A Trip Down Juvenilia Lane, Vol. 3

My third notebook opens with probably the most sustained example of that conlang I was making up. I won’t translate it, because the text I chose to put there is kind of dumb, but here’s the text itself:

Tíolaic’inn cen

eachtread t’ilith tdeabhíu
ceid tasteal’siad aseo
éis misiuil’siad é conuirtithidh
isin caith’gabhain’siadirh
fara raoneidh cen rannatheidh

Fóire rhiai cosin’siad liate
bronn’iade cenath aithedhé crínnacheidh
élaineí h’isini ómhead h’eseandai

Déarté éis sithé.

So if you were curious what the conlang looked like in action, there you go. It’s . . . well, it doesn’t look so O_O if you know Irish phonology. But if you don’t, well, it has the Irish problem of “holy god what’s with those consonant combinations why are you so in love with the letter H.” (Answer: lenition!)

The next thing in the notebook is . . . an outline? I guess? For that Highlander fanfic. I think I must have been pretending to take notes in class, because that’s the only explanation for the weird formatting. Quite a lot of this notebook is devoted to that story, where it isn’t filled with calculus notes instead, or what I think was an abortive attempt at a college application essay, or translations of the Aeneid, or me writing stuff in Spanish to keep my hand in after I stopped studying it. Judging by the story bits in here, I did not know Japanese history all that well back then — but for an eighteen-year-old in Texas, I clearly knew more than your average swan, which is nice to realize.

In semi-related Highlander content, I also ran a (short-lived) play-by-post game for a seven players, which might have survived longer had I not been ambitious and decided to start off with the origin stories for all of the PCs. This mean I was attempting to run seven simultaneous single-player games set in pre-contact Mesoamerica, medieval England, later medieval Transylvania, Heian Japan, Tudor England, Tokugawa Japan, and the Crimean War. I would consider this a ludicrous challenge now; attempting it back then was sheer hubris.

Three new things appear in this volume. First, we have what I think are some of my earliest attempts at cartography: very messy sketches solely intended to help me figure out spatial relationships, rather than to serve any aesthetic purpose. Second, we’ve got several examples of something I used to do as a writing exercise, which was to take a movie or TV scene I knew really well and write it out as prose. I actually used this same exercise with my students when I taught creative writing, because I think it gives you valuable practice in thinking about which visual or emotional details you want to include and how you’re going to integrate them with the dialogue. Do you give the whole line and then the description? Description and then line? Or do you break up the dialogue with a bit of narration, as a kind of punctuation to control the pace of delivery?

And third, we’ve got the earliest bits I’ve yet uncovered of what at the time were known as “the doppelanger story” and “the outlaw story.” The former, of course, became Warrior (originally titled Doppelganger). The latter came to be known as The Kestori Hawks, a trunked novel that will only ever see the light of day if I decide it has merit as a teaching text — at which point I will put out an ebook of it with annotations about how you can learn valuable lessons on novel-writing by looking at where that book failed. I was apparently putting in a lot of effort at that point to learn how to visualize and describe characters, though, which I had quite forgotten.

So that is Volume Three! Stay tuned for Volume 4 at a later date — I still have a lot of these notebooks left.

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