One day, not too long ago, I was pleasantly scouring the internet for some information about my ancestors. I found some birth records in a church that was local to them at that time (in the middle of the 1800s). Some of the records mentioned the location of the actual birth, and Google translations claimed that one of my ancestors was born “violently in the brambles”. I decided to try google maps as to the exact location, and then I entered into a whole world that previously had been unknown to me. As I had access to pictures that other people had pinned to the map, and I could see a lot of it at street level; basically “seeing” the same streams, rivers, mountains and plains that my ancestors had also seen so many centuries before. Satellite maps were especially useful for this, as it showed the terrain without all the modern day stuff.
Anyway, my mind was all wrapped up in a virtual time-warp, when I decided to check Facebook. Someone had posted this link. It is a contest for writers to enter their stories based on the age-old tale of Cinderella. I went and looked at it and read the rules, and read all of the comments. However, I have never been one to enter contests. I guess I am just not very competitive. Especially, since I am not convinced of my writing skills. Then to have to think of an all new version of a tale that has been told countless number of times would be pretty hard. Another thing is that even if I could come up with a great story, I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to keep it under the required 20,000 words. I was thinking it was a nice idea, but not really for me.
So, I went back to my ancestry googling. I think it was less than an hour later, I stumbled across an old legend that was vaguely connected to my ancestors, and all of a sudden I had it. My Cinderella story idea! I would merge the two stories. Brilliant!
I got to work at once and began writing it up. I was on a roll. I could see it all in my head as if I was there, living it myself right along with my characters. It was all coming together, just like magic. As much as I would like to say that it was “all meant to be”. Let me just stop right here to insert that I can’t say that I am one of those people who believe that every coincidence is “The Voice of God”.
Then someone mentioned the fact that if I entered it into the contest I would lose the copyright to my story. This stunned me for all of three minutes, before I pushed that to the back of my mind. I would deal with all of that legal stuff later. Right now, I couldn’t be bothered; I had a story to write. I don’t much care for eating or sleeping when this happens. It produces a feeling which I think might be compared to a drug induced high. Of course, I really wouldn’t know since I have never taken drugs. So, I worked feverishly until it was done. I looked at the word count and it was exactly 20,000. I decided I had better send that initial email to find out about the copyright rules of the contest.
While I waited for the answer, I began the editing. I gave it a once over polish and looked at the word count, it was 20,298. I went through it again and now the word count was 19,964. When I finished the third time of going through it, I looked at the word count and it was exactly 20,000 again. Really!
I printed it out and gave it to my mother to see what she thought of it. While she was reading it, I received the response about the contest rules. Dash it all! I would lose the copyright, worldwide no less. I suppose deep down I always knew this, but like the ostrich that I am, I was pretending it would not be so.
So, here I am in a quandary as to what to do. Of course, I can self-publish it just like I did my novel, Dear Tiz. That is what my mother thinks I should do, and then I can add another chapter or two and flesh it out a bit. But there goes my chance at some very much needed exposure. Or I could go ahead and submit it. Chances are the only ones interested in how it relates to my own ancestors will be my family. It might not even be selected, and then the whole issue of copyright won’t matter.
Someone suggested that I write another Cinderella story for submission, one that I am not so emotionally attached to. The truth is that I don’t think I am capable of writing a story that I am not passionate about. If writing becomes a chore, and doesn’t produce that euphoria, then what’s the point?
So, I don’t know what I will do. At least, I don’t have to decide today. The funny thing is that I know exactly what the Cinderella in my story would do; she would not submit it.
Just for fun, here is a poll.
ETA: Ok, here is a thought. If someone who speaks Norwegian fluently, could help to translate this story into Norwegian, I would definitely like to self-publish it and offer both translations in one volume. I might even include a third translation in Spanish as well.