Friday, September 14, 2012


Between this post and the previous, this blog hit 5,000 views.

Once upon a time, I wrote a story. Well, truly that would be something like several thosandce or millionce upon a time, but I finished this one, which takes it down by a few orders of magnitude.

Specifically, I wrote this story--a mash-up of Stardust and Thor--while on an exceptionally long pair of plane rides and a layover when I should probably have been doing homework. I was flying back from a visit to Oberlin, and now I am beginning school here, and should probably be doing homework. Symmetry!

Below the story are several comments, all of which I appreciated. One word, however, surprised me. The word was, "Gaiman-y". I'm sure the commenter thought that I had been trying to emulate Neil Gaiman's style, as he had written Stardust, and so I took the comment for the compliment it was. I appreciated it beyond that because I admired Neil Gaiman's style. But, since A)  I like to think I have a style of my own, B) Neil Gaiman can change style quite a lot between his books when it strikes his fancy, and C) I had never read Stardust, only seen the movie, the fact that someone thought I had mimicked his style struck me as odd. So, as one does when someone makes a comment I do not understand, I reread the story.

Oh, I thought. It's a fairy tale.

Which, in a way, it wasn't at all. Fairy tales are supposed to come from aural tradition, and have specific rules which I bent and skipped around every which way. But, in another more important way, of course it was. I was taking the stories of my culture, the world I knew, and putting them together in the fairy tale format. The fact that I happened to be adding together a movie based on a series of comic books based on a mythology and a movie based on a fairy-tale-ish book and then pushing those through the oddity that is my mind didn't matter terribly much. Or rather, it did.

Fairy tales are retellings. Even fairy tales like Hans Christian Anderson use the stories we grew up with, the rhythms and patterns we have in the back of our mind that tell us what should happen next. I used the patterns in the readers' minds, and used a few cues to tell them which headcanons I was accepting, and which I was tossing aside. There's no more obvious way to introduce an AU than describing canon and then saying, But that's not this story, and if there was a more obvious way to establish that I was trying to keep their personalities functionally the same, I did not know it. Having reread the story and thought, I reread the comment and smiled.

And that, dear children, is the story of how the most perplexing comment became my favorite.

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