Q is for Queens of Wonderland

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

IMG_8394Did you think we’d make it through A to Z this year without an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland post? #sorrynotsorry

There are so many delightfully crazy characters in Alice in Wonderland, but the Queen of Hearts and the White Queen have always had a special place in my heart.

The Queen of Hearts is just plain angry, shouting “off with his head!” constantly. But no one really pays attention to her, and no one actually gets beheaded. She’s like upper management, loud and annoying, but with no idea of what’s really going on. Her poor husband is quite intimidated by her.

She plays croquet with flamingos and everyone is so afraid of her that the other cards paint the roses red. (They planted a white rosebush by mistake… oops.)

The White Queen appears in Through the Looking Glass, also by Lewis Carroll. She lives backward, knowing things are going to happen before they actually do. I wouldn’t want to know my future, every move I made before I make it, but it seems to work for the White Queen. More importantly, she’s given me one of my all time favorite quotes:

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

-From Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll

I’ve always thought those were words to live by, finding impossible things to believe every day. If they happen before breakfast, even better! After all, what’s imagination for if you don’t believe in the impossible?

 

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A is for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

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I love all things Alice, and probably own half a dozen copies of this book.

I identify with Alice, maybe because she’s lost in a strange world  where nothing makes sense, as I’ve so often felt in the real world.

I get by, but sometimes I feel like I’m playacting, not understanding why everyone is painting the white roses red.

I know exactly how it must have felt when Alice fell down the rabbit hole.

Through this book, Lewis Carroll introduced me to the idea that it’s okay to play with language.  I knew that reading was fun, but most books follow a set of rules.  English teachers expound on those rules, and in school writing, I dared not break them.

But here was a published author whose book contains nonsense words!

Excerpt from Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll:

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

It opened up a whole world of language.  Suddenly, language was more than it had been before.

In school, I continued to write the way I’d been told.  But on my own time, I experimented and played with language.  Because now I knew I could.

Alice may have been lost when she first got to Wonderland, but she figured it all out eventually.  And what she didn’t figure out, she still managed to deal with.  Eventually, she got home, but the world was never the same.  Because once she knew about Wonderland, she could never un-know it.

Cursing

Yesterday, I wrote about the new words into the dictionary.  One of the words added is “F-bomb.”  People tend to have pretty intense opinions on cursing.  Some people see it as a first amendment issue, while others feel that using offensive language should be carefully monitored (around adults only) or banned altogether.

The subject fascinates  me because the words are just that– words.  The only reason they have meaning is that we’ve assigned them meaning.  Let’s look at the first stanza of the poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.

What if, tomorrow, someone decided that brillig meant something offensive, or slithy toves?  The words themselves have no meaning until we, the people, say they do.  Not only are curse words “bad,” but there are degrees of “bad.”  “F**k” and certain words for female body parts are offensive to many people who do curse, while “a**” and s**t” tend to be more widely accepted.  I also find it interesting that writing the full word in a blog like this would be more offensive than starring them out.  You all know what I mean.  The word probably echoed in your head, but writing it makes it wrong.

Cursing in stories is something authors debate about.  Should an author allow cursing in stories, or leave it out?  When I had people edit my stories, I had one person consistently campaign for me to leave cursing out of my stories.  My philosophy is this: leave it out of young adult books.  It has no place there.  In adult novels though, all characters are different, and they don’t all reflect my personality.  Some of them will curse, and some won’t.  To me, cursing is a personality trait, along with hobbies, profession, whether or not the person has pets.  When I submit to magazines, I read guidelines and previous stories.  Some magazines find cursing appropriate, so if there are curse words in my story, I leave them in.  Other magazines don’t allow for cursing, so I replace with less offensive (and less genuine) words.  I mean, who really says “darn it” or “holy cow”?

Speak out: cursing in stories… yay or nay?