Sometimes the ideas don’t flow when I want to write a Blog. Every writer has writer’s block sometimes, I suppose… I had to learn to journal ideas to avoid being swamped with unworkable and forgotten ideas. Yet there is a heart of a story that when it comes is like an inner music forming its own harmony. There are characters, there are exotic places, and—though it is not the internal part I enjoy most—there is plot.
When I was little Grandma Alderson told me what I think of as a “simple” story: The Little Snow Girl; The Little Half-Chick; Cinderella (with three balls). These stories, I was sad to learn as an adult, were other people’s stories first. Yet they were stories she knew by heart before she told them to me. So they became her stories—and my stories.
Now when I say “simple” I do not mean simplistic like Daniel Steele’s stories. Grandma did not just go to her cupboard to get out formulas. It is not true that children’s stories—ancient (Aesop’s Fables or Cupid and Psyche); medieval (the stories that would become the Grimm fairy tales); and modern (The Tale of Despereaux). These stories, in their way, are as good as David Copperfield or The Overstory. Most people don’t see it that way because they do not have Grandma’s insight.
Children exist on different levels intellectually and emotionally than adults. I would be lying if I said that I have had as much luck selling my children’s or adolescent’s stories as my adult fiction… yet I know if Grandma had never told me orally the stories I listed, or read me the stories I later learned were edited by the Brothers Grimm (“Hansel and Gretel”; “Briar Rose”); written by Anderson (“The Ugly Duckling”; “The Little Mermaid”); compiled by Joseph Jacobs (“The Three Little Pigs”; “Jack and the Beanstalk”); Charles Perreault (“Cinderella” and “Donkey Skin”); or the female author (Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbet de Villeneuve) of that single gem (“Beauty and the Beast”).
The perverse truth of the Grimm Fairy Tales is that they compiled 2/3 of them from female tellers, though they tended to be of the Middle Class and not—as they pretended—peasants. However, the relative feminism of the Grimm tales for their day—when women were taught to read their Bibles but never taught how to write because it was believed there was no reason why women should write—appeals to something in me. I know many people reject the Grimm Brother’s “chauvinism,” but I believe this is misguided… Some day I shall write about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.