_ 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.
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