One of the most fascinating aspects of myths in general is how there are so frequently variations of the “same” stories.
I mean this in a few senses, but, primarily, consider, say, the stories of Heracles and Hercules, and, secondarily, consider Joseph Campbell‘s concept of the monomyth. I’ll introduce the tertiary consideration later.
Further, the Labours shall use the exact memeoems from the Epic, just reordered, remixed, re-cut.
And, the Labours will significantly shape the prose of the novel, “The Marvelous Saga of the MERCANARY™.”
The tertiary sense of variations of myths focuses (perhaps) more on interpretation. Roland Barthes engages the rhetoric of myth in his theories on semiotics (how meaning is made, how communication functions, etc.).
An Occam’s razor explanation: consider how the reader/viewer/listener brings with them a whole set of biases, attitudes, values, beliefs, and more when they encounter any communicated expression, and that set determines how they might interpret any message.
These memeoems are meant to explode meaning; they ought to have great variance in how they are read.
The prose of the novel will be clearer than the memeoems, without a doubt, but readers should still expect a great deal of coy obfuscation, ambiguity, and wordplay.
By the time the novel is in print, this whole project will be a strange intermedial loop of potential interpretations of the work as a whole.
I’d like to tease a few points about this work-in-progress.
These are “The Revelations of the MERCANARY™” …
I am not mad. While this is a project that plays with themes of identity, psyche, dreams, the supernatural, and more, I assure you that I am deliberately navigating this terrain as reasonably as any writer. Bear with me until it’s in print.
However, I am literally writing a method into what otherwise must appear as complete madness. This leads to the SECOND REVELATION (which is rather lengthy).
Much is already written. The plot is outlined, and maybe 20% of the rough draft is complete. For the remainder of writing the rough draft, I’m taking inspiration from dadaism.
MERCANARY™ began as a ‘zine, became the trademark of PROBLEMATIC PRESS, sought idolization through OPERATION: MERC(H)ANARY™, transitioned to Instagram for the memeoem epic and labours, and will eventually become a sort of gonzo picaresque novel.
Here is where the method enters the madness.
There are 100 slides in the epic (99 + 1 across two highlight reels). Employing a type of cut-up technique, the first 99 memeoems in the epic will find their way into the novel. Additionally, those 99 memeoems will be used to craft the labours.
Each memeoem consists of three fundamental aspects: audio, imagery, and an original poetic line (or the absence of a line to signal a break).
I have numbered each memeoem in the sequence and noted each of these three aspects for every memeoem.
The notes are cut up as slips. The slips are crumpled into balls. The 99 balls of each aspect will be placed into three of my hats, shaken rigorously, and then allotted. Those 297 balls will be evenly distributed to each of the nine “chapters” of the novel, and this lottery will dictate the memeoems that become the Labours.
The audio shall provide the Soundtrack for each of the “chapters” in the rough draft. I shall make and share playlists for each as writing progresses. I will listen to each on repeat as I write the corresponding “chapter.”
The imagery will provide the Cues for each “chapter,” which I will use as prompts for themes or imagery or some other allusion or reference. These will also be mixed into the labours, meaning the memeoems from the epic shall appear in multiple labours. This is myth-making.
The original poems will provide the A’s. A is for Appreciation. The MERCANARY™ epic is a lengthy appreciation memeoem, hence these are the A’s you are looking for. Since I am the author, these will be directly incorporated into the rough draft. Again, this lottery will help form the labours, so expect a lot of multiplicity in the memeoems.
I seek to challenge myself with this intermedia-writing project, and I am confident that each prompt will make it into the rough draft.
However, I make no promises as to what gets cut while revising and editing. This ought to be at least somewhat coherent by the time it goes to print.
Before diving head first into the deep seas of writing (and promoting) this gonzo picaresque novel, I want to provide a little more context about who I am in a clear and distinct voice. My voice. Not the narrator’s.
I’m a child of rural Newfoundland in the ’80s and ’90s, having grown up in Harbour Grace. That’s where I began writing little stories by the time I was 8, certainly. I liked pirates and adventure. I played ninjas with my friends in the woods, as one would. I started writing poetry as a pre-teen. I was already reading Poe and Shakespeare by the time I was 13. I wrote some songs as a teen, but I was mostly writing poetry as a teen.
I didn’t really write anything like that while I was studying at university, pursuing a BA with a double major in Philosophy as well as English language and literature followed by an MPhil in the Humanities. Focus had to shift to an academic voice more thoroughly to succeed. I struggled. Believe me. But, I succeeded, and I published the culmination of my graduate studies.
A common creative outlet that carried over from my teenage years throughout my studies and beyond was playing games – video games as well as pen-n-paper roleplaying games. I created and hosted homebrewed sessions and campaigns for more than 20 years. (The other project I’m working on is a video game: FORTHCOMING, ETA = 2023-ish.)
Before moving on, I want to acknowledge absolutely everyone who has influenced, inspired, or encouraged me along this lengthy and bumpy road. I have too many in mind to name here outright (reading this counts for something, though, if you’re curious who’s on the list), but each of you have my eternal gratitude.
As I get into detailing the writing process for the MERCANARY™ novel, I can appreciate that this is going to seem pretty wild.
Ultimately, keep in mind that this sensible-Dave is still here behind the scenes. I’m a competent writer, I’m schooled in narrative arts, I’ve read McLuhan, and I can appreciate social media as a sort of facade.
I can handle this project.
I got this.
With a little confidence, trust, or faith, this ride goes a lot easier.
Readers and writers on the Avalon Peninsula (that’s in Newfoundland, a magical place), take note: Sci-Fi on the Rock 9 will be hosting an assortment of reading, writing, and publishing workshops that you just might have to see for yourself!
Sci-Fi on the Rock’s ninth instalment takes place from April 24th to 26th at the Holiday Inn in St. John’s. Mark off those dates on your calendar because you’re in for a treat, and read on to get a brief preview of some of the upcoming discussions and workshops.
As the convention begins, Engen Books presents some of the first writerly workshops that will get your attention. Engen returns to SFotR9 with “The Most Dysfunctional Writing Panel Ever: A Convention Tradition,” featuring Ellen Curtis and other authors. This panel promises to be so dysfunctional they’re presenting it twice – April 24th at 4pm in the Nimoy Room and April 25th at 9am in the Tolkien Room. Engen Books really knows how to represent at Newfoundland’s premier convention, and so they’re presenting another panel on the 25th at 10am in the Nimoy Room, titled “Engen Early Bird Panel: Wake Up Your Literary Side.” These talks will provide attendees with ample opportunity to address their questions about writing in various genres.
Events at the convention target a broad age range, too. Shelley Chruchill presents “Wee Geeks Storytime” on April 25th at 11am in the Tolkien Room, which is sure to entertain the convention’s youngest readers. However, if you crave more adult flavours, then perhaps you can sate that hunger with Chelsea Smith and Janielle Butt’s “WTF Fanfiction: The Most Cringe-Worthy Stories of our Time,” which is set for April 24th at 8pm in the Roddenberry Room. Again, SFotR9 has a little something for just about every geeky niche.
This is just a sample of the convention’s events; there is much more in the works, so be sure to check it out for yourself when the time comes. You can find more details about all of their discussions and workshops by viewing the full schedule here. Plus, the convention also promises special guests and plenty of vendors, so prepare to get your geek on! For an idea of what to expect, click here to view NTV’s coverage of SFotR8.