Welcome, dear cozy readers, to Open Mic Friday! Every week we have a featured “reading” in the body of this post. Applause and other feedback go in the comments, where you’re also welcome to share your own work. The comments are threaded, so you can reply directly to each reader by hitting the “reply” button within that comment box.
Read, share, and converse!
Today’s guest post is our first to feature work for younger (adolescent) readers! I’m overjoyed to introduce to you my dear friend from college, H.Q. Chung. We met as freshmen and have been fortunate enough to stay close ever since. The following is an introduction to a modern fantasy that takes its inspiration from the ancient Greek Muses. The rest of the story will be about contemporary young women and men, some of whom will embody the qualities of the ancient Muses, all of whom will reflect the diversity of the world in which we now live. H.Q. welcomes your feedback on this intro, and your thoughts on the story that will unfold from it.
Musings: Mnemosyne’s Curse by H.Q. Chung
Thus was born the Earth. Her awakening brought forth wondrous beasts and vibrant plants. Nothing was too fanciful or wild to her. All this changed when she bore the Titans and the Titans bore the gods and goddesses. The world changed because of them. She changed too. Once, teeming with life that flowed from her core, she can only recall, remember that the world was once her domain. Now, stripped of her powers, save immortality, she remains helpless, as a witness but actor no more. Tears flow from her eyes as she recounts a tale about her beloved grandson, Zeus, and his daughters the Muses and their eventual deaths at the hands of their mother, Mnemosyne.
“Zeus, tell me what will you remember most about me after you have left me? Do not act so flustered, we all know the stars have already predicted your departure; fueled by your wandering eye and lust!”
“Mnemosyne, you know me too well, or should I say the Fates do. You know what made me want you as one of my consorts…but if I must state them to appease you, it’s because of your mesmerizing visage, quick wit, and talents.”
“You flatter me… but I despise you. You sweeten me up one minute, and yet your heart beats for another the next. I know you too well. I’m tired of your infidelity; I curse you with forgetfulness. Henceforth, you will lose all memories that are precious and dear to you!”
“I know you are powerful, but even mother Earth, the bearer of life has no such control.”
“You forget, my powers are over memory, my daughters inspire mortals and even the gods, and everyone is dependent on us and our gifts. I bestow on all minds the capacity to think and learn; I can also take it away.”
As Mnemosyne spoke those words, Zeus grips his head and falls to the ground. At the sight of his stricken body, Mnemosyne shows no emotions. Calling out to her daughters, she shows some compassion and directs them to attend to their father. She glanced at him one last time and leaves.
As Zeus regains consciousness he stares up into the faces of his beloved daughters. Each with beauty that surpasses Aphrodite and intelligence that rivals that of Metis.
“Daughters, how did I end up on the ground?”
“Father, don’t you remember?” asked Melpomene. She looked at her other sisters with a concerned look and told Zeus about what had transpired between their mother and him.
At the finish of her accounts, Zeus sat stone faced. If his daughters were telling him the truth, what memories had he lost? What if these memories were important? He slowly got up and paced around in the shadow of Mount Olympus. As he walked he recalls bits and pieces of a prophecy once told to him by the Fates. But his memory of it is incomplete. Zeus was never the same after that episode. Slowly through the years as mortals stopped worshipping him, he became more anxious and pensive over the forgotten prophecy. His daughters tended to his needs as best they could, but eventually Time won over and it was Zeus’ fate to pass.
As he lay dying, with his daughters around him, he charges them with the task of discovering the forgotten prophecy and to do whatever they can to heed its advice. With his last breath, he whispers “remember.”
To be continued…
Thank you, my dear friend! H.Q. Chung is an education grad student in Southern California, and a strong proponent of the arts, humanities, and green education.
And now… the comments are open. Go to it!
I really like your idea for this book and think that you’ve found a very interesting starting point within the mythology of the ancient Greek Muses. I also think the contemporary aspect of your story is intriguing. As someone who knows enough about Greek mythology to follow along in a basic way, but who doesn’t know a lot of details — I did find myself having to read through your piece several times. It reminded me of something my sister said to me a couple of years ago when I was trying to begin a novella about a sheriff and the small town he worked for.
I had asked her to read the beginning of the first chapter, and I was dismayed that she couldn’t get into it. I was grateful for her candor, but wondered if it was the subject or the writing that failed to get her attention. She reminded me that she didn’t have a problem with Westerns; she just felt that I was telling her a story about people she didn’t know anything about. I thought hard about that for a few days, and then found a way to remember that she was telling me (in a different way) the same thing a previous writing teacher had told me. The teacher said I was writing about people, but assuming my reader knew them as well as I did. I needed to add more detail to my writing.
The way I remember this is to remember that stories on the screen also have to be written. The visuals in a film help with understanding the story, but I think stories on paper have a cinematic quality, too. I struggle to find the words that show what my characters see, hear, taste, touch and feel. I find this to be extremely difficult. (I don’t enjoy writing. I like having written.) When I used my cinematic theory to rewrite the pages I had shown her, my sister smiled and said, “Okay now I get it. Now I want to read some more and see what happens.” She couldn’t put her finger on it, but we both agreed that the new pages worked much better.
I can tell that your piece is going to evolve. I definitely want to read more of it in the future!
I really appreciate your comments. They make a lot of sense and I struggled with how much to include in the beginning. I will definitely take your advice to expand it a bit with more details and to translate what I have in my head on to the page so that readers can follow my thought process. Character development definitely is one of the most important but also I think hardest tasks for a writer. Thanks again for your thoughtful feedback.
I agree with Ré’s (sparksinshadow’s) thoughtful feedback. When I was thinking about your story, H.Q., I thought it would make a great series of graphic novels for girls (of course I am biased about liking graphic novels 😉 ). I hold to that thought, but I think that idea also came from wanting to “see” your ideas and characters more vividly. I struggle with this in my own writing too.
Also, I noticed there are places where you switch between past and present verb tenses. That can be a little jarring sometimes.
I hope you’ll keep writing and we’ll see more from you. 🙂