_ I say this with full awareness that I am the youngest person involved in the program, and this is one of those things that make me seem even younger: but do you guys remember the scene in “The Matrix,” when Keanu is getting his martial-arts training, and Morpheus looks at him and says “stop trying to hit me and hit me!”?
I remember it.
I remember it because it happened in November, and Morpheus was my NaNoWrimo novel, and it told me to stop trying to hit it and hit it, not in a sexual way, and I said no, I’m going to try as fast and as recklessly as I can to hit you, novel, and I think I might have even closed my eyes at one point, but that’s what it felt like: swinging wildly at something that’s way too hard to hit if you insist on just swinging wildly like a fool. And so I couldn’t hit it, and a fortnight and a fourth of a fortnight later I asked nicely if I could have the pill that sent me back to the real world, and the novel said “Hunter, this is where your metaphor falls apart, apt as it might have been at one point.”
Anyway, it was a colossal failure except for some neat character names, but failures are good for one thing, and that is learning from them. So I have decided on several reasons that explain why I had no choice but to quit NaNoWriMo with my shameful tail between my shameful legs by the time I was getting excited about Turkey. I’ll be uploading the entire thing in it’s unfinished glory, because if I can’t use my vain toil to pad my practicum hours, what good is it?
If my novel was an action movie, it would be called “The Stillborn Identity.”
These aren’t in any particular order, but this is probably the thing that got me off track first and the fastest.
What I Did Wrong 1: I Didn’t Limit Myself
The crux of my story had to do with the idea of the Lamed Vavniks, which is an idea in mystic Judaism that there are 36 righteous people on the earth at any one time, and their existence is what keeps God from destroying us all. (I learned of this idea from a book called “The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Cohen Brothers,” if anyone’s interested). Another central idea of my story was that time only existed post-fall of man (having just substitute-taught Paradise Lost to some high-schoolers) and so the 36 righteous people don’t have to be living all at once, because time is only applicable to humans, but as soon as the “last” (in the time-based human lexicon) one dies, God will destroy the earth. The antagonist, then, was a fellow heavily implied to be Satan himself, heading up a secret society called C.H.E.R.N.A.B.O.G. (a combination of the name of the demon from that one part of “Fantasia” and my favorite trope from RPGs: absurd acronyms that don’t seem to actually stand for anything).
I still maintain that these are all cool ideas, but there I was, a guy whose longest piece of fiction has been 19 (double-spaced) pages, responsible for writing about the eternal struggle between a shadowy death cabal and the entire human race, spanning all of time itself because time doesn’t exist (and as such all sections were snarkily labeled with a date followed by the words “the present”). I was in over my head.
What good came out of it: I got to write death scenes for Moses, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, etc.
What Riley did (This is a segment where I talk about what my roommate, a fellow enjoyer of the literary arts and aspiring high school English teacher, who is generally better than me at most human endeavors, did): chose a reasonable story set in a specific time frame, which by limiting him in the elements of time and space and subject matter, gave him unlimited means of exploring that particular epoch.
Chapter 1 of “How to Serve Hamburgers at the End of the World” goes live soon.
Hey humans, Hunter here. Some of you may remember me as “Robert” or “Tweetwee,” or “that bro that only ever wore flannel and really put into words just how much quantifiably those kids in that place where we ate sub-par food sucked, metaphorically,” but you will soon know me as “the helper elf” in terms of what I will do on the blog. That’s right, it’s practicum time.
I am currently living in Birmingham, Alabama, [where we stop at two amendments (not including the first)], for some reason (1). I am able to substitute teach about Paradise Lost sometimes, because my background is in English, but to supplement the 30 dollars I have made from that I work in a restaurant, because my background is in English. (EDIT: I have since been fired).
And when I’m not serving as an entirely unnecessary cog in a machine that facilitates young moms obtaining food that can be described as somewhere between “fast” and “real,” I’m sweeping up the potato chips that their “children” have decided that the floor needs more than they do. I have checked most of these kids for the 666 mark that Damien had in "The Omen," but they have been remarkably well hidden thus far. We’ll know we’re in trouble in a few years when one of them turns into Sam Neill and runs for president, and I’ll be on a street corner with a sign and a beard (finally) shouting about how President Neill used to throw his potato chips everywhere and his mom was kind of a b-word (2) and anyway isn’t he British? (EDIT: I have since been fired).
In addition to helping out with the blog itself, I will also be blogging (since I see keeping a word document open while I explore Wikipedia as a viable way to both pad my hours and keep on the moral straight-and-narrow). And I have some ideas for those and here are those ideas:
check out that symbiosis
One thing I will never write about is writing, since I’m as qualified to do that as a baby shark is qualified to write about swimming: I know it’s something I have to do to keep breathing, but I’m completely oblivious to how I do it or what exactly it is or even what water is. I’m too busy trying to get remoras to be my friend and eat the waste from my gill slits.(5)
There’s a chance I’ll also hit you all with updates on how frustrated I get with my (utter lack of) facial hair, especially with a roommate who can grow one hell of a beard.
These are the things that I think about.
(1) And to answer an inquiry that I myself made before I moved, no, becoming closer to the equator has not made me better in any way, I have in fact gotten sick for the first time in about 5 years here. What I’m driving at is that North Carolina is a way better state, both at keeping me healthy and at not sexually molesting detained immigrants.
(2) I won’t be swearing in any of my blogs, because there’s a chance that my mom will want to read them. There’s also a good chance that I’ll swear anyway.
(3) Also worth noting that the female lead, Martha McIsaac, was in a movie called “Ice Princess.” Wikipedia. Also, get it? 'Cause of the ice? And Top Gun? Get it?
(4) North Carolina, incidentally, was better at taxes and also at not executing the mentally handicapped.
(5) I’m doing this from memory: I know a lot about sharks. Also, dinosaurs.
Note: Hunter read this piece at the residency's Open Mic reading for students.
The noshing spot of either choice or necessity (which is unclear) for the MFA program at UAA. All you see happening is it fills up with people and then empties.
Actual remains of a Creekside meal.
The food is, by all indication, made of actual edible matter, which is a very important characteristic for these kinds of stories. The moments right before the food is eaten are particularly interesting, in a Schroedinger’s Cat kind of way, wherein some characters perceive that the food is simultaneously edible and inedible and it is only after attempted consumption that there is any sure knowledge.
These kinds of thought experiments generally enhance most readers’ eating experience.
The surface tension of all available liquids is breakable, and therefore you can technically drink anything there, a world of possibility that really opens the story up.
None of the fruit contains razor blades.
What Doesn't Work
The promise of dessert and lack of general payoff, while a kind of clever ironic twist, may alienate some readers.
The use of the metaphor “like pushing a sack of angry hammers through a rolled-up garden hose” for post-Creekside bowel movements seems forced and unnecessary.
The spoon and knife characters receive a disproportionate amount of attention. It’s like the author is constantly forgetting that the fork characters exist.
Writers Vs. Campers
The names “Hunter” and “Robert” are used interchangeably for what appears to be the same character; furthermore, why does the author make such a point of having him spill things constantly? It is difficult to tell how old he is supposed to be.
The salad bar character seems very flat and passive and lacks any development as the story progresses.
The sudden introduction of the multitude of young camper characters seems unnecessary and even though they may serve some metaphorical purpose about unavoidable impediments of everyday life and herd mentality, it seems like they could possibly be reworked and combined into one character for more efficiency .
The dialogue between the strange intoxicated writer characters and the camper characters is forced and awkward at times. The oppressive bitterness of the writer characters seems justified only by some aversion to light and loud noises.
 This may also help with the dessert issue.
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