It’s the “Old Notebooks” series, where I read back through the fantasy stories I wrote as a kid and mock myself mercilessly in order to mitigate my mortification!
PREVIOUSLY IN THE “SCRIGGLY” NOTEBOOK: Little Miss Blandy McBlandface, aka Jordan, attended a feast in Atlantis City to welcome all the royal family’s new
victims workers from all over the continent. She met a whole bunch of other people, including her fellow stable workers: Generic Guy (Robert), Snobby Guy (Philip), Tall Skinny Lady (?) and the Five-Year-Old-Who-Really-Should-Not-Be-Working-in-a-Stable (Isabel). She also saw from afar the I.S.P.’s younger sister, Princess Sarai, and the Hilariously Obvious Villain, Archbishop Slinei, whom she believes to be a “snob” and insists on calling “Slinky” for some ridiculous reason. Let’s see what happens to our journal-writing heroine on her first day of work!
I must say, so far Jordan is much better at keeping up with her journal than I ever was. She hasn’t missed a day yet.
August 7, 10,223 B.C.—Monday
This is so good.
“We didn’t even have Chick-Fil-As back home in Mu Province! Do they put crack in this chicken or something? Seriously, how did I ever live without these chicken nuggets?”
There’s no other word for it.
This morning I woke up at 4:00a.m. I wondered why everyone else was still asleep.
Bunch a lazy bums, I tell ya.
Father always made me get up at 4:00 to work.
I… have absolutely no idea, Hermione. Sorry.
I knew I didn’t have to work until the trumpet sounded to open the city gates every morning. I had to wait 5 hours to work.
Oh, what? The city doesn’t even open till 9:00 AM? And no one has to get to work before that? Not even the servants? Wow… Atlantis really is a utopia!
The woman who came in last night is named Anastasia.
WELL OF COURSE SHE IS. It’s not like “Anastasia” is a Greek/Christian name or anything. Why wouldn’t she have the same name as a Russian princess who was also coincidentally the main character in another Don Bluth film that I may have just been a little bit obsessed with around this point in my life.1
What’s really unfortunate is that I just recently read Jenny Trout’s hilarious and brilliant deconstruction of the 50 Shades series (yeah, I won’t touch those actual books with a 39 ½ foot pole), so now when I see the name “Anastasia” my brain automatically goes to certain places I’d prefer it not to. I also suddenly have an incredible urge to slap this character in the face.
I thought that name was too elegant for such a simple lady, so I call her Ana. (I didn’t tell her that.)
Whapuhpuhfuhpppttssss??? Well, now who’s the snob, Jordan? Who put you in charge of deciding whether other peoples’ names were appropriate for them or not? YOU LIVE ON ATLANTIS AND YOUR NAME IS JORDAN.
What does she even mean by “simple,” anyway? Uneducated? Low-maintenance? Folksy? Poor? All of the above?
She’s really nice, but stern. She is kind of like a teacher to all of us. I really like her.
… OK, I’m interrupting this section here to go on a slight tangent about this character named “Ana,” because I’M SUDDENLY GETTING A CREEPY TINGLY DÉJÀ VU SENSATION RIGHT NOW. You guys, I think this character is the very first incarnation of another character that I held onto for years and am still rather fond of. AND I HAD NO IDEA I’D FIND HER HERE.
Seriously, it’s… it’s like seeing a ghost, but in reverse.
Maybe I should explain a little more: So, later on in my life, after abandoning this silly little “Atlantis” idea, I decided to just go all out and make a legit fantasy world, completely separate, no connection to earth at all. I was influenced by a lot of things, not least of which was Lord of the Rings, which I finally got around to reading sometime around 9th grade when the first movie came out. I wrote A LOT of stories in this fantasy world, with LOADS AND LOADS OF CHARACTERS. And one of the main recurring ones was a…
Well, um. She was a “fairy.” Sometimes. But then other times she was a “Faerie” (which is completely different, trust me). And then later she became a “Star,” and…
OK, look, this isn’t going to make a whole lot of sense till we start digging into some of my later notebooks. Suffice it to say, this character—Ana—was something like a… female Gandalf? (Except not really, but this is the closest comparison I can think of.) She wasn’t usually a main character, but she was a powerful and ancient mentor-type figure with a magic staff (sometimes) who tended to get the plot moving wherever she showed up. She also shared a lot of characteristics with Tolkien’s elves,2 being very tall and beautiful and mysterious and ageless. She also had silver hair (because of course she did), and probably also unusually-colored eyes, and IIRC she could turn into a flock of ravens at will.3 And she was also best buddies with a princess named… uh, well, we’ll get to her, but she was basically Sleeping Beauty.
Oh, yeah, did I mention that Ana was supposed to be the “youngest fairy” from the Sleeping Beauty fairytale? Y’know, the one who changed the curse from “dying” to “sleeping for a really long time”? Yeah, that was her. I changed her name to “Anaria” (or some variation of that), but everyone always called her “Ana.”
So, maybe now you have something of an idea why I got a little excited when I first read that this character’s name is “Ana.” Because HOLY CRAP, IS THIS HER? IS THIS ANA??? Is it Ana before she was Ana? I had no idea that I’d invented Ana this far back! This is super weird to me, y’all. It’s like, when I think back I just imagine all these characters popping up fully-formed in my brain one day, but now I’m starting to see how many characters that would become so familiar later on actually began developing much further back than I was aware of. And they became so different!
It’s seriously weird. It’s like going back through an old yearbook and discovering that you went to the same elementary school as your spouse without realizing it. And he was a little chubbier back then and had different hair, but you can still tell it’s him. It’s sort of like that.
OK, anyway. Sorry, just had to blargle for a second there. Back to the story.
Thankfully Philip works on a separate side of the stable, so I don’t have to listen to his remarks about how intelligent he is and trying to correct how I handle the horses and tack and feed. I don’t need correction. I’ve been around horses since I was born.
Jordan don’t put up with yo mansplainin’, son.
The second thing I layed my eyes upon was a horse—
Dächusblot’s Inner Grammar Nerd: “OUCH.”
(I was born in a stable. My father wasn’t there.)
She was born in a stable? Is she the Baby Jesus?
Oh no, wait, she can’t be. Because his dad was actually there when he was born. OOH BURN!!! (Because his dad was God, geddit?)
Isabel is my little helper, and Robert is very nice. He’s pretty handsome, actually very handsome, but he’s more like a brother to me. Prince Alex is more handsome than he is, in my opinion.
Right. So, uh… Show of hands: who else is suddenly rooting for Jordan to get with Robert the Sexy Stable Boy?
Also, who else here is suddenly picturing Robert as Westley from The Princess Bride?
That’s probably just because he’s a sexy stable boy and the name “Robert” makes me think of the Dread Pirate Roberts. But God I really, really, really hope he says “As you wish” sometime before the end of this story. I will die of happiness.
(FYI, I never actually saw The Princess Bride till I was in high school, so unlike all my obvious ripoffs of King’s Quest and Ella Enchanted, any resemblance between Robert and Westley is entirely coincidental.)
I tell ya, though, if I was Jordan working alongside a hot young blue-eyed, muscular, soft-spoken, floppy-haired, sweet-smiling, young Cary Elwes-looking stable boy, I’d be all over that nonsense in a heartbeat.4 I mean, she’s only known this guy for one day and already she’s like, “Meh, he’s hot, but he’s more like a brother to me.” Give him a chance at least! I mean, I understand just not being attracted to someone, even if you think they are objectively good-looking. I get that. But I’m finding it hard to believe that she’s not even a little attracted to him, since she takes the time to write specifically in her diary that he’s “pretty handsome, actually very handsome.”
But he’s not the I.S.P., so no dice. Maybe Jordan’s just a gold-digger and won’t admit it.
(I have to say, I really, really hope that Little Me is not setting this up for some kind of awful love triangle thing. But I also won’t be at all surprised if it turns out that’s exactly what’s going to happen. *sigh* Why, Little Me? Why did we enjoy awful love triangles back then?)
I get to take care of 6 horses. Three of them are the prince’s. Two of them are the queen’s, and one of them is for Slinky.
JESUS H. CHRIST, WILL YOU PLEASE STOP CALLING HIM “SLINKY.” First off, it’s just weird. And second off, every time she says that I can’t help but picture this:
Isabel also takes care of another of Slinky’s horses. She only has one horse, because she is so young. Robert takes care of 6 horses…
“… Sometimes I like to watch him working, all his muscles rippling under his bronzed skin as he draws the brush slowly across the horse’s flank, sweat dripping down his chiseled face, his tousled hair flopping roguishly across his dreamy eyes…
… Y’know, Diary, t’s a good thing he’s just my cool bro and not my designated love interest, or else I might be seriously thinking about jumping his bones right now.”
… four of them are the king’s! Ana has all 5 of the
princess’sprincesses’ horses, and one of them is 8 year old Prince Adam’s. He looks like a miniature version of Alex. All the princesses look like the queen, dark blue eyes and long black hair. The queen’s nose is rather big. Most of the Atlantians are like that. Naryphns have brown eyes and blonde hair. That’s me.
HAHAHA. Okay, I know Little Me was just trying to squeeze in some worldbuilding here, but seriously? Who writes like this in their own diary? Just imagine how weird it would be if you were, say, Vietnamese, and you’re living in a place that’s majority white, and you write in your diary:
“My teacher’s nose is rather pointy. Most of the white people are like that. Vietnamese people have brown eyes and dark black hair. That’s me.”
I know it’s tough to get in details like this when you’re writing in a diary-style format (yet another limitation with this technique), but this is just silly. There are better ways around this problem.
Also, I guess both of these races are basically white, aren’t they? Their only differences seem to be eye and hair color, since I feel like I definitely would have specified if one of them was darker-skinned.
*Sigh* I admit, I’m a little disappointed in Little Me about that. But not very surprised. First off, I’m white, and I grew up in a mostly white part of town, went to a mostly white school, attended a mostly white church, and grew up consuming things like Disney movies and King’s Quest and Ella Enchanted and Narnia, none of which are very heavy on the POC characters. It wasn’t that I was unaware of POC people, obviously—I live in Houston, so that’s pretty much impossible. It’s just that I was still living in a bubble. And, let’s be honest, the default for most characters in most fictional works is still white, unless the story is specifically focused on racial issues. And when you are the default, like me, it’s a lot easier not to notice or think about how default it actually is. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to get better about including more diverse characters in my stories, since I have become more consciously aware of this problem. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.
And I don’t want to come off like I’m being patronizing or like I have some kind of quota for my characters—because I don’t. But I’ve tried to consciously be more creative when it comes to envisioning who my characters are, and it’s actually helped make the stories feel more alive to me. For example, recently I’ve been working on a YA-ish novel based on a short story I wrote as a freshman in college. In the original short story, pretty much all the characters defaulted to white—not because I consciously chose that, but because I didn’t consciously choose otherwise. But I found when I was reworking the idea, I was having trouble actually picturing the characters in my mind. I didn’t know what they looked like. However I’d portrayed them before just didn’t seem right. So I thought, “What if I mixed it up a little?” I made the main boy black/mixed, with hazel eyes and freckles—and suddenly, I could see him in my mind. That felt right. I could see his parents too. I made his best friend Japanese for no other reason than that I wanted to name him “Kazuo” after one of my favorite authors; now I could picture him too. I made one of the girls black too—she popped to life in my head. Another of the girls I decided to base off one of my old friends, making her half-Indian. I thought about my best friends in real life, they are white, Mexican, Vietnamese, Indian. I thought about the students I teach: black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Arabic. It just made sense to make my character roster reflect real life a little better. To me, it’s become no different than choosing someone’s hair color or eye color. And I think in a lot of ways it’s made my characters feel more real.
But I digress.
On a less serious note, I have a theory: all these royal children look exactly like the parents (and each other) because they aren’t actually children—they’re clones. YOU CAN’T PROVE I’M WRONG.
I think Ana is Naryphn.
Wait, what? You can’t tell? You literally just got done telling me about the physical differences between Atlantians and Naryphns.
It would be nice to have a friend who spoke my language.
*SQUEE* OMG Y’ALL, Ana is totally gonna be like her cool older sister, and she’s gonna give her wise advice and stuff, and tell her stories, and yell at bad guys, and she’ll probably end up being secretly like thousands of years old and having a magic staff and turning herself into a flock of ravens at some point and why is my Anaria here in this story THIS IS STILL SO WEIRD TO ME.
Anyway, I have 3 thoroughbred mares. Two are the prince’s. The otherone is the queen’s. The queen’s is named Duchess. The other two are Chloe and Tatiana.
BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA CHLOE AND TATIANA.5
The queen also has a unicorn mare named Pearl.
Because unicorns are just a thing you have in Atlantis.
Also, I thought you had to be a virgin to keep a unicorn? But the queen’s got like a bjillion kids? So how would that work, unless… UNLESS THE KIDS ARE ALL ACTUALLY CLONES!!! 😮
The last two are thoroughbred stallions (actually Slinky’s is a gelding)…
Did… did I just have my main character indirectly insult the Hilariously Obvious Villain’s masculinity via his castrated horse?
Well, Little Me. I’m not sure how to feel about that. Because on the one hand, if that was deliberate, then it’s got some pretty unfortunate implications about how masculinity is defined, not to mention the use of “non-masculine” as an insult…
But on the other hand…
And on the other other hand, Little Me, if this wasn’t deliberate, and you weren’t intentionally trying to insult the villain’s manhood by specifically pointing out that the only gelding in the stable belongs to him, then all I can say is….
I mean, wow. That’s some crazy subconscious psychological stuff going on there.
Little Me… you do know what a gelding is, right? XD
Prince Alex’s is named Midnight and Slinky’s is named Puzzle (it Puzzles me how Slinky got such a fine horse).
DER HER HER, GOOD ONE, JORDAN.
BTW, “Puzzle” is a super cute name for a horse! Why does the Hilariously Obvious Villain have a horse with such an adorable name? Are we sure Slinei’s really all that bad? Maybe he was just born with an unfortunate rat-like appearance and a perpetual Resting Bitch Face? Maybe he’s really a super nice guy with a dry sense of humor, who likes gardening and drinks fine scotch on the weekends? Hm?
Tatiana is my favorite. She’s Prince Alex’s favorite too.
Oh, snap. They both like the same horse. Clearly they are meant to be.
OK, this entry actually goes on for quite a bit longer, and I’m already heading into gif overload, so I think I’m going to stop here and pick this up again next time.
1.↩ You shush. Anastasia is a great movie, I don’t care what anyone says. The music is great and the animation is awesome. Plus Dimitri is definitely one of the hottest animated guys of all time.
2.↩ I’ve already mentioned that back when I was writing this “Atlantis” story, I’d not yet discovered the beautiful world of Middle-Earth. However, I did read the Narnia books when I was very young, and I’m sure Ana was a little bit influenced by Ramandu’s Daughter in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader too.
3.↩ And despite everything I just said there, she was not named Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way, nor was she a Mary Sue or a goth. Her friend “Sleeping Beauty” was much more of both of those things than Ana was.
4.↩ *Sigh* Actually, no. No, I wouldn’t. I’m super shy around attractive guys. But you can bet I’d be fantasizing about it a lot!
5.↩ I think I probably picked the name Tatiana because I’d recently read a book about the Romanovs (because of Don Bluth’s Anastasia, of course—see Footnote #1), and one of the real Anastasia’s older sisters was named Tatiana. Chloe, however? I have no idea. But it’s a pretty terrible name for a horse, even one that wasn’t from Atlantis.