Well, for those of you who know NaNo, this is mine for 2011.
For those of you who do not, where have you been? National Novel Writing Month challenges us to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days, no editing nothing like that, just write write write. We can work on the details later on. So here it is.
I am the outcast. At least that’s how the village see me; I’m not really anything like them. I don’t suppose I’m really like anyone at all. I have been raised in the forested village of Teaghais Crann, a place where everybody knows everybody, we keep ourselves to ourselves and there is little to no interaction with the outer lands. Most people live and die in the village without ever leaving it; some live and die in the same houses they were born in. Those who marry only marry inside the village. It’s a wonder we’re not all related yet, but that’s just the way it goes here. We have what we need to survive so we don’t leave; we don’t invite anyone into the village either. If anybody approaches our settlements, or our land, there will be war. Nobody is ever given any other option.
We are, and supposedly always have been, a society of fighters; naturally skilled in all manner of combat, with the addition of constant training and practicing we have never been defeated in battle. Our history tells of great wars past, where our people stood for our land victorious against a seemingly endless tide of opponents. We have only the small amount of documentation to tell us this, as nobody is alive who remembers it and very few people bother to learn to make words that stay. Sometimes I don’t believe that the stories are true, but it would be unwise to mention my thoughts to anyone. It would shame us all. My parents are both reasonably well respected in the community, they hunt well and have had four boys who will all be seen as a credit to us for years to come. They had to spoil it all by having me. A girl is bad news from the start here; we’re not as strong or as fast, and usually end up being given lesser tasks on the hunt and in the home. Even the girls who excel are seen as a lot less than the men, beneath even those who are too old or sick to fight themselves. Some of the girls do well, they out fight the boys or beat them in skill trainings. Usually we do better in the trapping and snaring classes. I say usually, because on the rare occasions when I’m in class I pull us all down.
I don’t try to be a nuisance; I always think I’m doing the best that I can do. It just so happens that my best is more often than not a complete disaster. I work hard like the others do, sometimes I think actually work harder, it just seems that everything goes to pot very quickly. Take sword-work last week, we were drilling the five main blocks, the ones that everyone knows and can use without even thinking about it, should be easy right? Wrong. My overhead block always ends with me hitting myself on the head, not ideal when you’re supposed to be trying to stop yourself from taking blows. My shoulder blocks either miss or equally result in me hitting myself and on low leg blocks I manage to trip myself over. I’m just a tangle of arms, legs and bad co-ordination. The other students tend to laugh at me, but I guess that’s ok. I would laugh at me too. I remember in my early classes the masters called in my parents to talk about me. “She’s failing everything” they would say, usually followed by “she does more harm to herself that she does to her opponent. Never in any pairing has she done damage to the other student, let alone won a fight” mother and father would come back to our house with eyes full of shame, shame brought by their daughter who is incapable of the most basic tasks. I’m not even good housewife material in their eyes.
There’s only one class I excel in, one class that I love, look forward to, and would never dream of skipping. The war dance. War dances are a very specific thing, only the most skilled warriors are permitted to take part in official dances, though everyone has to learn them. It is one of the greatest honours to be chosen as a dancer. I doubt I will ever have the skill to be picked, but that is only down to my failing combat skills. I know everything there is to know about the dance. They have to be perfectly timed, will all warriors moving in unison in order to strike fear into the hearts of our many enemies. They must show strength, poise, grace, and above all they bring the warriors together as a unit before a fight. While I am useless in all other classes I am master of the dance. I can jump higher and spin faster than any boy or girl I dance with. Sometimes I out dance the lesson master. There are things I can do during the dance that most would not think possible, it just comes naturally to me. Unfortunately a particularly well performed war dance does lead to your opponent thinking you’re well prepared for battle, and let’s be honest, I’m not.