Friday, April 16, 2010

The Origin Story

Stephanie Thornton asked what got my writing about Adam and Eve, and the Classical Mythology of the Greeks, and I promised her a post answering, so this is it!

 It began with "what if it was all true?" and it wasn't limited at all to mythology. In my mind, whole worlds and universes opened up-- what if writers had this ability to see beyond the usual limits, and their stories of fiction were more like journals of observation? I had always toyed with this idea in my head, thinking of my favorite book series, my favorite characters, as old friends as a really little kid. Living, breathing people who lived elsewhere. I wanted a way to bring them all into balance-- even from as early as 1996, I was writing on this topic, while I was in middle school. I still have the "book" that started it all in a gray binder, in a pink crate, sitting in my bedroom right now. (It is terrible.)

She wasn't Eve at first. At first she was just a woman, reincarnated. A girl, even. She had been separated from her family at birth somehow. (There may have been cosmic rays and crazy sci fi tech involved. I distinctly recall something about her being stolen from the womb, and exchanged with another baby still in the womb.) But I knew even then that getting the permission to play in other peoples' sandboxes would be nightmarish, so I could never write about a girl who lived and traveled between the worlds of fiction, like I had dreamed about--of if I did, it could never be published. There was a force of evil trying to keep her away from her family, punish her and them with unhappiness, and she was struggling to get back home to them. And in my mind, she was always part of a set of twins. From the very beginning, she had two twin brothers-- the one who was her real brother, pre-crazy-baby-stealing-device, and the one who was her birth brother, post-crazy-baby-stealing-device. I wrote a lot of pages of garbage with this idea, and I was really too young to know what I was doing with it, but it never left my mind.

And then the first scene came, upon which I built everything else. I was, of course, in the shower. Where all the best thinking happens for writers! I remember that first scene which came to me, and the premise behind it in my mind, almost exactly. It was the first time that this woman really became rooted in one world, where she began to take shape as Eve. A woman who was reborn through the generations on earth, who had been reborn more than once to the same family, who could recognize her, who knew her history. This scene has been preserved in essence and emotion and is still in my book today. I cut out the idea that she had been crazy-baby-stolen, and that the man she was about to marry was somehow her brother. But she still had a brother, and there was still a threat.

The thing is, I don't really remember when I first realized that she WAS Eve. So I can't really explain how I got there. I just knew, and now it seems impossible that she was ever anyone else. But once I rooted her into the "real" world, Eve seemed like the most logical choice. If there was a woman who was special, who kept reliving life, who kept coming back again and again, who else could it be? How else could it happen? Explaining how a regular human was doing it would be difficult. Why are they living and being reborn and no one else is? Why not just begin at the beginning? If she was being reborn over and over again, shouldn't it have started at creation?

So I did. It was the only reasonable solution to me. And Eve and Adam began their journey--the journey of antagonizing one another for all of history. As for the gods, well, they were late in coming to the game. I've said before that Thor showed up late, and I couldn't get rid of him. With Thor came every other pantheon. The Olympian gods and the Egyptian, the Hindus, the gods of civilizations I did not even know. Because if one god, other than God was real, it only seemed logical that the rest were there too, moving around behind the scenes. The idea captivated me, of course, for reasons I discussed here. When I rewrote the book, I realized just how much influence they had. Eve and Adam themselves did not explain everything.

As far as working with the Greek myths, it began kind of on a whim. I wanted to write a book about Eve in one of her lives, and I wanted it to be something that wouldn't be boring. Some of her lives are, you know, just boring and normal. I already knew that she was Helen of Troy, so that life seemed like the most action-packed life to begin with. But then I got to really know Helen for herself, and Theseus and Menelaus for who they were-- and I was pretty much hooked.

So, I think that is the answer of how I started writing on these topics-- or at least it's the best answer I can give! Hope I didn't bore you all! :) If you guys want, I can post the scene that started it all, but I thought this post was getting pretty long already so I left it out! Let me know! And hey-- what's your origin story?

24 comments:

  1. I found this fascinating. My stories also have a tendency to evolve a lot over time. It's fun to look back and try to untangle the knotted cord of ideas that lead to the outlet of inspiration. There's rarely an "ah-hah" moment, since ideas tend not to be bombastic explosions. They're more nebulous and ephemeral than that.

    Thanks for sharing. @lil_monmon

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  2. Thanks for reading and commenting! I hadn't really considered the trail until Stephanie asked, but I'm glad I put it down on paper, so to speak :)

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  3. It's so funny (in a cool non-ha ha way) and fascinating how these little ideas germinate in our minds, sometimes for years, and then they grow into these wonderful unique stories that we then have to get on the page.

    Thanks for sharing some insight, Amalia. It's a great inspiration. Have a great weekend!

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  4. Yeah-- it is odd to think that we prod at these same themes and elements, arranging and rearranging them in the backs of our minds for years before they end up as a real story! Thanks for comments! Have a great weekend, yourself!

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  5. This is wonderful Amalia! I get my best ideas in bubble baths! lol

    Have a fantastic weekend!

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  6. I think someone needs to invent a waterproof pen and paper for writers to suction cup to the shower wall! :)

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  7. Eden garden sex?
    The lyrics stink.
    But the scandal's about evidence.
    So forget about lyrics that stink.

    www.TheFirstScandal.blogspot.com

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  8. Ohhh.. a waterproof pen and paper for the shower would be EXCELLENT!

    Isn't it strange having to remember how and why we started writing something. I just dusted off an old scene I scrapped a while back and wondered where the heck it came from.

    Have a fabulous weekend!

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  9. Stephanie: Those are the best scenes to find! And I totally agree-- the only thing better than a waterproof pen would be a waterproof type pad or something so you don't have to transcribe ideas from paper to computer later.

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  10. wow! fascinating!! it's always so interesting to see how these things begin. love your story!

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  11. Tahereh: Thanks! And thanks for stopping by, also!

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  12. I totally have been working on mine for about the same amount of time--in fact, I think we started the same year! :) And yes, it's totally different.

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  13. Sarah: one more reason we work so well together, perhaps!

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  14. The story I'm writing originated from a 15-minute conversation in 1996 with a woman I'd never met and will probably never see again. She told me something I could never forget. Within weeks two characters had walked into my head, to be followed gradually by the rest. It took me 14 years to process the "what-if?" emotions her story had provoked, but now I'm writing it.

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  15. Jane: Wow! That's a neat story. It sounds like 1996 was a pretty big year for creative ideas popping in!

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  16. My novel originated partially with my frustration at the way Disney treated Faeries. In the original Irish mythology they're not benevolent wee critters with dragonfly wings. The other impetus was the glut of vampires and werewolves on the market; I wanted to write about something else kicking butt in the modern day, and a Druid allowed me to do that while also bringing back much of the old Irish mythos.

    Your concept sounds fascinating!

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  17. Kevin: There is nothing like watching someone else mess up a story/concept to inspire me to do it better myself. It is definitely a great motivator! And your books definitely sound interesting and different from everything else out there, right now!

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  18. That's an interesting evolution!

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  19. Gary: I never realized until today how twisted and convoluted it was!

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  20. Fascinating and circuitous. Amazes me how you started with the germ of a story and it grew, evolved and melded with other stories and eventually became something unique and overarching.

    Adam and Eve antagonizing each other for all time guarantees eternal conflict. What more could a writer ask for? :)

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  21. I remember where I was when I first really became involved with Eve and your story. Now I'm hopelessly addicted.

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  22. VR: Yes, indeed!

    Sqrt(D): Really? You will have to tell me about where you were!

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  23. Wow, thanks for sharing that!

    I love hearing how stories evolve in a person's mind and this story sounds so very interesting!

    :~D

    p.s. Ideas in the shower FTW! Although my best ones come right before I fall asleep. I have an evil evil muse, she likes bothering me ;~)

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  24. Mia: I definitely have been unable to sleep because of ideas that attack! Usually I end up getting up and going back to writing, just to make life easier. haha.

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