Mythology with Erin

Adventures in storytelling

Tag: Week 10

Famous Last Words: Where’s the Cat?

It’s the last week of October! That means it’s almost November, and November is always one of my favorite months. It’s been a good October, which is unusual. October is usually the April of the fall semester: insane. The weather has been crazy, football has been crazy, and school has been crazy, but I survived it all pretty easily.

I had almost nothing to do for school this past week, which meant that when I wasn’t in class, I was in my room reading with my window open, enjoying the fresh air. Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas came out this week, and I got my copy! It’s the last book in the Throne of Glass series, which has been one of my favorites and a huge inspiration for my writing. I thought the yellow cover was going to look bad, but it’s absolutely beautiful in person. I’ve been reading this series since middle school, and I clearly remembering looking up the projected release dates for the 7-book series and thinking “Wow, I’m going to be a sophomore in college before this is over.” It’s crazy that it’s actually happened!

I haven’t gotten to read a single word of it yet because I’m trying to reread the whole series as a refresher. Right now I’m at the beginning of book 4, so it might be a week or so before I get to KoA. Luckily this next weekend, I’ll have a five hour bus ride to Lubbock for the Texas Tech game to read on!

The K-State game yesterday was fun. I despise homecoming parades, but it wasn’t so bad this year. We were worried it was going to be hot again, and we wore our red uniforms, which are hotter than the white ones. However, despite the cloudless sky, it was pretty mild once we got into the stands! The band danced to Thriller at halftime, which was awesome! Check out the performance below. Thriller starts at about 6:55.

The title of today’s post comes from a funny incident at the game. K-State has a stuffed bobcat that they display on their sideline. We all noticed it and had a good laugh at the strange prop, and the stadium cameras zoomed in on it. Five minutes later, the cat was gone, much to the amusement of the student section, who wrote “Where’s the cat? Spooky,” on a whiteboard after the cat went missing. Did K-State just get embarrassed at the attention? Or did a sneaky student manage to filch the taxidermied wildcat? 

I’m trying to put the brakes on in this class a little bit (she said while writing up a bonus assignment) because I’m in no rush, and I definitely want to finish my Storybook project before I’m done with the class. I’ll probably hit my point goal early but stick around long enough to wrap up the project. I’ll definitely be done by Thanksgiving Break, though, and it will be nice to have a class out of the way before finals season!

Next week: Texas Tech Red Raiders at 7:00 p.m. I love pep band away trips! Hopefully we’ll get to see them through tortillas on the field…

Image 1: Stuffed bobcat at Shenandoah River State Park. Source – Flickr.

Image 2: Kingdom of Ash hardcover by Sarah J. Maas. Source – my personal photos.

Week 10 Story Lab: Advice to Writers

Neil Gaiman’s 8 Good Writing Practices:

“Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.” 

Neil Gaiman

This is an especially tough one because it’s easy to get bogged down in the middle of a story, start a new and exciting project, and then leave the old one undone.

I love number 8:

“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (that may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”

Neil Gaiman

Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling:

I love Pixar’s tips! Their stories are always so fantastic, and these tips are great for aspiring writers.

#5: Simplify; I love simplifying my work because I tend to make it too complicated in the beginning. I definitely combine characters often.

#7 Endings are really hard. I’m still uncertain about the ending of the novel I’ve been working on for 6 years/

#9 This is great advice for throwing in something unexpected!

#12 This is how we learned to brainstorm in my Destination Imagination club. We would throw out ideas and write each one down, but we’d force ourselves to keep going for a long time to come up with more creative, less obvious plans.

#17 is the reason I have a giant Word file on my computer labelled “Archived Scraps” that hasn’t been opened in years.

#20 I’m a big proponent of writing what you want to read. The first entry in my first writer’s journal is a list of things that I like to read about or find in stories like “Time travel, dreams, secret sanctums, witty banter, goofy friends, superpowers, sacrifice, sword fights, and monologues.”

John Grisham’s Do’s and Don’ts for Popular Fiction:

Write every day—This is pretty good advice but hard to follow. I tend to believe that as long as you’re writing something, even if it’s a journal or blog and not your actual Work-in-Progress, you’ll get better at writing.

I don’t like his advice about a thesaurus. I think a thesaurus is a useful tool, as long as you don’t go digging for the most obscure words possible. But vocabulary should be varied and vivid, and using a thesaurus helps with that.

Nanowrimo

I also took some time with this story lab to set up my November writing project. I’m really excited about it, and one thing I’m trying to do with my writing this year is not keeping it to myself. I can be very protective of my work to the point of being secretive, and I don’t think that’s healthy for my writing or for my ability to deal with feedback. So here’s a novel aesthetic that I created with Canva! The (current) title of the novel is Compass Point.

Image 1: Open, blank journal. Source – Pixnio.

Image 2: Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling. Source – Hello You Creatives

Image 3: Compass Point aesthetic. Source – Made on Canva.

Week 10 Reading Notes: Blackfeet Stories, Part B

The Smart Woman Chief:

WHOA. This story starts really sexist and then has a total twist ending where the women make the men look like complete fools. 

I hereby propose that we solve all our problems by turning the perpetrators into pine trees. There would be fewer annoying people AND more forests.

Bobcat and Birch Tree:

Judging from this and the previous story, Old Man is really foolish and kind of a jerk, especially when he kills all of the prairie dogs. It’s interesting that his persona is also tied to the Blackfeet creator god, which is usually a wise and benevolent character.

Kut-O-Yis, The Blood Boy:

Kut-o-yis literally comes from the blood of a bison, which is one of the wildest origin stories I’ve ever heard. 

Respecting and helping elders must be a strong value to the Blackfeet since Kut-o-yis is born to help the old people overcome their cruel son-in-law.

Bears, like wolves, are also some of my favorite animals. We saw a few of them this summer, and the general opinion was do NOT mess with bears. They’re no friendly, and they have been known to cause trouble with humans. Obviously that Blackfeet share that opinion of the bears, as in this story, they are stealing human food.

It’s interesting that in all of these stories, there is a tyrant who is taking food from the people. Many times it is animals. I guess that represents the struggle that the Blackfeet may have had with nature.

“Kut-o-yis’ was glad to know that there was such a person, and he went to the mountains.” This is Kut-o-yis’s response to finding out that there is someone who may be able to kill him. The man is obviously a folk hero character with great skills and benevolence, but maybe that response is a sign that he’s also reckless and a bit arrogant, which are common flaws of heroic characters.

“The ground was white as snow with the bones of those who had died. There were bodies with flesh on them; some who had died not long before and some who were still living.” More scary images that might inspire my Halloween story. I wonder if bones and skeletons hold a special significance to the Blackfeet people as they seem to be a common motif in the more gruesome stories.

Kut-o-yis wants to visit “all the people.” There are several small groups within the overarching Blackfeet Nation, and I wonder if this is alluding to them being separate but unified under one language and culture. Since they share language, it makes sense that they would also share mythologies and legends, so maybe Kut-o-yis is a common figure in each group’s folklore.

“Now, really, this was what Kut-o-yis’ was looking for. This was what he was doing in the world, trying to kill off all the bad things.” What a heroic guy!

Bibliography:

Blackfeet Indian Stories by George Bird Grinnell (1915). Web source.

Image 1: Chief Mountain on the Blackfeet Reservation. Source – Wikipedia.

Image 2: Blackfeet warrior by Bodmer. Source – Wikipedia.

Image 3: Map of Blackfeet land and Glacier National Park. Source – Wikipedia.

Week 10 Reading Notes: Blackfeet Stories, Part A

I decided to read this unit this week because during the summer, I visited northwest Montana, which is where the Blackfeet people live. We were on their reservation for a brief time, and many areas of Glacier National Park are part of their history. I was especially inspired by the story of Running Eagle, a female warrior of the Blackfeet Nation from the 1800s. She’s similar to China’s Mulan or even Joan of Arc. We hiked to Running Eagle Falls and learned all about her importance to the nation.

Here is some more information about the Blackfeet Nation, as they are known in the United States: Wikipedia.

The Wolf Man:

Wolves are one of my favorite animals! The Blackfeet people characterize them as clever and strong and possessing of special powers. This legend is almost like a werewolf story, since the man is partially turned into a wolf. 

I wonder why the man chooses to turn his back on his people by stealing their food after the wolves save him. Was his anger at his wives extended to his entire tribe?

The Dog and the Root Digger:

“This happened long ago.” This opening sentence sounds like it may be another version of saying “Once upon a time.” It immediately engages the imaginations of the audience and the mystery of the upcoming story.

“In those days the people were hungry. No buffalo could be found, no antelope were seen on the prairie. Grass grew in the trails where the elk and the deer used to travel. There was not even a rabbit in the brush.” I love the short sentences used here. It sounds like someone is reading aloud, telling a story to a group of listeners.

What is a root digger? —After Googling, there doesn’t seem to be an animal that is regularly called a “root digger,” but I think I can safely assume that it’s some type of small rodent, like the ground squirrels we saw in Montana this summer or even a gopher.

“Soon after this the woman and her son went off to pick berries…” I wonder if they’re out picking huckleberries, which grow in the wild in Montana, where the Blackfeet are from!

The Camp of the Ghosts:

It’s interesting that the idea of journeying to the underworld is such a key part of so many mythologies. There’s one in the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, which I learned about in a Crash Course video. There are scads of them in Classical Greek mythology, from Orpheus to Cupid and Psyche, which I read for a unit. There was even one in Japanese mythology with their creator god and goddess! Humans seem to need to find ways to describe and explain death.

“If you should open them and look about you, you would die.” Serious Orpheus vibes.

“They will try to scare you; they will make fearful noises and you will see strange and terrible things, but do not be afraid.” I’m really looking for some material to help me write a scary Halloween story, so I hope these things really are frightening!

Ah, to the Blackfeet, the best way to overcome fear is by being “strong of heart” and resolute. 

It’s interesting that the ghost village has a similar structure as a human village: there is a chief and citizens. The ghosts can smell, and they seem to have the ability to talk and reason. They’re not just floating, scary zombie types.

There are a lot of rules in this task! He must keep his eyes shut, obey the ghosts, clean himself in a sweat-house.

“Not long after this, once in the night, this man told his wife to do something, and when she did not begin at once he picked up a brand from the fire and raised it — not that he intended to strike her with it, but he made as if he would — when all at once she vanished and was never seen again.” What an interesting ending to the story. Did the entire Blackfoot Nation have a stigma against domestic violence? Or was it commonplace and this story so happened to warn against it? Was it told or adapted by women? There’s a whole sociological conundrum in this one paragraph!

How the Thunder Pipe Came:

“Are you brave enough to enter the lodge of that dreadful person?” asked the Raven. “He lives near here. His lodge is of stone like this one, and hanging in it are eyes–the eyes of those he has killed or taken away. He has taken out their eyes and hung them in his lodge. Now then! Dare you enter there?” This sounds a lot like a haunted house!

Cold Maker’s Medicine:

This is some spooky stuff, similar to Hansel and Gretel. The old women is definitely reminiscent of a witch. She tricks Lone Feather into thinking she’s friendly and murders him.

It’s terrifying to hear what she does to Lone Feather’s body: she cuts it up, cooks it, and eats it. Then she throws his bones out, and there’s a huge pile of bones! How many people has this old woman killed?

“‘My bow is broken. I cannot,’ said Broken Bow sadly.” HA!

“Medicine” seems to be somewhat equivalent to magic because Cold Maker’s medicine allows him to stop the smoke and start a snowstorm.

Bibliography:

Blackfeet Indian Stories by George Bird Grinnell (1915). Web source.

Image 1: Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park. Source – Wikipedia.

Image 2: Running Eagle Falls, just east of Two Medicine Lake. Source – Personal photos

Image 3: A trailhead sign near Running Eagle Falls that tells about the Blackfoot warrior woman. Source – Personal photos

Image 4: A yawning wolf. Source – Wikipedia.

Image 5: A ground squirrel in Glacier National Park. Source – Wikipedia.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén