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Writing the fairytale [work in progress]

October 7, 2010

I’m back! Foot surgery (and the requisite mind-numbing pain meds) can only keep a girl from her poetry for so long.

For those who have been following along, this is a work in progress that I’ve spun off from the original piece I wrote years ago. I, like many of you who shared your thoughts, was happy with how the analogy in the middle section of the original poem worked with the opening and closing stanzas. But upon rereading it years later, I wondered if the analogy was heavy handed. So I set myself the exercise of spinning off the two sections into their own poems.

Here’s the first effort. If you haven’t read the original poem yet, consider reading the work in progress first. If you have read the original, consider this as its spinoff. Does the new piece work, on its own or in concert with the original? Should I drop the second and fifth stanzas of the new piece entirely? Should I just stop messing with a good thing?

It never was a fairytale.
I’m too independent
To play Cinderella
And you certainly were no Prince Charming.
But I lost something
More precious than a diamond
As ordinary as a slipper
As fragile as glass.

Love slipped from my fingers like silk
Falling in a soft heap
At feet frozen in place
By the knowledge that nothing is perfect
Because I know this
Is a less than perfect world
And you could not remain a soulmate
Once you lost your soul.

I once thought it
Was a fairytale.
Ours was a story of true love
On display in a front-page photo
But it could not end
“Happily ever after.”

To Luthien
You said, “I will stay
With you until death do us part.”
I did not know that on this one point
You would keep your word:
I would face the world alone.

They say that knights
Armor blazing bright
Are supposed to just gallop off
To rescue the damsel in distress.
And ride off you did
Leaving me behind—distressed.

I suppose that like any girl
I craved the fairytale
But now that you are Romeo
I love life too much to play Juliet.
So I take a breath
Spill that vial of poison
And I swing bare feet down to the ground
To stand on my own.

—Julie Laing

41 Comments leave one →
  1. October 24, 2010 2:56 am

    I mistyped this website and luckily I found it again. presently am at my university I added this to favorites so that I can re-read it later regards


  2. October 22, 2010 3:00 pm

    A great and thoughtful verse that weighs its words carefully and well– nicely done!


    • October 24, 2010 6:17 pm

      Thanks! I just read your rally entry for this week–also nicely done. I’m going to be looking for the buddha in the moon tonight.


  3. October 22, 2010 2:08 pm

    award notice,

    join week 31 Rally if you can, let me know after you are done.


  4. October 22, 2010 9:16 am
    I invite you to attend Thursday Poets Rally week 31
    let me know when you are ready.
    Thanks a lot.

    how is everything?
    I feel strange because it seems so quiet today…
    hope you well.


  5. October 21, 2010 7:03 pm

    Hello. Great job. I did not expect this on a Wednesday. This is a great story. Thanks!


    • October 24, 2010 6:59 pm

      Thanks! Sorry for the slow response–for some reason wordpress dropped you into my spam page. I’ve got it sorted now, so keep reading and let me know what you think.


  6. October 16, 2010 8:08 am

    what a poem! simply mind blowing!

    visiting you from jingle’s TRP (Thursday Rally 4 Poets).


    • October 18, 2010 9:57 pm

      Thanks for reading, Trisha! It’s been a crazy weekend, but I’m hoping things will slow down later this week and I can check out your pieces as well.


  7. October 12, 2010 1:42 pm

    First, apologies for taking so long to give you the thorough reading your poem deserves before commenting, The last week has been insane, and I wanted to make sure I had time to properly break down your poem as you asked me to do. That said, lemme say I enjoyed the poem; onto the deeper examination.

    If you are going to frame the poem in terms of the ‘fairytale’ structure, it requires being aware of the possible cliches, which I think you did a good job avoiding. Because of the nature of fairytale structure, it is a good method of forcing the reader into a closer look at what you are saying in order to differentiate it from all the other derivative fairytale poems. The twist on the end, of expectations leading you to be shown the truth behind the fairytale worked very well for exactly that reason. Twisting the meaning behind the differences between what we are told and what we experience is the essence of strong storytelling. Building your narrative from there ensures a strong foundation.

    The story itself is engrossing in the sense that the reader is presented with a situation that is assumed to move in one direction then subtly changes with the disappointments resulting from broken promises. Again, a lot to write about with those kinds of experiences and I think you did a good job of helping hte reader identify with the narrator.

    A few minor concerns – why capitalize the first letter of every line? If you want to punctuate, I can see the use in following the rules of capitalization, but capitalizing the first letter of each line takes away from your carefully crafted words. You also seemed to switch back and forth with punctuation. It doesn’t matter which way you want to go, poetry can be written punctuated or consist of only words. Doing some of both follows what i said earlier about distracting from the beautiful story you have.

    Overall, I very much enjoyed reading the poem. Flipping through several of your other efforts tells me you have plenty of talent; I think (much like lal of us poets) just need to keep writing and experimenting with different styles/themes/etc. and your natural talents will shine through. It’s all in accentuating your strengths by editing what you have to say in a way that puts the focus squarely on the poem. I look forward to reading more of your poems and seeing what you do with the your wordplay. Hope this helps. please feel free to drop by The Fool’s Back Pocket if you ever want me to look at a specific poem. I know I can be slow but i’m always happy to talk poetry with any of the amazing poets on trying to share poetry on the web. Take it easy,



    • October 12, 2010 10:27 pm

      Thanks so much for your comments! I’m pleased with your response to the piece–both the positive and the concerns. Editing my own work has always been the most difficult part of the process for me, but I agonize over it because I know how crucial it is. You caught me on the capitalization/punctuation–I haven’t yet decided how I want to deal with that, so I took the easy route. You are right–a decision is necessary.

      I’ll certainly be pestering you for more feedback!


  8. October 11, 2010 12:26 pm

    Hi Julie – on the Poetry Group – simply request to join and we’ll confim you. You are welcome. Have a read of the Group Info first to see how it rolls. Alternatively, Facebook Friend Request me and I’ll straight send you an invitation

    Warmest Salad



  9. October 11, 2010 11:20 am

    *breathes out*

    how long did u take to think this up?? :O

    liked it though 🙂


    • October 11, 2010 9:06 pm

      Ohhh, that’s a tough one to answer. I wrote and published the original poem, “Shoes,” years ago. Then I stopped writing poetry for a long time. And when I started writing again, I reread that poem and decided to try to spin it off into two separate pieces, one based on the fairytale theme and the other on the shoe theme. I’m still working on the shoe piece but hope to share it soon. I’m glad you enjoyed this one!


  10. October 11, 2010 3:27 am

    Greetings, friend! How r u?
    I sincerely invite you to join us for a Monday Poetry Potluck party, bring in 1 to 3 poems to share, let our fellow poets read and encourage your creative work, and have fun reading other poets from our list and discover fresh friendship as well!
    This is only once a week opportunity, your talent and hard work deserve attention, I encourage you to sign in and follow our blog so that you get the most updated information about our other features….
    Hurry up, the more you share, the happier we are.
    Hope to see you at our party soon!
    to link in, click on the link via this comment from above, then look at the blue link button at the end of the post, click on the button, have your poem link copy and pasted in the first box, then enter your name, then, your email address…let us know if you need help by leaving a comment under the same post…


  11. October 11, 2010 3:26 am

    Julie, as I read through the end, a smirk had grown on my face.. I have someone who would fit aptly.. very well written 🙂


    • October 11, 2010 9:40 am

      Thanks! My work is so personal that I sometimes fear it won’t reach people who don’t know me, so I love hearing that others can relate to it.


  12. October 10, 2010 5:33 pm

    Oh Julie, this is so sad, and beautifully written. A rythmic flow and occasional rhyming gives this piece a music of its own, while the pain of realizing the stark reality – dreams shattered – the Big Lie about happily ever after and the sad, sad story of his death by his own hand – a Romeo’s death – clearly portraying suicide without telling it. Well Done


    • October 11, 2010 9:39 am

      Thanks so much for reading and for your comments. I’m happy to hear many of the ideas I was trying to present with this piece came through.


  13. October 10, 2010 3:39 pm

    Independent, free-spirited women. Love ’em. Good for you. Nice poem too

    Warmest Salad

    Luke @ WordSalad


  14. October 10, 2010 2:50 pm

    What a powerful poem!
    My mouth still is hanging open…I will read this many times. Bravo!


  15. October 10, 2010 12:37 pm

    Julia, I love this. It is sad, but there is so much power in it. Personally, I think the second stanza lends a sort of emotional backstory. I have no suggestions for improvement. I also like the fact that you ask for feedback. I also hope to receive critique on my work when I post it. So much of it (especially those written to themes) is created in haste and unedited. Thanks for sharing this.


  16. mangoesntangoes permalink
    October 9, 2010 4:17 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this poem. You did a great job and I loved the two famous love stories that you shared in this poetry relating the message that fantasy isn’t always reality. Well done!


  17. October 9, 2010 7:15 am

    I also want to reccommend a site to you.

    it’s a poetry site, where users a re required to give contructive feedback to eachother, It’s only poets and all posts get automatically copyrighted. I love it, because it’s a great place to share my poems and get honest reviews and ratings.


  18. October 9, 2010 7:12 am

    That was a great poem. It was well contructed with a great use of language that really set the theme. It had a great message as well. I really enjoyed reading and re-reading it.

    As for dropping stanzas… the 2nd is uneccessary.. it doesn’t describe the story or theme much. Though there are some beautiful lines in there… maybe you could use it in another piece.

    The 5th stanza should stay.The knights and damsel in distress add a lot to the fairytale theme and describe your emotions without being too direct.

    Well, What more can I say, but…. Bravo!

    ah and promote my rally wk 30 entries…


  19. October 8, 2010 11:12 am

    Stunning! I look forward to reading more of your works in progress…

    Happy Rally


  20. October 8, 2010 8:58 am

    great writing..


    • October 9, 2010 1:24 pm

      Thanks so much! I really enjoyed your entry for this rally, too (“deadlock”). The parallels that you draw with just a few words are powerful.


  21. October 8, 2010 8:43 am

    Can you hear me clapping?
    This is an amazing piece of work! I don’t think you should drop any stanza as they all play such a crucial part in so tragic a story.

    I love the power that rips through to the reader in the final stanza.

    This is a sad and brave tale.
    Peace to you and yours,
    (my entries)


    • October 9, 2010 1:10 pm

      Thanks for the applause–I always thought I would only get that at an open mic! I’m on my way to check out your entries now.


  22. October 8, 2010 8:02 am

    Glad to have you back, 4 weeks long break…
    best wishes for your foot…

    Glad to have your contribution,,
    beautiful highlight of one’s life journey that is packed with growth, pain, and realizations…

    have fun,
    Happy Rally!


  23. October 8, 2010 8:00 am

    promises and vows are sweet to have, but God has its own arrangement,
    via losses or adversity,
    one only grow smarter and stronger….

    be proud of be independent….



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