Once Upon a Time: Exploring the Creative Life
Most people know the tale of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” sisters who dance their slippers to tatters every night despite being locked in their room. Their furious father allows men to try to discover where the sisters go with the penalty of death if they fail, and the reward of one of the princesses’ hand in marriage if they succeed. After several failures, one man is successful and presents his evidence that the sisters are escaping to a secret kingdom to dance with fairy princes. In some versions, the king destroys the secret passage to the “evil kingdom,” and the man chooses a bride from the sisters.
Kristin at Tales of Faerie clarified many of my own thoughts about the classic tale while Keira and I were wrangling with the plotline and the motivations of the characters in our new novel adaptation of the tale, Love’s Nest. Kristin wrote, “I don’t see why the secret kingdom is so evil. The reason the tale is so popular is because every girl (and possibly boy) wishes she had a secret door in her room that led to a magical kingdom, whether or not dancing all night would be their dream scenario.”
The door to imagination
I think every girl and boy does wish she/he had a secret door in his/her room that led to a magical kingdom, and every girl and boy does, in fact, have such a door. That door is called their imagination. Or to take it a step farther, the door is the choice to explore a creative life for those who choose to step through that door and commit to what they find there.
Much has been said over the years by authors much more talented than I about the benefits and costs of a creative life. One thing is sure, there is a cost to the creative life. If you choose to enter that magical door in your room and follow the path, when you return you’ll find the world a little more confusing than when you left.
You’ll find it a struggle to fit the time in that world in alongside the responsibilities of the day-to-day, and you’ll realize it’s nearly impossible to speak of fantastical worlds to people who don’t use the magical doors in their bedrooms—or perhaps have forgotten how to use them. You’ll realize that work piled up while you were missing, an appointment was forgotten, the dogs are hungry, and the children have needs that need to be met. Oh, wait, maybe I’m just talking about me. But we all know that I’m not—I’m talking about anyone who uses that door and commits to going where that passage takes them.
Love’s Nest: an m/m fairy tale
Our new book Love’s Nest already mixes up the original story by exploring the possibility of gay love within the tale, and by making one of the “princesses” a prince. But Love’s Nest, like all other versions of the tale, can act as an allegory for those who choose the creative life. It portrays in its own way the devotion and mixed emotions of creator and creations, of the magical, addictive, compelling properties of the magical places creative people travel to, and the difficulties of merging the two worlds. Sometimes, an attempt to merge results in the destruction of everything and the loss of something meaningful and important to us. Sometimes what is lost or threatened is something from the real world, and sometimes it’s from the magical one in our mind.
Do you step through the door to your magical kingdom?
Love’s Nest is available through:
Ellora’s Cave – http://www.ellorascave.com/love-s-nest.html
All Romance EBooks- https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-love039snest-1247145-340.html
While Leta Blake would love to tell you that writing transports her to worlds of magic and wonder and then safely returns her to a home of sparkling cleanliness and carefully folded laundry, the reality is a bit different. For as long as Leta can recall, stories have hijacked her mind, abducting her to other lands, and forcing her to bend to the will of imaginary people. This absence from reality results in piles of laundry and forgotten appointments. In between abductions, Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family. You can find Leta online at her website, Facebook and Twitter.
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical and fantasy fiction, and – although she loves delicious angst along the way – Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.” You can find out more about Keira and her books online at her website, Facebook and Twitter.