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Dear Yulegoat

Posted on 2012.10.07 at 08:23
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Dear Author,

I really would prefer you to write the best story you can, and one you're happy with, rather than trying to do something that doesn't suit you to fit what I asked for - so please, please do bear in mind that optional details are optional. If you have the opposite problem, and wish I'd given you more or more explicit suggestions, I'm very sorry - I was trying not to be overly prescriptive.

Pu Songling - Liaozhai Zhiyi

I'm interested to see whatever you choose to make of this. Retell one of Pu Songling's stories or tell one of your own. Play around with language and allusions or concentrate on plot or on character. You could do something with the ever present fox spirits - they're viewed in such a range of ways, from meriting death through to the ambivalance of Cut Sleeve to Lotus Fragrance's role as admirable heroine. Or you could do something with the relation of dreams to reality, or the extent to which stories are a type of dream. You could look at Shican and Huang's relationship in Cut Sleeve - there's a lot of emotional ground at the end of that story the remains unexamined. Make your language as densely allusive or as simple as you please, your tone as light or as dramatic as you want. Gen, slash, het; light-hearted, bitingly satirical, restrained or sly or melancholy ... anything that strikes your fancy. (You can see my [community profile] fandom_of_one pitch here, which also has information on how to come by the text.)

When I first put up the [community profile] fandom_of_one pitch it was possible to nominate more individual stories - this year, being limited to nominating four, I tried to pick ones that gave the greatest scope both in terms of gen/het/slash/femslash/poly and of different story types and themes. In any case, I shall be delighted with anything at all, so you have my explicit permission here to take your inspiration from any story or stories you like, whether nominated or not, or to take your inspiration from the work as a whole, not based on any specific story.

Mythology - Near Eastern

I would, truly, be happy with anything. If you felt like using some of the forms of surviving literature, I would really love it - something all dialogue, a debate, a lament, a šir-gida ... But if that sort of thing doesn't appeal, how about anything at all with the lord of Aratta (proud and doomed - what's not to like there?). Or something with Ngeštin-ana's relationship with Dumuzi, or just Inana and Dumuzid generally. Or perhaps Ninlil and Enlil - can you come up with psychologically convincing account of their relationship? Or how Šarruma feels, torn between his father Tešub and father-in-law Illuyanka. Whether you want to go with a long, plot-driven story, or a character piece, or an atmospheric vignette (for which you can readily find material lending itself to everything from horror to humour, from eroticism to philosophical reflection), or whether I can persuade you to write me a lament or a šir-gida, I'm sure I shall be delighted. (Feel free to use just one of the requested characters, or indeed any other characters you feel you would prefer.)

This again is a request where I shall be happy with anything, whether it involves one of the nominated characters or not. I feel there should be more to say, but let's face it, I ask for this every year: some years I go overboard here and try to talk my writer into doing something with the transmission of stories between different cultures (eg Sumerian to Akkadian to us), or reassure them that in the unlikely event they want to wander off the well-beaten (or at least marginally used) track of Sumerian and Akkadian literature to something even more obscure they may; other years I try to encourage potential writers by pointing out that obscurity is not required, and I shall be equally pleased by Inanna's descent into the underworld or anything to do with Gilgamesh (Gilgamesh/Enkidu! Gilgamesh and mortality!). Basically, though, it all comes out as a long-winded way of telling you to do as you please.

N.B. Other people besides me have nominated this! Yay! But that means there are more nominated characters, and I found myself reluctant to request 'any' - despite being entirely happy with whatever story you wish to tell - because I was suffering a mental blank and just couldn't come up with some prompts for the other characters. Since I hate not getting any prompts at all, I didn't want to request characters where I had no idea what to ask for, but if you do have an idea for a story with any of the other nominated characters, well, see above re my being happy with any characters at all.

Chinese Mythology

I'd really like something dealing with Chang E's rise to the moon, or on her life there: the loss of mortality, immortality gazing down on a beautiful but transient world, the loneliness of the cold, white moon.

I guess this is the odd one out, in that I'm asking for something more specific here - I don't know, somehow Chang E is particularly appealing to me, perhaps because there's a number of different things you could do which I would like. There's the contrast between mortality and immortality - I'm not a huge fan of 'oh, naturally being mortal is really ever so much better' (any more than I am of related tropes such as 'we're better off without magic anyway' or 'mankind is not advanced enough for this knowledge') and frankly, if immortality were an option I'd be signing up for it right now, but it isn't, and since mortality is our common lot, immortality is a good mirror in which to examine it. (This is pretty much my favourite part of the Gilgamesh cycle too.) Then there's the doomed beauty of the transient world below, or the beauty that comes from constant change and loss. Then, purely as a matter of imagery, I love what can be done with the moon - it's associations with beauty but also with coldness - both perfection and otherworldliness, something to be admired but not touched. Or, you know, something completely different: I'd like something touching on these themes or that imagery, but if that just isn't you, I would undoubtedly be much happier with something you wanted to write that something forced that you didn't enjoy.

In General

Every year I include this list, which is my general one for all other-people-writing-fanfic-for-me occasions, and every year I have to include the disclaimer that it's of only limited applicability here since, as always, my Yuletide requests tend towards things where I am mostly interested in seeing how someone else transfigures the source material or in particular themes or imagery, so a list tailored to the sort of fic I normally go for in media fandom is maybe not entirely to the point, or necessarily very much use. However, here it is again anyway, just in case you find anything relevant in it.

Things I like (provided only as indicative of my taste, not as particular requirements of your story): established relationships, smart and competent characters, witty banter, slash, political intrigue, moral ambiguity, apparently simple conversations with a great deal going on under the surface, angst if done with restraint, difficult decisions with no right answer (I think I mentioned moral ambiguity?), metaphor, clever use of literary allusions, relationships where each party thinks the other has all the power. Endings can be happy, sad, ambiguous, or anywhere in between. Let's see, what else? Fierce loyalty (the tear the world apart for you variety, not the sit here passively putting up with anything variety), complicated love/hate relationships with lots of backstory, unflappable characters, arrogance if the party concerned has the requisite ability to back it up, committed partnerships between people who see the world at the same angle (even if they aren't always on the same side) ... Things I’d prefer you avoided: I’m not terribly keen on mpreg or stories told in the 2nd person, and I do have something of an embarrassment squick. Oh, all right, I also don't tend to like issuefic, but I'm not sure that's something people generally set out to write - one person's issuefic is another's searingly honest portrayal.

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