Monday, February 16, 2015
Monday Musings: Why Wither?
A little over a week ago, one of my fellow bloggers asked me if Wither had been inspired by a specific passage of Scripture. The answer, quite simply, is no. So what was my contribution to the Five Enchanted Roses collection really inspired by?
The answer to THAT question is...I honestly don't know!!
I don't think it was inspired by any one thing, but rather a whole list of rather unrelated things that came together to construct the story. This is rather a difficult post to write, without giving away too much of the plot, but I hope to try to answer this question about the origins of my story as best as possible, with plans of revisiting the topic after the collection's release later this summer. I should be very interested to know if what I "thought" I put into the story is what you readers actually get out of it.
The initial inspiration for Wither was the setting. I had already created the story world for After, which I wrote last year and have not yet published. After I wrote that first story, I realized I had a world which had so many more stories to tell, and that story world became The Neverway Chronicles, which tentatively involves four individual stories each based, quite loosely, around a fairy tale. While Wither is technically (and chronologically) the second story in the series, it will be the first to be published. It is a stand alone story, involving a different set of characters from the first story, but with a bit of foreshadowing into what came before and what will come after.
The plot for the story was, obviously, Beauty and the Beast. I tried to keep as many of the themes from the original fairy tale as I could while still allowing the story to be its own. There are several deviations, the most obvious being Bet herself, who is not the Father's youngest or most beautiful daughter. This deviation is quite important to the plot, but I cannot tell you why. Sorry.
The real heart of the story, however, is the Beast of Briarstone Abbey. In word count, I think Bet has more of a presence, but the story is certainly his. I decided to write the story in an alternating first person perspective, a technique I have been playing with for a couple of years now on another quite different project. My reason for doing this was because I needed to get into the Beast's head. It was his story I really needed to tell.
Every story I write, I write with a specific person in mind. Not that the story is ABOUT them but rather it is FOR them. Inspired by something they like, something they fear, something they've experienced, something they've taught me, etc. I wrote After for my brothers. For Wither, I set out to write the story for my husband...but the story became more for me than my husband. In our relationship, my husband was the one who fell in love first and waited a terrible, terrible long time for me to come around. That is certainly the heart of the Beauty and the Beast tale, but this particular tale became about my struggles and passions and fears rather than his. This story was also very strongly influenced by my Marmie, but I cannot tell you why. Not yet. Sorry. Again.
So what is the heart of the story, you are asking. What aspect of my own life became the driving force behind this tragic but hopeful tale? Quite simply, it is a trial of faith. Some of the people I used for my inspiration were Bible characters like Job and Peter and Moses. Each of these men was given a trial, and each responded in his own way. Some, like Job, remained faithful in spite of the overwhelming loss. Others, like Moses, took matters into their own hands and had to face the consequences this caused. And others still, like Peter, ended up doing the unthinkable when faced with a tragedy they did not understand. The Beast of Briarstone Abbey, sadly, is not a Job. He is a servant, tasked with an overwhelming duty, who buckles beneath the weight. When he realizes he cannot succeed on his own, he feels he has been forgotten. He takes matters into his hands.
On a lighter note, Wither is also a story about love. Not really romantic love, although there is a bit of that. It's about the love of family, the love of duty, the love of God. It's about the power of love. It's also about the dark forces that war against love--the forces of fear, and doubt and prejudice.
And, yes, it is a story of me. I have wondered at God's will for my life, asked painful questions and marveled at the answers I still cannot completely understand. The one thing I have learned, that I have not questioned, is that God IS there. That He does care. That I am not forgotten, even in difficult times.
Whether or not I understand is not important. That I have the faith to keep on believing in spite of my confusion is.
And, that, is the trial my Beast faces. He doesn't just face loneliness--although he is lonely. He does not just face despair--although he certainly despairs. He faces himself, the dark parts of his soul that do not understand, that ask painful questions and seek desperate answers.
He may be a Beast, but his heart is as human as mine.
And that is the heart of the tale.
Beginning next week, I plan on introducing a series of posts about some of the other, more tangible, things that influenced this story. If you enjoyed my Pinterest Board, I think you will enjoy this series of posts, too, as it will allow you to actually join me in my creative process.
See you next week!