Excerpt of my (WiP) book. Follows a man in the 1830s searching for the fountain of youth
|Warning: Lengthy preface! The actual excerpt, if you want to skip the preface, starts right below the bolded line.
So I'd like to preface this chapter by stating that this is the first creative piece I am proud of in over a half decade. Following a debilitating depressive period, I felt as if I had lost all creative drive. I used to want to write about fantastic warriors, and super soldiers, and oppressive governments, but while brain-storming I've realized that I'd much rather write about humans. I think the most lasting tales follow the human experience, so why not take an obscenely human character, exaggerate one trait (desire for immortality) and spectate as that one trait spills into other facets of his life.
Brief research leads me to believe that I'm not unique in thinking this, but it's a very powerful thing, to come to such a conclusion on your own. I've had to battle with why, and what exactly the human experience is, and it was incredibly hard because one of the most prevalent symptoms during my depression was de-realization, something that still lingers to a fair degree today.
The protagonist in my story, Vincent Hughes, is largely inspired by myself. His flaws will personify my insecurities, and so on. The story begins in the future. It's fairly cliche, but the government is ordering all historical documents to be burnt to mellow out the population. The leader of the government, a proxy for more powerful men, finds a series of letters from the 1830s. They are all written by Vincent Hughes and addressed to his beloved Luna. I don't plan on revealing a surname. Vincent writes to his beloved because he has embarked on a long journey in search of the fountain of youth. For reference, nothing magical happens in my story, there is no 'fountain of youth' at the end or anything of that nature at any point through the story.
This next part is filled with spoilers, so if you'd rather read this excerpt spoiler free, skip it.
I think the real fun part about writing my story is the fact that because it's in letter format, I'm much more free to write in a sporadic order. So far, what I have planned of the story is that it's sort of link Yin and Yang. The first part half represents happiness, the joy of discovery, wonder, the positive aspect of philosophy. In the middle of his journey, when Vincent feels he is to find the fountain soon, he returns home to obtain travel expenses. I keep it very vague, having only written the following letter after the mid point:
To my beloved Luna,
It has been five long years since I left your embrace. How I wish I had not been so foolish as to leave you here alone. I hope you may forgive my insolence, my love.
The sun rose yet again, and with it brought great livelihood; or rather nay, not for me – I was too intoxicated in my thoughts to marvel. I stood eager for the moon to be in the sky. I enjoy looking at the moon for long periods of time, have I mentioned? It is a hobby inspired to me by our very own Jonathan. I am not learned in Latin, but he informs me your name is synonymous with moon, and as such the heavenly body now serves as my most prevalent reminder of you.
So, there is not much hinted at there (more to write/edit), but the idea is that she died. This changes Vincent, as he questions why he's even searching for the fountain of youth, and as he forces himself to see his journey through to the end, his previously optimistic and happy persona fades into a dark, gloomy, existential one. He suddenly begins to notice the poverty and filth brought about by the industrial revolution, and as he 'nears' his eternal life, he struggles with losing his will to live.
All that given, the second half of the book is supposed to reflect on the parallels of the ideas proposed early on, to show readers the same world through the same person, but at the same time changing everything. A line that I'm fixated on implementing at some point, and one I feel truly captures the recreated world of Vincent's is, "We truly are a broken species, are we not?"
It is still formatted in letter format. Vincent is human, and his way of coping is to continue writing letters to his beloved. Every letter, he affectionately addresses Luna and concludes with a personal favorite phrase of mine, "I hope all is well in paradise, my love."
I have plenty more - I haven't written the beginning (the whole futuristic part, hell, I'm like 90% against it. I'd rather it be a more lighthearted outer world, something I'd say inspires my so-called vision of what I want it to be is The Grand Budapest Hotel. For now, the letters are my main focus, because I think once I have the story that's being read in the outer world, it's much easier for me to shape how it actually influences the readers.
I've a few encounters, one you'll (hopefully) read the beginnings of is a so called Immortal in the town of Coventry. The town is famed for being one of the largest watch manufacturing cities in England, and in my (slightly) alternate history, the people in this town take great pride in what they do, coming off as if they have a supernatural fixation with time keeping. The immortal, while only human, is meant to be a philosophical driver. As my knowledge of philosophy only extends so far as the one college class I took, I'll likely put a lot of research into the ensuing conversation, no matter how brief it may be.
For any reviewers, I ask that you review with full harshness. I felt I wanted to share my inspiration to write this, in no way do I wish to filter your critique (as sob stories tend to do)
Any who - enough rambling; here is the first excerpt:
The day is the 10th of April, 1834.
It has been three moons since I left your embrace, and I miss you so. London is treating you well, I hope?
Today I arrived at the town of Coventry. Its people are said to have been captivated by horology; the very essence of this down exuberates the scrutiny by which they hold time. It’s a noble task, one the people here should be proud to undertake with prestige. Father spoke fondly of his time here and it is not difficult to see why.
I travelled here following some advice dearest Jonathan imparted onto me. He hold me that in the town of Coventry, a man is fabled to be able to resist the allure of time. It is very likely this man is a mere fraud; however, should he be legitimate in his claim to immortality, then his knowledge will surely be of great value in my journey to find that sacred fountain.
Difficult was that task, as many hours later, we stood, our search bearing no fruits, where we had begun. The locals proved quite inept in aiding us, as they merely point us in various directions, many contrary to the others. Only a fool would listen to these ingrates. The town that had wooed me so has quickly lost its appeal, its people are nothing more than frauds. There exists no immortal here, merely a ploy to keep travelers coming. And I, made a fool, fell scam to it. Very wise it would have been to have listened to father, who himself went on this very journey in his youth. He too, found no immortal; alas, how can that which does not exist be found.
I am frustrated with my lack of progress, darling, I hope you forgive my crude words. It is simply that so early in my journey I am stumped as to how to continue. Perhaps, my love, I should return early to your embrace - many others more fitting shall take the journey. We should not live what little can eager to live when we cannot.
It is eve, the sun is soon to set, and I hear a commotion outside.
Dearest, perhaps my journey is to find success! I saw with my very eyes the legendary immortal and have afforded his acquaintance tomorrow, my excitement cannot be contained. I think I will not sleep tonight, no. I can barely contain my happiness, my beloved Luna, I wish for you to feel it as I am.
He looked old and decrepit, and my initial ponderings were quite disappointed; regardless, those in my vicinity assured me that there is more to it, and from the sight I was seeing I believed it. Indeed, it was something quite spectacular, and just as such mesmerizing. Behind the immortal was a large clock in the town square, one which was not there previously in the day, and in front of it he sat. From my distance many meters away, the noise was to say the least very discomforting. The rusted arms screeched with every tick, simultaneously a large tock emanated from the clock’s bowels. Many around me had covered their ears, and for good reason.
It is difficult to convey, but the sound was amongst the most horrid I had heard in my life. However, the man sat, appallingly close. He sat, calm and cross-legged, his posture firm, his body as still as could possibly be. I saw not one flicker of movement.
It was as if I were suddenly inebriated, unable to control my own movements. I found myself approaching the immortal, fearful and envious, the horrid noise invisible to my thoughts. As I stood in front of him, his eyes opened. He knew I was there despite the excruciating noise and lack of vision. It was truly awesome.
I will write to you again soon with details of my conversation.
I hope all is well in paradise, love,