If brand writing and ghost blogging are my bread and butter, telling stories is my dessert. Something I crave post-meal, which tastes amazing going down but often leaves me feeling vaguely nauseated.
There’s nothing high falutin’ about where my stories come from. There’s no voice from on high, channeling of characters, or waking up in the middle of the night in a fever to write.
What happens is, I get an idea, and I can’t shake it.
Nope, the little sucker just sits there, whining like an ear-trapped gnat. So, I write in my off-hours until it shuts up.
As a result, there are myriad half-baked stories stashed on my laptop and scribbled in notebooks tucked all over our apartment. Also two finished, unpublished novels, the second of which, sitting like last year’s fruit cake in iCloud, still gets my stomach churning.
I caught the bug for Turning to Stone while visiting the Getty Villa a little over a year ago and saw this relief of Medusa:
Man, girlfriend got a bad rap.
The version of her story that most bothers me is the one that describes a beautiful woman who, after being raped by Poseidon on the steps to the Athena’s temple, is transformed into a snake-headed Gorgon as punishment.
I mean, really? Why would Athena punish Medusa for being raped? Wasn’t that Poseidon’s fault? Besides, wasn’t he a repeat offender, and didn’t Athena and the sea god have beef (that whole who-gets-the-rights-to-Athens thing)?
A year and three months later, I was sending out queries to agents in hopes of setting Maddy’s story straight.
To no avail.
In fact, relative to my first book, Bustle Hustle, about a bridal shop owner who lies about being engaged in order to sell dresses and lands in hot water (which I still play with revisiting but can’t bring myself to crack open), my modern retelling of the Medusa myth got few nibbles.
After soldiering through 30 rejections, including one stating that selling anything with Greek gods and goddesses was not going to happen, I gave up. Even hardcore optimists have their limits.
So, I promptly sketched out a new idea (a YA about an entitled, horse-obsessed girl who has a comeuppance and a coming of age), archived dear old Medusa, and haven’t looked at it since.
Then, this Monday I went back to the Getty Villa. And there was Medusa, staring at me.
Now the thought I’m chewing on is whether to take another swing. Maybe that agent was wrong. What if I reworked the plot? Turned it around? Polished ‘er up?
Like I said, I’m a glass half-full kind of girl.
On the other hand, this might be one of those moments Kenny Rogers was talking about when he sang, “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.”
They say you should write what you love. Undoubtedly, that love is horses, not snake-headed ladies whose taste for vengeance is keener than mine for coconut cake.