Rapunzel: The 90 degree spin that never was

Novel release day! Ah, to be one of those proficient social media types, blithely unleashing the news upon a breathless audience of thousands. Me, I’m flapping about ineffectually from site to site like a lost hummingbird. Except with less humming and more cries of “Aaargh, I should be doing something, shouldn’t I? Promo. Or something. Or writing more of those guest blogs I’m meant to be doing. Or writing the As for the Q&As. Or figuring out how to win at Twitter. But what? What??”

OK. Calm. Focus. The release day is just the beginning. There is plenty of time. Plenty. Good.

So. I’ve decided a hasty blog post is the go. And, oddly enough, the topic which leaps to mind isn’t today’s release at all. It’s my original vision for a modern-day Rapunzel novel, with an entirely different spin. A 90 degree spin, to be precise. My original plan was making her a flight attendant. Trapped in her horizontal metal tower in the sky, presided over by a Flying Dragon of flight managers whose vicious streak manifested in the policing of her underlings’ hair. I went as far as interviewing a flight attendant friend, and inheriting her old work stuff for material when she quit (found a giant box of it in my garage).

Hey, I liked it. But the manuscript never took off (so to speak), and I moved onto other things. My return to Rapunzel came a couple of months after I fell pregnant with my first child. Rather like the mother at the start of Rapunzel, in fact, and it occurs to me that this was significant.

One thing that worried me about a potential daughter was the scary way the media spew out the message that a woman’s first duty is Looking Hot. It was depressing enough when I hit my teens and started wasting way too much energy on comparing my body parts to some mythical ideal woman and despairing over not measuring up. But in an era where girls of five are scared of getting fat, the prospect of raising one is scary indeed. I figured the thing to do was try to arm her against those messages, because there was no way I could stop them from reaching her.

And somewhere, in a deep writerly corner of my brain, a voice asked “Ah, but could you raise a girl completely shielded from those messages? What would you have to do?” And the answer is, you’d have to home-school her, keep her away from all popular media, and vet everything from the books she sees to the company she keeps. In short, you’d have to lock her away from the world. Rather like the Wicked Witch in Rapunzel, in fact. And with that Andrea Rampion, Professor of Womyn’s Studies (Y intentional), came stomping out of the ivory tower and into my head…

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2 thoughts on “Rapunzel: The 90 degree spin that never was

  1. That’s very interesting. I would never have guessed the original version was something like that. Love how the renewed idea came to you too. Can’t imagine why I’ve never asked how you got the idea; friends ask me that all the time and all writers get asked. I ask it myself frequently. Maybe with you I was too distracted by the actual story.

  2. I’m only just assembling the pieces myself, to be honest! On the surface, I picked a university setting because it fits nicely with the phrase “the ivory tower” and is a setting I’m all too familiar with. Now I’m digging a bit deeper, though, I’m surprised at how much of what I wrote in the novel links to where I was at the time. In a sense, going to PWE was me opening the window to the life I’d always wanted.

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