Here we are in December, seven days from Christmas, with me coming a couple weeks late with my NaNoWriMo recap. So, first things first, yes I did participate in NaNoWriMo this year despite never mentioning it so far.
It was very last minute this year that I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, which for those who are not familiar with the event, essentially means I tried to write a novel (50,000 words) in the month of November.
I was not expecting to win this year being busy with ~ life~ so competitive me decided not to even try since I would surely fail.
…but my friend convinced me to because “what is the worst that could happen? You write a little bit more than you would have?”
Well, this is my first time to lose (see my last year), but I ended up reaching much farther than I expected, ending at 22,516 words. So kuddos to me?
This year I picked a project I had previously written one chapter for. The long, purposefully ridiculous name is as follows: Guiseppe Laurentius Lewkenor Lewis III’s Extraordinary Directory to Phenomenal Living, Exceptional Nose-Following, and Other Priceless Dictations on How to Stay Ahead in Life.
And no, now that I think of it I don’t have a shortened nickname though that would be helpful. Because it’s a mouthful to say and I can never remember the entire title. So don’t feel bad if you fall asleep half way through it, and, for your relief, that was the only time I will write it all out in this post.
The quickest way I’ve described the story so far is a Charles Dickens-esque satire about a steampunk world where a French Revolution is about to take place.
So Victorian style. Factories. Two sides of London-like-city; one section for the aristocrats and one for the factory workers. Mechanical pigeons. Obsessions with clocks and gears.
And then there’s Guiseppe Laurentius Lewkenor Lewis III. A utterly ridiculous overly self obsessed narrator.
*all pictures in this post are from Pinterest unless otherwise stated*
Here is the blurb I wrote up November 1st:
Guiseppe Laurentius Lewkenor Lewis the III of Everstone Square, head merchant of Carlton and Cotter, has his hands full with the glamorous headful life he leads as he travels all over Aulder fulfilling his dream – that is a life full of heads.
He sells them.
Bigheads, blockheads, pigheads. Heads with curly hair, whisker hair, or no hair. Or maybe you want a head full of dreams instead your head full of reality, or maybe you want to replace that ole head full of thoughts you thought you might want last year with a head full of nothing. Name a feature and he has a product to suit you!
Yes, Guiseppe finds the work very attractive even if the customers are most certainly almost never. But everything changes when a new mysterious customer demands service and drags him down in the blackmarket abyss of thieves, assassins, and cutthroat spies. At the mercy of an entirely different world where aristocrats are beginning to lose their grip on the empire he calls home and that he has been recruited to help take them down, Giuseppe soon discovers this is one headlock that all his grand philosophies, extensive people skills, and charming mannerisms will not help him out of.
How he could have been so headless?
It’s one of the strange tales in which you should not consider the technical aspects too much. Otherwise it gets gruesome fast. Especially if you – like me – suddenly realize many people were losing their heads during the French Revolution and isn’t that painfully convenient? Well, in this world switching heads is possible, and not terribly hard, and not strange, so please don’t question it.
The base idea for this story started earlier this year when in a conversation with a friend I complimented their fine head and said her parents picked it well. We bounced off each other for a little bit and then suddenly I was struck with an image of poor peddler trying to make the sell of a head. It was so entirely comical I immediately ended up writing this “first chapter” as entertainment for myself and considered it done.
Yes, he did not have a good face for business. An overly fat garlic bulb nose, eyebrows like withered moss, and puffy cheeks which prompts a viewer question whether he is somehow related to a bulldog… this head would not appeal to 99% of the average seekers of new heads and I don’t even need official Carlton and Cotter survey results to tell you that.
However, as an expert in these matters, let me tell you that there is a clear difference between a good face for business (not his) and a good face for a business man (his.)
But NaNoWriMo came around, and I decided to finish the novel.
It was an extreme challenge trying to write Guiseppe Laurentius Lewkenor Lewis III. For starters the story is entirely first person and our dear Guiseppe is not a very reliable narrator in the slightest. He often says things like “The man slapped a towel on the counter and I, of course, did not flinch in the slightest because I have the nerves of steel. (In case you aren’t as educated or as familiar with that saying as I am, no worries, steel does not have nerves.)”
But it was frustrating how he seemed to always be going in circles due to the fact he doesn’t care about anything.
I ended up making a list to keep track of what he DOES care about to help. It was short.
A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding What Guiseppe Laurentius Lewkenor Lewis III Cares About in Life
- His fine nose.
- His own head.
- His name.
- His reputation as a perfect merchant.
And that’s about everything he talks about. His nose. His head. His name. His reputation. His nose. His head. His name. His name again. His reputation. His name. His name. Oh and his answering probing questions about his past all tactically (at least in his mind).
I never was one for collegiate aspirations, but I have no doubt I will get around to starting my own modern school of head selling where I can spill the tea on the best door to door, clock to clock salesmen tactics. Imagine being the Headmaster training up head Head Merchants just like me. But then of course I’ve always been a one man show and I wouldn’t give up my bestselling advice for a couple of the disrespectful youth with their heads too stuck in the clouds to appreciate brilliance when it ran off with their noses. Guiseppe Laurentius Lewkenor Lewis III: Head Master does have a nice ring to it though.
Well, thank goodness, I had other characters in this story and an idea for a plot beyond that of Guiseppe trying to get people to pronounce his name correctly.
Here is what originally was part of version #1 of blurb:
Zenobia Emmeline Napper-Potts, also known has simply Polly, is a lowly factory worker who spends her days picking up thread clippings and polishing gears and running errands, yet is convinced that her father was the Great Explorer Orville Amos Napper who was the first to invent the gas lamp and the man who designed the Royal Clock Tower of Aghbill. Yet no one has ever heard of Orville Amos Pentington Napper and his last trace is his last journal, a paper trail pointing to the endless pit of Aghbill Prison, where no light passes through. Much less any sane person.
And Lady Fidelia Amy Sheridan is the sister of a man who is in need of a new head. An apprentice at the Evington Manor, she hears too much to be a neutral party. Her brother may be a thief but they live in style under one of the most renowned names in the country.
There’s also Basil, the leader of the revolution, and Montague, the factory worker trying to exact revenge and rise to power on the other side. And yes Giuseppe makes a culinary joke when he meets Basil.*
*thanks to you… you know who you are
In the midst of scrambling to find the way to move the plot and procrastinating but also trying to write a n y t h i n g. I happened to be reading this book, The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid, and burst out laughing when I reached chapter sixteen. Because, despite having big ideas of all these characters, in the spur of the moment everything was moving exceedingly slow and I was stuck spinning useless circles with our favorite head merchant. This is a summary of my story’s state in NaNoWriMo:
Because when in doubt, what else to do but find Giuseppe introducing his fantastic honored self with his mile long name to someone new. OR correcting someone’s pronunciation of his tongue twister name to someone he already knows. OR refreshing someone’s memory of his impossibly complex name to someone who is having too much fun messing with his mind and trying to ruffle his feathers by purposefully truncating his oh so wonderful name.
As my friend said (what was it… every time I sent a clip?) “oh look Guiseppe is introducing himself again” and “It looks like Guiseppe introduces himself at least once” and “Who is he introducing himself to this time?”
“Depends on what I want to buy!” She laughs and looks me up and down, then says: “Zenobia Emmeline Napper-Potts, my good Juppy Joe, remember? Still got my business card? I guess your memory is a bit wonky.” She appears as if she does not actually believe it.
“So it seems the state of yours as well. My name is Guiseppe Lewis.”
“Juppy Lew Lew. How are the good ole mechanical pigeons treating you today?”
There was many a time mid November I wanted to pull my hair out (the urge had never been so strong but sOmE head merchant was NOT being helpful in the least.)
My friend ended up saying something so profoundly insightful it changed everything:
“Jerks like Guiseppe thrive on people who take them seriously. Seeing as Zenobia doesn’t take him seriously, he can’t win when he’s around her. So any time you get stuck writing Guiseppe, just don’t take him seriously.”
Boom. I was back in business writing Giuseppe ridiculous and not trying to convert him to An Honorable Human Being.
So the moral of the story is:
- participating in NaNoWriMo even if you know you can’t finish, will help you write more than you would
- if your character is ridiculous, don’t take them seriously
- long names can be very helpful when trying to fulfill a word goal
So what’s next?
Well I’ve decided I really like Guiseppe as a narrator in the end. His observations are unparalleled, especially when it comes to describing faces. His name is also wonderfully easy to mishear, which is a plus (muahaha)
So all joking aside, I really like the glimpse I’ve gotten into his world, the characters are promising, and some day I plan to tighten up the plot and finish it out.
Did you participate in NaNoWriMo this year? What did you write about? Have you ever written a ridiculous character?
Happy Friday, friends!
*all gifs curtesy of my trained mob of mechanical pigeons who gathered material across the InTeRnEt*