by Jay O'Toole
This is chapter #25 of The Quest for Home, my NaNoWriMo novel for November 2017.
Warning is in order here,
some would choose to search.
Meaning of this novel dear's
found upon this perch.
If you'd be from spoiler free,
then you mustn't read.
Words that follow are of me,
mysteries they bleed.
Some would find the background thought
Words within are plainly taught,
gifts that you may find.
Thank you for Reading my First Novel
For many years I have thought of myself as primarily a poet. Poetry was (and still is) for me a tool for releasing emotions from my soul. Poems have been inestimable friends since I was 13 years old. When I was 13 I experienced a great disappointment of love that never was. Some people may wonder if their friends love them only for their good looks and athletic or musical skills. I never had to wonder about that.
People, who have been my friends and have loved me dearly have done so in spite of my average looks, clumsiness in the realm of social skills and limited physical prowess. (My one redeeming grace was my ability to play the piano. I was the balm for those, who cared about piano music.)
With that as background, I came to realize one day that the girl I "was sweet on" at the time didn't even know I existed. Therefore, I came to the conclusion that I had to go on living,...somehow. Someone had told me that poetry like music was a great release for "pent-up" emotions. I sat down and wrote a poem to describe the way that I felt at the time. That poem helped me so much that I prayed, "Lord, if You will give me the ability to write poetry, then I will use it for Your Glory." I have been writing poetry ever since and The Lord is my favorite subject, which is the main reason why Christmas is my favorite time of year. Christmas focuses the world on the Savior, Who came from Heaven to Earth to redeem us from the penalty of our sin, brokenness & separation from God. I can't get past that thought, "He came to Earth from me."
Having tried to write prose to one degree or other over the years with little success, had discouraged me from seeing myself as a writer of prose genres. However, something stirred in me during the last few days of October 2017. Maybe this will sound a bit whimsical, but it worked for me. What was this? It was the thought, "I'll bet I can speak at least 50,000 words in a month. Why don't I just sit down and talk to the computer...through my fingers?"
That I have done.
I have no delusions of grandeur that my novel in its current form is completely publish-worthy, but neither do I think it is totally cringe-worthy. I now have more than 60,000 words on a page that can be edited, augmented, finessed and with the Help of The Lord expressed in new ways that are full of imagery and life that the reader will then be able to hear, to see, to smell, to taste and yes, even to touch.
Thank you for taking the time to read my first novel. Thank you, even more for the consideration of giving me honest feedback that has the potential to turn this novice into a Best Seller writer. If one day you list the name of Jay O'Toole, next to C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as a fantasy writer that transcends Time itself, then I will be thrilled over-the-moon.
By the way, maybe that is my one delusion of grandeur.
Purpose Behind the Writing of The Quest for Home
This novel was written to be an autobiographical allegory.
I had intended at first to "hit the high points" from birth to present day. When I began I was under the false impression that such an undertaking could be completed in one volume. Currently, I am of the opinion that at least a trilogy like J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is more in keeping with the story that I have created (or that has created itself to me.)
Quest and I are Brothers
Writing coaches and teachers of novel technique urge the writer to "write what you know." With that advice, I have personified the little bear cub, Quest, with my own perspective. I am not exactly like Quest, but Quest uses me as a springboard for expressing himself.
There are similarities between Quest and me in some of the same exact experiences of life. However, there are places in which we are quite different in life experiences.
For instance, Quest loses his mother early in life. I, on the other hand, had the privilege of knowing my Mom throughout my childhood years as well as through many of my adult years, since Mom only passed away in February of 2017, which is the same year as the first draft of this novel. I have no doubt that her death, which has affected me greatly, has needed a level of processing that Quest in his life has afforded to me. For that, I am most grateful for this character.
One experience that remains vivid in my life all these years later was the event of Quest learning to tie his shoes. That experience is painfully mine. Being a five-year-old child, who was learning to do something that required an intense level of dexterity, when I was just learning how to use my hands to assist with the basic needs of life, was difficult enough in itself. To have a trusted teacher call me, "Dumb!" in the process was crushing to my little spirit.
However, as with many of the great challenges in life, this one spurred me on to greater levels of achievement. The following year I started piano lessons in which my teacher told me that I could "sight-read well." (To this day that is one of my strongest skills as a pianist.)
By the way, I did learn how to tie my shoelaces shortly after this difficult experience. I have been in many road races throughout my teens and adult years, including some in recent years. As such I have learned to tie rather intricate knots to ensure my safe running through the entirety of these races, which include 5Ks through marathons.
The sensitive nature of my personality is, no doubt, the very thing that caused me to interpret certain events in life as devastations, whereas other boys would have laughed them off, saying something like, "Yo, Dude! What was that? Like the twelfth time, I've been paddled this year? SWEET!"
That being said,...for some reason...the even-numbered grades (of the first half of the twelve primary school years) had at least one devastating experience for me during each of those years.
In Kindergarten (0 grade, if you will) I was called, "Dumb" for having trouble tying my shoelaces.
In second grade I got a paddling for doing my homework for one subject when the teacher had begun teaching a new subject.
In fourth grade, I got an "F" on a test or term paper of some sort, which was devastating for me, since I graduated from high school with a 4.0 average. (As class grades go that is a perfect score or All A's,...at least it was back then.)
In sixth grade, I had the untenable experience of learning in a maelstrom, since the teacher was near retirement and had given up on trying to discipline the students into a peaceful classroom.
All of these events are included in the life of Quest so far, except for the sixth-grade disorderly classroom. (Maybe, that can be addressed in Book #2.)
Quest and I share many helpful happenings in life as well. The odd numbers grades of first, third and fifth were pleasant and encouraging times for me.
In first grade, my teacher discovered the fact that I needed glasses, a tool that has helped my academic enterprises quite handily ever since.
My third-grade teacher was a precious lady that I remember for her smile and her consistently encouraging words.
My fifth-grade teacher was my birth mother and the dear lady that I lost in February of 2017. (There is no one else that I call, "Mother," with such depth of meaning.) She told me at the beginning of the fifth-grade school year, "Son, I will give you no special privileges this year, but neither will I be harder on you than I am on any of the other students." She was true to her word. I remember that year with fond memories. How many sons can say that of their mothers, especially mothers who taught them?
The Lord is Very Important to Me
As a preacher's kid there was no middle ground of compromise in the realm of spiritual and religious thought for me. I either had to be really good and agree with my Dad, or I had to be really bad, making my friends my family.
I chose the former for two reasons. First, we moved around a lot throughout my first two decades of life. Kindergarten was in one town. First, second and third was in another. The fourth grade was in still another town. Fifth and sixth were in a town about three or four states over. Seventh through twelfth grades were in the "Redneck Riviera" of the Panhandle of Florida. I went to three separate universities in three separate states, finally graduating eight years after high school graduation. Secondly, I became a Christian at the tender age of six. Therefore, I actually wanted to agree with my Dad.
Be assured that I am well aware that many souls in this post-modern world have very intelligent and studied reasons for not believing in God at all. In the past I was one of those Christians, who gave the name of Christ "a black eye" because I wouldn't respect the beliefs of others, trying to convert everybody to my own belief system. That is not my purpose in this novel, even though I hope to learn how to express my viewpoint in more subtle ways than I am presently capable of writing.
The point is simply this. Though I believe strongly my beliefs and I still am convinced that the viewpoint from which I see life has great potential to help anyone, who gives it an opportunity to work, I have learned to say, "The Lord has always been and remains the most beneficial and encouraging Person in my life." The storyline of the life of Quest, the little bear cub, shows how many have been my detractors or difficult persons in my life. I have needed to know that Someone knows all there is to know about me, and He still loves me, helps me and protects me for all I am worth to Him.
As you can tell from this novel I thoroughly enjoy talking about the faith I have been given by The Lord, but I write the words on the pages these days. I don't chase people down to talk with them about matters of faith like I did in my youth. I think age has taught me not to run away from a difficult subject, but also not to engage until I sense acceptance or permission on some level.
Allegories Make Great Mental Pictures
I experience and process life in pictures. For that reason, it is mystifying to me that my ability to write with imagery is not stronger, yet, than it is. I look forward to participating with Carol St. Ann in her Novel Workshop until this book is published in some form. I want to take a course at New Horizons Academy, regarding character creation and imagery as well as learning the "nuts & bolts" of how to write a novel.
Amazingly enough, this novel has been written as a "fly by the seat of my pants," word counting exercise of how to talk to the computer through my hands, while having it record those rapid-fire thoughts. I wonder what I could have written if I had actually prepared during October's Prep Month.
Because I like mental "photographs," conversations with other animated speakers often creates a movie in the mind. This means that "parallel conversations," (i.e. talking with someone, while our hands are in the process of making important things, like fixing the car and snapping beans for canning season, creating items with threads, etc.) are my preferred methods of talking. Looking at another person, while I am talking with them feels a little intimidating because it reminds me of my Dad, who used to accost me with the words, "Son, look at me when I'm talking to you!"
Allegories Are Great Vehicles for Philosophy Papers
As I said in some of my earlier comments, spiritual matters are of great importance to me. With all due respect to the strict materialists, I don't think I have the ability to see the visible realm as all that has the possibility of existence. To me that like telling Monet that he can only paint grayscale hues on his canvases. With respect to the black & white photographs of Ansel Adams, grayscale is an excellent study in the geometry of the physical universe, but color photography adds a punch that will make you weep if you can see color. (Just watch color-blind humans try Enchroma glasses for the first time on YouTube.)
The physical universe has such a wealth of colors from the physical pallet that I can't wait to see the exponentially greater pallet of the spirit realm.
The subjects of Heaven and Hell have fascinated me all of my life, not just as a place for those, who agree with The Lord and a place to be left alone for those, who do not agree with Him, but also for the contemplation value of considering how it could be possible for these places to exist at all.
I ponder questions like, "Why is Hell a place of eternal burning?" and "How is that possible?" In this novel I imagine my characters having conversations with D'Oso Reimi of the yet-to-be-written book The Life of Bears on Reimi IV fame. Aslan is my inspiration as I explore the concept of seeing God in the form of an approachable animal. Being created for the fantasy genre by C.S. Lewis, Aslan is a great tool for me to understand that we can, in essence, have an internal dialogue, regarding the "Why?" of existence on every level.
D'Oso Reimi is a composite of three Spanish words that are filled with great meaning for me. "D'" is the abbreviation of "Deo," which means "God." "Oso" is the Spanish word for "bear." "Rey" is Spanish for "King." "Mi" is the musical note that I use for the personal, "me." So,... every time I say, "D'Oso Reimi," I mean, "The God of Bears, Who is The King for me." If you say the name, "D'Oso Reimi" rather quickly, then you will be tempted to say the rest of the phonetic musical scale because that homage was included in the creation of his name. If God is anything, then He is MUSIC. My musical nod to this created name for God is an homage to the way that Aslan sang The Creation into being in Lewis's first book in the series, The Magician's Nephew. It remains one of my all-time favorites, due to this musical explanation of The Creation.
As to the subject of Heaven, I wonder,...
"How can the roads of that fair City be paved with gold?"
"Does the expression mean that the paving of those Heavenly streets has a sheen as iridescent as purest gold?"
"Does that mean that the streets of Heaven are paved with actual gold?"
"What does that say about the opinion of Heaven's residents, regarding Earth's most precious metal?"
"Is the highest point of this discussion, simply this? The material that is valued most highly in the Earth is considered to be on the level of construction material in Heaven, isn't that right?"
Put another way,...Heaven's concrete is Earth's gold. Humans horde it, while God walks on it. That puts things into a unique perspective, doesn't it?
This Allegory Agrees with John Bunyan & Hannah Hurnard
My favorite allegories throughout the history of writing are The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan and Hind's Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard.
The Pilgrim's Progress shows that the difficulties of life are intermingled with the joys of fellowship with other believers like Evangelist and Faithful. However, the last difficulty to be experienced is the River of Death in which Faithful goes through with a peaceful aspect, while Christian sinks down in the river battling his own doubts. In the end, both are led into everlasting fellowship with The Lord Jesus. He provides the place of Home for the wayworn pilgrim.
Hind's Feet on High Places shows the difficulties of life that Much Afraid, her main character, had to experience on the way to a lasting Earthly fellowship with The Good Shepherd, Who would, also, provide everlasting Home on the other side of death for the newly-anointed, Grace & Glory.
In The Quest for Home all the characters had to face difficulties in this transient land of Earth. The level of Home that they experienced here was in direct correlation to The Big Choice they made to receive the Great Gift of Salvation, provided at the hands of D'Oso Reimi, Who in the human tongue is Jesus. Ultimately, Home for the animals of this novel, the land of Narnia and the former residents of the Valley of Humiliation as well as all humans of HIStory, who place their highest value in the Person of Jesus, the Christ, will be found in eternal habitation with D'Oso Reimi and with Jesus Himself.
The Son of God is HOME.