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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Vicky Daddo: Of Legends and Tall Poppies

Vicky Daddo’s story in Mythic Resonance didn’t, at first, look to me like a story connected with myths and legends. I took the anthology theme literally, hence my story based on Snow White. But Vicky took it further and wrote a story asking, “What is a legend, anyway?” And it’s true, too. We say, “You’re a legend!” when all we mean is, “Thanks, that’s nice of you” and “Oh, wow, look at that goal he kicked! He’s a legend!” The word has become watered down and it’s a pity. We do have national legends, of course, like the legend of Gallipoli and Simpson and his donkey, but people keep questioning them! Tall poppies, indeed, as Vicky says. I’ll let her say it in her own words. Take it away, Vicky!
It’s an honour to write a guest blog, especially considering I am somewhat of a novice myself, having only recently joined the blogging clan.  And it is always an honour to write about writing, if only because if other writers read this, they can nod knowingly and ‘get’ what I’m saying! 
The inspiration for my story ‘Meeting my Renaissance Man’ came from the thought that there aren’t too many true legends in our history.  Certainly sporty people will christen anyone with a half-decent right foot, or spin bowling action, a legend; and there are those who insist that teenage pop stars are legends too. But for me a real legend is someone who has left humanity a legacy that is impossible to ignore, someone who has changed the way we live or think, someone who has used their brainpower to improve the our world.  One person who sprang instantly to mind was Leonardo da Vinci, truly a man born before his time.
I wondered what it would have been like for this genius to live in the 21st century.   He would probably have been given a label – mad, eccentric, drug addict, autistic.  He would probably have acquired a manager, a website and a reality television show.  But how would he have coped with the limitations of the school system and the constrictions of our society that is so fickle?  Tall poppies never fare well. 
So, I picked Leonardo out of 15th century Italy and plonked him in modern day Melbourne, and I let the writing flow.  Who would his modern day Mona Lisa be?  How would he survive in the cultural capital of Australia?  How would he utilise social media to his advantage?  Could he have sustained a relationship with an Aussie girl?
I wanted the story to have humour and to make Leonardo more human than superhuman, as he is so often portrayed.  I hope my tongue-in-cheek take on why he painted the Mona Lisa the way he did won’t offend any art lovers out there.  It was a fun story to write and I hope it reads that way too.
The mythic resonance of Leonardo’s life will remain through the passage of time, of that I’m certain. It’s difficult to imagine a man so overwhelmingly and diversely gifted being universally accepted in any society – we are a suspicious lot.  But thank goodness the stories of his life and life’s works have been preserved for us to ponder, marvel over and be grateful for.
You can visit my other musings on writing at or follow me on twitter @vickydaddo.  You might like to prod me occasionally and tell me to get off the social media sites and start writing that second novel!

My stories have appeared in Woman’s Day, That’s Life Fast Fiction, Award Winning Australian Writing 2009, 100 Stories for Queensland and other anthologies.  I have recently won the Global Short Story Competition and the Kerry Greenwood Malice Domestic award at the Scarlet Stilettos and have been shortlisted in many other local and national competitions.  I write all sorts of short fiction, mainly for adults, and have an abandoned novel languishing in the bottom drawer. Let’s hope the muse gives me some better direction for the next one.

1 comment:

Satima Flavell said...

Thanks for giving me a deeper understanding of where you were coming from with that very entertaining story, Vicky!