Anica Lewis (anicalewis) wrote,
Anica Lewis

  • Mood:

Biblical Femslash

. . . for fun and prophet!

Well, the Biblical femslash I wrote today was actually for neither fun nor *ahem* profit, but for my Advanced Fiction class - not that I didn't have some fun with it. To some extent, I was just very relieved to find an angle on the prompt which worked for me.

To start at the beginning, the prompt itself: we were assigned to retell the story of Judith, a beautiful Jewish widow whose city is being held under siege. She goes out, seduces General Holofernes (leader of the enemy), gets him drunk, and cuts off his head, which she then takes home with her. So for the second time in three weeks, our writing prompt has me borrowing my roommate's Bible; I think my first problem was that, in my research, I read the story. Bear with me - I'm actually not dissing the Bible. It's just that it told the entire story in a very strong style which is distinctively not mine, so I had trouble afterward with writing it my own way. It didn't help that I know so little about that time period and location.

So here's what happened: I started writing without having a clear angle. My Judith (the story was required to be from her point of view) was a determined woman, but not much else. I had vague ideas of getting her together with Achior, the fellow who is sent into her city by Holofernes (he's angry at Achior for saying that the Israelites' God won't let them fall, so he sends Achior to join them, saying that if the Israelites really will triumph, our man A. will be fine, but otherwise Holofernes will kill him with the rest of the enemy). The occasion simply did not arise. I gave Judith a son; she's been widowed for three and a half years, and the Biblical story says nothing about whether or not she and her late husband ever had kids. I thought this would give her a human motivation for her actions (given that Holofernes' army has been known to kill even young boys in the cities he takes), one with which I could identify, but she did not manifest that kind of personality. Rather, she became a kind of God-fearing lunatic, motivated by nothing but God's will. I could only too easily see her killing someone - there was no stretch, no drama or tension in her committing such a terrible act. It was God's will, so she was gonna do it, so there. I wasn't enjoying the story; the dialogue felt forced and unnatural, and the motivations much the same. The piece was being largely carried by one (admittedly rather awesome) metaphor.

Well. About halfway through this, I came up with a better idea: I could still humanize Judith with love, but with a love which fit more naturally into her story. Right. So, who does Judith have oodles of opportunity to get to know and spend time with? Who would make her perfect partner? Well gosh, look at that: there's another woman with her in the Classical paintings of Holofernes' death scene. That would be her maid, Abra. Her maid who runs her household, who goes with her right into the enemy camp and helps her smuggle Holofernes' head out, whom she would later free when she went on to never remarry . . .

So I was rather amused by my own motivations for writing Biblical femslash: not to make a bold statement or be rebellious or offensive to anyone (though I'm certainly not shedding any tears over the ideas of having done those things, if indeed I have), but to humanize the character through love. I mean, honestly, I was going to put Judith with Achior pretty much because I liked his name. This makes much more sense. Plus, it's just dripping with compassion and humanity: Judith and Abra, secret lovers, raise Judith's young son together in a world that doesn't understand . . . And actually, in the brief appearance Abra made in my first attempt at the piece, she was my favorite character. That was partly what led me to this approach.

I feel triumphant. This piece was mopping the floor with me, and I have conquered it. Also, this doubles the number of pieces of fanfiction I have written in my life, and expands my repertoire to include slash of both men and women. And I did it for class! Life is so cool sometimes.

In other news, I submitted a short story to a writing contest on my campus. The contest is a small one, sponsored by WordShop (our writers' group), and the story an older one (because the word count limit ruled out most of my newer pieces), but of course I'll let you know if anything comes of it.

  • Don't Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before

    You know a story has made it into cultural canon when it's getting repackaged and updated in different versions. This has been especially common in…

  • A Hottie by Any Other Name

    So I'm reading another YA paranormal romance. I'm frequently disappointed by these, mostly for reasons that fall under the "romantic interest is a…

  • On Love Triangles and Fictional Gal Pals

    I recently decided to have another go at reading some YA paranormal romance. There's so much of it, and it's so popular, that I thought there must be…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded