I tried to get in some good work on a story for Excelsior! by the 10th, but I--quite honestly--had done nothing else, and didn't even finish that. The last date I touched my current novel was the 2nd.
Needless to say, my week goals and month goals are shot. I've done nothing substantial since March 2nd. We're coming up on a fortnight of blankness.
Now, this is not to say that I have done nothing. The house is as clean as it's been since Christmas, probably, and my office is all painted and half moved. We lost a second guinea pig and mourned both him and the previously deceased one. We have two new guinea pigs. I threw my best friend a baby shower, visited with out of town buds, and caught up on correspondence with my other best friend (who knit me a scarf). My mom visited. And not to mention, I'm all caught up on TV! (That last one = sarcasm.)
So, nose to the grindstone once more.
So, since I'm thinking about taking a trip to Romania (perhaps with, perhaps not with my Romanian cousin)--and in part because I feel this urge to see the place where the Romanian fairy tales come from--I've been thinking about other visits I've made to the places where my culture's fairy tales came from. I was trying to parse the places I've been that felt magical/not-magical, when I realized, no, that's not what I was trying to get at (though that's part of it). I more meant to be talking about the places where you could see the fairy tale happening.
The Loire Valley, for example... the fairy tales are so thick there, you trip over them on the way to the next chateau. The light itself seems to create more stories. (I always thought Ever After did a tremendous job of capturing the light of the valley.) The whole area reeks of Perrault. The forest of Paimpont, likewise, stinks of The Lais of Marie de France, and I kept thinking we were going to run into Bisclavret any second as we wandered the forest that is almost certainly Brocéliande.
What I think I'm working through, though, is not how place informs story. I know it does, of course, but that's not what I'm getting at. I was thinking more how story informs place. In learning French in junior high and high school, I was attracted to Mont St. Michel because of the dragon story associated with it. But I never became a dedicated francophile the way I was an anglophile because I did not care for the literature that was presented to me in French class. Camus? Ionesco? Sartre? Not exactly fairy tale makers, you know? I enjoyed Moliere, but let's be honest, he's difficult for a beginning French student, and we didn't get to him until too late. Cyrano de Bergerac won my heart to France a little tiny smidge. But The Phantom of the Opera, in spite of the story, is actually a slog of a book in any language. (Or so it seemed when I was 13.)
I only ever read Marie de France and Perrault in translation (Marie in college, Perrault as kids do, as bedtime stories), but they were the ones that woke in my brain when I traveled to France, that helped me connect to the country in a way that I could not connect otherwise. Paris was a bit of a cipher to me--I don't like cities anyway--and the only parts I loved (as is usual with me and cities) were my times inside museums and cathedrals. But nothing I'd ever read and loved took place in Paris, either.
Compare this to Britain, where a thousand things I've read and loved take place--even simulacrums of Britain--like fake Wales in Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, for example--well, I felt immediately like I'd opened a magic box when I set foot in Britain. So what if Sherwood Forest isn't much of a forest? There's Glastonbury Tor, Stonehenge, and the tiny little moat around the Mayor's House in Winchester. You can read so much of the landscape as something special, when you're steeped in the fairy tales and the literature of a place.
So, Romania next. I'm light on the literature there, but have been heavy on the fairy tales for the past two years. Let's hope the finances work out!