28 November 2010
Day 246: The Tales of Beedle the Bard
So there's two more days left to NaNoWriMo for most people, and I think now would be a good time to tell you what I've been up to. For the past 9 days: nothing. I finished NaNoWriMo on the 19th. These are the things you can do when you don't have a job, classes, or a family. Why am I writing about this for The Tale of Beedle the Bard? Well... the purpose of Rowling's stories and what I was writing for NaNoWriMo are somewhat similar. I think I'll let you infer where Rowling is concerned, because I like to think my audience is full of fairly intelligent people.
So I decided to do NaNoWriMo maybe five days before it actually started. I knew there was no possible way I could come up with a coherent idea that I could write 50,000 words about in thirty days without it needing far more editing than I would want to put into it. The novel from 6 years ago is still sitting around on my hard drive somewhere, and I haven't touched it since November 30, 2004. And after that long I have no interest in working on that novel and have pretty much concluded that it's unsalvageable. On the other hand, my Rupert the Magical Pony stories seem to be a hit with the 20-30 somethings, as well as adults more in touch with their inner childishness. I would like to tell you why I started telling these stories and what they mean to me.
Once upon a time, there was a magical pony. He was a lonely magical pony, because he didn't have a name, and didn't know he was a magical pony because he was lost in the ether. Then one day, someone began to tell a story, and the magical pony had a shape and a name, and his name was Rupert the magical pony... Okay, no that's too silly.
So I was in bed with my fiance trying to get to sleep and I started telling this story. I had previously asked Danny to tell me stories to keep him from talking about really boring things while I was driving or doing whatever it is where he's just sitting there while I'm doing something else.* Strangely this got me to thinking about what stories I would tell if put in the same situation. I've always somewhat liked the name Rupert and the idea of pairing it with something entirely opposite of its otherwise dignified connotations. Thus my first character was born. Although Rupert stories are entirely silly and irreverent, I do think they have something to teach us.
All of Rupert's problems are usually his own fault, typically because he doesn't listen to his friends when they tell him something is a bad idea, or because he makes fairly obvious bad decisions about his safety and/or trusting strangers. We'll take the two published stories as examples. In Rupert the Magical Pony Meets a Spacemonaut, Rupert's downfall is in assuming that what is good for one creature is also good for him and being too eager to accept a gift. I would like to think that most of us would hesitate if an alien race landed in our city and offered us a drink as a gift. I don't know about you, but I'd have some questions about how similar our physiologies are, and what the chemical properties of the drink might be. No matter how well-meaning the alien, it doesn't mean they can't offer something that you really ought not to accept. I think that's true with friends as well. In Rupert the Magical Pony and the Pirate Adventures, Rupert makes the mistake of assuming that his rescuer won't hurt him. One could easily compare it with the philosophical tale about the frog and the scorpion, which would be apt since there is definitely a bit of influence there.
During NaNoWriMo, Rupert put himself through some much more interesting and terrible situations in order to demonstrate some pretty important lessons that ought to be common sense. Due to the nature of these stories I have labeled them Adult Cautionary Tales. This label appeals to me, because while Rupert stories are certainly not suitable for children, they have a sense of humor and a simplicity that are purposely in line with more childlike sensibilities. These are stories that don't take themselves seriously, because we hope that the lessons they contain have already been learned by the people they're being told to.
Maybe you think they're stupid, and you're probably right. They are a bit stupid, but they're fun, and they're harmless, and I wrote some amazing stories that I dare you not to laugh at. I hope to soon have such gems as Rupert the Magical Pony's Exorcism, Rupert the Magical Pony and the Seagull Grass, and Rupert the Magical Pony Practices His Magical Pony Curses available for public consumption soon. In the meantime, I need to get back to my reading and editing.
*Ed Note: I do not talk about boring things.
I liked this rather succinct review from The Book Nest.