Practicing a New Form

Read one of my first attempts at long form storytelling

I’ve never written a story that was more than a few pages. For some amazing, insane, glorious, frightening reason, I decided to write a novel. I was tempted by NaNoWriMo for the last 3 or 4 years. I even signed up once. In those instances, I really didn’t have an idea that I could put my weight behind. This time it’s different.

So to start out, I gave myself an opportunity to practice the form. I took an old idea that I had for a story and tried to reimagine it as a novel. The following passage is one of my first attempts at the kind of writing that has the potential to expand itself into a story that lasts 500 pages:

His eyes opened from what one might call an average length blink. Not so long that he was conscious of the action, but not so short that the momentary disappearance of everything around him was imperceptible. The image of the road in front of him felt new, different from how he remembered it just a fraction of a second ago. The steering wheel suddenly felt like it was at a slightly lower temperature, which made him grip it tighter, hands cool and moist as though he had been holding on too long and recently let go. It’s possible he had fallen asleep at the wheel, but it was only eleven o’clock. He had made the drive from LaPlace to New Orleans at least fifteen times now, usually between 2 and 6AM in an attempt to feel like a responsible adult that knows better than to go out late when you have to work in the morning. But this time it was early and this drive home was becoming quite comfortable, so the odd feeling could be driver’s fog. Cole had this happen more often than he would like — those moments where he was so buried in contemplation about his past and future that his senses operated autonomously and left him temporarily uninformed about what was happening around him. Yet, something wasn’t quite right about that explanation either. He could almost remember dreaming or recalling a memory right before his senses returned to him, but it wasn’t clear.
One thing was clear — He was quite unsure about this unlabeled connection that he had with Malinda. She was wonderful to him in almost every way, but as the new relationship energy was fading the drive seemed much longer than it had in the previous weeks. He knew he was partially to blame for that because he prefered following the lengthy serpentine route along the Mississippi (via River Rd.) over interstate 10, which would cut the hour and 30-mins of travel-time in half. Probably because the drive provided time to think deeply without guilt that there were more productive things he could be doing with his time. His brain, often like the reservoir on the back of the toilet, was filled with new business ventures and creative endeavors that would only see light briefly before spinning into an unspoken existence. It bothered him that he couldn’t say the same thing about sex with Malinda. After he always felt guilty and occasionally lost. He couldn’t get over the fact that every minute they spent together his thoughts were occupied by the idea of being in bed together. While it made each experience with her thrilling, when they rolled over exhausted and lay with their sweaty bodies facing opposite directions, he felt nothing.

Is it good? Is it terrible? Would you care what happens next?

Either way there will be much more of this kind of thing. I’ll take my new ideas and attempt to do the same thing, slowly piecing together a book that I hope that I am proud of. Hope you follow along in the journey with me :)

Omari Akil is a writer and artist from New Orleans, Louisiana. He is currently working on his first science fiction novel and writing poetry and making photographs and much more.

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