Indices of Identity

It began with a desire to write better: I enrolled in Creative Writing I. It was more fun than I had imagined possible, and I learned a tremendous amount about screenwriting and poetry, but it didn’t satisfy my want to write stories better.

This semester, Creative Writing II. And not only are we doing multiple workshops a week, we’ve got a great textbook–that’s hardly a textbook at all. It’s called Method and Madness by Alice LaPlante and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite books on writing–and I’ve read a bit on the topic, and I’ve written a lot, so I consider my opinion rather versed on the subject.

This last chapter was all about the details–bringing the abstract into the concrete, making every little thing as sensory as possible to build a world within which our readers can lose themselves.

Now that I’ve got a prompt to work with, I’m going to spend the next few weeks taking a break from my typical stories and instead playing with some writing exercises. Hopefully they’ll prove as entertaining to read as they are to write, and hopefully you’ll be able to witness my growth as a writer just as I am. For me, there’s few things more incredible than watching someone grow before my very eyes, and perhaps you’ll be able to feel this same way watching me.

So where do I begin? Right at the beginning: An index of identity.

The purpose of this exercise is to reduce something to its quantifiable components. It’s ironic I should do this now, since just the Tuesday before last, I was involved in a rather energetic discussion on whether or not an application for an educational trip to Puerto Rico should be qualitative or quantitative to help find the most suitable candidate. In the end, a delicate balanced was achieved, but as an afterthought, someone warned me not to be too quantitative all the time.

I did say it was rather ironic, didn’t I?

* * *

Number of friends in relationships (minimum estimate): 10
Number of guys I’ve been interested in: 7
Number of relationships I’ve had: 2
Average length, in days, of each relationship: 90
Times per week I procrastinate: I’ll figure it out later.
Pencils consumed in my differential equations class: 2.5
Number of credit hours completed: 72
Number in progress: 12
Number required to graduate: 64
Number of books I own: 262
Number of books I own that I haven’t read: 102
Number of books topically related to–

Judaism: 35
Hebrew: 3
Latin: 3
Writing: 4
New Age/occult: 10
Science: 23
History: 7
Leadership: 4
GLBT: 2

Number of textbooks I’ve kept after completing a class: 11
Number of textbooks I plan to keep after completing my current classes: 3
Number of classes I’ve missed attending college: 10
Primary causes: Illness, school programming, presidential visit
Number of club logos I’ve designed on campus: 3
Number presently in use: 2
Number of t-shirts I’ve designed for school: 4
Number of meetings I’ve led with no one to lead: 3
Number of papers last semester I wrote the night before they were due: 3
Number of papers this semester I’ve written the night before they were due: 7
Number of papers I’ve submitted on time this semester: 3
Number of papers I have to write at this very moment: 3
Number of weeks completed this semester: 5
Number of weeks it feels like: 14
Number of weeks remaining: 12
Number of days since I applied to NC State: 38
Number of days until I get accepted: Unknown
Number of NaNoWriMos I’ve participated in: 6
Average completion rate of the 50,000 word goal: 195.7%
Number of years I’ve served as a NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison: 3
Number of original short stories I’ve written: 64
Number of Neopets short stories I’ve written: 54
Number of fanfictions I’ve written: 13
Number of essays I’ve written for college courses: 36
Number of additional essays I’ve written in college for various scholarships, awards, and admissions applications: 28
Approximate number of notices on Facebook every time I’ve logged in over the past week: 25
Average number of notices I actually pay attention to: 8
Number of journals I own: 18
Number of years it took me to finish my first journal: 4.4
Number of journals filled by my six weeks in Israel: 5
Total number of tarot decks I’ve ever owned: 3
Number of tarot decks I still own: 1
Number of paying jobs I’ve held: 3
Length, in years, of longest employment: 7
Number of video games I’m currently playing: 3
Number of video games I own that I haven’t started playing: 2

* * *

Of course, talking about myself can be stimulating only for so long, and after a few more than fifty items, I ran out of things to say about myself. And yet, despite how randomly ordered it all seems, these points somehow collapse into a certain cohesion that gives an interesting picture of me as a man and a student and an author.

You should try this out sometime if you ever get the chance: Watching how you describe yourself in purely quantifiable terms can really give you some insight into what things you relate to most, those things that bear the most importance upon you, and those things–perhaps most of all–you crave most dearly.

In any case, I didn’t want to stop there. So I thought for a bit, what inspired notion could I create an index for? Having just finished reading Sigurd the Volsung and Beowulf in my mythology class, such massive myths and The Lord of the Rings have been on my mind–these things that have inspired my own mythologies–and I decided there were few more appropriate options than indexing my very own mythology, or at least what I’ve made of it so far.

* * *

Number of books in the mythology: 5
Number of gods and goddesses in the pantheon, respectively: 9, 8
Number of the original pantheon that was removed: 15
Number of additional divine beings in the pantheon: 23
Number of tribes in the ancient world: 6
Number of these tribes that originally belonged to another: 2
Number of elements directly inspired by popular culture: 3
Number of references removed: 1
Number of references reworked into originality: 2
Number of “borrowed” elements remaining: 0
Number of prime elements (considered divine beings): 6
Number of total elemental beings: 18
Number of changes to this number: 5
Number of immortal beings (not considered divine): 35
Number of planes in the universe: 5
Number of universes: 2
Number of original elemental bearers: 24
Number of elemental bearers removed: 4, 8, or 10 (sources differ)
Number of attempts at writing this mythology: 7
Number of books I’ve begun: 4
Number of books I’ve completed: 0
Number of related stories: 7
Number of college classes that have influenced my mythology: 8
Influencial college courses in order of completion: Sociology, Western Civilization I, General Physics I, General Physics II, World Religions, American Government, Myth in Human Culture, Western Civilization II

* * *

Of course, that’s not all there is too it, but that’s where the qualitative must come into play, isn’t it?

And that’s where the quantitative ends, isn’t it?

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