marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)

So the assignments have been sent out, and a few days later, I have started working on an idea. I have 591 words of mostly accompanying fluff / character exposition. I love the character side of the plot already. The other side of the plot that should happen somewhere in between turns out to be a whodunnit, and will have to be a lot longer than that. I have only a vague idea about what it should actually revolve about.

It also requires research. Lots of research.


Inspiration is *insert expletive of your own choice*.

P.S. 1153 words in. More of the character plot. Only a teeny tiny bit more of the other plot.
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Dear Anonymous Writer,

I would like to thank you for participating this year, and apologise for having such a specific, un-taggable request.

You see, I've been craving more stories of the smaller nameless inhabitants of Narnia probably ever since I found out there was such a thing as fanfiction. One of those is the Robin in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: it plays such a vital role (I'm pretty sure it's the same little bird that saw Tumnus' capture, too), and yet it doesn't even get a name, and is never heard of again. Add to it the fact I've learned that the Czech Ornitology Society, which has been naming Birds of the Year since 1992, bestowed that honour on the European Robin this year... I really do want to read her story now.

Hers. You see, "robin" is default female in Czech. So the Robin of my childhood is female, and I would very much like it to remain that way.

I've just learned, thanks to the Bird of the Year article, that robins are pretty fierce fighters. Even the females.

The females look the same as the males, so that's easy.

I do not insist on the story concerning what happened in the Winter. It could very well be happening afterwards. I just really, really want her to have a name.

So. It can easily be a fluffy story without a plot if that's what you do better. It can involve other characters. I think I actually would like it very much to involve other characters, because there's so much scope that remains uncovered in most Narnian fanfiction. Are there talking Frogs? Newts? What are the songbirds up to? Do Dormice get along with Squirrels? Do Squirrels pay attention to the colours of their coats? (I bet they do.) Do other Narnians complain about the noise Hedgehogs make? Do Marmots emerge from their burrows hyperactive of a Spring, and get on the nerves of those who do not hibernate, or are they sleepy and disoriented? How did the hibernating species live through the Winter?!!!

How do these smaller Narnians get along with the bigger ones, and do they pay attention to what's happening in the Big Picture? Oh, let me rephrase that - what roles do they play in the Big Picture? Or maybe the other way round - can we see that even the Small Picture is important?
 

Thank you in advance for taking all this into consideration. And don't feel bad if inspiration strikes elsewhere. As I said, what I want most is the name. To make the Robin a person.
 

Good luck with your writing, and good luck in receiving the kind of story you crave!

Marmota

marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
On account of it's being Mother's Day, I've realised that I haven't posted anything about my mother here yet, which is a serious oversight.

Since I'm being rather picky in what I post on this blog, these reminiscences are also picky, but, well...

Me & mom are very different personalities, and she told me once, recently, that she had had absolutely no idea what to think of and do with my little imaginative self; that one year, when I was about three, there she was with tiny me walking next to her talking about something imaginary and being a complete stranger to her. But I think she did a pretty good job for a clueless person. ;-)

For one thing, mother was indeed the person I came to with my very first creative efforts: I asked her to draw my imaginary animals for me, and clueless or not, she did a splendid job before I could do for myself. The first one, apparently, I asked for at that age of three or four much in the same manner the Little Prince asked for his sheep; except mine wasn't an existing species and wasn't in a box. (The Little Prince is, incidentally, one of my mom's favourite books.)

She is the person responsible for the first Ransome book entering this household, and while I'm not entirely certain, I think also for the Narnia books. (She certainly gave me some of mine, the ones I got next after my older sisters' original concession of leaving Prince Caspian to me because there was an odd number of them.)
The first Ransome book to enter this household was The Coot Club. There is a Czech publishing house specialising in children's books, and each half-year or so, it would send catalogues of its new books to schools, where the children would order books through the school. Our parents were always quite supportive of this venture, so I think every time, each of us could pick up to three books or so? I do remember usually carrying more books home on the day the order arrived than most of my classmates did. Anyway, one time, there was The Coot Club in the offer, and mom convinced one of my older sisters that it was worth ordering. And she was right, of course. :-)

This goes hand in hand with mom later convincing us to listen to a radio programme for children when The Coot Club was on as a serial. We had tried listening to the programme before and pretty much hated it, but it turned out each week in the month was under the direction of someone else, and there was this man whose direction we loved; he had conversations with travellers and natural scientists and writers and all sorts of interesting people, and played music we liked, and adapted books we liked for radio plays (through which means we also discovered other books we liked). You never felt like he was talking down to you or talking about things adults think children will like: he simply talked about things he liked. (Heh, hello, Lewis' priceless thoughts on these matters.) So that was another huge, formative thing we can be thankful to mom for.

Every now and then, she has this curious ability of digging up or stumbling upon something that's just what I needed and didn't know I needed it. One year, she sent me off (with my agreement) to a weekend children's trip organised by her employer, which sounds potentially awful and was actually awesome. The person organising it was another such enthusiast who was good with children because he did what he enjoyed, and I went with them at least three more times, visiting beautiful places around this country I never would have otherwise learned of, and taking my friends with me a couple of times, too.

Mom read books to us in the evenings, and sang traditional folk songs to us, and cut Christmas cookies with us, and did other such wonderful and traditional mom things when we were little.

She likes flowers and gardening, so in a roundabout way (by planting them in the first place), she's responsible for my love of phloxes, the scent of which will forever be the scent of my childhood summers.

And she's the talkative one in the family, the one who'll strike up conversations with strangers; which is how I met my best friend at the age of three. That friend whom, these days, I won't see for months and when we meet again, we'll talk like only days or weeks have passed. How that happened I don't know, but obviously, I would not be that lucky without mom being a lot more outgoing than I am.

Her birthday's next week; sometimes, it would fall on Mother's Day, which, in a childhood logic, was only natural.
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)

It has emerged that I expect greater excellency in fanfiction than I do in (most) original works.

(As in, Marmota ponders stuff and comes to an explanation for her confusing intuitive thought processes.)

When stated that way, it's weird, and pretty unfair of me. But it's a fact. I go to fanfiction to have gaps filled and worldbuilding expanded upon and characterisation retained and deepened. And there are many times when fanfiction works like that; which however doesn't make my expectations any more fair. It amounts to expecting more of one's local amateur sportspeople than one would of the professionals. And I'm intentionally using this example because I think many fans of local amateur sportspeople probably unconsciously do.

Basically, I'm a fan of fandom, the way other people may be fans of TV shows or comic books or maybe book series. (Not individual books and films, that works differently, and is closer to what I enjoy as a fan in the simple sense.*) It makes me wonder how many other people approach it the same way, if maybe unconsciously (as I did). There must be more people feeling similarly; although I think the distinct possibility that a much greater majority of people probably doesn't (why should they?) goes a long way towards explaining why a lot of fanfiction falls short of my expectations. I should keep in mind that the fault is in my expectations, not the work itself.

...

Also, I feel like this is the sort of thought that could start a very interesting conversation on Tumblr. But there's no way I'm entering that cesspool myself. If you have and also think it could, feel free to share over there (but please let me know?).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* I always prefer works that are done and finished over ongoing, probably because any potential disappointment is also done and finished. And that's, um, unfair towards life. :P

marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
I've just had a thought. And maybe it's wrong and putting too much stock in Lewis and his wording (which is rather unfortunate), but what if that whole sentence actually goes to show that, look, they don't have to be only one or the other, Lucy isn't limited into either being a "lady" or "more like a boy" and Aravis can still enjoy talk of clothes with a likeminded woman?

It might stink of "Aravis arrives to her destination and instantly becomes more womanly", except that Lucy's been there for years, she's the queen of that place (well, the neighbouring place), and she's clearly both. So it's more like, Aravis arrives to her destination and finds out that, phew, it's okay to be the sort of woman she is.

Because, after all, knowing our characters we do know they aren't that one-dimensional. It's kind of like Jill who's heritage of Narnia is both taking up archery and keeping the fine clothes. Or, for that matter, Susan who's a womanly woman but also good at archery and swimming (just not in a battle context).

And maybe it's obvious, but I had to write it down. :-)

marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Also, in case you haven't noticed yet, there's a new Three Sentence Ficathon going on here. Thankfully, I remembered this sort of thing just in time to find this one still going on!
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)

This post started out as this title, because I found something I could not remember if I'd written.

Then, apparently, I deleted the whole body of the post because of reasons, and forgot about it. And now, months later, returning to this journal to let the world know I'm still alive, Dreamwidth asked if I wanted to restore the draft, so I said yes, because I was curious to know what it was I had been writing back then. And then proceeded to wonder what it was that I had found and wondered about, because at that moment, I could only remember as much, and pictured a paper but could not remember what would have been on it.

I've remembered it was actually a Word file in the short meantime. And even what it was about. It's just a single, creatively worded sentence about places in my country. I still don't know how I came by it. It doesn't sound like something written by me; for one thing, it uses the first person singular in the male form. It does, though, sound a bit like something written by one of my characters. If that's the case, I'm rather amazed at how well I'd stylised myself into that character. However, if that's the case, I have no idea why it isn't in the folder normally reserved for my own creations. It is, instead, in the one I might put things found elsewhere. Except that I have a separate Word file for those.

The mysteries of the creative process, times... how many is it even, by this point?


* * *


Spring is here, with the violets in the garden giving their best to their scent (mmmmm...), and, well, there's another challenge from the past for me; I need to move The Peridan Chronicles forward. The whole thing, after all, started when I was strongly reminded of Narnia in another spring after a long, cold, lonely winter. (If you caught the reference: sorry. I can't help myself.)

I have ideas, but I'm still not sure they're going to give me a coherent chapter to follow immediately after the last published one anytime soon. I also have ideas for later in the story: that still seems to be my main problem at the moment.

Easter was great for ideas, though. Ahem.


* * *


One of the big Real Life news I feel safe to share is that I've been to an Easter concert at the Latvian embassy in Prague. Now that's something that doesn't happen to one every year. The Latvian embassy, my sister says, is the best out of the three Baltic ones at making nice, friendly events. I have no point of reference, but as my first personal glimpse into international diplomacy, it was certainly very, very nice; not something I imagine happens everywhere, either. In Narnian terms (because this is still a fanfiction writer's journal), Narnia and Archenland? Except that in this comparison, I can't imagine either of the countries in question quite exactly as either of the countries in question.

Also, I'm getting a bit of a Real Life insight into tailoring, thanks to friends, so... in the realm of fanfiction, I guess that means more Rogin and his craft of choice in the future?

Fingers crossed.

* * *

My contemplative bunny below is still thinking of carrots. Not very imaginative, this bunny. The worst part is that hän makes me think of carrots, too. That's the Finnish third person singular pronoun, no gender need apply because Finnish. I felt finnicky about either of the English pronoun options in that sentence, so Finnish it is. And carrot for supper; there's still one left in the fridge.

marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
The author of many, many popular Czech children's books, animated shorts screenplays etc. (Responsible e.g. for these two.) Taken from the current issue of Týdeník Rozhlas, the Czech Radio's weekly (and one of the best Czech magazines on offer, IMHO). Where it's taken from a 2001 radio programme.

"It makes me happy when I can sit down and write something. Writing does not have to be hard work, when you are well prepared. It's the same way with everything. I don't mean, in this case, the immediate preparation, figuring out what one wants to write and how it will go, how it will end. The preparations reach deep, deep, and sometimes it happens against one's will. It's the will to read a lot, and to read good books. Because that's also a way to learn for a person who's to write something. And it's necessary not to live in seclusion, but to live with people, to live with children, to observe everything around oneself, to think about it. And all that slowly, slowly adds up and adds up, and then when there is an impulse that tells one to start writing, all this will jump to assist."

(translation mine)

marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Disclaimer: This duo has a fairly cavalier approach to wines. Which is definitely not the same as a connoisseur approach to wines.

* * *

I made pasta with bacon and tomatoes for lunch / dinner / you-know-the-main-meal-of-the-day-that-Czechs-have-at-noon.

Father (considering): There's a Müller opened... and a Neuburger unopened, but I'm saving that. Two Neuburgers.
Me: I think I'll really have the Müller.
(= Müller Thurgau, a dry white)
Father: It's Hungarian.
Me: It's Hungarian, but bottled in Velké Pavlovice. (...) You stopped it with a stopper from port!
Father: I couldn't push the cork back in, and the stopper from the port was just lying at hand.
Me: It doesn't even bother to say what it goes with...
Father (with conviction): Müller goes with everything.

* * *

Earlier this month:
Father (speaking of a Wikipedia article he'd already come across much earlier): Neuburger is... (blah, blah), the vine was fished out of the Danube in the 1860s. The centre of growing is in Austria, area of 652 ha. It is also grown in (blah, blah) and the Czech Republic, area of 795 ha...
Me (bursting out laughing): The centre of growing is the Czech Republic!

* * *

The lowdown: The varieties / types of wine most likely to be bought by Father are Riesling, Tokaji Furmint, Neuburger, and Müller Thurgau, probably in that order (except that Neuburger would be, without a shadow of doubt, bought much more often if it could much more often be stumbled upon). And port. With the exception of the latter and the very occasional South African red, it's all whites from Central Europe, leaning heavily towards the dry end of the spectrum.
I pretty much agree with that choice, although I also share my mother's taste for Sauvignon.
Basically, give me a dry or semi-dry white, please, and by all means, make it Central European.

marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Says a Czech proverb.
The little annoying and soul-searching experience from the previous post has just fed into the blasted transitional 19th chapter of The Peridan Chronicles that has been stalling my progress for over a year. Joy!
It's not finished yet, but it's much closer to finishing than it had been for over a year. I think you can expect it before Christmas. And the chapter after it soon after it, most likely, to make up for the long lack of updates to this story. Phew!

In other news, I've watched the Kenneth Brannagh / Emma Thompson version of Much Ado About Nothing, and enjoyed it very much, despite being distracted by the not-really-quite-accurate-for-any-time costumes (that's a trait of mine I'll always have to contend with, I fear) and the fact that I found the Dogberry scenes a bit lacking. In a funny way. Through being too much. I think he and his cohort are made more of a bunch of fools there than I find palatable in film form; it would probably work better on stage. Kenneth Brannagh and Emma Thompson are both a joy to watch, though.
There might be some correspondence between Shakespeare and my bout of Narnianish inspiration. It's certainly an idea that bears further exploration; I have yet to see Branagh's Henry V, which is a shortcoming I should correct as soon as possible.

Oh, and I've read, so far, about a tenth or so of Augustin's Confessions. It's a strange book. It reads weirdly, like he's approaching it all from an angle I cannot penetrate; like I would have had to live at his time to really understand what he's talking about and the issues he's wrestling with and the angle he's going at it from. Or like he has a sort of thinking personality that's very foreign to me. But at the same time, in retrospect, I find that he addresses very timeless issues, which probably accounts for the timeless appeal of the book. Like the ways we relate to fiction and live through the tragedies of fictional characters. Which he disapproves of, I think, on the basis of the pagan-based theatre at his time being immoral. I wonder what he would have made of something like Shakespeare? (Shakespeare can be such a contrary animal.) And the claim Sienkiewicz makes in Quo Vadis via Paul to Petronius that informed Christian art would reach new heights? (I think of Gothic architecture and Tolkien and Lewis and stuff and find myself in tentative agreement with Sienkiewicz.) And fanfiction! He would be horrified at the majority of it.
The way he dismisses fiction, he reminds me of a man I had a conversation with once in the street, over a book of Chesterton's short stories he found in a trash can. (He dismissed it and I snatched it up afterwards. Ha!) I still haven't figured out how to make the case for fiction since then, but I think I believe in it even more strongly now. It's an interesting experience to disagree with such a hallowed book.

It's an interesting experience for me as a Czech Protestant who's fairly recently read some texts that are kind of the basis of Czech Protestantism and found myself so much in agreement with them that they were almost... superfluous to me? My sister reported the same experience with such texts; either they are so much the basis of what we grew up in that that happens, or - or it's pretty chilling to think just how bad the Catholic church of the time must have been for them to be necessary.
I think I should read more old texts like that to figure out just how much of my thinking is present there and how much isn't, and why. It's quite illuminating to see what changes with time and place and personality, and what remains constant.

And of course, there's still things one can learn from them.

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