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The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago

I have never written in the CYS format, nor have I ever completed an actual written story in my life. My experience comes from text-based roleplaying, post by post on forums hosted by sites like Proboards. That was years ago, I'm extremely rusty. I was less confident back then, so I hardly posted anything, afraid of criticism. But I want to be a better writer, and I'm tired of letting myself be limited by fear.

 

So here I am. I have put together a mind map of an idea I want to try out. Ever since I was a kid, I've loved fiction with personified animals as the main characters. Watership Down, Guardians of Ga'Hoole, the Warrior cats series. As long the animals were mostly behaving as animals do, but grappling with human social issues as well. The general idea for my story is about a colony of squirrels that live in a public park in Southern India. They believe that they are put on the Earth to be Servants to humans, as told in a specific tale in the epic Hindu writing Ramayana, of a squirrel servant to Ramachandra. 

 

I've got a link to what I have mapped out so far - it's not much, and I would love any feedback that I can get about what I have. Let me know if you have any questions, and thanks for taking the time to help me out. As an aside, I do not practice Hinduism, and I am also not from India. I realize that by writing about these topics, I may have unintentional biases that could potentially affect the story in a negative way, or that could potentially alienate some readers. I am willing to educate myself on the things I do not have direct, applicable experiences with.

https://mm.tt/1367131647?t=8Rz4uEGglG

 

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago
Tip: Don't mention Warrior Cats around here. (You get points with me for Watership Down though.) Looks like a fun idea and you've obviously put some thought into outlining. That's a useful looking site, too. I use draw.io whenever I attempt a proper mind mapping thingo instead of just dumping paragraphs of setting text into Scrivener, but I'll have to check that one out sometime. Really any idea can work, it's all in the execution. The most important thing is that you pick something you're interested enough to see through to completion. Branching stories can be a lot of work, and taking on too much for a first project without quite realizing that is the number one cause of burnout among newbies. Never having finished any story might be more of a red flag...maybe you could try a regular short story in the same setting for practice, just something in the 1000-2000 word range, and post it in the Creative Corner? There was never a dumb question here.

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago

Oh, I'm absolutely aware that the Warrior series is trash. But it's my trash;  some people really love The Bachelor or General Hospital ironically, and then that love shoots the moon and becomes unironic. For me, I unironically loved Warriors as a kid, and now with hindsight, I still love it, but I realize it's basically a soap with weird star-worshipping cats. I love to go back and read all my old RPs starring my awful, edgy Warriors OCs. Good times, simpler times for sure.

 

Like I said, I'm not Indian. I'm just a WASP that lives in the middle of nowhere, and really I'm more of a WAS. I was raised Protestant, and I quite honestly don't know as much about the Hindi faith as I would like. I'm trying to read up on it for this particular work.

 

I have trouble following through on my ideas. I have a lot of them, but committing to one is something I've always struggled with. I think I get caught in my own head, doubt myself, and overthink it. Then I stop. It's a cycle I'm trying to break, I do it for more things than just writing. I'm trying to be honest about it, and hold myself more accountable. I know it comes from a fear of failure - I get so invested in something, then I worry what people will think if I do it poorly, and then I quit. I really want to stop doing that. 

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago

This isn't a bad place to change that habit. Mizal has a point though, if you start small you increase your chances. Stories with choices that branch grow exponentially. You can write the prologue, intro/background, or eventual first page first to get a sense of accomplishment. It would also give people a chance to provide feedback on your writing and help you improve it for the real story. Then you can use that excitement to launch into writing what you actually want to publish. That is just one option though.

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago

Thanks for the reply. These are also great suggestions. I may try to start with something smaller before leaping into this idea. Maybe a short story is my best bet.

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago

I would love to read it! I'll admit that my knowledge of the subject is very low though.

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago

I have been struggling with the fear to fail and to make my work public years.  So I know how hard it is and is a very annoying and stressful process. People here are extremely helpful once you notice that their harsh criticism is key to improve yourself. However,  before publishing anything think if you are really prepared to receive very negative and hardcore qualms about your work.  It is key to growth and gaining a solid foundation to end up being a good confident writer, but also could burn out and depress you forever. It is your choice what to do with the feedback and with your work. I wish you luck in your endeavours.

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago
If you're not Indian, are you at least autistic, obsessed with anime, or confused about your gender?

...well I suppose we can at least mark 'closeted furry' down on the list...

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago

Those are some weird things to ask haha. I've never been officially diagnosed with autism, but my wife thinks I'm probably somewhere on the spectrum. Honestly, everyone is a little on the spectrum, more often than not. 

 

I'm not sure why you'd consider me a furry, but if you want to believe that about me, it's no skin off my nose. 

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago
I don't think I really need to explain the furry bit, and you can't hope to get the rest since you're a noob and not even an Indian. Move along, nothing to see here.

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago

All right then, thanks, I feel so welcome 

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago
Through the fine mist of passive aggression you've sprayed onto this post, I can detect you mean the opposite, but at the same time aren't really able to explain any rational reason why.

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago

Pmed you. Hopefully that helps. 

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago
I just realized that any time you reply to me, the little dragon thing on my avatar's head is directly glaring down at your tiny clueless dinosaur.

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago

Wow, never really expected anyone to inculcate an idea like this lol. If I remember my religion classes from school correctly, this squirrel was the symbol of how,"materialistic things don't matter," because all the squirrel was doing was putting in a grain of sand while building the Ram Setu, and Ram appreciated it the same way he did the monkeys because he was seeing the devotion.

I think your aim is to give that same moral message right? If so, pretty cool! I must ask though, why exactly did you choose south India specifically? Because the ram Setu is in the south too, that's why?

Well I've got an idea from this myself, what if its possible to make a fanfiction of Vyasa's mahabarat as well? Lol. Maybe I'll add a dark spin and just kill all the five pandavas, maybe make Krishna loose hope in humamity too, and make the bad guys win, in the end, and cause the entire world to desent into evil and sin! Just to prove that I'm an edgy atheist.

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago

Thanks! I find epics based in Theist ideas super fascinating. What I took from the moral story was that the squirrel was doing everything in his power to show his devotion, and the best he could do was the pebbles. The other animals make fun of him, but Rama sees his devotion and says that his love is enough. So I could see the materialism connection, but it made me think of the whole "blessed are the meek" lesson from the New Testament. I kind of want to play off of that with this story.

 

I chose south India because that's where these specific squirrels are located (Indian palm squirrel and Malabar giant squirrel.) I may have to take you up on helping me out with the Hindi cannon. I'm a complete outsider to it, I honestly didn't really know much about it until I did research for this idea. 

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago
I'd think the widow with the two mites would be the more obvious parallel.

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago

That definitely works too, and is honestly a superior connection. Thanks for that.

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago

The Malabar giant squirrel isn't found in the south per se, more like the west. Its the state animal of Maharashtra, and honestly I hate those little agressive pests. Back in school, we used to have these huge banyan trees where the branches used to tend to jut inside the school walls. and a ton of these squirrels used to come in running to raid our lunchboxes, one of them just jumped on my face and bit my nose when I was offering peanuts!

Well if you plan to include both of these, maybe you could make a part where the giant squirrel, currently living in, uh, let's say the bustling city of Bombay, tries to travel all the way to the South, to meet the palm squirrel. This could be like a mini survival RPG experience, only now with a squirrel! If you need help with describing the surroundings, maybe I could co-author with you for your story game?

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago

If you need help with understanding any of the mythology feel free to shoot me a pm.

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago
It appears that this guy might have become frightened and run away when a single person asked him which of the most common nerd stereotypes he fit.

I hope that isn't the case, but I guess noobs gonna noob.

He did send me an apology (I'm not sure for what) and I tried to explain 'site culture' as clearly as possible, bit I haven't heard from him since unless he followed up with you over PMs or something.

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago

Nah, same here. No pm's from 'em whatsoever, and lmao thats hilarious Miz, maybe the apology was just another way of being passively agressive? But, i dont get that why they would be "offended" in the first place...unless they're actually Indian masquerading around as not being one, so they took those statements at heart? Or maybe bcoz they're a furry who don't like being called a furry?(I thought furries took pride in being called that, we need your expert opinion @Isentinelpenguin )

I did send them a pm myself two days ago, but no reply so far. 

Well, if they really did run away, let's hope nobody minds if I steal this idea for myself.

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago
It's a cool idea. I would have enjoyed no longer being the only person on the site with a story about talking squirrels.

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

2 months ago

Noooo my precious idea (you could probably execute it better than me lol)

But I'll stick around and try, it's just gonna be a slog.

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

one month ago
I came back here to check what mapping software this guy had been using (hi nyr0c, glad you're still working on this) and holy crap, everyone should do themselves a favor and do an image search for 'malabar giant squirrel'. How in the hell was I never aware these things existed?

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

one month ago

Ahahaha, I used to call shekrus "little rainbows" for a reason. But believe me, they're mean as fuck, don't fall for the cute colour.

The Smallest Servants - Squirrels and the Ramayana

one month ago
Yes, now that you mention it I did notice that many of the pictures I looked at seemed to contain a giant pissed off squirrel seconds away from launching itself at the face of the photographer.