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Blogathon for Tricia, Hour Four: My Very First Novel

January 9th, 2010 (07:38 am)
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fanboy_of_zeus asked me to talk about the first novel I ever tried to write. Damian, after you asked that, I tried like hell to find a copy of my first significant attempt at a novel, because it is probably one of the funniest things that has ever seen the light of a monitor. Sadly, I couldn't find it. So I'm going to have to try to describe it. I can assure you that I am not going to be able to convey a tenth of the goofiness of this thing. I'm kind of heartbroken that it seems to be lost.

So. My very first novel was called, I believe, The Way Through the Mirror. I began it in the summer between fourth and fifth grade, and I finished a little over a hundred single-spaced pages of it by the time school started again and I stopped writing. On the one hand, I sort of envy my ten-year-old self's daily wordcount. On the other hand, while I suppose that's a pretty good speed for a kid, it was facilitated significantly by the fact that in writing it I threw aside all considerations of plot, coherence, and almost everything else that makes a novel a novel. But at least there was a lot of it!

The plot went something like this:

So. When first we begin The Way Through the Mirror, we find ourselves following the travails and toils of one Charlotte Elizabeth Delmont, the original beautiful porcelain-skinned waist-length-black-haired child. She is an orphan (natch), twelve years of age, and consigned to a dreadful orphanage where they make her eat gruel and wear gray clothing all day long. Charlotte only has one friend, a redheaded tomboy name of Kelsey, who is always in trouble with the matron because she is vivacious and full of life, both of which traits are banned at the orphanage. As for Charlotte's past, the only mementos she has from her parents -- mysteriously disappeared when she was an infant -- are a mirror and a green pouch full of strange iridescent dust. She keeps these hidden under her mattress lest the evil matron of the orphanage find and confiscate them.

But there is something else special about Charlotte, something that will come as a real shocker to you all: she has PSYCHIC POWERS! Now, this revelation would be far more impressive if I could remember what in the hell they were. I know it was something specific, like psychokinesis or something. Unfortunately the memory is lost to the (iridescent) sands of time. Oh well.

Anyway, so Charlotte is dragging her way through life at the orphanage, eating gruel and moping around in gray rags. Then one day something happens that rocks Charlotte's world. A new little girl comes to the orphanage, terribly shy and retiring, name of Joan something or other. She never knew her parents either, and I don't know why she only got to the orphanage at age six if that's the case, but never mind. The point is that Joan... LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE CHARLOTTE! She could be Charlotte's TWIN, except for being half her age and stuff. Aaaaaand... JOAN HAS PSYCHIC POWERS TOO. She can READ MINDS! (That one I remember.) YOU GUYS! WE HAVE SOME CRAZY STUFF HAPPENING IN THIS NOVEL, YOU GUYS

Anyway, so they get together and become fast friends and discuss everything about how they look exactly alike and they don't know their parents and they hate gruel. Strong bonds, one and all. And so one day, Charlotte is talking with Joan about her mirror and her iridescent dust and whatnot, and Joan -- only six years old, but very intuitive! -- suggests that maybe Charlotte should sprinkle the dust *on* the mirror and see what happens. Charlotte never thought of this, but she is game. Kelsey the redhead is also game, and at first they don't want to let her come because she is not a s00pr speckl magic gurl with waist-length black hair like the two of them, but she is persistent and they relent. So they sprinkle the dust on the mirror, and, oh, I think maybe Joan's parents left her like a piece of parchment paper with some mysterious syllables written on it or something, so they say the mysterious syllables, and...

...they fall into the mirror. Duh. I hadn't learned the art of titling books so as to preserve their suspense yet.

In any case, the world beyond the mirror is in fact a very pleasant world! It has a path lined with flowers, and a nice cottage in which lives a nice lady who gives them some nice bread that is much better than un-nice gruel. They continue gamboling down the path, in maiden reverie fancy free, until they get to a forest. It is dark and Brothers Grimm-y, but they are stupid, so they keep walking into the forest...

...AND ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE IS A CRAZY LIZARD-THING. I think it was like a wacky hybrid lizard that also looked like a bunch of other things, but I forget now. But the thing? You guys? The THING is that the lizard is in the process of trying to disembowel this *other girl*... AND THE OTHER GIRL LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE CHARLOTTE AND JOAN! OH MY GOD! I described what this other girl looked like for two or three paragraphs, so you could be positive that she looked exactly like the other two.

Charlotte and Joan are standing around stupefied, wondering why this girl looks like them. This leaves Kelsey, who is the only character in this book who has any brains, or any personality for that matter, to take things into her own hands. Take things into her own hands she does, smashing the lizard-thing's head open with a nearby branch and ripping our third porcelain-skinned raven-tressed doppelganger from the jaws of death.

This girl is named Leah. She also has psychic powers. I forget what. She never knew her parents either and she looks exactly like the other two, so even though she's never tasted gruel and thus can't say whether or not she hates it, they figure two out of three is good enough and let her continue on with them.

Eventually they come to a pool. Somehow they decide that this is a magic pool, and they jump in it. It turns out they're right, and they get transported into another world. Maybe Joan read the pool's mind, I don't know.

This is the point at which the book started unraveling. Yes, really. Before this, it was raveled in comparison. The three of them tramp through this new world and pick up some other girl who looks exactly like them and has other psychic powers along the way. By now I imagine that Kelsey is beginning to feel left out of the Snow White personality-free clique, but she's a good sport about it. They wander through whatever the hell this world is until they get to like a castle or a pyramid or something. There they meet: a.) three more psychic girls who look exactly like everyone but Kelsey and b.) a talking lion who wants to send them on a mission to save another world. Yes, another one.

From there we move into -- surprise! -- Narnia. Aslan Mr. Talking Lion of Vast Originality explains to them about seven tasks they have to perform and seven talismans they have to collect in order to save Narnia Unnamed World of Vast Originality from Jadis An Evil Witch of Vast Originality. So they get transported into UWoVO, where they meet Centaurs of Vast Originality and Dwarfs of Vast Originality and a Unicorn of Vast Originality. My memory of this part is hazy, although I do remember one scene where they get locked in a prison by the Witch-oVO, but they get out when one of the girls whose psychic power is metamorphosis turns into a sledgehammer and batters the wall down. This would actually be kind of a clever solution, except that she follows it up by turning into a Xerox machine and making back-and-front full-size copies of all the girls, and then turning into a sewing machine and sewing them into dummies filled with stuffing from the mattress, and then placing all the dummies in the bed and letting the others out of the prison and... turning into the wall, so the prison guards won't notice the wall is missing and figure out about the dummies. Unfortunately this means that they're all stuck hanging around the prison while the other girl pretends to be a wall.

And thus my grand first novel came to an end. I mean, I think maybe a few more things happened after that -- maybe the other girls went to collect a bunch of conveniently scattered cement blocks, and the Metamorphmagus girl (though this was before the days of Harry Potter -- HEY GUYS I THINK J.K. ROWLING STOLE MY COPY OF MY BOOK AND RIPPED ME OFF!! OMG SO THAT'S WHERE IT WENT) turned into bricklaying equipment or whatever. But I think I was pretty well out of gas by that point, which was why I was happy to turn to school stories in September, which I was able to keep better control of as they did not generally have to be a hundred pages long.

So there you have it. The first work of a young girl destined to be a great writer someday.

...you know what? Maybe not.

This is the hour four post of my blogathon for my aunt Tricia, who is dying of end-stage ovarian cancer and whose family is being hit with a whole lot of bills that they can't afford alone as a result. Donations can be made at the link given above. A number of topics are still unclaimed and can be bought for $5 or more.






Comments

Posted by: Damian (fanboy_of_zeus)
Posted at: January 9th, 2010 01:04 pm (UTC)

You know, that really does sound better than some published books I've read? I'd rather read something like this than Twilight any day, though I realize that might not be much of a compliment.

My first was quite originally titled Maxiona's Quest, because it was about a girl named Maxiona who was supposed to save the world. I think this has inspired me to go see if I can find it - pretty sure it's on my shelves somewhere.

Posted by: Blue (hobbitblue)
Posted at: January 9th, 2010 01:30 pm (UTC)

.. I've read worse, actually. Yay ten year old you. I was writing poetry at that age which is likely just as well: my stories tended to be short and at least one *winces* ended with the "and she woke up and it was all a dream" which I remember thinking was a clever solution *further winces*

Posted by: wanderer (aerinha)
Posted at: January 9th, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
novel writing

This sounds way more exciting - and better plotted - than 2/3 of the so-called "chapter books" my 7 year old is currently reading! Some of the things she brings home - I swear, it makes you wonder what the qualifications are for writing books for the 1st-4th grade age group. Something like:
"Do you speak English?" "Yes"
"Can you keep track of written dialogue between up to three characters?" "Yes"
"You've got a publishing contract!!"

Except I know it's not that easy... so why, WHY, WHY???

I hope you do find it someday and post an excerpt for us :)

Posted by: Michael (ftmichael)
Posted at: January 9th, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)

I lol'd at your descriptions, but that does sound way better than so many published books I've read or heard about. You should have tried to publish it at the time by pretending to be an adult, the way women used to get their stuff published by pretending to be men (because women are far too emotional or something to write good stories, which makes TOTAL SENSE because stories, even fantasy stories, are SRS BSNS). Publishers would have been all 'omg this is such good writing' and you would have made a load of money, and then a decade later you could have been like 'Hi everyone, remember that book that you thought was written by some middle-aged lady? Yeah, I wrote it, WHEN I WAS TEN. Eat THAT'. And it would have been awesome.

Posted by: Nathaniel Wolfthorn (ganimede)
Posted at: January 9th, 2010 07:31 pm (UTC)
writing

That sounds like such a great book. It also sounds like you did the same thing as I did at that age, namely the characters and settings of Vast Originality. Of course, these days it would be called fanfic. We were obviously way ahead of our time.

I actually have managed to hold on to pretty much everything I've ever written. One of these days, I'm going to type it all up and store it on a flash stick.

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