Feeling a tad better, but that’s not saying much. In ten hours (if not less), I’ll probably feel crappy again.
The Circle of Life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
I’ve been wanting to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but I don’t have the slightest clue as to what I’d do. For those not in the know, NaNoWriMo refers to National Novel Writing Month, an annual November event that encourages new (and old) writers to produce a 50,000 word novel in the space of just thirty days. I’ve been wanting to participate for a couple of years now, but something bizarre typically happens – I forget about it until it’s November 12; I’m bogged down with too many Real Life issues; I am preoccupied with some other hobby. There’s always a reason that seems adequate at the time, but proves silly upon later reflection. Of course, by that point, it’s too late. I don’t need to write in November to produce a work of fiction, but there’s a sense of unspoken camaraderie in knowing that you’re a part of an event in which thousands of other people – complete strangers – all share the common dream of giving life to the thoughts bouncing around in their heads. The whole thing is just kind of cool, and I want to be a part of it.
That said, there is an idea that’s been in my head for many years now, and since I’ve done nothing with it, I figured I’d just toss it out there to see if someone else can make it work. No need to hang onto a perfectly good item if it’s not in my size, so to speak. Let someone else try it on. To wit:
John is a hard-working, successful African-American man working within a Fortune 500 type corporation. He’s married; his wife is expecting. Things look good for John, professionally, personally, and overall. He works with a woman named Kate. She’s a beautiful, intelligent brunette, and is filled with naked ambition. Simply put, she wants what John has – his position, his titles, and certain elements of his life. It’s not just jealousy; Kate has an almost pathological hatred of John.
There is an incident one evening, and Kate accuses John of some atrocious behavior. John protests his innocence, but his fate is sealed. He’s fired from the company, and is publicly dragged through the proverbial mud. He’s arrested for this incident, convicted based on Kate’s testimony, and sentenced to prison. John’s wife leaves him; he loses anything of importance in his life. Kate, meanwhile, manages to use this episode to her own benefit – she’s given John’s former position, along with a nicer salary, and she’s happy.
Fast forward fifteen years.
Kate has made a name for herself. She’s stayed with the company, despite several interesting offers from other corporations. She’s a major officer in her company, with an eight-figure salary. She’s married, but without children, and she lives in that part of the city where only the most affluent of the affluent live. She’s finally arrived – no real problems on her horizon – until one day she gets a postcard with no return address and a single line of block printed text:
Pardon the outdated (and overused) tropes in my summary, but realize that this was originally drafted nearly three decades ago. I confess that the idea of the power-hungry femme fatale who leaves nothing but hostility in her wake and is destined for a dramatic comeuppance, is misogynistic and probably a bit predictable, but this narrative has an added element: It’s based on a real series of events.
There really is a ‘John’ (although in my version, he’s more successful overall than his real-life counterpart), and there really is a ‘Kate’ (who was, at the time, far more diabolical than presented here). In truth, John was only accused of an offense, and he was never arrested, convicted, or incarcerated, but he was pressured to leave his job due to Kate’s allegations. Kate did assume John’s position and title, but she could not handle the work, leaving the company just five months after her promotion. It was just awful.
Being a witness to what happened and how it all played out, I crafted this sketch of events with the intention of fleshing it out at a later date. That didn’t happen because the narrative has a number of problems with it. In my version, John’s served his time in prison, and once released, was barely making ends meet; he is a broken shadow of his former self. He wants to make Kate suffer for what she’s cost him, so the bulk of the tale is how he slowly, and methodically, destroys her world. The problem is that Kate, who was designed to be a villain, suddenly becomes the heroine – she’s got to deal with this “angry black man who’s punishing her for standing up to him,” and nothing could have been further from the truth. So as it stood, my issue with the plot was to either make Kate sympathetic, or come up with some Jupiter-sized reason why the reader would cheer John for making her life pure hell.
And unfortunately, I just couldn’t do that.
Personally, I’d still like to see the story told, but as noted, I know when I’m out of my depth – so here’s what I’ve got. Hope that it serves you better than it served me. Meanwhile, I’ve got less than forty-eight hours to come up with a new idea!