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This is one of probably many updates about my new NaNoWriMo project. Feel free to add me to your Reading Page to follow along!

There were three thoughts that went through my head when I came up with my NaNo idea (Pokemon in Ohio). I will cover the first two in other blog posts, because they are the images with which I started my story. I usually start stories with a scene or two that starts it off and then helps me carry the story. For The Dealey Five, that scene was Tamasine on the table in the room, all alone. For Blue Impulse, it was the scene at the end of the first tournament that inspired the faded picture, with the words "We'll remember this forever, right?" on the back of it. There are two moments like that for this story, and I'll cover those in a bit.

But the third was, "Okay, so if Pokemon is in Ohio, then what is Ohio?"

I knew where I wanted to choose the name from almost immediately. I know a fair amount of Japanese at this point, and one of the kanji combinations I learned was 真中, manaka. I knew it most from Manaka Laala from the anime Pri Para, as all of their characters use directions for their last names. Laala's rivals have last names that mean "north" and "south," and the two American twins literally have the last name West. Laala's last name is Manaka, which means "in the center."

You know. Like "The Heart Of It All." I've dropped Ohio's old slogan a couple of times in Cosmic, as it's the title of the first book and as a slogan the kids remember from before the zombie apocalypse. And they should. Growing up, it was everywhere. I would see the big sign every time I'd go back and forth from Indianapolis to Zanesville, stating I was in "The Heart Of It All!" I didn't really know precisely what that meant at the time, and while it's still kind of vague, the sentiment still rings true.

The heart. The center. Manaka. And like lots of corruptions in the Pokemon world, mah-nah-kah became MAIN-kuh.

In many ways, Manka is just like any other Pokemon region. There are people and Pokemon living side by side, a sense of adventure, kids learning about Pokemon for the first time, and peace and harmony. But when I thought about making Manka, I wanted to really focus on what I liked about Ohio. What did I miss those five years I was in New York City? What was I learning to reappreciate now that I was back?

One of the big draws for me was the scenery. The first month of being in Ohio was spent getting reaccustomed to things other people don't even think about. Like driving. And leaves. And opening the back door and watching your dog walk out. And being able to make right hand turns. And silence. Lots of silence. And the sky, and how it would turn colors right before the sun set, and how it's not Manhattanhenge but it's somehow better. I didn't have too long to get used to Zanesville -- I got a new job just as my parents moved to Powell, so I went with them. (For those of you keeping track at home, yes, that's two moves in one month, and I have still gotta find a place of my own.)

The long-ish drive to work from Powell (depending on traffic and time of day) runs along the Scioto River, and looking out over it and watching the foliage go by is strangely peaceful. How could I incorporate these images into my story? My mission became not only to write about what Pokemon would be like in Ohio, but to write about this Manka in such a way that people who had never been to Ohio would know what Ohio was like -- even through the Pokemon lens. I want my friends from NYC to read this fanfiction and know, "She's from Ohio." Because I am.

I found a nature preserve with two walking trails and took pictures as I went. While I went, I could almost feel my main characters running down the paths, on their journey to discover what the world held for them. Maybe the path led to a new town, where they could rest for a while. Maybe they would find more wild Pokemon in the bushes, or maybe they would climb a tree and see the views. The endless possibility can almost seem nostalgic, for a time when anything was truly possible.

And that's not the only thing, as well. I want to show the academic history of Columbus by putting the regional university and Pokemon Professor there. I want to highlight Cleveland's recent sports fame, but to also see it for myself with new eyes. I want to make Pokemon trainers have to stop in Zanesville until the First Friday of every month, so they can experience the art walk. I want sternwheelers on the Ohio River and parasailing on Lake Erie, shopping in Cincinnati and riding roller coasters in Sandusky. And I want to highlight the southern part of the state, the hard working, blue collar history that has made Ohio what it is today, the history I read about in my great-grandfather's stories.

And I honestly hope I do it justice.

memorialrainbow: (Default)
This is the first of probably many updates about my new NaNoWriMo project. Feel free to add me to your Reading Page to follow along!

Okay. I know what you're thinking. "Emily, WHY are you writing fanfiction for National Novel Writing Month? Isn't now, I don't know, time to work on your next epic work or Dvorak novel so we can read those?" Well, yeah, under normal circumstances, that would be perfect. But I gotta be honest with you. My love of writing went DOA about two years back thanks to a lot of circumstances that I'm just now uncovering. And while I fight through that, I do need to find something to write. Something that will keep my attention. Apparently, right now, that appears to be Pokemon.

Pikachu, the mouse everybody knows...Which I guess I don't mind. Pokemon is something I've been into for years, long before Pokemon Go was a craze and everybody was stopping traffic on Fifth Avenue. I definitely have my "on" moments and my "off" moments with the property, usually on when there's a new game and off when I get frustrated or stuck. I'll play nonstop for a few months and then go half a year without picking it up again. I have to wonder if this would be the thing that would make me pick it up full-time, to actually be a Pokemaniac, all of the time, and to not be scared of it? I mean, even mentioning that is laughable. What is there to be scared of?

And of course I want you to read it! But I know precisely what you're thinking. You either have no clue what Pokemon is, or just enough of a clue that you know you don't want to read it. Me writing about the story on this blog is a way to get you to understand my process and the meaning behind why I'm writing fanfiction this year. And I don't know if I'll get the story done right now, but I sure as heck want you to be a part of it. There's a lot riding on this, I guess.

So. Without further ado.

Pokemon games always come in pairs, sometimes with a third version later on as an upgrade. The originals, Red and Blue, were released as two separate versions because each cartridge had different monsters on it. In order to "catch em all," you had to trade with the other. The two opposite cartridges in my head, for my Pokemon fan story, are called White Dawn and Black Dusk, with a third cartridge named Grey Twilight. Whether or not that sticks is dependent on a few different things, but I like them for now. Also in my head, each cartridge corresponds to a book, so I am writing White Dawn for this next month's NaNo.

Okay, so great. So what is Pokemon, other than cute creatures? Well, let me give you a quick primer. Let's call this, "Explaining Pokemon to Tamsin Silver." Because, in my head, I get to explain Pokemon to my goth club roommate from NYC who doesn't know the difference between a witch and a Mismagius. (Roll with it.)

Imagine a world, just like ours. There are countries in this world, and cities and towns, and people who go about their everyday lives just like we do. But imagine if the things that separated us in this world didn't separate us in the other one -- or, at least, not as much. There is no God or Buddah or Jesus or Moses, because everybody knows the legends about the world, and a good portion of them (through the game's mechanic) we know to be true. We know that, in this world, a being came into existence through an egg made out of matter, and that being became God and created the world. (Yes, this being is one of the Pokemon.) The being created all that is known, and since humans know this being and know of its existence, there's no war about who is right or wrong about things of that nature. Because there aren't as many misunderstandings, and because everybody is seen as equal, there is nearly no war and nearly no hardship. It sounds extremely Japanese, but hey, this did start in Japan.

The other interesting thing about this world is its animals, and even some of its plants. They are sentient. Since the being-from-the-egg created the world, it created humans and animals from the same cloth. Therefore, the animals in this world have wills just like the humans do. They may be animals of all shapes and sizes, but they have wants and needs and dreams as far as their nurture may take them. Most animals in the wild would simply wish to survive. Other animals, those who have befriended humans, may long to live as pets, or even to do something bigger, like dogs racing in the Iditarod or birds doing tricks on stage. It's not just an instinct to perform just because it will get them a treat. These animals -- Pokemon -- act because they want to.

And Takuachi, my fluffy possum Pokemon!And that's not the only thing these animals have. They have something the humans don't: extra powers. Some can breathe fire. Some can swim. There are some with psychic powers that can tell the future. The well-known Pikachu can conjure up electricity on command. Some can move rocks and cause earthquakes. Others can fly through the sky. When people and Pokemon work together, houses get built, roads are paved, people can travel long distances, fires can be put out, and anything can happen! The possibilities are endless, and a big part of the Pokemon games is you working together with the creatures you've befriended.

But not all creatures are friendly. Some are huge and devastating. Usually, once a game, there are people who choose to use Pokemon for evil purposes, mainly destroying the world and all that. Because the world can be dangerous, kids have to be prepared. But they also understand that the world isn't all scary (remember: a world where people know God exists and there is no war) and that growing up means getting out, seeing the world, and figuring out what you want to do in it. "All boys leave home. It said so on TV," quotes the very beginning of the original games. The newer games reference Dorothy on her travels to Oz, among other things.

Somewhere between the ages of 10 and 14, every child in the Pokemon world has the chance to go on their very own journey. And they will not go unprepared into a world of huge legendary monsters and evil teams. They first stop by their local Pokemon laboratory, where researchers who have studied Pokemon for years will give them the latest in technology and teach them how to use it. This way, when they are journeying far from home, they will be able to recognize Pokemon they've never seen before and learn what they do. They also receive a free first Pokemon from the Professor there, so that they can put Pokemon against Pokemon if threatened. "It's dangerous in the tall grass!"

Along the way, people help out the children as they go from town to town, learn new things, go through new challenges, and ultimately emerge better people and are able to contribute to society. They also make permanent friendships with Pokemon that can last a lifetime. It's a story of bildungsroman, of wandering and nostalgia, that is distinctly Japanese but can also be really, really American -- the wide open road and the wandering soul, the Lewis and Clark in all of us.

That's what I'll talk about in my next post: the Pokemon world is one parallel to ours, like a different dimension QWERTY's keeping an eye on. Several regions and areas in the Pokemon world have direct parallels to ours: Ecruteak City in Johto is very similar to Kyoto, Japan; the Prism Tower takes its image directly from the Eiffel in France; my personal favorite, Castelia City by the water with the bridges is so, so, SO very clearly NYC. It's practically exactly alike, but not every part of the world has been Pokemon-afied yet.

So, as I arrived home, as I sat in Zanesville with not a whole lot to do except write music and try to find a job, away from NYC and the bustle I once called home, with my head in between my knees ready to pass out from culture shock, I stopped and wondered to myself: what would happen if Ohio was a Pokemon region?

February 2017



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