Sunday, November 1, 2009

Kick-off Party, and What My Book is About

Wordcount: 1905

I wrote about 600 words before bed last night, and the rest of them today in the morning and early afternoon. At 2:00, I realized that I was supposed to be at the Long Island regional kick-off party, so I dropped everything and went down to John Harvard's Brew Pub on route 347, near the strip mall and the real mall in Lake Grove. The party was fun--about ten other people showed up--mostly women, varied in age. I had a good time with them, sensing the kind of tribal kinship with them that has been lacking with most other Long Islanders I have met so far. I was given a goodie-bag containing two corks ("one to uncork your imagination and the other to cork securely your inner editor"), some marbles ("because if you are writing 50K words in a month you probably lost a few"), and Christmas-themed rubber duck (I didn't really get the reasoning behind the rubber duck, to be honest). There were also two fun pencils and a couple of NaNoWriMo stickers. A success all round.

As today's blog feature, I thought you might like to know what I'm writing about. The story was inspired by the journals of Lewis and Clark. Some of you have heard me rant about this before. Lewis and Clark were a pair of enlightenment gentlemen sent to find a track through the trackless wilderness of the Louisiana Purchase. They encountered the primeval American landscape in all its unspoiled beauty, and saw it all through the eyes of their culture. When they discovered a new kind of animal, they shot it. When they discovered a beautiful waterfall, they named it after the President, or after one of their lady friends back home. When the native tribes told them that grizzly bears were dangerous and difficult to kill, they scoffed, until the day when they actually encountered one and couldn't stop it with bullets. In short, they behaved like the thoughtless, ignorant, arrogant Europeans they were. (I'm not saying they were bad people--they were simply a part of the culture that made them.)

Now imagine that, instead of the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark were sent to explore the landscape of fairytales. Imagine that the wildlife is sentient, or protected by beings with the powers of demigods. Imagine that the native tribes can express their displeasure through enchantments and potent curses. Imagine that, instead of grizzlies, there are dragons. Imagine that Sacagawea is a capricious sprite with no sense of fair play. Imagine that winter is not a season, which passes, but a country, which must be passed through. That's the story I'm writing.

I won't be using the names of Lewis and Clark, but I will be relying heavily on them for inspiration. Reading the journals, one comes to think of Lewis as an erudite gentleman, enthralled with the new school of scientific thought. Clark is more a doer than a thinker, writing tersely where Lewis' prose is florid. I'll be playing with that dichotomy of character, and I'll be trying to evoke the atmosphere of Enlightment scientific endeavor. I decided not use the real Lewis and Clark, and the real America, for the simple reason that I don't think the creatures and tropes I'll be playing with belong to the American landscape. I'm not prepared (at least not for NaNoWriMo) to do justice to Native American mythoi, so, we'll be in more of a Brothers Grimm universe.

Enough about that...I could have spent this whole time writing!


  1. I love it! (Wait, that was my last comment, too. Let me think of a new one.)

    Jenny Jo, this is a badical idea. I hope you finish the novel one day, so I can read it. And if you ever want someone to bump stuff off of, I probably don't qualify, but I'd love to read whatever you come up with anyway.

    Go, Jenny Jo, GO!

  2. funny - i just finished listening to the this american life episode that had a segment on one guy's relationship w/ the lewis & clark journals. did you hear this one?

    sounds like a great book idea. i'd love to read it too some day.