Sunday, December 03, 2017

Thorne’s Quest

I think it was five years ago, on November 30th; the last night of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo): it was the Liberal Theologian, Aqualad and myself remaining at the coffee pub in the aftermath of a larger celebration. I then decided I deserved a decadent dessert waffle as reward for my NaNo success. I had won the challenge, setting my personal November word count record and in doing so finished the novel I’d started the year before on November 1st. Aqualad agreed and claimed his own such reward, making it an event. L.T. then followed suit and named our night together: Wafflepalooza.

On the same date this year, I rushed away from my late shift at the Courthouse to join the greater gang for Wafflepalooza Six where staff reported to me that twenty waffles had been served!. Most of the gang had left by the time I arrived and another few left shortly afterwards, leaving Chess Champ, the Healer and myself. We talked about the struggles and victories of this craziest NaNo in our memories.

I announced that I intended to visit the Liberal Theologian, our former NaNo Scooterville leader, before going home. (I wished to discuss with her my failing evolution which certain  NaNo struggles made very apparent this year.) The others wished to join me. At that I was surprised but pleased. The conversation would be a different one but that’s okay.

L.T. still has no gravestone but her location is easy to find. It’s right under the brightest light in the cemetery. When her stone finally arrives it will be appropriately spotlighted.

We talked about her influences on us and the strong mark she left on the NaNo community; the culture she set in motion which we strive to maintain, and how we two became close and how I came to live in her home. We talked about her liberal relationship with God and her generous relationship with religion itself; one based almost entirely upon community and charity and not about specific dogma. How she came into that specific Anglican church where she made her career; one unusually behind the times by the progressive Anglican standards of the day, where its leaders held conservative and superstitious views. But L.T. was very strong. In no time at all she had all her opposition corrected, evolved, defeated or removed and her church became an extension of her own personality: a place of legitimate generosity and inclusiveness.

I knew all this through stories about L.T. which I really love to hear. They thrill me because I did not know her in her more heroic days.but only later, when NaNo was her only time to really shine. Beyond that her disability generally got the best of her and the scope of her life and influence, as happens to all of us eventually, was in decline.

In her final two days, spent in the hospice, she was almost always in shut-down mode; unconscious or semi-conscious or withdrawn, at least at times, by intent. I spent many hours at her side while she existed in some other awareness. How strange it must be, this otherspace of the dying. Where are you Gale? I asked more than once. In hindsight I suspect that, at times at least, she was very nobly making peace with her passing. At the time though I could not see that possibility, too fixated on the apparent problems I perceived.

Where are you? I asked her. Are you riding with Thorne in your other world? I really hoped that she was.

Thorne is the girl in her fictional Thorne’s Quest world. To what degree she and Thorne were the same person, I have to wonder. She wrote an eight book series about her; a very significant fantasy series with a robust imaginary culture and history. Five novels were self-published and had a following. The remainders still need editing which was not accomplished before the end.

The daughter was her editing partner and knows of specific changes L.T. desired beyond the obvious copy editing and continuity checks. Dog Whisperer was a beta reader and technical assistant and also knew the epic story well.

When it became apparent that L.T. would not survive long enough to finish this project but that she wished not to abandon her faithful readers, it was decided that the Daughter, Dog Whisperer and myself would form a committee to finish the job as best we could. I knew the least about the project but I saw that as useful in terms of a certain role I could play. I promised her that at the very least, I would be the impetus to make sure it happens. I promised her. And it has not happened.

The daughter is the official owner of this intellectual property. I broached the subject once with her and she couldn’t talk about it. It is not easy for her to deal with her mother’s absence.  Many things have been put off for a long time.

As we stood gathered around the lamp-lit unmarked hillock, I shared this heavy concern about Thorne’s Quest with Champ and Healer. They warned me that attempting to take on the project all by myself, if Daughter would only release the materials to me and be done with it, would be a very large and lengthy undertaking. But I assured them I could do it if necessary. I could sink myself into it and see it done. I am motivated enough.

I once began reading the first book of the series which I’d bought online when I barely knew L.T. I abandoned it though, temporarily, when I realized I’d been tripping on the unusual conventions of given names in this imaginary culture. I was mixing up characters. I needed to restart the book while taking notes on the character roster and their similar names.

I now realize that it’s time for me to finally do that. I finally realized that step one in getting this editing dilemma resolved is for me to read the books, and then try talking to Daughter again when I can better gauge the scope of the project.

What will I find, Gale? Will I recognize Thorne? Will I find you there? 

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