Following fairytale tropes or not | #87
Plus: The inner game, this week challenge
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This week challenge
To start fresh and get back to the routine of creating and writing next year, there would be a creative or writing challenge every other week. The first 5 challenges are going to be sent to you in the coming weeks in 2023. The remaining would be sent to paying subscribers for the rest of the year.
I would feature some of you in the letters. Just hit reply and send me what you are writing or creating with my challenge.
This week challenge:
The inner game read The Inner Game of Tennis and it is right up my alley. If you are looking to become a creator, his newsletter might be what you need. His book The Pathless Path is available if you are trying or have already left the default 9-5 career path.
At McKinsey I remember being surprised when a manager ignored several minor mistakes I made on a document in my first year. Up to that point in my life every authority figure and institution was organized around the idea that the goal of life is to do perfect work and to avoid mistakes. But here I was at McKinsey, where the expectations were much, much higher than any place I had been before. It turns out that if you are aiming high, you really don’t have time for small mistakes like spelling errors and formatting. They get figured out through iteration and self-awareness. When I started realizing I was making the mistakes, it was easy to fix them in the flow of deeper work because no one had labeled it as bad in the first place. I was learning to take ownership over my work, something that has served me well working on my own.
Gallwey argues this is a secret, hidden in plain sight:
What I have tried to illustrate is that there is a natural learning process which operates within everyone - if it is allowed to. This process is waiting to be discovered by all those who do not know of its existence…To discover this natural learning process, it is necessary to let go of the old process of correcting faults, that is, it is necessary to let go of judgements and see what happens.
Stories that receive the best reactions
To get a piece of writing to live, you have to be in relation to it in a way that leaves it slightly beyond you. You’re flailing, you’re trying everything, you’re grasping at straws, you’re following a trail, you’re achieving unintended results, sometimes you’re going beyond the limit of your talent, other times you’re avoiding things that you know you can’t do well, and so on.
I don’t mean that the story is beyond your control – we are, ultimately, responsible for every punctuation mark, and when we send something out, we are essentially saying “I approve this message” – but there are elements in our most powerful work that require us to approach the writing with a kind of disciplined abandon, that makes the result comes out a little crazily – misshapen, partial, wild, not in a linear relation to reality; out of sync, somehow, with our “real” selves; imperfect, in other words.
Saunders argued that the best reactions we, as fiction writers or poets, can get is have readers stunned and left speechless after they finish reading the book. It is similar to what a great film does. Most of the great films I love left me thinking about the ending and the message the screenwriter wanted to convey.
Fairytale or not argued if we should follow the writing advice that fairytale stories suggest.
These six essential qualities of fairy tales stand out first because they, as said, go against all the standard advice of both contemporary literary fiction and SFF writing. We’re told to be specific in our settings, logical in our worldbuilding, and to probe the psychological depths of our characters. That advice works wonders for many types of stories. But the qualities of fairy tales allow for different types of stories and different effects. Fairy tales in their abstractness, artifice, and flatness allow stories to operate on different planes.
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