Once upon a time, back when I was a young undergrad just starting classes at the University of Evansville, I was a member of the BMG music club (my parents had signed me up as part of a graduation present, I believe). Every month, I’d get mailers advertising great deals on CDs, and though I’m not sure how I was able to actually afford it, I made a fair number of purchases that first year—granted, I had to make a certain number of purchases to fulfill the contract, so maybe that’s what had happened. Whatever the case, amongst those purchases was a CD entitled “Clannad’s Greatest Hits.” Having been a longtime fan of Enya and yes, Yanni, I was willing to give what appeared to be an Irish new age group a try. When I got the CD and listened to it, I wasn’t sure whether or not I liked it. There were about half a dozen tracks I could say I definitely liked, but most of the rest were either “meh”, or I just plain didn’t like them.
Funny how that CD has ended up changing my life in a fairly significant way.
Fast forward about a decade. For whatever reason—maybe it was for those half-dozen songs I liked—I still had that CD. I was listening to it one day, trying to decide if I liked those few songs enough to keep the CD, or if it was time to get rid of it and move on. One of the songs on the CD is called “Robin (The Hooded Man.” This was one that I had originally pegged as more of a “meh” song, but as I listened to it this time, it got the creative gears in my brain going, and I got the idea, what if Robin Hood could do magic? Having long been a fan of the fantasy genre, this idea appealed to me. But I was busy with teaching at the time and had little to no time for actual productive creativity. So this idea sat on the shelf in the back of my mind, collecting dust.
Until last year.
Last June, I got addicted to Netflix, thanks to a couple of sisters who shall remain unnamed in this particular blog post (but you can find their names here, if you are that interested). It just so happened that I stumbled across a fairly recent BBC series called “Robin Hood” (obviously about that legendary outlaw). I fell in love with it. Sure, I could see it had some flaws, but I found it very entertaining. It also got those creative gears going again. Since I was no longer caught in the trap of lesson plans and grading, it was a lot easier to pull that old idea of a magical Robin Hood off the shelf and begin seeing what I could do with it. I was doing a lot of road-tripping that June as well, which meant a LOT of time spent by myself in the car. I don’t know about you, but I have found that many times, driving (like walking) is a great time for thinking out story ideas. (I got so many story ideas while doing the family paper route for many years…) And so, my Robin Hood story began to take shape…
Now, remember that Clannad CD that started this lengthy anecdote? Specifically, that “meh” song that somehow inspired this creativity? Well, it turns out that it was actually the theme song to an early 80s British drama called “Robin of Sherwood,” which just so happened to be about—you guessed it—that same infamous (i.e. “more than famous”) character. Curious, I read the plot synopses on imdb.com, as well as a few user reviews. So many people raved about it that I finally decided to check it out (luckily, Hulu had most of the episodes available). My initial impression was, “What was so great about that?” Then I learned that Hulu did not carry several key episodes. Annoyed, I finally tracked down a complete copy of the series at the library here in Syracuse. I have now watched through the whole series a few times, still trying to see what everyone else was raving about. I have also watched the BBC Robin Hood a few times through, having gotten it for Christmas (thanks, Melanie!).
You could say I’ve become a little obsessed. (I just call it research.)
As I said, funny how a semi-random purchase in my early college years has changed my life so unexpectedly.
(Incidentally, I still have that CD, and have come to really like just about every single song on there.)
(Also incidentally, Enya is the sister of the lead singer of Clannad.)
So, why do I even share this out of my life? Why do you even care? Well, maybe you don’t, but I do. These things have become important to me, even a semi-obsession, as noted, mostly because for the first time, I feel ready to create—to actually write this story, instead of merely creating background details to set the story up, as has been the case with most of my other story ideas. (In case you didn’t know/realize, writing is hard—there is so much work involved!) As such, I really have been doing a lot of actual research into the legend surrounding Robin and the other characters that commonly crop up. But part of that research has included watching some of the many incarnations created by the entertainment industry. So I share this because my writing is important to me, my story is important to me, and some of the elements that have helped shape this particular idea have also become important to me. And since these things are important to me, I want to share them with the people who are important to me in the hopes that perhaps you can begin to see/understand why they have become a valuable component of my life as it is right now.
Thus, I invite you to read on…