Monday, February 25, 2013

The First Chapter of a New Novel

I've begun a new writing project that I expect will take me quite some time.  I've spent the past couple years researching local history, thinking I would write a local history book, and I still may.  But, based on a recent conversation with my friend Ricardo, I've decided to use all the knowledge and writing I've been doing to instead write a historical novel.  I think I am, first a foremost, a creative writer, so that's what I'm going to do. 

My novel will be a historical saga set in Southern California, beginning with the original inhabitants, and continuing through several historical eras to the present day.  I've decided to use footnotes in my novel.  Although the characters will be mostly fictionalized, the historical circumstances and events in which they find themselves will be based on real things.  I'm not aware of a novel that uses historical footnotes, so I'm excited to try this.  I don't have a title yet.  That will come in time.  Here's the first chapter.


Chapter 1: In the Beginning

“In the beginning there was chaos,” the old man said, and the firelight made his face look strange.  His voice was familiar, though.  He was the story teller.   

“Out of this chaos came the god, Quaoar,” he continued, ”He was lonely and sad because of the all the chaos and emptiness, so he had an idea.”

“What was it?” asked a young boy who already knew the answer but took pleasure in making his small voice a part of the story.

“He did what we do when there is trouble,” the old man said, indicating another, larger fire where the shadows of men and women circled it, singing and dancing.“  The story teller smiled.

“Quaoar began to dance!  He whirled and twirled, turning all his sadness and loneliness into something beautiful and new.”  The old man gestured with his thin arms as he spoke with rising excitement and purpose.
            
“And Quaoar began to sing the Song of Creation.  He sang and danced with such passion and energy that something wonderful happened.”
            
“What happened?” asked the boy, eagerly.
            
“New beings came into the world,” the old man said, raising his arms toward the sky, “The first was the Sky God, Weywot.”
            
The boy looked up at the sky and all the points of light that were his gods and ancestors, each owing their existence to this First Song.
            
“Next came Chehooit, the goddess of the Earth,” and the old man and the boy turned their eyes from the sky to the fire and the dirt and the outline of the hills and the ocean beyond.
            
“Everyone joined together in the Song of Creation and the Dance, and many other new things came into the world that were waiting in the chaos and emptiness for someone to give Voice to their existence, like Tamit, who is Grandfather Sun, and Moar, who is Grandmother Moon.”
           
The boy looked upward at the moon, and thought of his own grandmother, Malit.
           
“Come,” said the old man, ”Let us join the others.  I will sing you the rest of the story.”
           
The old man rose slowly to his feet and the boy took his hand and they slowly entered the circle of the tribe, where men and women wore masks and constumes to represent the creation story.  There were drums and singing and dancing.  As they joined the circle, the old man began to sing, and the boy joined him. 
            
They sang of the Goddess of the Sea, Manit,
and the Lord of dreams and visions, Manisar,
and the Bringer of Foods and Harvests, Tukupar Itar
and then Tolmolak, the Sky Coyote,
and finally Shishongna, the Goddess of the Underworld.
           
They sang of the creation of hills, mountains, trees, and rivers.
They sang into existence the plants and animals,
and finally the first man and the first woman to walk the earth.
And the tree of life, which begins with one seed and branches off,
fractals into fractals, into more unique and specialized beings.
            
“We are not only the people of the earth,” the old man whispered to the boy, “We are the dancers.”
            
The music and the drums and the dance conjured images familiar and fantastic in the young boy’s mind, images of earth and sky, of sadness and new and strange things coming into the world that did not exist before.


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