… on an unsuccessful November.
My instinct is to say “failed”, as in “I’m such a freaking failure in life, the universe, and everything”. But I don’t know that I would be being honest.
For the second year in a row, I have been unsuccessful (Internal Editor Imp says “You have FAILED!!”) in reaching the 50k word goal for NaNoWriMo. This was an incredibly difficult year for me, in terms of any sort of creativity. November started for me without a clear story, and I commenced attempting to write a makeshift tale that was the result of several die rolls and a coin toss. In retrospect… maybe this wasn’t the year for that sort of challenge.
As a writing exercise, forming a story from random choice between possibilities is not unrealistic. In fact, it can be amazingly funny, if done in the right atmosphere and with a somewhat more realistic word count. Sometimes things just work and a story can take off from such beginnings. This… wasn’t one of those times.
And because I had nothing else, I had nothing to fall back on when it crashed and burned… which it did within the first week, and boy did it ever crash and burn. My two primary characters refused to cooperate with me. One because he was just damned stubborn (no idea where he got it from, it couldn’t be because he was a Canon Cutout Character, now could it?) and refused to take a stance one way or the damned other on a potential romantic attachment. The other simply made things worse when the first one finally got assigned a negative to the attachment for lack of decision (it works like that in real life, too, avoid making a decision and one gets made for you and it’s almost always the one with the most negative impact on your life) and she simply stopped.
That might be complicated to explain. The character simply stopped. She didn’t say anything; she didn’t want anything; she didn’t seek anything; she simply accepted the most empty life possible and did not do a damned thing. It’s like… on the Hero’s Journey, there’s a moment when the Hero refuses the Quest and turns back, only to be forced into accepting it again because of circumstances. She not only Refused the Quest… there was nothing to use to push her back onto it. Absolutely not a damned thing.
You might think I’m joking with that, or at least exaggerating… but I’m not. Seriously, any tragedies would not push her onto the path, they’d simply push her further into the emptiness. She was going to go “home” and never emerge again… and if that home was destroyed… well, she’d stay there any-damn-way as a recluse. I could seriously see it all play out inside my head as I desperately searched for options.
And so, a week into the challenge… NaNoWriMo was dead in the water for me, and potentially my entire future as a writer.
Okay, that might have been me being more than a little melodramatic, but November was NOT my best month for a variety of reasons, including a very devastating depressive relapse in that first week and a half. I can’t say that I’m better. I don’t know that I’ll ever be in a position to feel like I’ve “beaten” the depression. But I’ve got my distractions and at least I’m not sitting in a corner with my hands in my lap just staring at the walls and doing my mannikin impression.
Desperation, though, is the Mother of Inspiration (sometimes), and another Canon Character (this one not as much a CutOut as the other) raised his hand to volunteer to do what the supposed Hero was not, and his intervention brought the Heroine back to life… somewhat. What he ultimately did, though, is why I simply cannot say that this November was a complete and utter failure. (Internal Editor Imp says, “Oh hell yes, you can, you failure!”)
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to Elliot.
A small yellow and black creature with very large eyes on a disproportionately large head with spade-like ears tipped in black hops onto the stage and bows gallantly to his audience, chittering in greeting much in the manner of a small rodent, like a squirrel or some such.
Elliot is a Pichu. For those who don’t know about Pokemon, Pichu are the immature “baby” form of the Pikachu breed, which is possibly the most well known Pokemon breed in existence. If you’ve heard about Pokemon, and even if you’re only vaguely aware of it, you likely would be able to identify a Pikachu by silhouette alone. They are Electric Type, which means that they tend to use a lot of moves powered by Electricity and Lightning and are known for their speed… if not their stamina and durability…
Elliot chitters angrily, looking very much like a teenager expressing “sass” at his writer.
Yes, yes, Elliot, I know how exceptional you are, but I’m talking in terms of generalities. You simply do not have the durability of, say, a Snorlax. (Huge teddy-bear-like Pokemon with Hit Points to spare and then some. Slow as molasses in January, but a Mack Truck couldn’t knock this guy down. Somewhat similar to the Chansey and/or Blissey breeds who exemplify the “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down” family of Pokemon.) In any event, my readers can obviously tell that Elliot is somewhat opinionated about his own ability. In point of fact, “opinionated” doesn’t tell half this little guy’s story.
The Heroine I’d created had no self-confidence. She was literally certain that she was the weakest Trainer in all existence. She was terrified of Pokemon in general and traumatized on several levels by them. Elliot, though, is the progeny of the most famous Pokemon of all (and the most Mary Sue God-Moddy one too boot) and he, like his sire, is possessed of an astounding amount of sheer personality. Elliot, you see, has all his own natural confidence and the confidence that his Trainer lacks.
He stares down a Miltank (cow-like Pokemon with a nanny tendency and close to Snorlax’s durability) and simply says “I dare you!” He gets knocked into the wall with a lazy swipe and stumbles to his feet again with “I dare you to do it again!”. He gets a Brick Break (uhm… it’s a move-name… think Karate/Martial Arts, Miltanks are vulnerable to such moves) off and then dances on the Miltank’s passed out body. “I’m so fresh you can…”
Enough, Elliot. I’m certain the audience does not need to hear you sing that particular song.
Elliot pouts adorably and sits in a chair with his arms crossed over his chest.
Matters with Elliot took an even more dramatic turn as I started searching desperately for something, anything, to type as the story continued to fight me tooth and nail. I considered including various “gaiden”-style scenes, stories and mini-stories that had nothing to do with the main sequence of events but which took place either in the Meta environment or in other environments entirely. Ultimately, I did include some, just… I was unable to type up most of what I actually had come to mind.
I made the mistake of introducing Elliot to television. Specifically, Japanese television. That was when he started showing just how incredibly developed his personality already was.
Elliot stands on the back of a couch, a pair of swimming goggles over his eyes and a scarf tied around his waist with a brooch pinned to it like a belt-buckle. MrsGrizzley walks by, unaware, carrying an armful of laundry that needs to be folded when the little creature lets out an unearthy yell. “PIIIIIIIICHUUUUUUUUU KIIIIIIIIIIIIICK!!!!!!!!” He leaps for her, one foot leading, and she shrieks in surprised reaction, throwing her arms up to defend herself which sends laundry flying everywhere. Elliot lands with a self-satisfied hop and actually giggles at the way Grizzy is holding her chest because her heart is pounding so hard from shock. Then she glares at him and he squeals and takes off running just before she starts to give chase, declaring that she was going to give him such a noogie…
So yeah, Elliot discovered Kamen Rider, the cousin/sibling to the Super Sentai series that became Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in the United States. In case anyone is curious, I highly recommend starting with Kamen Rider Den-O, which is available on YouTube… or was last time I checked. The humor in that series makes it the most approachable version of the franchise to date. It’s also the only series in the franchise for which I have actually seen any of the episodes.
Elliot exemplifies all that “little boys” truly are. Wild, unruly, distractable, adorable, overconfident and curious, and at the same time needy and childish. He is one of the most unforgettable characters that I have been blessed with in a long time. When he burst into the story, I knew that I had found something special. And he is most definitely special. He redeems my November.
(Internal Editor Imp cackles with laughter, “But he’s a PICHU, you idiot woman! By definition he exists only in fanfiction! What use is a character that can never see the light of Original Fiction?!!” Elliot bursts into the Imp’s cave and knocks him upside the head with an electrically charged Pichu Kick, ie, Volt Tackle applied foot-first. Elliot chitters, “What part of SHUT UP did you not get???”)
As much as I hate to admit it, the Imp has something of a point. Elliot is a matchless character, one I desperately need to find other uses for… but to do so, I would have to reshape him into something other than a Pichu/Pikachu/Raichu… and that is nowhere near as easy as it sounds. I’ll manage it eventually, though. Ultimately all my good fanfiction ends up repurposed into Original Fiction.
Heck, that’s where the Castellan Dreams story got its start, after all.
So maybe this unsuccessful November won’t end up being a complete loss after all. If I include this post in the word count… I think my total would be just over 20k. I’ve still got a day and a half, technically… but not even I can manage 30k in a single day.
There’s always next year, though, and hope springs eternal. Especially for idiots like myself who keep charging the brick wall with the idea that it can be leapt over.
Thank you for the honor of your attention.