Pre-industrial road from Oblivion.
I honestly still don’t know whether I will be able to take part in NaNoWriMo this November, as I usually have done. Â It is the last month before I need to be out of this house and into a new place (which I still haven’t found), and experience shows that this is a lot more work than one thinks beforehand.
But just in case there is time to write, either this November or later, I have a seed for a story I have not used before. Â I could just reboot an earlier story, I have a lot of them, most of which are not used for NaNoWriMo before; but as I change over time, so also do the stories I would write, and this is a brand new one. Well, it has a few elements that I have used before, but overall it is quite fresh.
The main character will as usual be a boy in his late teen. This is not random. Â It is the age in which boys in modern times are (at least in theory) able to stand on their own for the first time, and make important decisions for the rest of their life, like who will be their spouse and what will be their career. If I write about someone younger, I will need to take into account their birth family. If I write about someone older, I will need to take into account their existing marriage (or liberal facsimile thereof) and career, possibly even children. Â So for the simplicity of the story, especially a far-out story like this, the best time is around the end of high school. Probably a little later, these days.
I haven’t even come up with a name for the Main Character yet, so for now let me just call him MC. Â MC is diagnosed with a slow but deadly disease, just as he thought his life was about to begin. He is not happy about it. Things are generally not good in other ways either. Â Insert some well-deserved emo here. Â He goes hiking in the nearby mountains (which should be pretty convenient if I set this story in my native Norway). Â It is a favorite hobby of his and he wants to do it one more time, also he wants to be alone with his thoughts for a while.
While walking in the mountains, he gets lost in a sudden fog and when he exits, the landscape seems subtly changed. Â He has lost his way, but not only that. Â There is something different about everything, and the map does not quite fit the terrain anymore. Â Off we go into fantasy land! Â But not quite the standard fantasy.
Once he finds a road and follows it to the nearest village, it is obvious that we are not in Kansas Norway anymore. Â Or, not quite. Â People still speak a similar language, but not quite the same. Their houses are different and prettier, the people are likewise more beautiful and smart. It is as if the whole place is slightly upgraded from the world MC knows, and he is starting to feel more than a little inferior, although nobody is actually mocking him.
One thing that is not superior is communications. Â There are no cars, no phones, no radio or TV. Â The worst part is that people generally don’t miss these things. People tend to work in the same area where they live, and they don’t buy lots of imported stuff. Â Their furniture is handcrafted by more or less local artisans, and so with most other things. Â People take great pride in their work, and take good care of the things they own. Â Mass production and mass obsolescence Â are unheard of.
When they learn about his medical condition, his new friends decide to take him to a larger town to the east, where there are better doctors. Â So with a couple others, he sets off Â on a journey. Â Various things probably happen here to fill out the story. Â The thing is, as they come further east, everything become slightly more awesome. Â The people here are even smarter, prettier and longer-lived. Â Their things are of even better quality, and longer lasting. Â The healers here treat MC with natural techniques and herbs, and manage to slow the progression of his disease. Â However, he will have to travel further east to seek a cure.
As you may guess by now, the change repeats itself. Â As they travel eastward and just gently upward, the land changes in subtle ways, and they come to an even more superior region. Â People here live the same unhurried life, but in even greater depth and quality. Â MC feels like an absolute moron when he tries to follow their conversations with each other, and he Â learns that they usually live for a few hundred years. They also manage somehow to halt his disease, although they cannot cure him. Â For that, he should travel to the next province eastward…
So basically this is a kind of fantasy story that is also a parable of our spiritual life, albeit very subtly so. Â As the travel goes on, our MC witnesses ever more perfection, depth, quality and durability. Â This makes him feel ever smaller, weaker, uglier and more stupid. Â But eventually we learn that he himself is also changing and beginning to absorb some of the quality from the new world he lives and breathes in. Â At some point he realizes that he would not want to go back to his own world even if he could, and if he did, he would be a very different person from when he left.
This story should also explain why not everyone is “going East” and upward toward the more perfect regions. Actually there are some who do, and our MC meets and becomes friends with some of these. But most stay where they are. They have family, friends, livelihood or property that they can’t leave behind. Perhaps there was some time in their life when they could have made a break and searched for something better, but that time is past or they are still waiting for it. Also, there are some who tried, but they couldn’t stand the feeling of inferiority living among people who were more perfect than they. Actually, some chose to travel westward instead: Even though they lose some of their abilities and lifespan over time, they still get respect and admiration in the meantime, and a feeling of being more useful to those around them who have less abilities.
Yeah, pretty transparent once you know it, but I hope to be able to write something that is at least a bit enjoyable in its own right. Also, the metaphor should be very generic. There won’t be deity namedropping, if I can help it, though there would probably be less personal concepts like the Light and perhaps the Way.
Oh, and there won’t be any Land of Aslan or some such in the ultimate East. Â In fact, as far as this story is concerned, there is only the way, and the end of it cannot be seen.