In case you're reading this, but don't pay attention to anything else on the internet anywhere, you may have missed this. Yesterday, the CDC (Center for Disease Control), released its plans of how it would handle a zombie epidemic. The announcement went viral. Their website crashed from the onslaught of traffic. There's some sort of irony in there, I'm sure of it. Viral + CDC = ....
Anyway...So not my point today. Thank you to everyone who had thoughts about yesterday's post and how it related to the day before. You've made two things very clear to me:
- This community really is as amazing and supportive as everyone boasts about
- I possibly spend too much time on back story and world building in my blog posts and need to learn how to make that translate to my fiction which is almost always lacking exactly that (and some day I'll go back and write a post about gender in writing that doesn't earn me some amazing feedback on my story ideas)
The entire discussion also got me thinking. One responder used the term 'Prior Art'. For any of us who read fiction, it's a concept we're familiar with (though I'm not sure it was used quite correctly, and kind of reminds me of the term 'social engineering' in that misuse happens frequently but the implied meaning serves my need today so I'm going with it). I bet most of us off the top of our head can name at least a handful of books or movies based on a Shakespeare or Jane Austen story. Not just those that mimic the original, but those that re-imagine it.
Let's see...of the top of my head...
- Ten Things I Hate About You
- West Side Story
- Throne of Blood
Anne Rice and Stephanie Meyer weren't the first people to create the sexy, seductive vampire. If you've ever read Bram Stoker's Dracula, you know what I'm talking about. Then again, Ms. Meyer gets a lot of flack for her reinterpretation of vampires. Just like people loathe Disney for their HEA versions of fairy tales.
And religious sects argue on a daily basis over how their holy books should be interpreted, translated, read, lived. Just like there are mythological purists out there who balk at any incorrect display of the ancient gods. Did any of us actually know Zeus? And if not, how can we say with conviction that he's an entirely separate entity from Odin? We don't know the people who wrote those stories. Maybe it was just a difference of opinion, or handed down differently over generations.
I don't fault anyone those opinions. However, I do think that as creative people, we should be open to creative exploration. Have you ever taken a trip to the grocery store, or read a news article, or attended a party, and been inspired by the events? Inspired enough to write a story, either fiction or non-fiction?
Do you tell everything exactly as you saw it happen? Well, no, not quite. Right? You embellish those points that add drama, you leave off those that don't progress the tale, you fold, modify, and re-examine the event to pull a story out that conveys the same concept, but isn't exactly the same event. It's possible that brothers in real life become best friends in your story because you need that relationship to help things make more sense.
And we do the same thing with the stories we grew up with. We re-examine them. We keep the concepts we think are important, and shift other ideas surrounding it to make a logical story. We write stories about ninja who aren't actually ninja, but rather, mercenaries for hire who only take the 'good' jobs. Or assassins who have no moral qualms about killing, but still only manage to assassinate those people who would threaten our freedom. Or superheroes who have sworn to protect innocent lives and deliver justice who do so by tossing villains in jail for a couple of months until a legal technicality lets them out on the street to wreak havoc again.
We suspend disbelief long enough to enjoy some of these stories. We toss aside prejudice and preconceived notion for the entertainment value of fiction. So why are we only willing to do it in some cases? What makes it okay for us to write or read stories about angels who defy their very nature of true knowledge and loyalty to God by seeking to strike down his chosen on Earth, but not for us to say Michael and Lucifer are drinking buddies? Why do we accept that Heracles actually went to hell...excuse me...hades and back, but not that he might still be alive today walking the beat in New York?
Why is it okay to imagine Moses looked like Charlton Heston, but not that Metatron might be a petite brunette who loves her tank tops and is waiting tables in Atlanta?
What is it that makes us draw the line when it comes to creative license? I'm not asking how to overcome it. I don't think that's possible on a wide-spread scale. I'm just trying to understand the psychology behind it all.