Think about it, he immediately loses whatever ‘cool’ he had, because it’s now always his fault that the rest of the characters can’t have a huge party.  Then you make him the first knight your new character defeats (in order to prove your knight has chops), and before you know it this hot shot hero is now the butt of every Arthurian joke.

Does this remind you of anything?

It’s what happens with centuries of fanfic.  Stories told and retold, with the same characters who slowly morph into barely recognizable copies of themselves.  Except with fanfic one recognizes the original work as ‘cannon’, and this protects the characters (at least somewhat) from the transformation.

The same thing happens with Shakespeare, sort of.  When modern writers riff on Shakespeare plays they do a much more thorough job of ‘filing off the serial numbers’.  West Side Story doesn’t claim to be Romeo and JulietTen Things I Hate About You, if I recall correctly, directly alludes to The Taming of the Shrew even as it mirrors characters and situations.  Shakespeare himself drew a great deal on folklore and legends to create his plays.

There are plenty of other examples, from Clueless to Fifty Shades of Gray to Jane Austen’s Fight Club (a fanfic mashup)

I guess my point is that fanwank has been going on for centuries, it used to be considered more or less ‘highbrow’ and now it’s regarded as a pop cultural phenomenon.  Of course, only the best examples from the past have come down to us, because there was a time that fiction had to get past gate keepers to be preserved, but it seems to be basically the same thing.

Or am I missing something? Is there some serious difference between the two which has escaped me?


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I’ve started reading again

I’m currently reading Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things.  I was wondering whether one of the poems in that might work for the young man I was tutoring yesterday, if I should have him again next week (I volunteer), as he should probably be working on summarizing and pulling the ‘main idea’ out of a work.  I might try it, if he’s a comic book fan and has at least heard of Sandman.

Not that I think Gaiman’s inaccessible, but I don’t want to miss the mark completely.  Many of these students are (or claim to be) as ignorant of pop culture as they are of what I would view as the educational staples.  A poem about alien invasions, zombies, genies and multiple apocapolishould be fun, but I can see (intellectually at least)  how it might not work for everyone.

But this got my brain hopping again.  I once heard someone say that Sandman was the first sympathetic portrayal of Death personified.  Easily dismissed, as Sandman began it’s run in 1988, and Death didn’t even show up until the next year. Terry Pratchett’s Colour of Magic came out in 1983.  Although DEATH is f nowhere near as cute and cuddly as Death, he’s clearly a nice enough guy.  Incidentally, Alan Dean Foster’s On a Pale Horse also came out in 1983.  His Death is much more accessible than Pratchett, as well as being the protagonist, I would even admit that he’s a nice enough guy, but I really like DEATH as a character.

Peter S. Beagle came in years before that, in 1963, with his short story “Come, Lady Death“.  As always, I can’t say enough good things about Peter S. Beagle.  Gaiman is the only author who comes close to creating dreamy worlds rich with humor and love.  Going back to 1962, there’s the Twilight Zone episode  “Nothing in the Dark” where an old woman locked herself into her house, hiding from Death personified.  It turned out he was a really nice guy, (a very young, golden haired Robert Redford) and she needn’t have been afraid.  Both these stories affected me deeply as a child, and I think in a positive way.

I’d have to track it down to be sure, but I seem to recall that Death Takes a Holiday also provided us with  pretty sympathetic portrayal back in 1934. Earlier than that?   I think there’s a story or two where a personified death is referred to as ‘old friend’, but I can’t recall any in particular.

Of course, the original remark may have been intended to refer to death in comic books only, but that seems to be a pretty ticky-tack differentiation.  They’re all pop culture images, and I can’t imagine a world where books, films, TV and comics don’t all borrow from each other.

Actual Knitting Content

I publicly declared the baby blanket “the most boring project I’ve ever worked on”, then finished the second set of squares in the doubleknit section and have decided it’s not boring anymore.  Also, a woman in a waiting room asked what happened to the Les Miserables shawl which I put on hold, so not only am I kipping along but people pay attention, which is kind of cool.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I entered the Knitbot Essentials giveaway from Quince and Co (April 20), Phat Fibers Sunrise Sparkle Lace giveaway (April 23) and Lantium Ex Machina’s Hypocrite Sock Yarn giveaway (April 22)

I didn’t win According to Matt’s Y.A.R.N. giveaway, or the Color Guys giveaway.  The Lionbrand Meaningful Handmade Gift Contest ends April 29th (not the 16th).

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Since I’m on a posting jag, and I have some yarn giveaways to follow up on (and new ones to link to) I think it’s time to get all my readers caught up on my current project list.

What I’m Doing Now

Yarn Work


Yes, it was used in the wedding.  Yes, it was beautiful.  No it’s not ‘properly finished’.  Yes, this is another example of me being lame…

As you can see, it was light enough to be caught by the wind, which was a good thing.  Now I just need to finish putting the little flower motifs between all the bigger ones.  Not difficult, but it’s large enough to be unwieldy and unportable.

Hopefully I can give it to them on their first anniversary!

Hermit Crab Amigurumi

My friend Colleen has hermit crabs.  Last fall, when she went on vacation, she asked DD#2 to crab sit.  She gave us all the instructions, and an isolation tank to use if one of the three was unwell or being bullied.

We ended up using it when “Wonton” began to bury himself.  Poor DD kept digging him up, and was eventually convinced that he was dead, but kept misting him daily because she didn’t want to admit defeat.  When Colleen came back she was impressed that DD had nursed him (successfully) through a molt!  I am making her this little guy,

It’s the Hermit Crab from Hansi Singh’s Amigurumi Knits (it’s a Goodreads link, you can use the Amazon link from within Ravelry and give them the referrer’s cut…)

Unfortunately, the tight gauge makes my hands hurt, and it’s definitely not driving knitting anyway, so I’ve got a third project.

Les Miserables Shawl

I’m using the  Old Maiden Aunt “Moody” laceweight yarn I won in a giveaway from Knitting Pipeline back in 2010, and I’m knitting Les Miserables (by Cynthia Parker, published in Handheld Knitting).

Useful Resource

I’ve found that the amigurumi knitting is both physically and mentally intensive, so that I can’t do it for too long at a go without my hands complaining.  So far I’ve just switched to the less intense shawl project, but thanks to a post I found at Knitfreedom, now I have 5 Stretches to Relieve Knitting Pain.  Of course, I first read this as “5 Stitches to Relieve Knitting Pain”, which was even more exciting, but I’m still happy to have found it.

Other Projects

March is National Novel Editing Month (NaNoEdMo).  Since I finished NaNoWriMo last year I’ve signed up for it.  Here’s hoping that in April I’ll have a draft I feel confident in showing to others…

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the Retrobaby giveaway, or the Twist & Twine giveaway, but Earthmama 101 has a giveaway which will be of interest to parents of young children.  Natalie Servant Designs is giving away a wonderful skein of yarn hand dyed by Indigodragonfly, but I’m not sure I can write a limerick for yarn, so I’m holding off on this one (I’ve tweeted about it though, that’s worth something, right?).  Also followed up on the Knitfreedom handspun giveaway and free pattern. I entered the Red Heart Yarn of the Month giveaway as well (after checking out projects made with it on Ravelry)  If I actually had any Malabrigo I’d join Mr. Yarn’s Malabrigo March giveaways – but you have to have some to win some.  😦

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I sprained my shoulder in November, and only now am comfortably picking up the needles again (yes, I completed NaNoWriMo, but it wasn’t easy). Wish I could find my camera, though.

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Yup, I did it…

I’m doing NaNoWriMo (I can back out anytime before November 1, right?)  VERY excited about this setting. Have an idea for the plot and a glimmer of characters, and a month to go.   (Now I need to Gimp up some cover art…).

Beautiful pattern giveaway at Knitting with Sandra Singh (drawing on October 16th, multiple ways to enter).

Haruni still freeze/frogging.  Socks still growing slowly.  Talked to my mother on the phone an she discouraged me from buying more yarn to knit a baby blanket with.  *sigh*  She’s right, I’ve got good stuff in my stash…  I think.

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Didn’t win Sunset Cat‘s giveaway, but entered Life on Laffer e’book giveaway (really lovely patterns,  take a look at Craft Work Knit to see for yourself) running until October 10th.

not to the heel yet

On Your Toes by Ann Budd

I’ve signed up for “Soctoberfest”, because my current activities already qualify me.   Haruni is still hibernating in the freezer, and will continue to do so until I’m geared up to tackle it’s life-line less state…  Yeah, did I mention I took OUT the lifeline at the point where pattern A meets Pattern B…?

Such hubris.

I’ve gon ahead and created an account at NaNoWriMo, and am actively researching my setting idea.  Seriously leaning towards Science Fantasy (as in DEFINITE Science Fiction elements in what is very much a Fantasy story).  Don’t want to wear out the charm of it, but did I ever mention that I fell in love with Astronomy by looking at artists conceptions of a red dwarf circling a blue giant?  Pretty pretty mental pictures…  Might Gimp up a cover at some point in October (yeah, in my ‘copious spare time’)

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I’m considering joining NaNoWriMo (because November is just around the corner). Then again, right now I should be editing the Ramblin Ambler. And I have a headache…

So much creative thought, so little energy and organizational skills. Nuts, right?

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