Re: NaNoWriMo 2012

I made it. On November 27, 2012, I reached 50,000 words and completed NaNoWriMo for the third time.

This year’s story is about a boy named Marduuk, who’s an only child with loving parents, a name drawn from Babylonian mythology, and a fairly privileged life. But he’s also a clone, and that affects how other people interact with him.

(obviously this is going to be an allegory for all sorts of discrimination)

For fun, here’s a Wordle representation of the November section of “Clone”:

Word frequency map; the largest words are "Marley" and "Marduuk", followed by "back", "just", "looked", "Dad", and "Mom"

And here’s something I haven’t done before with my NaNo novels: an excerpt! This is a letter from the last chapter, written by the main character:

I’m Marley Campbell, and I spent my spring abroad in Singapore. Apart from getting to see how a different university works, including a mix of regular courses and classes designed specifically for international students, I’ve met many new friends, not just across majors, but across continents as well. And for the first time in my life, I was not surrounded by America and American culture.

As a person with cloned DNA, experiencing Singaporean culture has given me a glimpse of the future. No, I don’t mean that everyone should be open to genetic manipulation, though the prevalence of prenatal genetic screening (and modification, if deemed necessary) should allay the fears of those who believe the science of gene therapy is inherently unsafe. What I refer to, instead, is the invisibility, or perhaps the commonness, of genetic manipulation in Singapore. In America, revealing that one has cloned or modified DNA is a weighty matter—one that often requires a measure of trust, and which changes the way one is viewed by their peers.

This is not the case in Singapore. After coming to know several of my floormates—a mix of other international students and native Singaporeans—I finally “came out” as having cloned DNA. The resulting non-reaction was without precedent in my life. In Singapore, having manipulated DNA is no more unusual than having had extensive orthodontic work during childhood.

In America, people with manipulated DNA are fighting for simple rights of justice, acceptance, equality. But in Singapore, I got to see the ultimate goal: invisibility. The point at which genetic manipulation is not only accepted but is no longer considered a factor that defines groups of “They” and “We”.

Today is my last day in Singapore, but I won’t forget my experiences in this country: half-way around the world from America, and my second home.

Signing off, Marley Campbell

So, the entire novel is not in a good enough shape to read just yet: apart from being the usual [EXPLETIVE] that comes out of a deadline-driven first draft, the novel is not in chronological order, and I didn’t even write it in the order it’s going to be told. So right now, the ordering doesn’t make sense, and I need to move things around and revise some stuff before anyone else can see it. (In CS terms, I am refactoring my story.)

However, this year I do plan to let people read this, if they really want to. The catch is that you have to e-mail me, and attached to the e-mail has to be one thing you’re working on these days. Could be a poem, or a short story, or a drawing or painting, or even an essay or article. Or even a song. Once you’ve done that, I promise I’ll get the story to you…ideally by the end of December, but if it hits the end of January and I still haven’t gotten around to it, I’ll just send what I have then.

So, was it worth it? Well, it did knock a big chunk out of my November, but I actually managed to keep up my work and still got to hang out with friends. My writing is ever-so-slightly better (though I’m still much more proud of my short stories). And for the third time in my life I get to say that I wrote a draft of a real short novel.

I already have a glimmer of an idea for next year.