Thursday, November 29, 2012

A fairy tale told in tweets

Image courtesy of
Earlier this week I conducted an experiment - I told a fairly lengthy fairy tale 140 characters at a time. It was a challenge, picking the right images that would be interesting in each and every tweet, but I'm glad I did it. I learned a lot about narrative structure, imagery and twitter.

Some of my followers really enjoyed it, others found it challenging to read in such small pieces. I also had some problems getting the autoposts to work with Facebook.

I thought it might be a relief for all if I posted the whole story here, so, here it is, hashtags and reminders removed. You can also see it in tweet form here, using the hashtag #tweetale. It's somewhat disjointed as I included reminders for episodes and others commented, which is what twitter is all about.

By Asbjornsen and Moe
Adapted by Laura Packer

Once upon a time there were a king and queen with no children. The queen's heart was tight with grief, loneliness.

In her sorrow, the queen sought out the local wise woman, "Can you help me in my loneliness? Can you give me a child?"

The wise woman at first refused, but as persuaded by gentle talk and fine food and perhaps a glass or two of wine.

"Wash yourself with two buckets of water then throw them under the bed. In the morning, two flowers will have grown. But!"

"One will be fair and one foul," said the wise woman. "Eat only the fair one and we will see what we will see."

So the queen did as she was told. She washed and threw the water under the bed, the slept at her husband's side.

In the morning she saw two flowers, one foul and one fair, as the wise woman predicted. She ate the fair and…

…it was the sweetest thing she'd ever tasted. In her hunger and greed she ate the second and its taste was…

…strange and left her longing for something more. "I;m sure it will neither hurt nor harm me." Soon enough…

…her belly began to swell and the queen could feel her child twisting and turning within. She was brought to bed and…

…soon enough with a push and a grunt a baby girl was born, most peculiar and strange,e riding a goat and carrying a wooden spoon!

The queen looked at her odd daughter with dismay. "You aren't what I wanted!" she cried.

"Don't worry, mother," the girl replied, "My sister will be along in a moment and I wager you'll like her better."

And soon enough, with another push and grunt, the sweetest baby girl anyone had ever seen was born to the queen.

So the two girls, twins, grew up side by side. The pretty one pleased everyone she met, while the homely insisted on wearing rags and was called Tatterhood.

No matter how their parents and nurses tried to separate them, the sisters loved one another, and spent their days and nights together. #

One year, around this season, the girls were in their room when they heard a terrible noise outside.

Tatterhood, not being one to ignore a challenge, peeked out and saw a bevy of trolls in the courtyard.

"Keep my sister safe," she ordered, and rode out on her goat to chase the trolls away.

The whole palace creaked and groaned as if every joint and beam were going to be torn out of its place.

The fair princess was so worried about her sister that she opened the door a crack and peeked out. No sooner did she see…

…Tatterhood whacking the trolls about the head with her spoon when her own head was lopped off by a troll and…

…replaced by a calf's head. The trolls ran away yelping and laughing. When Tatterhood saw her sister, the poor girl began to moo.

Needless to say, Tatterhood was peeved, but announced that she believed she could make this right. "All I need is a ship of my own."

"All I need is a ship of my own with neither sailors nor crew," she declared. Her parents objected by Tatterhood was firm.

No sooner was she given her ship than she and her sister climbed aboard and they sailed off on their own.

They saw many wonders while at sea. Mermaids playing violins and whales singing in harmony, but…

…Tatterhood sailed straight for the land of trolls and witches. As soon as they dropped anchors beasts swarmed.

Some were fearsome and others sly, but Tatterhood, fearsome and sly, wrapped her wraps about her and sallied forth.

She rode amongst them on her goat, beating them on the head with her spoon, until she saw…

…her sisters head hanging as pretty as could be from a window in the castle. She snatched it back and…

…made her way to her ship where, as quick as a tweet, she plucked off the calf's head and gave her sister back her own beauty.

Beauty restored, Tatterhood and her sister sailed across seas stormy and calm, until they found themselves in the land of…

…a widower king, father to one son. As the ship anchored in the harbor, Tatterhood rode her goat on the deck with her hair streaming behind.

The local sailors were amazed! Surely there was someone else on board? "Yes!" cried Tatterhood, "my sister is with me."

"But no one except the king himself may see her," and Tatterhood galloped her goat until the deck thundered.

The king heard of the girl on the goat and the hidden sister. Intrigued, he came to the port. Tatterhood brought our her sister...

Her beauty was so great and her gentleness so clear that the king fell in love with her immediately. He brought both women to the palace…

…and asked the sister for her hand. "No," she replied, "I will marry you only if your son will marry my sister Tatterhood."

The prince was dismayed and disgusted, this unwashed, brazen thing, riding a goat and bearing a spoon couldn't be his bride!

But soon enough, out of love for his father, he agreed to marry Tatterhood. HIs sorrow was as great as his father's joy.

The brewers and bakers, cooks and seamstresses worked for three days and nights, preparing for the wedding. On the fourth day…

…the wedding party set out for the church. The king and his bride were first, each as lovely as the other.

The since on his mount and Tatterhood on her goat followed behind. To look at the prince, he went not to his wedding but execution.

"Why don't you talk," asked Tatterhood. "What can I talk to a goat girl about?" he replied.

"You might ask me why I ride on this ugly goat," Tatterhood taunted. The prince sighed and asked.

"Is it an ugly goat? Why, it's the most beautiful horse a bride ever did ride," and the goat became the finest horse.

They rode further and the prince, in his sorrow and amazement knew not what to say. "Why not ask me why I carry a spoon?"

The prince, not being a dullard, asked, "Tatterhood, why do you carry that spoon?" She replied…

"Is it an ugly spoon? Why it's the loveliest silver fan a bride ever carried," and so it was.

By now the prince was coming to his senses, so he asked, "And why do you wear rags?" Tatterhood smiled.

"Are they rags? Why I think it's the loveliest gown a bride ever did wear," and so it was.

And finally the prince asked, "Why is your face so long and dirty?" "Is it?" replied Tatterhood…

"My sister may be lovely, but I am ten times lovelier still," and so she was.

The king and the sister, the prince and Tatterhood, all drank deep of the wedding cup.

Their happiness spilled over from that day to this. And I know this is true, because my slippers are worn from the dancing.

(c)2012 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

Monday, November 12, 2012

Story quote of the week: On coming into the world

Though I was reluctant to be born, I was attracted by the music. I had plans. I was entrusted with carrying voices, songs, and stories to grow and release into the world, to be of assistance and inspiration. These were my responsibility. I am not special. It is this way for everyone. We enter into a family story, and then other stories based on tribal clans, on tribal towns and nations, lands, countries, planetary systems, and universes. Yet we each have our own individual soul story to tend.

~ Joy Harjo, Mvskoke/Creek poet & musician

(c)2012 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License
True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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