It’s the “Old Notebooks” series, where I read back through the fantasy stories I wrote as a kid and mock myself mercilessly in order to mitigate my mortification!
PREVIOUSLY IN THE “SCRIGGLY” NOTEBOOK: Atlantis City is still flooding, but it seems now that the rich people have all been evacuated, Jordan and her fellow poor people finally got their turn – but not before Jordan & Isabel caught some kind of diphthpneumofluenza. Apparently all the evacuees are currently en route to some island to beg their Evil False God Cetirul to stop the flooding, and probably sacrifice some folks. We learned that the H.O.V. Slinei is Cetirul’s biggest fanboy, because evil, while good and virtuous Jordan is apparently a Christian without realizing it, because I had some issues when I was a kid. Onward!
OK, hopefully we won’t have any need for me to ramble about very sensitive subjects today. Let’s dive in!
Yesterday was awful. I’ll tell you why.
Pray, do tell.
Around 2:00 a.m. yesterday—
Around 2:00 a.m. yesterday, everyone was sleeping soundly. Except me. I couldn’t sleep. I was worried about the rain. It was pounding exceptionally hard then. (Of course Philip’s snoring didn’t help.)
It’s funny because he’s a snob!
Then I noticed a small puddle
leak lealeaking in under the door. I was about to wake everyone up when Prince Alex stormed into the cabin.
Whoa, whoa, Prince Alex! That’s not how this works! You can’t just break in like this—you’ve gotta, like, throw pebbles at her window, or hold a boombox over your head. Or something. I don’t know, I’ve never actually seen Say Anything, but I’m pretty sure the boombox is important.
Everyone except Isabel woke up(I woke her up. I couldn’t figure out how she could sleep so deeply with Philip snoring like
HAHAHAHA SNORING IS AN AUTOMATIC JOKE SO I’M GOING TO MENTION IT A SECOND TIME.
Prince Alex was soaked and he looked exhausted. when he opened the door to our cabin more water spilled in.
Holy cow, Atlantis really is sinking already! Well, this was a short story, wasn’t it?
He told us we had to leave right away (He sneezed a lot.)
Erm… is the sneezing important? Is this another funny? It’s funny because… he’s a prince and… they don’t usually sneeze?
Anyway, let’s move on and—
I dunno, Ron. They just seem to fit, for some reason.
The water was really cold, and we were all in bare feet (except Prince Alex, of course.) We went outside. I had my belongings with me, you know, the dress,
handhandkerchief, necklace, book, and of course this diary.
WAT. So you had time to grab all your stuff… but not your shoes? Really?—And don’t tell me it’s because she just doesn’t have any shoes. You need shoes if you’re going to work in a stable. And not only because of the poo. See, horses kinda have this bad habit of not always looking where they’re stepping, while also weighing several hundred pounds. A horse can break your toes even if you’re wearing thick boots (trust me, I know). Going barefoot is just a really, really bad idea.
Also, where’d she get a handkerchief? Did she have that before? Did I miss that somehow?
They’re all still in my bag, which, at the time, was slung over my shoulder. Now it is somewhere in another chariot behind us. I’ll find it when we get to Cetirul Island.
Oh no, Jordan! You definitely should have taken it as a carry-on! Those people never handle the bags carefully. Just you watch, it’ll have been accidentally loaded onto another chariot headed for Mu Province, and it’ll take the chariotline like a month to get it back to you. And once you do finally get it back, all the stuff’ll be broken. Yes, even the handkerchief. Total nightmare, I swear.
Anyway, we went outside to get the horses. It was freezing!
There was a couple of chariots that we were supposed to load the horses(and unicorn) into.
Okay, wait—sorry to interrupt again, but this has been bugging me for a while now: what kind of “chariots” are these? I just—I mean… did I just have a totally different concept of “chariot” back then? Because usually when someone says “chariot,” what they mean is…
… And maybe I’m wrong, but those things just do not look like ideal vehicles for transporting at least a dozen horses + one unicorn. You can barely fit two people on one of those without it getting a little bit crowded. And I imagine the whole “being open in the back” thing wouldn’t be very helpful, either.
I can only assume that Atlantian “chariots” actually look more like this:
But I guess Little Me thought that “trailer” didn’t sound Atlantissy enough.
We were almost done. The only one still in the stables was Pearl, the unicorn. Isabel tried to put her in, but Pearl ran away, and Isabel went running after her in the direction of the city.
And along the way, I imagine, she crossed paths with Primrose Everdeen, who was currently in desperate pursuit of Buttercup the cat.
Then I did an extremely brave but stupid thing.
*Sigh* … Jordan? Don’t call yourself “extremely brave,” okay? Even if you add that it was also “stupid,” it still makes you sound like a self-absorbed ass.
And yet again, this sentence shows the problems inherent with writing a story in diary- or epistolary-style: if I’d been writing this with a 3rd-person narrator instead, I could have easily said, “And then Jordan did an extremely brave but stupid thing,” and that would have been fine. Even in regular 1st-person narration, while still coming across as a little self-congratulatory, it wouldn’t have been that bad. But this is supposed to be Jordan’s diary, which means that she actually took her pen to the page and consciously constructed this sentence for future perusal. And that just completely ruins the effect I was going for: instead of making me (the reader) think that Jordan is brave, now all I think is that Jordan thinks she’s brave, which makes her come across as a self-absorbed ass.
I took Chloe(she was nearest me)and I took after them. Soon I found Pearl, but not Isabel. I took Pearl and kept riding. When I finally found Isabel, she was shivering in a huge oak tree crying. It was so cold, and the water was up to Chloe’s chest. I rescued Isabel, and turned to—
Hey, wait a second, hold up! You’re not going to tell me how you rescued Isabel? She was stuck up in a giant oak tree, the water is up to your horse’s chest—and you’re not going to tell me any more details of how you got her down from there while managing not to drown either yourself or your horse??? BUT THAT’S THE GOOD PART! Maaaaannnnn. I feel so cheated.
Hm. You know, I wonder…?
Okay. Writerly confession time: I actually really hate writing action scenes. I enjoy imagining them, but hate writing them. Usually my problem is that things happen too fast, and words feel too slow to keep up with the pace of the scene. Plus, I’m terrible at mentally blocking the characters’ movements in the space, so it takes a lot more effort for me to describe action than it does for me to, say, right a fun back-and-forth dialogue. (This action scene handicap has especially been challenging for me when writing Avatar: the Last Airbender fanfiction, as anyone who has seen that show will surely understand.)
So I’m just wondering… did I hate writing actions scenes back then, too? Maybe that’s why I glossed over this rescue scene. I was feeling lazy.
Or, on the other hand, maybe I was going for realism. Maybe I was thinking, “If I was Jordan right now, writing in this journal while feeling sick and riding on a bumpy chariot, probably packed in with a bunch of other people, I probably wouldn’t want to give a play-by-play of every little thing that happened.” In which case, this just reveals yet again another drawback of diary-style writing.
But, to be honest, I kinda think I was just being lazy.
I rescued Isabel, and turned to go back, but I didn’t know which way to go. I was shivering from cold and fear, but I tried to act brave for Isabel. I don’t think I could’ve gotten wetter if I had leaped into Lake Atlantis.
Fun fact: Lake Atlantis is actually the wettest of all Atlantian lakes.
I wasThe water frightened me, so I just started walking, hoping I was going toward the castle rather than the city.
HOLD ON. Isn’t the castle this huge-ass thing made of emeralds, sitting on top of a hill at the very center of the city? HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE IT???
Besides, how the heck did Isabel run that far? She’s a five year old girl! And the whole city is flooding! How could she have gotten so far away from the castle on foot that Jordan can’t see it anymore?!
We must have been out there for hours. At least that’s what it felt like. Days even. Just as I was losing hope of ever finding our way back, I heard something. I looked, and Prince Alex rode up on Tatiana. He helped us back.
And, uh, what exactly were all the others, like Robert and Ana and Philip, doing this whole time? When Isabel, and then Jordan, both ran off into the flooding city, did they just stay behind in the stables like, “Hm, oh well! I guess we’ll just wait here while our two youngest and most vulnerable friends go running off alone into the dangerous floodwaters! I’m sure they’ll be back in a few minutes.”
me,Isabel, Prince Alex, and I are all in the hospitalinfirmary chariot, all in bed, all sick with pneumonia.
There’s an “infirmary chariot.” With a bed in it. No—with several beds in it.
AN. INFIRMARY. CHARIOT.
I… I honestly don’t know what I thought a chariot was back when I wrote this story, but it sure as heck was not a chariot. I think what I was going for was something more like… “train.”
(Side note: I think it’s cute how I almost wrote “hospital chariot” right there, and then I was like, “No, no, no—that’s stupid. People in fantasy stories don’t have hospitals! It needs to be an infirmary chariot. That sounds much more realistic.”)
Prince Alex doesn’t have it as bad as poor Isabel and me. I do hope the horses are alright.
I’ve been reading my book a bit lately
I don’t feel like writing any more today.
August 20, 10,223 B.C. – Sunday
Cetirul Island, Temple City
We’ve been here for 3 days. Prince Alex is almost well, Isabel has made no progress, and I’m just getting worse. Chloe is sick now too.
I don’t want to write anymore.
Okay, then. I guess the story’s over! Well, it’s been fun. We laughed, we cried, we hung our heads in shame. Or maybe that was just me. Anyways! Looks like we’ll be starting something new next time! Can’t wait to see what it is. Till then, take care!