Writer’s Note: Mythology and Magical llamas

We love stories.

So when writing a story – not just telling an anecdote or a gratuitous lie – it’s important to really know stories. To know what people respond to and what you really want to say.

So I’ve been researching mythical beings – as mentioned in excruciating detail in this last post.

It’s really quite difficult to come up with your own spin on mythologies that are so established and permeated through time. You end up reading about magicks and beings and religions that have true stories. Crazy, beautiful, timeless stories – some with morals; some without. Stories that don’t feel real at all but do feel grand.

When constructing your own story things tend to get in the way. You start to concern yourself with current affairs and adult vanity attempts to usurp childhood woes. You start wanting to talk about something political or desiring “character depth” and all these banal terms and structures that do need to be addressed but ultimately overwhelm you.

At times I wish I was more able to flick a switch and let the story ignite, without the inner critics bad breath whispering all my wrongs at me.

Because all that happens is that I end up feeling… inadequate.

But it gets better. In my research, I came across the Allocamelus. Also known as the Ass Camel.

So it’s the 17th century and heraldry needs an animal. Preferably a mystical one. Something with the head of a donkey and the body of a camel. Now understood to be the legendary representation of the llama, the Allocamelus had a popular stint as the pretty face on the crest of the English Eastland Company. Edward Topsell’s The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents believed that when a camel and mule really loved each other… Allocamelus was born.

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Twice the height of a man and just as stubborn. Any attempts to quash its birthright to wilfulness meant it would conspire against you. Like – it would spit at you – evilly. On the plus side if it liked you it would do you favours because why not. It’s better than getting munched on by donkey teeth.

Please take all this with as much salt as possible without tasting your own death.

But suddenly I felt calmer. Those medieval folk – they saw a thing and made it their own. The llama was just being a llama. And the rest of us got a mildly amusing bit of dinner conversation.

The truth is that there is no purpose to trying to find additional meaning in your own work. It’s the writer’s equivalent of a dog chasing it’s tail. The point is to let other people chase your tai – no wait. The point is that the meaning one finds in their work is to produce it. The metaphors, social commentary and depth of meaning of the actual product is best left to the audience.

If society can find mysticism in a llama I think I’ll be fine.

So no more pointless second-guessing.

I drew you a magical floating llama.

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