‘A long time ago, in the underground realm, where there are no lies or pain, there lived a Princess who dreamed of the human world. She dreamed of blue skies, soft breeze, and sunshine. One day, eluding her keepers, the Princess escaped. Once outside, the brightness blinded her and erased every trace of the past from her memory. She forgot who she was and where she came from. Her body suffered cold, sickness, and pain. Eventually, she died. However, her father, the King, always knew that the Princess’ soul would return, perhaps in another body, in another place, at another time. And he would wait for her, until he drew his last breath, until the world stopped turning…’

- Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

It’s essay time…

I can’t believe it’s been nearly four months since I first set the blog up. In December it was easy to be flippant ‘pfft I’ve got loads of time, April is so far away.’ It really wasn’t. But I’ve been sent some fantastic stories in that time. My slight -cough- huge -cough- obsession with fairytales has only gotten worse, I fear. The more I read up about them, the more fascinating they turn out to be.

I’m in the middle of writing my essay. I’d be further along, but for some reason this essay is more difficult to structure than others. I want to get in as much about the experience of running this blog, because it really has been fantastic. I’ve had so much fun reading up on fairytales, if a little disturbed at the same time: for example, this is something I found early on while reading my lovely new copy of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales. And it was so exciting when my phone pinged with a new email submission or ‘you have a new follower’ notification.

This is just a wee thank you post. Thank you for following Fairytale Corner, thank you for liking, sharing, and commenting. And thank you for your stories. I know how important my writing is to me, so the fact you shared it means a lot. I’ve really enjoyed creating and running this blog, so much so, I’m reluctant to let it just disappear into the ether. So, you’re still stuck with me after the 22nd. I’ve enjoyed working on the blog too much.

If in the future you have a fairytale you feel like sharing, or a story you think isn’t a fairytale, despite the fact it has all the makings of one, just send it here. We’d love to read it.

What does fantasy mean to you?

“Many readers simply can’t stomach fantasy. They immediately picture elves with broadswords or mighty-thewed barbarians with battle axes, seeking the bejeweled Coronet of Obeisance … (But) the best fantasies pull aside the velvet curtain of mere appearance. … In most instances, fantasy ultimately returns us to our own now re-enchanted world, reminding us that it is neither prosaic nor meaningless, and that how we live and what we do truly matters.”

- Michael Dirda

“Some writers enjoy writing, I am told. Not me. I enjoy having written.” – George R.R Martin

I’ve seen so much debate about this lately. Writers seem to have two completely opposing opinions about writing – what I mean is, I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to a writer who says they’re neutral about the act of writing. I wonder if this happens for others: do some artists hate painting but love having created a masterpiece? Do some musicians hate writing a song, but love playing the finished product?

For me, I love everything about writing. Sometimes, I can’t be bothered, other things take over in my life, or I’d rather just slouch in front of the TV and let someone else’s creativity do the work for me. But I don’t just love having written, I love actually doing it. I’ve been writing some stories and characters for so long I know when the time actually comes to say goodbye – when I can say ‘yup, I’m finally finished’ – I’ll be devastated. And that isn’t because I’ll miss reading about them, it’s because I’ll miss sitting with them, trying to figure out what’s going to happen to them next.

When I get a new idea for a story, I get so excited, so much so concentrating on other aspects of my life that are rather important become difficult. The reason for my excitement is pretty simple, yeah I love the fact I know I’ll not be bored for the next few months, I love the thought of creating another new world, a set of new people, but my initial spark of excitement is down to something much smaller than that – I love the beginning because it means I’m at the starting position again. I love names, so I spend a long time constructing a list of names to go with people. I fill empty Word documents with ideas, random scenes that pop into my head that have no structure or place yet in a larger story. But one day, I know they’ll all fit together. Even if some scenes don’t make it into the final product, none of them are a waste of time because they told me something I didn’t initially know about a character.

I love being a writer, and I love writing. I’m not sure I could do it if I didn’t feel anything except excited about it.

 

 

 

The Lonely Shepherd by Lockie Young

A long, long time ago in a far away land there lived a young shepherd boy named Ewan. Now Ewan was a good boy, who lived with his grandparents in the hills just east of the Stone Wood. He tended his sheep and was very diligent, as there were many wolves in the hills. The wolves lived in the Stone Wood, which was rumored to be haunted. The wolves would venture into the hills and kill the sheep, if not for the very brave boy who protected them. Now you may ask, how can a mere boy defend against a pack of wolves? The answer may astound you. You see even though Ewan was just a boy, he had in his possession a very strange weapon indeed. It had saved his life many times, and the lives of the flock he protected.

One day, one of the sheep wandered away from the hill, where the flock was grazing. Ewan, who kept a very keen eye on his precious flock, noticed the number of sheep was down by one, and as he gazed off in the distance, toward the meadow that gently sloped toward the Stone Wood, he saw his quarry. He noticed the faintest of white disappear into the haunted forest. Gathering all his courage, Ewan rushed to save the poor woolly creature from a certain death, should the animal venture too deep into the place where only Devils and Trolls dared to go.

At the edge of the great forest, Ewan stopped to gather his breath, and his courage, before venturing forth into the unknown, for neither he nor any of his kin had ever set foot into the Stone Wood. Oh he knew full well the possible consequences of such a foolhardy quest, for it was told and retold many times around the open fire pits late at night, when the shadows were long and fear was ripe. No one ever returned from that unholy place.

Ewan gulped down his fear, and tramped it deep into his soul, as he ventured into the dark, dank foliage. The leaves were so thick; the sunlight did not penetrate such gloom. There was even a bitter stench, that left its acid mark on the poor shepherd’s tongue. With eyes big and round as saucers the brave little boy headed further into the wood. All at once, off to his left, he heard the scared bleating of a sheep. He followed the sound and soon he saw the poor trapped animal. It had wandered into a bramble so thick, it could neither go forward nor backward. It was so scared, and so pitiful, that the boy ran instinctually to its rescue. Without a thought for his own safety, Ewan carefully and skillfully removed the thorny sticks and twigs that stuck fast to the thick woolen coat. Soon he had freed the desperate young sheep from its trap and in shepherd fashion, slung the young lamp around his shoulders, and carried on his trek out of the forest. Before too long he saw sunlight shinning through the leaves and knew he had finally, once again, reached the edge of the Stone Wood. With jubilant heart the young boy ran the rest of the way, and once well into the meadow, he set his rescued lamb back down to earth. But before he let the creature go, he noticed a rather stout stick sticking out of the thick wool. He wiggled and pulled the stick free, and upon closer inspection, he saw that it was a very strange looking stick indeed. It wasn’t exactly crocked as it was curved. The wood was rock hard and hollow. What a fine whistle this stick will make he thought, as he stashed his prize into the pocket of his frock.

The sun rose high in the noon day sky, and the hill side was quiet, as the lazy sheep grazed on the rich grasses there. Ewan took the strange curved stick from his pocket and began to look at it more closely. He blew into one end and a low tone emitted from the other end and he knew at once it was as he expected. The stick was indeed hollow. He decided to try and make a hole in the strange, almost polished wood, so he took out his knife and began doing just that. His sturdy blade easily cut into the wood, and after each hole he made, he would try his whistle. Soon he discovered that he could make musical notes, and he decided his whistle was not a whistle at all, but was turning into a beautiful flute. As he played he noticed the sheep laying down as if to bed, and the more he played the quieter it got until the only sound was the magical notes from the flute. Soon everything around him was fast asleep. Even the birds were nestled in the trees with their heads tucked neatly under wing.

It was then, on a hill side long, long ago that a young shepherd knew he had an enchanted flute. Oh this was indeed a glorious day, for the young boy realized that he could also use his magical flute as weapon against the many animals that threatened his flock. He would never have to worry again if his sturdy staff would be enough against the hungry snarls of the wolf pack. He would never again fear anything, as long as he could play his magical flute. Ewan played his flute for hours, practicing different songs, and different tones. And the gentle breezes carried the magical tunes past the meadow and into the town. It carried the tunes into the Stone Forest and beyond, into the city, and long before the sun set that day, not a soul was awake, but for one lonely shepherd, one brave and very lonely shepherd.

 

Like what you read here today? Find out more about the author and his work here and on his website!

The Librarian by Heather Valentine

In a very small town of otherwise no interest there was a library, and in that library there lived a librarian, and people said, although nobody knew if it was true, that he had read every book ever written. The people believed in this so much that they came from their homes to this very small town to ask questions of the man, for they felt that surely one of the books he had read must have an answer to their question. When they walked in he was always sitting reading, with his feet on the dark oak table and his chair tipped back and a book held above his face.

A messenger came from the king to ask the librarian if he should go to war. The man made a low humming noise and seemed to ignore him. The messenger asked again, and he was silent, and then still reading his book he said that the king should read the histories of the country, and read the history of their wars, and that if the war he was going to start looked like one of the wars he’d already lost then he should not do it. The messenger borrowed the books and left.

A philosopher came to ask the librarian what he thought of the brightest new thinking. Without looking up from his book, the man said that it wasn’t all that new, really, and told him the name of the book where he’d first read of it, and the names of some of the books that criticized it and appraised it, for what the librarian thought of the new thinking was already written there. The philosopher borrowed the books and left.

A young woman from a house in the small town of otherwise no interest came to see the librarian, and asked him to tell her something new, for she was so tired of having nothing to think about in this town. He said that there was nothing new to tell her, that it was all old by the time that it reached him, for it would take time for it to happen, and then for people to agree that it was something worth writing about, and then time to write it, and time to print it, and time for someone to bring it to him. She left without borrowing any books.

The next day she came back and asked him to tell her something old, then. He said that there was so much to tell, she would have to be more specific. She said that there was too much to know, and that she wanted to know it all, and so she could not possibly decide what to start knowing first because it was all so interesting but she knew nothing of any of it. He told her that it was not what he knew that mattered, but the wanting to know it, and that her desire for knowledge made her just as capable of knowing as he was. For he didn’t know anything himself, he just knew what other people knew. She said that was the stupidest thing she’d ever heard and left without borrowing any books.

The next day the librarian knocked on her door, and as soon as she answered he asked why she’d said that. She said that now that she’d had a think about it she was sorry, it was not the stupidest thing she’d ever heard, it was just that it wasn’t right. She didn’t know anything about how to begin to know, and he didn’t know anything about what that was like. She just wanted someone to help her start, and since she had thought that he knew everything, he might know how. He said that he began to know from reading a book that told him that to know everything, he would have to read everything, and so he read, and that even how he gained knowledge was not his own thought. He could give her that book, if she liked, but he could not tell her what he thought, for he had no thoughts that were his own. She borrowed the book, and she said that when she returned it she would like him to tell her what his favourite book was.

Instead of reading the next day, the librarian tried to think, but the more he tried to force himself to think the less he could. He walked through the rows of his library picking up every book from every shelf, thinking he would perhaps pick up a book and then, upon seeing its spine, remember it as his favourite. He tried to think of the book that had contained the most knowledge, the book that he had used to answer the most questions, the book that had been most key to his understanding of other books, for perhaps one of those would have to, by numbers, be his favourite, but all of them seemed even, each had something he liked the other didn’t, each had knowledge he didn’t think he could leave out of a favourite book. So he grabbed the passages he’d calculated were the best and tore them out, and once he had torn them all out he threw them back together.

This book, his book, now the longest book in his library, had in it all of the thoughts and facts that he thought were the most important, all that he thought someone might need to know if they wanted to know the world.

When she came back, he showed it to her. She took it carefully and held it softly, for its pages did not all match and she feared that it would fall apart. He explained how he had made it and how it would answer her question of his favourite book. She asked if she could borrow it – this precious thing, she called it. And he said that only if, in return, she would when she brought it back cut out her favourite part for him.

On the first day after the young woman left, he cleaned the library, and took notes of the books he had torn the spines from that he would have to re-order. On the second day, he sent away for the replacement books. On the third day he just sat at his desk, waiting for her to come back.

On the fourth day, just as he was about to close the library, she came back, and softly put the book on his desk. He asked what part she had cut out, what part was her favourite, for her favourite part of his knowledge must be therefore the most important thing that he knew. She said, carefully, that she had at times felt she understood it very well, and at times felt she did not know what she was reading. And as to her favourite part, she handed him a page. Her favourite part, she said, was how he’d chosen it and put it all together, and so her favourite part, therefore, was the index page he had attached to the front.

 

Also you might be interested in this wonderful anthology she was part of creating!

Juggling the writing in my life

I have so many story ideas bouncing around my head at the moment, I don’t know how to balance them out. Forget the stories I have to write for uni, the ones I write in my spare time are driving me insane. When I’m writing about one – well, attempting to write about one – I’m thinking about the other, and vice versa.

And then I stumbled upon this quote:

‘Working on a new idea is kind of like getting married. Then a new idea comes along and you think, ‘Man, I’d really like to go out with her.’ But you can’t. At least not until the old idea is finished.’

- Stephen King

He really has a way with words.