Clarion Write-a-Thon 2012: Days 11 and 12

Scenes: 5.5
Words: 6,777

Half of a scene that had disappeared, only to reappear. It’s an inherently unstable scene, one that can develop in a lot of ways, and its outcome changes the story completely each time.

And now I need to come to a decision.

Do I continue with writing Tunngavik as a far future South Baffin culture city set in our world?

Or… do I scrap that entirely and build a world from scratch with its own peoples and histories and languages and geographies and animals and even science?

I think it comes down to these two things:

  • If I’m honest with myself, I was using Inuit culture as a short-cut into my own imagination, because the various tales of Sedna were tantalizing. Key word: using. More to the point, short-cut. This will not end well.

  • I want various things that are not part of Inuit culture. It would be wrong to strong-arm said things into the narrative and remold the culture into something that wouldn’t be recognizable. For instance, there’s a hierarchy of spirits and supernatural creatures cropping up in my story that is not a feature of Inuit mythology. I am not about to twist the real thing to follow my own tropes and claim the result is a natural progression into the future. That’s just… yurgh.

I think that a lot of what’s termed mythopoeic literature falls on two sides of the fence:

  1. Taking what’s there and running with it faithfully.
  2. Twisting what’s there under the myopia of your own cultural lens.

The second one is what, I think, most writers tend to do. It’s certainly what leads to a higher sense of pleasure for most readers: you get a taste of something different, but blended with something familiar. It is what English curry is to Indian dishes.

Of course, I understand that I can run into a lotta fail even if I take the “everything from scratch” approach. Cultural stereotypes live in the subconscious, and if there’s anything that writing is really good at, it’s diving down and grabbing the little swimmy things that live there… and bringing back whatever it finds.

It’s not always pretty.