I’ll admit it straight away: week 1 of NaNoWriMo went absolutely abysmal.
As you can see, I average just under 400 words a day, and am currently 10.000 words behind on schedule.
I have my suspicions about the reasons why it’s going this terribly (including but not limited to: raging depression, a complete lack of productivity to begin with, and being more preoccupied with work and finances and other IRL things).
Still, the parts I have written, I did enjoy researching and writing! 2000 words a day to make it is still somewhat doable, especially if I write more than that on several days, so I’m still clinging to that last inkling of hope and sheer stubbornness that I might still somehow, magically, make it, despite the busy month ahead.
For now though, have some small tidbits of things I’ve written! More full chapters will come up at some point when I’ve actually written them, so consider this a sneak preview 🙂 Obviously, as this is NaNo, none of this has been edited and spellchecked and all that yet, so it might be absolutely cringeworthy to read (it might also not be – I’ll leave the judging to you lot!)
What your daemon says about you
“Anyway, there’s compensations for a settled form.”
“What are they?”
“Knowing what kind of person you are. Take old Belisaria. She’s a seagull, and that means I’m a kind of seagull too. I’m not grand and splendid nor beautiful, but I’m a tough old thing and I can survive anywhere and always find a bit of food and company. That’s worth knowing, that is. And when your daemon settles, you’ll know the sort of person you are.”
In the books there’s talk several times of the meaning of different daemon types. From the fact that all the witches have bird daemons, to all the servants having dog daemons. It’s said that a daemon is representative of a person’s character. And how great would that be: to have less of that questioning of who you are, and to be able to take a look at this creature and think “yes, this is me. I’m like this creature”.
This raises some interesting questions though: what if you don’t like your daemon? Is there prejudice against certain daemons? Are daemons culturally bound? Can a daemon change if you go through a life-changing event, or something happens to you? Can you have strange or mythological creatures as daemons, and what would that say about you? To answer this last question first:
“On each coffin, Lyra was interested to see, a brass plaque bore a picture of a different being: this one a basilisk, this a fair woman, this a serpent, this a monkey. She realized that they were images of the dead men’s daemons.”
These were some of the daemons of Scholars buried under Jordan College. What’s interesting to note here is both the diversity in daemons (in contrast to the servants’ daemons who are all, as mentioned, dogs). What’s also interesting is that a basilisk is a creature from Greek Mythology. Did this person study Ancient Greece, perhaps? Or does he have a rare kind of soul & character?
“Lyra, absorbed, was learning strange things. These skulls were unimaginably old; the cards in the case said simply “Bronze Age”, but the alethiometer, which never lied, said that the man whose skull it was had lived thirty-three thousand two hundred and fifty-four years before the present day, and that he had been a sorcerer, and that the hole had been made to let the gods into his head. And then the alethiometer, in the casual way it sometimes had of answering a question Lyra hadn’t asked, added that there was a good deal more Dust around the trepanned skulls than around the one with the arrow-head.”
Trepanning in His Dark Materials caught my eye mostly as an interesting phenomenon to look into, because I already knew it actually exists in our world.
Trepanning is the act of drilling or cutting a hole in someone’s skull. This is done for a multitude of reasons, and has been done for centuries all around the world and continues to be done to this day. It’s considered one of the oldest, if not the oldest, examples of surgery around the world.
There is something to be said for the medical reasons for cranial surgery. For example, after a head trauma that’s causing a buildup of fluids, in which case this kind of surgery would lessen the pressure and may often save the life of the patient.
In ancient times, trepanning has been used for anything from lifting headaches to the Medieval European idea of “letting the demons out”. This might be a way of dealing with mental illness, especially as trepanning is said to make people more relaxed and less likely to “flip out”. The Incas in Peru used it for hundreds of years as a medical tool.
Nowadays, trepanning is viewed by the medical community as a pseudo-science. However, there are advocacy groups who believe in the legitimacy of trepanning as a medical practice and are lobbying to bring it into the mainstream medical sciences. Some also believe that it’s a way of being “permanently high” and as a good replacement for drugs like marijuana and LSD. They also say it’s a cure for all kinds of ailments like depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, epilepsy, etc.