Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Highlights of My Writing Life or Rachel's Embarrassing "Juvenalia"


Ever read the Bronte's juvenalia or Jane Austen's juvenalia? Or Lost Laysen by Margaret Mitchell? These stories actually pull back a curtain on eventual talent.

Notebooks of Rachel McMillan's juvenalia should probably never see the light of day.

I woke up in the wee small hours and my mind traced back to some of the highlights of stories I have written since I began scribbling at around age 8. It was since about then that I wanted to be a writer. In the throes of this memory spree, I gave up on sleep altogether because I was laughing too hard:


Grades 4-6


1.) Switzerland East. Titled thusly because I wanted to set it in Switzerland and I looked at a map of Canada (Never Eat Shredded Wheat) and saw that Switzerland was East of us.


Lanya? Lula? Lorraine? Luella? Lanyard? Lahna? LAHNA Yes. Lahna is a scullery maid in the castle who lives in the dungeon with her non-animorphic mouse Burley and falls in love with the prince Christopher who helps her escape from her life. He sets her up in a new castle (!!!????!!) wherein she falls in love with his brother Bradley who is EVIL and wanting to marry the ebony-haired Victoria. I am not sure what else there is to the plot. But it filled an entire dollar-store notebook and was going to be a movie wherein the soundtrack would feature this:



Also, there were trains in it even though, supposedly, everything else ( including the clothes) were decidedly Medieval). 


2.) Carousel

There is a time in every Canadian Girl's grade 6 year that she falls hardcore for The Diary of Anne Frank and becomes utterly fascinated with anything to do with the Holocaust. If you're me, you even sign out The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich from the library even though it is a billion pages and bigger than you are.  You maybe get past the maps and read about Goebbels. 
Anyways, this is the diary of a girl who is in a nameless concentration camp and a nice young Nazi guard (think Rolf the Hitler Youth from S of M and think: yes this could actually happen Summer of my German Soldier) gives her a carousel music box.  There is a mean guard who looks like Tommy Lee Jones.   I am not sure if/how this plot is resolved.  Then I read Vienna Prelude and everything moved to Austria.


3.) Untitled Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter Epic:

I don't remember the hero in this one ( who am I kidding, it's probably "Gus" a la Pike )but he washes  up on shore and is discovered by the lighthouse keeper's daughter who was at first named Felicity because everything was Road to Avonlea but then was Yvonne and I settled on Yvonne, who takes him back to the lighthouse and gives him tea and lets him borrow her collection of the Strand magazines so he can read the latest Sherlock Holmes stories ( I actually, in the spirit of fictional verisimilitude, set this book at the exact time that The Five Orange Pips came out because I really wanted to feature Sherlock Holmes). He plays the fiddle. 

He leaves for Halifax and her father dies. She follows him and is intercepted by a Rake (god knows what his name was...actually it's bothering me I don't remember what his name is). Anyways, Yvonne (seriously, named thus because it is french and there was nothing in my world but ideas of Acadian ancestry) falls for this Rake and ends up in a brothel (!!!!!) only to be discovered by nice guy "Gus" who whisks her away. Rake follows. I don't think I finished this one. A pity because it was obviously a groundbreaking effort of staggering genius.



'sup Gus?


Probably around grade 8:

4.) The Music of the Night:
Ten guesses what fangirl phase this was written in.  Actually, blog, I'm gonna give myself this one because I still think the premise is kinda neat and workable, despite my penchant for absolutely horrible literal character names (Jennifer Rosemary: rosemary is the flower of remembrance. She needs to remember her dead father).  Set in Toronto. Everything in my life was me wanting to go to Toronto at this point because Toronto was where Theatre was and Due South was filmed.  Basically a useless 20-something inherits a dilapidated theatre ( think the Royal Alex, cause I did)  and has to put on a show to save it.   His best friend is playing Chris in Miss Saigon on broadway ( oh yah he is!) his other best friend is a German director named Timothy ( I love my cousin) and his other best friend is an Italian conductor named Newton.  I loved Newton. I still do, actually. I have a thing for culturally eccentric italians of my fictional making. 

As for the show they put on, I probably created the jukebox musical a la Glee before it was a thing. Because the soundtrack was every.frakking.song. I loved from the eight billion cast recordings I listened to.  I'm also gonna give myself this one because looking back I see how it informed how I like to shift viewpoints and work with ensemble casts on page. 

Highschool:

5.) Analyzing Literature: this was a writer's craft project for William Bell's class at high school in Orillia. Basically two roommates go to McGill and talk about literature all of the time.  It never occurred to me that this is not a plot. And also pretentious. Also, for some reason they never had dates and it was bothersome for them (probably because they were Analyzing Literature all of the time pretentiously and also probably because they were gay). Also, I fit in the brilliant description of the condensation on a milk carton perspiring onto an open palm.


6.) A Scandal in Bohemia and Vienna Prelude and John Grisham's The Rainmaker, the screenplays.  Yep. I adapted these three for the screen. Scandal was re-set in modern times ( darn you, Steven Moffatt! stealing my idea ;) 

7.) Untitled Acadian Girl falls for British Redcoat Book

I don't remember a time I wasn't writing this book. There is a scene in a hayloft. I have worked it into something kinda respectable but I just love how much this premise keeps popping up in my brain.

When I was in University, stuff got a little more legit:

8.) Persephone Winteringham, teen detective.
This is a series of three I may just self pub sometime because I do actually like it.  When her aged guardian dies, Percy is sent from Toronto to Champlain, Ontario (here's looking at you, thinly veiled Orillia) to live with her writer Uncle who is disinterested in her but has an amazing house. * insert every LM Montgomery Trope Here  *   Champlain is supposedly a town without crime. The only one in North America.  If you call 9-1-1 you get an answering service. But Percy stumbles upon a corpse and it's no longer Stepford.   I like Percy a lot and I actually have written a ton of these books.  Like, they are pretty finished. 


9.)Shipwreck book

this one is legit, y'all.  I'll finish it someday. I started it in University.

Since a tragic accident which resulted in his sister’s passing and left him less than whole, Ephram Talbot has lived with his brother-in-law, Jake in a small fishing community ridging Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. The cove is small and Ephram’s damaged life within it smaller still. When his repression leads to an act of vandalism, he is doled an unusual punishment. Twice weekly he'll meet with weathered seaman Silas Reed: a sage who feels kinship to all with saltwater in their blood, a reticent Ephram included.
As well as repairing the property destroyed, Ephram must transcribe to Silas’ doses of an old tale set amidst the turmoil of the Napoleonic Wars- in Halifax’s glory days as a thriving, mercantile seaport. Ephram listens complacently, unaware that Silas, the past and a fateful ship capsized off Herring Cove, and likewise immortalized on canvas by an Acadian artist, thread together to tell the ultimate tale of adventure, grace and one heroic act of self -sacrifice.
Little by little, connecting the dots, Ephram learns that all humankind bears more than one commonality, that grace transcends time and circumstance and that one forgotten act of courage can inspire change 200 years in the future.



1 comment:

Melissa Tagg said...

This made me soooo happy! I am pretty sure I wrote identical versions of your early stuff. EVERYTHING was Avonlea for me for awhile. Everything.

This made me literally LOL and I'm pretty sure my coworkers wonder what's going on over at my desk: "Basically two roommates go to McGill and talk about literature all of the time. It never occurred to me that this is not a plot. And also pretentious. Also, for some reason they never had dates and it was bothersome for them." DYING!

I think you should publish all these stories.