Home > World-Building > Day Two Hundred and Sixteen: Angry Young Man

Day Two Hundred and Sixteen: Angry Young Man

For the month of December, I’ll be world-building. This means taking a look at the people, places, and institutions that I have created over the last six months and trying to figure out more about them. This will involve a look at the stories in which they’ve appeared, and then some speculation, stream-of-consciousness writing, and with any luck a few revelations. In addition, I may come back and add new material as the Elves in my unconscious ship out new ideas, so I’ll be sure to link them up.

Your feedback as readers is, of course, more than welcome. There are probably questions that I’m forgetting to ask and holes that I need to fill.

Wish me luck!

——————

During November, I wrote a lot of long stories for NaNoWriMo, some of them coming in well over 3,000 words. Given that my average prior to that was usually around 12,00 to 1,500 words, that’s pretty damn good. Of the NaNo stories, Rainsinger was the longest, clocking in at 3,930 words, and it was one of those times that a sort of organic, “let’s see where this goes, shall we?” style of writing kind of paid off. So, for today’s character sketch, I want to look at the main character of that story, a boy named Jundir.

We know a few things about him right away – he’s a teenager, and he’s at that point in his teenage life where all adults are stupid and useless, and the world is totally working against him. His people, the Vas’alim, were nomadic, crossing dry plains and deserts for more than a generation. Jundir’s grandfather is a Rainsinger, a kind of Vas’alim mystic whose job is to dance and sing and bring the rains. It’s implied in the story that his might be a dying profession, perhaps because his success rate is low. Either way, Jundir thinks he’s ridiculous.

What Jundir wants to be is a Water Hunter, the people who scour the land for aquifers, liquid-holding plants, that kind of thing. Unfortunately, Jundir had been bitten on the foot by a rock snake when he was younger, and they had to take his leg to save him. His leg was amputated just above the knee, squashing any hopes he might have of being a Water Hunter. Despite that, and despite being told directly by the leader of the Water Hunters that there was no way he could ever join them, Jundir still refuses to admit that he is in any way “crippled,” despite the rather commanding evidence.

It’s a common teenage condition, really. There’s still an underlying belief that the world is just, that somehow things will come together for you and that you will be allowed – nay helped – to find your full potential. What he’s beginning to suspect, however, is that there is no justice in the universe. Things just happen, and they have to be dealt with. But right now, he would rather refuse to do so, and keep beating at the world until it gives him what he wants. Which it won’t.

So he’s angry all the time. Angry at his grandfather for being old and stupid, angry at his mother for taking his grandfather’s side, angry at the Water Hunters for not giving him a chance. Angry at anything that’ll stand still for a few minutes, really.

What helps is that his grandfather – who is also struggling to accept a new reality, that being a rainsinger is no longer as important as it once was – kind of strips away the mysticism of the job.

Re-reading it, I get the distinct and unsettling feeling that I wrote something a lot deeper and more complicated than I thought. There’s subtext and metaphor and. I think, some foreshadowing that I really didn’t put in there on purpose. There’s a revelation in there somewhere, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Damn.

Whatever I did, Jundir leaves his grandfather less angry and more confused than when he arrived, but with a hint that he could make something of himself despite his injuries.

A lot of this story is certainly me as an adult talking to me as a teenager. I certainly didn’t lose a leg or anything, but I think I shared Jundir’s expectation or glory and success. It wasn’t so much that the universe owed me anything, as it was that it was unthinkable that I couldn’t be the hero in my own life’s drama. But I was hut about the head and shoulders with the sure and certain knowledge that the greatness and glory I thought was in my future wasn’t actually coming. I was far more focused on doors that closed than on looking for new doors, and had to grapple with the understanding that not only is life not fair, but that the universe really doesn’t care what happens to me or what I do.

He also suffers from a certain measure of over-simplification. His grandfather wears stupid costumes and dances, and he is therefore a useless old man. The Water Hunters are praised by everyone, and they are therefore heroes – whose ranks he clearly must join. As the story begins, he’s set his world-view in stone, which is why he has trouble fitting his new, maimed self into it. When the story ends, he is beginning to understand that the world is nuanced, that perception is sometimes more important than reality, and that it is entirely possible that he could be wrong.

A hard thought for a bright, self-centered teenage boy. Not that I would know, of course.

As I think about it, he and his grandfather really have the same existential enemy – the Water Hunters. Jundir wants to be one, but never will, so they remind him of an entire future that will never be. His grandfather sees them as a negation of his entire identity. He’s a mystic, a man who’s trained since he was a boy to read the weather and predict it, to appeal to people’s need for a little drama and the invocation of spirits. He’s a solo act, the only Rainsinger in this particular tribe. The Water Hunters, on the other hand, are a young band of men, whose job is simple for everyone to understand – they go out, they come back, and they bring water with them. That’s it. No song or dance or weird chanting.

So, in their way, Jundir and his grandfather are a lot alike. It’s probably for the best that Jundir never got to be a Water Hunter, anyway. They bend towards arrogance – especially the younger ones – and I think Jundir would have very eagerly followed their lead.

Writing more about him will be interesting, but there’s a lot I need to work out as well. First of all, who are the Vas’alim, and where are they? Are they a part of Earth Prime, and if so, when do they live on the timeline? Are they pre-agricultural people? Post-apocalyptic? Hell, are they contemporary, but somehow wandering a desert so vast that they don’t even know the 21st century has happened? Why do they travel the way they do? Would they settle down if they could? Wandering desert people aren’t new in fiction, so I realize I’m following in some well-trodden footsteps here, but it’s still something I need to know in order to make these people believable.

Also – what happened to his father? We know very little, except that he probably wouldn’t have followed in Grandfather’s footsteps and become a Rainsinger. And I don’t think he was a Water Hunter either – that would have showed up in the narrative pretty quickly, I think.

So, there’s a good coming-of-age story going on in this, which I can no doubt expand when I know a bit more about the world and the people in it.

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