Thursday, January 16, 2014

Muses, Daemons, the Genii…and Robin Hood

I am definitely happiest when I’m writing about writing. Writing stories is something I have been doing since I was about 10 or 11. When I discovered how much I liked writing, that was it for me, a lifelong passion. My sister is the illustrator, I the writer. We both were destined to have creativity run in our veins.
I don’t talk about it too much, rather I just get on with it.
For a few years now I’ve been writing a novel – The story idea came to me one day in 2010, sent by the Muse, Daemon, or the Genius- however you want to name it – jumped into my head fully planned out. I was in awe for a few hours after the epiphany. I love it when the Muse sends stuff like that. It’s profound and inexplicable. Now I know how Joan Lindsay felt when the Muse sent her Picnic at Hanging Rock that night.
Robin Hood. We have all heard of him. He is the quintessential English Green Man, hero of the greenwood, saver of the oppressed. He’s in my novel.
But he’s the tritagonist. Of sorts.
An average village girl is the protagonist. A girl, far away in Lincolnshire, is inspired by him to fight for her village, her girlfriends tagging along behind her in masks, hoods, with swords, bows and arrows… Her name is Eloise.
Robin Hood is now a big part of my life. I was inspired by the pagan Robin of Sherwood television show from the 1980s. Since then I’ve read about him, bought books on him, watched many Robin Hood films, old and new for research, ideas, and inspiration. Although I enjoy watching it sometimes, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is NOT on my list of great films. Instead, my favourite RH film is one that was released in 1991 – the same year as Prince of Thieves – but stars Patrick Bergin and Uma Thurman. Better, less American, less tacky, with a pagan festival thrown in for good measure, and Uma Thurman’s Marian taking her destiny into her own hands, dressing as a boy and leaving her fiancé (Bloody Normans!) to go and live with the handsome Robin in Sherwood. Her strong character inspired my Eloise and her Maidens.
I found several Robin Hood films on youtube and have been watching those. The Men of Sherwood Forest had a great 50s style.
I bought a book about Robin Hood by Stephen Knight when I was in London in October 2010, a few weeks after the Muse threw the story at me. And in 2013, I purchased The Robin Hood Companion – an encyclopaedia written by a friend of mine, Ronan Coghlan. It has the Gest in it, an early Robin Hood tale along with every other thing Robin Hood is connected to, in story, television and English landscape. 

Art by Newell C. Wyeth

Robin, as I said is the archetypal hero. His presence in the greenwood, where outlaws must run to, emboldens those of today a Luddite rebellion against those attempting to destroy the layman and the land. Damh the Bard sings of him, indicating that everyone is a son and daughter of Robin Hood because we stand up for not only the layman, but the English landscape, which presently appears to be diminishing under an autocratic government (Bloody Tories!). In Robin of Sherwood, he protects the forest. He is the first ecologist. His selflessness shows us how we can be, outlaws or not. Whatever happens from here on, Robin Hood has become a larger part of my life because of this.
And of my other stories? I’ve been writing many short ones of late. And busy with articles too. I kind of need to start small. If only my stories didn’t have a life of their own – in the sense that they are like people in my head – well, the characters are there - all the ideas, all the stories, are crowding together in there, asking me which one will go first. I tell them the newest one – which is Eloise. The older one I planned to work on first takes a depressed step backwards – unfortunately I am not sure if I can ever go back to it – I’ve lost the passion for it – Muse sending me Eloise destroyed that. All the smaller projects take it easier; they take a seat up the back on some bean bags and discuss how they are finished for the moment, but know they might be asked back for some tweaking. They are short stories that are finished or need to be edited. A couple of them are in the queue and know they will be played with occasionally.
'You have not even listed us! There are ideas back there on distant bean bags that we think you've forgotten about'
I reply that there is not even a story yet - the idea and the idea alone sit on that bean bag, and I have not thought of anything.

'What are these other things?' They poke at articles and short stories for publication - I tell them that they are small projects I might need to work on soon but will not take as much time.

They are right. I do need to list them and work out which ones to work on first, or develop in my head. Some handwritten ones have been left behind. I do not want to depress them and tell them they are abandoned for good, because I don't want them to be discarded. They simply might change - research is needed for one particular one that might need to be re-written. But that will come later. The whole gang are curious to see what I do......
Eloise and friends are taking priority, Carmine and Laurel are on hold, if not indefinitely. Angelique and her gargoyle are finished, (well, for now, it will be edited and added to), Iris and Robert finally made it to the faery realm. Trixie, her brothers and the wolves are finished, as is Damaris, as well as Agnes and Fawn. Julius and Philemon still dwell in the city, waiting to be animated, Zara and Oliver and friends are to be kind of re-written, and most of these want to join Oriana's story.

It’s just that they have become such a family of stories and ideas that I cannot ignore them now. As I become a more confident writer, and develop stories better and better as I get older, I want to do them all. They all like each other and some plan to intertwine. Many of the characters I can think of - from short stories I have written or started, are asking to be included in a trilogy idea I have had (Oriana). 'Wow!' I say 'That is quite a project, but I love it (truth be known, I love the idea of Zara and Iris running about together). There are a lot of you. I will have to think of your role in the story. Is it alright that I write shorter stories on your origins first so I know where I am coming from?'
'Sure!' is their reply 'And don't worry, you'll work out our roles, you always do.'
I feel a little pessimistic about that, but know in time it will work....
At age 11, I would not have imagined this… Although it is my imagination that is extraordinary at working things out…