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Author Topic: Writing Your Own Myths  (Read 12608 times)

Tom

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2013, 11:41:16 am »
Quote from: Altair;101294
A few of us on this board, it turns out, write original myths. Not re-tellings of existing myths, and not so much myths for a fantasy world conceived as part of a work of fiction, but myths for the here and now.

(Or maybe these other categories of myth should also be examined here? Chime in.)


Okay, I actually was kinda iffy on contributing because of your narrow definition here. What I write primarily would be considered "myths for a fantasy world conceived as part of a work of fiction", though I would also consider them myths for the here and now. The story I'm currently working on is a fictional story that takes place in a fantastical world that isn't exactly ours, but it also uses elements from Russian folklore and has characters that have equivalents in already preexisting stories, including modern novels.

This story and the act of writing it still has a significant impact on figuring out spirituality, the way one interacts with spirits, working on magical theory (even some of the visualizations I use are inspired by the fiction I read - Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic books come to mind).

Perhaps this is because when I first started doing world-building type stuff in elementary school, I remember most of my focus being on the gods of whatever culture. I was inspired by preexisting mythology to be honest. I was fascinated by mythology as a child, so it was easy for me to conceive of worlds populated by multiple gods and I was able to even find truths within the mythology of worlds other than this one. Writing the mythology for fictional cultures helped me figure out how religion and spirituality worked to be honest.

Quote
1. Why do you write them? What do you hope to get out of it?


I think I answered this pretty much already in my above paragraphs.

Quote
2. How can you "trust" them? Do you think they can have the same validity as established myth?


I don't really care if others see them as valid, so I can't really say if they have the same quality as established myth, but they contain important truths for me. If others can find truths in my stories, then that's good too, but I don't expect them to do so.

Quote
3. Can we even call these things we write myths, since traditional myths are not the work of a single author, but are the product of many storytelling hands over a long period of time, cementing them to the cultures from which they spring?

 
Well, considering that modern myth-makers often get inspired by already preexisting stories out there, I think that more ancient myth-makers probably did something similar. How is modern myth that much different from what people did centuries ago? Yes, age can speak to the lasting power of a story, but I've also found truths in recently written fiction too because they often build on things we already have found to be important to us.

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2013, 02:37:58 pm »
Quote from: Gilbride;101418
My definition: myths are stories that are accidentally or deliberately True, in profound but non-literal ways.

After all, even the Iliad started with somebody telling everybody else a story.


Just some quick thoughts on my lunch break:

Reviewing the comments so far, it seems we have a broad spectrum of opinion on what constitutes myth, with my view being perhaps the narrowest and a view like Gilbride's, above, on the broader end, with lots of variations between...

...which I think is fine. We all agree we're talking about writing original mythic works, whether they fit one's personal criteria for an honest-to-goodness myth precisely or not. So our varying definitions really shouldn't prevent us from exploring lots of the issues that arise for us as mythmakers/mythsmiths/mythopoets (take your pick; I like 'em all).

(Note that I'm not trying to shut down the discussion of what constitutes a myth--as if I could. I think it's a fascinating and instructive discussion in its own right, and I hope it continues. I may weigh in more on that subject this weekend, when I've got more time.)

To expand things a bit, let me ask everyone this:

If you had to give only 1 piece of advice to someone about to embark on writing original myth, what would it be?
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2013, 10:19:32 pm »
Quote from: Jack;101323
I am... not sure how to answer this question, honestly, since you seem to be working from a definition of myth that isn't the one I know. Myth means traditional story, or sometimes made up story.

Longtime Cauldronites (like Altair) are likely to use, or at the least be strongly informed by, scholarly folklorists' use of the term, as explicated by our own resident folklore scholar Catja (that's the long essay; a shorter definition can be found here).

That's not meant to override the definition(s) anyone else is using (though IMO it's well worth knowing how those who academically study such things define their terms, whether one uses those definitions oneself or not), just to shed light on what usage is likely to come up here on TC.

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Olie

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2013, 11:13:18 pm »
Quote from: Altair;101294


If you write original myths:

1. Why do you write them? What do you hope to get out of it?

2. How can you "trust" them? Do you think they can have the same validity as established myth?

3. Can we even call these things we write myths, since traditional myths are not the work of a single author, but are the product of many storytelling hands over a long period of time, cementing them to the cultures from which they spring?

 
i kinda wanna hear about other peoples gods and myths and stuff... is that allowed to happen? like what kinda gods does everyone have? 9u9 lets have story time!

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2013, 11:41:33 pm »
Quote from: Olie;101488
i kinda wanna hear about other peoples gods and myths and stuff... is that allowed to happen? like what kinda gods does everyone have? 9u9 lets have story time!


Here's a link to a concise version of my creation myth (published a long time ago in one of Llewellyn's annuals), as posted here at the Cauldron in another thread almost exactly a year ago:

http://www.ecauldron.com/forum/showthread.php?2904-mythic-stories#6

In fact, the entire thread will probably be of interest to us mythopoets. You can check it out here:

http://www.ecauldron.com/forum/showthread.php?2904-mythic-stories
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Jack

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #20 on: March 16, 2013, 01:50:57 am »
Quote from: SunflowerP;101485
Longtime Cauldronites (like Altair) are likely to use, or at the least be strongly informed by, scholarly folklorists' use of the term, as explicated by our own resident folklore scholar Catja (that's the long essay; a shorter definition can be found here).

That's not meant to override the definition(s) anyone else is using (though IMO it's well worth knowing how those who academically study such things define their terms, whether one uses those definitions oneself or not), just to shed light on what usage is likely to come up here on TC.

Sunflower

 
That's fair enough, and maybe we're just on different pages, but I tend to go into a discussion about writing modern myths assuming a definition of myth that allows modern myth to be written. XD
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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #21 on: March 16, 2013, 11:49:32 am »
Quote from: Jack;101500
That's fair enough, and maybe we're just on different pages, but I tend to go into a discussion about writing modern myths assuming a definition of myth that allows modern myth to be written. XD

 
My intent in raising the question certainly wasn't to put anybody off from a discussion of these mythic things we write, and if it did that, my bad. It's just a question I examine with my own work--is this really myth?--all the time, so I was curious how others approached it. And I think it's a valuable exercise, because it leads me to examine what myth is in our society today, and what it could be.

Anyway, I continue to refer to these mythic things we write as myths--even if they might not fit my personal very narrow definition precisely--because that shorthand is just too damn convenient. So let's talk writing original myths, and I'll start by answering one of my own questions...
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Altair

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #22 on: March 16, 2013, 11:59:25 am »
Quote from: Altair;101436

If you had to give only 1 piece of advice to someone about to embark on writing original myth, what would it be?


Listen to your instincts. This has been mentioned by at least one other person, if not in this thread, than in a previous one. Myth is about mining the unconscious, and in my experience my unconscious mind will send up all sorts of red flags when a myth is going off track--i.e., it's straying from its Truth. Also when I'm overlooking something that's more than what it seems, something I should be exploiting better in the telling of the myth.

Example: In my moon myth, the god of time removes the moon goddess's immortality. I was floundering around and, just to move the plot along, I had him remove it because he was in love with her.

Heh. The god of time wasn't having it. If one can be nagged by a god of one's own invention, boy, did he nag me about it. Finally I listened to my instincts and altered the myth, and it's infinitely better, reflecting the nature of both deities and keeping the Truth of the myth central.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Fireof9

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #23 on: March 16, 2013, 01:02:30 pm »
Quote from: Altair;101436

To expand things a bit, let me ask everyone this:

If you had to give only 1 piece of advice to someone about to embark on writing original myth, what would it be?


Be honest. I think the difference (IMO only) between it being a myth and a fantasy story is honesty. In a fantasy story one can twist the plot, do things to characters in ways that fit how you want it to turn out. I think in writing a myth in the end one might be surprised how it turns out themselves. Thats my approach anyways.
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Tom

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2013, 03:00:41 pm »
Quote from: Fireof9;101544
Be honest. I think the difference (IMO only) between it being a myth and a fantasy story is honesty. In a fantasy story one can twist the plot, do things to characters in ways that fit how you want it to turn out. I think in writing a myth in the end one might be surprised how it turns out themselves. Thats my approach anyways.

 
I think, the way some authors write fantasy, they know what's going to happen along the way, but some don't write with an outline already planned and the strangest things happen. So you can write a fantasy story that still surprises the author when it turns out completely different than what you originally envisioned.

So, for me, that line isn't as clear-cut and dry because even when an author sets out with a specific outline, stuff kinda comes out in ways you least expect. Then again, I'm more into listening to the characters instead of forcing them to do things for my amusement.

Altair

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #25 on: March 16, 2013, 07:54:05 pm »
Quote from: Fireof9;101544
Be honest. I think the difference (IMO only) between it being a myth and a fantasy story is honesty. In a fantasy story one can twist the plot, do things to characters in ways that fit how you want it to turn out. I think in writing a myth in the end one might be surprised how it turns out themselves. Thats my approach anyways.


I agree; this has been my experience as well.

Tom has a point, but I think it's one that applies to fiction generally: One has to let one's characters act in a manner consistent with their nature, or they stop being believable. Myth takes it one step further: Plot developments have to be honest as well. You can't steer things to a cliffhanger situation just for the sake of the cliffhanger. Character *and* story have to stick to some underlying truth.

The trick is identifying the truth of your myth. I think we have to coax it from our subconscious. Or is there someplace else that it's coming from?
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Olie

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #26 on: March 16, 2013, 08:00:51 pm »
Quote from: Altair;101491
Here's a link to a concise version of my creation myth (published a long time ago in one of Llewellyn's annuals), as posted here at the Cauldron in another thread almost exactly a year ago:

http://www.ecauldron.com/forum/showthread.php?2904-mythic-stories#6

In fact, the entire thread will probably be of interest to us mythopoets. You can check it out here:

http://www.ecauldron.com/forum/showthread.php?2904-mythic-stories

 
that was really spiffy! i never read other peoples myths. who havent been dead for thousands of years at least. it kinda reminds me of aztec myths for some reason but i can figure out why... but thats a handy topic! i might post stuff too someday... >,.>

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #27 on: March 16, 2013, 11:21:45 pm »
Quote from: Olie;101587
that was really spiffy! i never read other peoples myths. who havent been dead for thousands of years at least. it kinda reminds me of aztec myths for some reason but i can figure out why...


Thanks. Interesting that you mention Aztec myths, since my mythology was born immediately after a trip to Mexico City's Museum of Anthropology, almost 30 years ago. I can't say that there's much direct Aztec influence in my work--I don't know their myths at all--but glimpsing that culture's rich polytheistic traditions inspired me to try a polytheistic interpretation of our modern world.

I see a lot of other influences in that myth, however. Which raises a broader question, for everyone here: How much are the myths you write influenced by existing mythologies?

(And for those who are writing new myths using existing pantheons, I would imagine that would have to be quite a bit...)
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

Olie

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #28 on: March 17, 2013, 02:11:26 am »
Quote from: Altair;101605
Thanks. Interesting that you mention Aztec myths, since my mythology was born immediately after a trip to Mexico City's Museum of Anthropology, almost 30 years ago. I can't say that there's much direct Aztec influence in my work--I don't know their myths at all--but glimpsing that culture's rich polytheistic traditions inspired me to try a polytheistic interpretation of our modern world.

I see a lot of other influences in that myth, however. Which raises a broader question, for everyone here: How much are the myths you write influenced by existing mythologies?

(And for those who are writing new myths using existing pantheons, I would imagine that would have to be quite a bit...)

 
haha thats wongus. yeah i cant figure out what it is. your story isnt even almost like the aztect creation myth. its really unique P:

hmmm i reckon im influenced a lot by greek myths! i was reading ovid or somethin once for class and i got really into it so that could be part of it. i also went to greece a while ago and hung around all the mythological places and that was really snazzy. but i dont think my stories really seem that greek when im done with them...

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Re: Writing Your Own Myths
« Reply #29 on: March 17, 2013, 07:55:29 am »
Quote from: Jack;101500
That's fair enough, and maybe we're just on different pages, but I tend to go into a discussion about writing modern myths assuming a definition of myth that allows modern myth to be written. XD

 
Well, I wasn't saying "this is what it means and any other approach is wrong" (well, except maybe for the scoffing "just a myth" usage, which I imagine modern mythwriters also are rejecting), just that many of us will be informed by that.

I'm not quite sure what about it precludes writing modern myth, though.  Is it the 'of a culture' part?  Because I don't think that's critical to what distinguishes myth from other kinds of stories; I think the distinguishing aspect is 'reveals/explicates a Cosmic Truth'.

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