Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The lost story

Has anybody read the "Emily of New Moon" books by L.M. Montgomery (of Anne of Green Gables fame)? I liked Anne, as a girl, but I loved Emily. Emily was a writer, and though I haven't read the books in years, I still remember the story of her "lost story." See, she wrote a story about a "peddlar of dreams." I can't recall how much detail was given, but I remember imagining a peddlar's cart and an old dream merchant pushing it around, and the possibilities seemed endless to me. I loved that idea. Well, in the book, Emily showed the story to a trusted friend, who the reader knew (but she didn't know) was in love with her. She wanted his opinion of her talent, and he told her the story wasn't any good -- because he wanted to knock those writer dreams right out of her head so she'd give up and marry him, and in despair, she burned the only copy of the story. Tragic! So even though I read those books years ago, I've never forgotten that poor burned story, as if it were something real that had really been lost. Funny how things can take up residence in your mind, like this dream peddlar has been wandering in there with his cart, all these years.

Well, on my most recent quote search I came across this:

"If there were dreams to sell,
Merry and sad to tell,
and the crier rung his bell,
What would you go buy?"

-- Thomas Lovell Beddoes

And of course I instantly thought of Emily's story, and I got to thinking: I want to write that lost story! Wouldn't that be fun? Kind of like L.M. Montgomery "fan fiction" -- only, I'd probably actually just take the premise and write it as my own, not try to write like a fictional Victorian girl. . . but that would be fun too, a fun challenge. I wonder if anyone else might want to do this? Could be kind of a fun little group project. Write different versions of "Emily's lost story" about the peddlar of dreams. I think the premise given in the book is vague enough it could go in a lot of different directions. (Not that I have time to do it right now, but maybe as a little palette cleanser when I'm done with this round of revisions on Silksinger.)
Of course, I'd have to reread the Emily books, which sounds wonderful. I don't recall which book it was in -- maybe the second, maybe the third. (Unlike the endless Anne series, there are only three.) Here's the first one, if you're curious. Anyone interested? Or even if not, anyone else remember the story?

18 comments:

Anne said...

Oh Emily Byrd Starr. The Emily books are so way better than the Anne books. Emily just has more depth.
Like any good Canadian I’ve read the books probably about 4 times, albeit the latest time ten years ago, I can help with a few of the details that I remember. (Even so, if I get something wrong someone please correct me.)
I think the title of the story was actually “The seller of dreams”. (I kinda like Peddler of dreams better though.) Emily gets the idea for the story in Emily Climbs when she and her friends are stuck in an old cottage during a snowstorm. It’s Teddy who gives her the idea as they are joking around and I think he might even tell her to write it into a story. Maybe. & although she wants to write it and dreams up plots, Emily doesn’t feel like she’s a good enough writer yet to do it justice, so she stores it away until a later date. So it’s in Emily’s Quest when she finally sits down and writes it. Then Dean tells her it sucks, and she burns the only copy. I think she might start to rewrite it after she learns that Dean lied to her, but I’m not sure. & I don’t think we are ever given very many details about what the story is about, just the general synopsis like you said.
I think, it’s a great idea for a bunch of different stories.

Amber Lough said...

I haven't read the Emily books, but I've been meaning to. Maybe I should check them out...

A group project would be fun. Would it be a collection of stories that are independent of one-another, or would they be related, like in Click?

Liana said...

I love the Emily books! I re-read all three of them just last year....and that poor burned story pretty much broke my heart.
Dean always seemed so sadly tragic, didn't he? Still, I thought it was horrible that he lied to her.

I'm so glad to find more Emily-lovers! She's so little-known but pretty awesome and supposedly is most like L. M. Montgomery herself. :)

Erin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Erin said...

Oh wow, what a brilliant idea. And what a fascinating premise! I would totally be game for some kind of writing project...feel free to email me about it whenever/if ever you decide to go forward with it.

joelandnatalie said...

Hurray for Emily! She was always one of my favorites. My grandmother gave me the first book for Christmas one year (and my 2 girl cousins got some really lame stories - oops!), and I've read it so much it fell apart. I loved "the flash" -- that is exactly how I feel about inspiration, too!

Shannon said...

Oh, yes! The Emily books. I was always so sad that there were only three of them. I haven't read them in forever! I would totally be up for participating in writing a little version of the dream peddler, though.

Anonymous said...

I love the snippet of the T.L. Beddoes poem. I've been thinking about it all day.

megg said...

Oh YES. I could never understand when Anne was more popular than Emily. I have all three of the books in pride of place on my little shelf of most loved books. I must have read those books a dozen times. I loved Emily. I think that those magical, mysterious books changed my life in a lot of ways. I thought that while Anne thought about magic, Emily HAD it. That was the crucial difference!! They made a television series about it here in Canada a while ago but it wasn't quite right.

I would be VERY interested in collaborating! I might even sit down tonight and read the first book again. What a delicious idea!!

Heather said...

I'm so IN! Let's do it!

Meg said...

oooh, I LOVED those books. I thought they were better than the Anne books. My favorite of L.M. Montgomery's books was Magic for Marigold. I still think about it.

Stephanie Perkins said...

Cool!!! Oh, I wish I had time to do this. I was just thinking about re-reading Anne last week, but now I'm going to have to read Emily instead! It sounds like I'm missing out on something special.

Can't wait to see what you all come up with.

ArtsyMama said...

What a fun post and great idea!
I'm at work...at the library reference desk...so I just checked out all the Emily books. Can't wait to get started reading them:) Thanks for the inspiration!
Kari

Amber said...

Oh yes! Write that.

Hey! Come see our new puppy!

:)ox

myrna said...

I loved Emily too. She was the first character I read about who understood what it was like for me to have to write.

And what a fun writing prompt! How would you choose writers and set a word limit for stories?

Laini Taylor said...

Ooh! I'm so excited that there are some takers! I definitely think we should do this. How fun! I'll post about it in the next few days, and we can ponder the details. Maybe first we should set a day for a kind of Emily "book club" and shoot to have read (or reread) the books by some time this summer; then we can set a deadline for the stories. We can post them all at a special blog. Yes? Fun fun!

soliluna said...

this idea is great! I too have childhood copies of the Emily books on my top shelf and just began rereading the first this winter. Love this...

Peggy

Sustenance Scout said...

Ooh, I think my nine-year-old ought to be introduced to Emily...and then I can borrow the books to read too.... K.