My lost novel of immeasurable genius
Once, in Mrs. Bowden’s fourth grade class, huddled beneath a desk during reading hour— endlessly solitary, but not uncomfortable—I conceived an idea for a novel of immeasurable genius. Like many of my ideas for novels (or screenplays, or TV shows, or foodcarts) this idea was not novel. Although, in the flush of youth, it seemed to have gravity.
Based “loosely” around the Redwall series, it made dramatic turns on the conventions of Brian Jacques. Burhur the Badger, my personal champion, sought conquest of the seas in his ship The Nemo, fighting under the banner of some righteous cause that must have been a strange twist on one of my mother’s many minute moral pronouncements. So, Burhur set sail, chanting the anthem of “Sift the Kitty Litter!” with all two of his crew-men (I couldn’t think of more than two—not coincidentally the number of friends I presently had).
The first chapter, coming in at 35 pages of unedited, illegible cursive, chronicled Burhur’s inability to write his memoir, and his eventual six-page seasickness. The manuscript had a long way to go. But, eventually it would be published. And when it was, everyone in Mrs. Bowden’s fourth grade class—nay, the entire school—would read it and be so swept away by its perilous adventures that I’d at last be able to enlist the hearties I needed for my own life's adventure. We'd be Burhur and his badgers.
Alas, Nemo, its crew, Burhur, and the spittoon that he unleashed his chronically upset stomach into are entombed in my Mother’s storage unit, buried beneath some old Halloween issues of Family Fun magazine, and a tupper-ware container filled with disposable forks. Frozen in time, another of my creations mummified at infancy.
And since fourth grade and the failure of my novel I’ve resolved myself to the inevitability of failure. But, my idiot optimism hasn’t allowed me to resolve myself to avoiding it. A sketch comedy club, a sandwich foodcart, cross-campus capture the flag, The Murmur (rip-off of The Onion), two screenplays, and an entrepreneurial idea that I can’t shut up about; my history here at Colby is in the Trash section of your email and the overstuffed recycling bins of your dorms.
Many of my endeavors have succeeded, though, and more importantly my friends' ideas have, too. An idea that is successfully shared and appreciated is the closest thing to liberation that I know. It is liberation from the confines of our solitary minds, and so even a botched attempt is worthwhile. For every piece of art, failed or otherwise, is like a radio hail made on a channel giving off only static. We only ache to hear a “roger that”.
With that I make this call to arms: join me for the inaugural open mic night at Foss, at a date to be announced. I want slam poetry, interpretative dance, Houdini impersonations, throat-singing, sketch comedy. I’ve enlisted many collaborators already, but I’m looking for more. By the alchemy of art, I’d like to turn you all into badgers.