Underworldly: The Start of Something Very Strange …

Once upon a time, there was a slightly disturbed twelve-year-old girl. This girl liked to write. She liked to write, and she liked to watch anime, and she somewhat liked to read, although most of the time she only read Harry Potter, and some assorted fan fiction written by people she knew on online forums. This post, as well as the Teens Can Write, Too! Blog Chain inspired me to go digging around for this story again. I remembered the URL vaguely, and was actually quite stunned to see that the Freewebs site I created is still up and running after 5 years of neglect … quite honestly, this isn’t the first time since its creation in 2006 that I’ve visited, just out of a strange, nostalgic curiosity that takes me back to what was an even stranger time, in my eyes.

Nanuko: an example of the villain protagonist.

So I’ll start with this: if you want to read it, you can read it here, but I really wouldn’t recommend doing it for your own sanity. Or if you value your eyes, because this is most likely to make them burn. Unlike most of my earliest writings, this is something I made very easy to access, because it was so damn good. I was assured that this was the best thing that I’d ever written – perhaps somewhere, some part of me took this to mean that this was the best thing written by any twelve-year-old ever. I was encouraged to write more, and write more I did … in a way, Underworldly grew into something that became more and more difficult to control, and this, combined with my computer dying spectacularly one day (I, too, have a venomous hatred for the Blue Screen of Death), and what my fourteen-year-old self considered quite a serious relationship (ha!) was probably what drove me to abandon it.

I was desperately proud of this story, though. It was my finest work, at the time, a story I was most definitely going to get published, that my parents encouraged me to get published, that was going to make it. I find it funny, actually, how this seems to be the case with every new piece I write; Dragon Badlands was going to be an incredible breakthrough piece. Underworldly, as I have just mentioned, was going to sell, and sell, and sell to people like me. Butterfly Black was this incredible, inventive idea that nobody else could write … nobody else, it seems, but Chuck Palahniuk. Contempt for The Blind is … a difficult one to place, but I had a great feeling about it, so positive, yet when I was describing the entirety of it to my ex it just seemed a little asinine. Where Jackals Lie was just something I was desperate to get out on paper, and I’m not sure I ever really felt as though it would go anywhere.

Anyway, I didn’t know, at this time, how much of a hack the idea was, or how cliché the characters were, and the historical accuracy? Well, my young self didn’t see much of a need for this at all. The names were made up ones that sounded Japanese, and bore a striking resemblance to the names of some of the characters from Naruto (I never really watched much of it as they pulled it from TV over here before I could) … never mind the fact that it was, essentially, a re-hash of Samurai Champloo. Never mind I stole heaps of plot devices from Bleach. Never mind countless other references, and probably a lot taken from Fullmetal Alchemist somewhere along the line … I really used to be quite obsessed with anime.

Unlike Dragon Badlands, though, I don’t really want to let Underworldly go, not just yet. If I’m being honest, it was the first piece I ever wrote that really enabled me to come to terms with who I am as a writer; it was the first piece to give me some genuine form of direction, that time when I knew what I could and could not write, and ever since then, I’ve been playing up to the idea that what I write always will be very dark. Of course, everything was still a little convoluted – in terms of writing, I wanted too much, too soon. I was trying for more complexity than was really needed for, or was of any benefit to the story, adding in themes and ideas that only a really messed up twelve-year-old could think about.

For the most part, Nanuko, the central character, turned out to be a Freudian nightmare with serious mommy issues. Of course, I thought I was being quite original, having the once-normal-if-slightly-messed-up boy’s soul being ‘tainted’ by a vengeful Hell-demon, thereby making him the villain protagonist, who then goes on to join forces with the assassin hunting him, as well as the attractive female action girl who shouldn’t have any real reason to follow him, seeing as he slaughtered the entirety of her home town. I’m not denying this one thing, however; I thoroughly enjoyed having my good guy be the bad guy. In terms of protagonists, since this point, I have never really been able to settle on a central character who always has truly altruistic motives, or does things that are considered ‘good’ all of the time. It is not so much that it’s just that much more fun to be the bad guy, or shall we say, to write the bad guy, as it was that by this point in my life, I think I had become disenchanted just enough to know that life is not black and white. Why should I have characters that are?

Similarly, Nanuko was always the outcast, when he was human, that is. He was ‘that weird boy from the village’ at fourteen, although later on I would note that he was most likely deemed the weird boy because his father was the King of Hell. I know. I know. Not content with having him be an evil demon himself, I had to make sure that he was an evil demon before he got ‘sewn’, too.

Even after all this time, though,  the strangest thing is that I have this warped desire to rewrite Underworldly. It’s not something I’d ever consider publishing, or even self publishing, but may prove to be either a challenge, or just a little nostalgia and a little fun. I want to rewrite it because I see at least some potential there, masked by dust, bad characterization, a lack of research and a lot of influence. I feel that there are still places I could go with it, even if I’m not going to take it far, and that I could, almost, show my twelve-year-old self what-for. Strange and a little pathetic as that may sound, there is something at the back of my mind (not the salvages soul of a Hell-demon) telling me that I could take this somewhere – that it’s a disservice to abandon it. 

There have been several attempts to revive this, though, since I originally abandoned it in, I believe, early to mid-2007. The first, notable attempt was during an art course at college that I later quit … I do believe this attempted rewrite had something to do with it, but that could just as easily have been my growing dissatisfaction with the course coupled with the feeling that I had made the wrong choice. The second attempted rewrite came after I had changed colleges and courses; after I had become a little too obsessed with Assassin’s Creed II and took Nanuko out of his home base of what was probably feudal Japan and placed him firmly as an artist in Renaissance Italy who is killed and then revived for sleeping with the woman he was supposed to be painting (daughter of some wealthy land owner or something like that). This rewrite was probably just an excuse to do some research on the subject of Renaissance Italy, and never worked out, although the concept is something I’ve brushed over time and time again since. Unfortunately, setting anything in a time other than the here and now has never really been my strong suit.

Speaking of which, I have a feeling I tried to resurrect Nanuko in the world of Where Jackals Lie once, too. Characters and everything. A hack in and of itself, and one that I hand wrote maybe ten chapters of before realizing nothing exciting had happened. At all. I dropped it.

It’s a strange feeling, though, having a work I keep coming back to. It doesn’t happen often, though this is mostly because I’ve shelved the works I have finished and mostly forgotten about the ones I haven’t. I’m not denying that Underworldly was pretty terrible, but I’m not denying that I wrote it when I was twelve, either – I had a lot of growing to do as a writer. This is no excuse, of course, but it makes sense of it. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that causes me to keep such a soft spot here for Underworldly By all accounts, I shouldn’t. I should want to bury it deep and pretend it never existed. I can’t. Perhaps it is because I received such good feedback for it, or perhaps just because I felt a significant sense of having evolved. Suddenly finding my way, even for a brief second – and it was around the age that I wrote this that I started to develop some kind of identity for myself. Ultimately, I was desperately proud of Underworldly, for all its faults, for everything that shouldn’t have belonged in that manuscript.

I’ve loved the projects I’ve worked on since, but they’re all done and dusted. Underworldly isn’t. It has somewhere to go, and I doubt I’ll forget about it until it has gone there.

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10 responses to “Underworldly: The Start of Something Very Strange …

  1. Interesting, as I started Writing a Novel when I was about that age, eleven or twelve I think, called “One Knight”. I too got praise from my Dad, who I did not live with, but was spending a Christmas Holiday with, and showed it to him. Since then, he has always told me, and considered me, a Writer. Even when I was pursuing Film, he still continued to call me a Writer.

    I too have always longed to return to this Project, as I liked the Story Concept, and, like you, had gotten praise for it, and so it has always been in the back of my head. However, I pursued first Film, as I wanted to be a Director, followed by Screenplay Writing, which I later changed over to Comic Book Script, and hired an Artist to Draw 2 Covers, and 8 pages of Comic Book.

    But since I’ve returned to Writing, I’ve been edging more and more towards Novel Writing, and thus have started two Potential Novels, one of them being “One Knight”. Yes, I picked it up, and have begun Rewriting it. Because this would be a Focused Novel effort, I decided to create a Second Blog called “One Knight” here is the “One Knight Site Page” http://oneknight68.wordpress.com/one-knight-the-site/ . In addition to Restarting this Childhood Novel, I’ve also invited several Writers as Guest Writers to contribute Pieces of their own Original Work to the site. I call them, and myself, “The Writers of the Realm” http://oneknight68.wordpress.com/writers-of-the-realm-guest-writers/. And lastly the “One Knight Story” Page http://oneknight68.wordpress.com/one-knight-the-story/. I have to tell you, in my opinion it’s gone quite well. And though I haven’t gotten much feedback on the actual story, the feedback I have gotten has been good. But more than that, it’s been extremely fulfilling Writing this.

    Nice Post, I need to check out “Underworldly”. I have to tell you, right off the bat, I love that name. That name alone would have brought me back again and again had I been the one that Created it. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to come up with good concepts at a young age, as in a way it sets the bar for us as we trod along, and to Write something we like even better, would be awesome.

    DarkJade-

  2. I started to Read Underworldly, very interesting. I actually read the Prologue, and part of Chapter One. It very much sounds like an Anime’. I also love Anime’, “Cowboy Beebop” is my Favorite, but I’ve also watched “Full Metal Alchemist”, and I also like “Trigun”. Though I haven’t seen “Trigun” in a while. Your Writing very much reminds me of my Nephew’s Writing and Drawings, as he created some very elaborate worlds when he was a teenager, as well as his early twenties. He’s now a Professional Ballet Dancer, which seems to take much of his time. But he has a lot of Talents, quite an amazing guy. He’s Six Foot Three and a bit Vampire-ish himself. Also, as Rich and Elaborate as that piece is, it’s no wonder you haven’t been able to let it go. As not only a Writer, but a Film Maker, my instinct is/was that it can be stretched out quite a bit. It’s very potent, and has a Vast amount of Potential. It’s definitely something you could Write, and Write, and Write on. And if you’re anything like me, you probably hunger to Write many different things. To Plunge yourself into something like the Rewriting of “Underworldly” would surely be a hell of an undertaking. However, as I mentioned on my other Comment, that’s also one of the reasons I created a 2nd Blog, so that when I was on it, “One Knight” was all that I focused on. As it turns out, it seemed I would work on the Variety of Content on “The Written Word” during the week, and as the weekend closed in, I would do two or three Chapters of “One Knight”. I have a lot of things on my mine right now, Creatively, so I imagine these things will consistently continually change. My Writing Schedule that is, and what it is I’m Writing. Just in the conversations in regards to the possibility of doing NaNoWriMo, I’ve conceived a whole other Novel idea. I, however, haven’t decided if I will partake in it this year. I have some personal life issues that may interfere with the potency of Writing it would entail, and I may need to leave my schedule fairly open during the next month or so. However, I do find myself wanting to star Writing this New Novel, so we’ll have to see.

    Anyway, I’ve taken up enough of your space, lol

    DarkJade-

  3. John Hansen

    Great post yet again! I see the blog badge worked. Lemme add it to my sidebar…

  4. Hey Felicity I just wanted to take a moment to invite you to be a Writer, or Guest Writer, on my New Site The Dark Globe http://thedarkglobe.wordpress.com/2011/10/29/the-dark-globe-breathe-it-to-life/. Basically it’s a Site Designed to bring Writer’s, Photographer’s etc. together to Post on a a Site. There are Several Sections of Writing that can be Posted, I thought of you because it has a “Film, Book and Television Review” Section, as well as a “Short Stories” Section, and also a Section called “My World News”, which is basically a Section for us Writer’s to Write about our lives, or “Our World’s” as it were. Anyway, if you’d like to be an Author on the Site, or a Guest Author, just let me know here, or on my The Crew Section of the Site. I’ll just need an E-mail Address to make you an Author, you can make one up if you’d like. I’d love to have you as a Poster on it.

    Thanks
    DarkJade-

    • Right – first of all, my apologies for the absolute lateness of this – it’s been a hectic past few days, I haven’t had the chance to even sit down and plan/post/anything >__<;; anyways – in response to guest posting, I'd absolutely love to be a part of this. It looks really interesting, very comprehensive, so as I said, I'd love to! (I'll post this over there, too) – an e-mail, it's my usual one, is; vickystewart92[at]yahoo[dot]com (: looking forward to being a part of The Dark Globe!

      • Awesome, I just sent you an Invite as an Author for the Site. Write whatever you like, whenever you like. There are a bunch of Section’s/Page’s, and I’ll post the Post as a Link as well in the Appropriate Page. Just a note, the “My World News” Section is basically somewhere us Writer’s, Photographer’s etc. can Write about our own lives, or lives as Writer’s, whichever. I’m not sure about that Title, may change it if a better name is Suggested for that Page. So, Write whatever you like like I say, we have all sorts of Topics, and I’m definitely open for new Topic/Page Suggestions as well. Welcome aboard, glad to have you, and look forward to working with you.

        DarkJade-

  5. Thanks. :D I shall accept as soon as I figure out how. xD and aw, thank you – I’ll post whenever I come up with something I feel would benefit the site, and I swear, I won’t hijack pages or anything like that. xD My World News sounds like a find name to me (: – I’ll probably make a couple postings about NaNoWriMo once it’s in full swing … 2 hours left, can barely wait! Thank you – glad to be a part of this, and likewise here. ^^

    • Posts about NaNoWriMo would be more than welcome, as I’ve already posted one about it myself. And I suspect one of our other Writer’s has just Signed up for it due to reading my Post, and my Post was largely inspired by Your Post’s about it so… It would be a Welcome Subject.

      DarkJade-

  6. I read some of it. I think it was rather good, considering how old you were :)
    I wish I had some stuff I wrote at that age on the internet. It’s all in long-lost notebooks :(

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