Sunday was a special day that I forgot.
Nineteen years ago, as I sat in Spanish class, I spontaneously started writing the tale of Lorenzo Santiago Williamston, a 10th grader at Greenfront-Council High School in the Southwest Virginia municipality of Imperial City.
Imperial City had existed in some form or fashion since I was a little kid. I was really into Micro Machines (I still have most of them at my mom’s house, because she kept them out of the possibility of them being worth something one day, but they are all but worthless). I augmented a playset with ceramic buildings that people collect for some reason, and structures I created out of paper and VHS tapes, like an elevated highway.
In a way, I didn’t really play with it. I built roads, had suburban tracts on the outskirts, an industrial district, parks, a mall and a school. I eventually got a second playset, so I wound up with two “downtowns.” One of the playsets clearly was a downtown area, complete with civic buildings and a hospital, so at least they weren’t wholly redundant. It gave me the idea of there being two urban areas because it was the merger of two cities.
After several different names and backstories, I settled on naming it Imperial City, Va., not long before I outgrew it and packed it away. The story was this: It was the 14th British Colony. As it was in a small group of people in an isolated area, Richmond Hill Colony was founded in 1737 and flew under the radar. It’s capital was named Empire City. In 1775, it separately declared independence as the Republic of Richmond Hill. Slavery was abolished in the early 1800s. In the 1820s, though Richmond Hill had a civil war, which led to the partitioning and the creation of two city-states, Lightsburg and Sharpsville. In the 1840s, the two sides reconciled and the recombined country was named Imperial City, as a nod to its past and the understanding that, at a few dozen square miles, there was no point in having multiple municipalities. The Lightsburg district held executive offices, and Sharpsville was judicial.
During the American Civil War, Imperial City offered aid to Abraham Lincoln, which finally led to the U.S. and Virginia governments realizing that there was a city that no one had noticed considered itself to be a country. After the war, Imperial City agreed to become a city in Virginia but was allowed to keep some of its rules, as long as they did not violate the U.S. Constitution.
I was a precocious elementary school kid.
When I created Lorenzo out of boredom, I placed him in that city I had razed and built its world again. I drew a map. Once again, I was laying out roads, schools, parks, the whole nine yards. Throughout college, when I had to write a work of fiction, it was set in Imperial City. Occasionally, Lorenzo would make an appearance.
I destroyed my original novel.
When I set out to write Brown River Blues, I decided to have a fresh start. I created the neighboring Wessex County and said I wouldn’t put Lorenzo in the story. I even toyed with not mentioning Imperial City at all.
Then it all crept in.
I did vow that, despite this possibly being the first novel in which Imperial City appears, it would be the final story featuring Lorenzo. I made a call to slightly change his future, but whatever comes next for him will remain in my head.
I still haven’t completed the “final” spell check. During a change in versions of Word, some extra spaces were inserted, and the new spelling and grammar check didn’t like the speaking patterns of some characters and, like here, I free wrote a lot of it, which led to some words and entire sentences being horribly mangled. After about an hour, I was only 14 pages in, so I’m saving this for a day in which I absolutely have nothing to do.
I still need to write my query letter. I’m excited about how I’m going to write it, and I can’t wait to land an agent so I can share it.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The 20th Greenfront-Council Day is Dec. 17, 2018. I usually observe it on Dec. 10, because the action in the original novel began on that day. I need to at least get through the Big F7 soon so I can have something worth talking about next year, especially since I mentioned most of the behind-the-scenes world-building in this entry.