Saturday, November 1, 2014

It begins! (NaNoWriMo 2014 Edition)

Aka "I'm doomed! DOOMED!"

It's only the first day and the first two hundred words and my Plan already requires a rethink. It's like this. I couldn't think of a good name for my story (or the Scooby Gang, which is my new Scooby Gang after the Salt Gang retired, or before they were born, or something) so I just made up a temporary name: "The Mud Cult". All very well and fine, but then I had to have some way of making that make sense in the story.

So as I was falling asleep last night, I thought I could open my novel with one of those epigraph thingies that people have. This being a fantasy novel, it would be a completely made-up quotation from a completely made-up book. Now, Chinese traditionally has a zillion aphorisms or idioms or what have you, that students are supposed to learn about in school so they sound educated. (Like in that Star Trek TNG episode "Darmok", except not so extreme.) Mostly these are archaic four-word sayings which uneducated people have no clue about. (In TV shows/media, you have those characters who use the sayings, and then the other characters who complain "Stop with the four word this, four word that, you know I have no clue what you're talking about!!!") Anyway, I figured the "Mud Cult" must be a reference to some such saying. Luckily I have an English language book (volume 3 out of who knows how many) that explains a bunch of these idioms. I browsed through it and thought about inventing one of my own...

...and this morning came up with this (complete with horrible "fantasy language transcription": I'm too lazy to make up a real fantasy language, too ignorant to use real Chinese):

Saying: "Mong teen bo nay." (To blind yourself to Heaven and worship mud.)

Accepted Meaning: Don't put your faith in the ephemeral.

Origin: (from the "Historical Records" of Shiye the Honest Scribe)

During the Broken Mirror Period, the king of Gan was at war with the king of Towan. The border between their kingdoms being well-guarded, the king of Gan marched its army through the Atkaloi hills, the home of the Kaloi tribe. The Kaloi refused to allow passage of the army, stubborn in their resistance. They cursed Gan with the fury of the Dwellers in the Dark, their tribal gods that haunted the cave-riddled hill country. They raided the supply wagons and threw rocks from the high places where the road wound through narrow valleys. The king's army was superior in its number and quality of weapons, yet to pursue the tribe through the hills would be a waste of resources.

The king of Gan's minister suggested a strategem to the king: let the idols be seized from the holy caves of the Kaloi. The idols being made out of dried mud, when set in the open under the sky, the afternoon's thunderstorm soon washed them into puddles of goo.

The spirit went out of the Kaloi with the dissolution of their holy figures, and they soon submitted to the king of Gan.

Commented the king's minister, "This is what happens when you blind yourself to Heaven and worship mud."

--- From "The Compiled Sayings, Volume 4"

So then I'm like, "Oh. So that's what it means?" Clearly, it's the purpose of this year's novel to prove the saying wrong. If I have something like that at the beginning, how else can I end it? Since the novel is called "The Mud Cult", and I want to have a (mostly) happy ending, it's inevitable. Philosophically, I guess it must be like the "slow food" movement. Cook delicious food, then eat it. Mmm, fooooood...

Wait wait wait. Where was I? Oh yeah. Now my novel will have some banal theme about the value of the ephemeral. That probably means that my "happy ending" will include lots of characters dying. ARRRGH! It must be so. Even before I wrote the bit above about worshipping mud, I had pushed back my originally planned opening to start with the orphan boy... and the death of his grandmother! Begin as you mean to go on, and all that. Ha ha ha.

Day 1 is halfway over.


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