I can trace the dawn of my writing career to Cinderella. The Disney movie. I saw it and was blown. Away.
I had a perhaps uncomfortably enthusiastic appreciation for Cinderella’s abusive life at the beginning of the film. “The only thing that would make this better,” thought five-year-old me, “is if she were a boy!”
It wasn’t long after that I saw in the TV Guide (We had to read a paper magazine to find out what was on TV back then. Archaic.) a movie called “Cinderfella”. I was hugely excited. I circled the entry – it felt adult to cut into newsprint with ball point. I marked the date on the calendar hanging in the kitchen. I cleared my wee elementary school schedule!
Long story short: NOT what I was hoping for. Some day I’ll write the long ranting blog post about why “Cinderfella” is the worst movie, rooted in patriarchal baloney. I’ve never forgiven Jerry Lewis. (But really, does Jerry Lewis deserve forgiveness? The nutty professor was a creep! I digress.)
Scouring the public library and local TV, I found nothing that would fulfill my need for a male Cinderella.
I daydreamed what the story of a male Cinderella would be like. I daydreamed it a lot. A lot a lot. This might be tied into my Awakening As A Sexual Being. *cough* At least that’s how I explain that the plot usually centered on the Plucky Girl Not Unlike Me who came to save him.
I daydreamed so much I got frustrated with keeping track of my mental plot-revisions and had to write it down.
It was a revelation. I could day-dream wide awake and, with the added assistance of paper, I could actually advance my plot! Oh that poor, poor boy. I tormented him for YEARS. Sometimes it was his wicked step-mother, sometimes a wicked step-father, sometimes it was his wicked wife through arranged marriage! He even had some pretty mean kids, toward the end of it. He was very patient and long-suffering and pretty about it.
The odd thing is, despite all that, ahem, practice, I’ve never tried to turn any of my Self Indulgent Submissive Male fantasies into Real Writing. I’ve had an outline for ages for a “Cinderfella”. It goes like this:
Poor boy from immigrant family, urban environment. I was thinking Slavic Village. Saintly immigrant mother dies, leaving him with New American Dad and two step-brothers who treat him like dirt as “Fresh off the boat” and use his fragile citizenship status as a huge lever to beat him with and keep a virtual prisoner in his own house. He does all the housework while StepDad schemes to Make It Rich. His only friend in life is a sweet old gay man (Fairy Godfather) who, when the reality TV show “Who Wants to Marry A Supermodel” comes to town, gives him a fabulous makeover!
I’ve written, like, a first chapter, and the announcement of the “Ball” and the Fairy Godfather makeover scene. Then I lost interest at introducing the princess… I mean, supermodel.
Guess I’ve only ever been interested in the first part of the story. Yeah. Let’s not look into that too closely.
Still, if it weren’t for that strong urge to write a story like this when I was a kid, I wouldn’t have discovered the wonderful world of writing at all, so I can’t say the obsession has been fruitless.by