The first round of short stories begins

This summer, i set myself a goal of writing a short story for every class i take during my graduate studies career. Now is the time to start making that happen. Midterms are over and November is upon me. The plan is to write both shorts this month, taking advantage of the community and momentum that NaNoWriMo provides, although as long as they’re finished before next semester starts i’ll call it good. It took me awhile to come up with my projects, but here they are.

For Hebrew, i am actually going to write a story in Hebrew. i’m pretty excited about this. ‘Round about week three of class, when all of my vocab words started sounding alike, i realized how much opportunity there is here for wordplay. Asher (the name) sounds exactly like asher (a pronoun meaning who, which, or that), and shares sounds with yashar (upright/straight) and rasha (wicked) and ashir (rich) and asah (to make or do). That week i had to make sentences just to help me keep all the words straight. Asher yashar; Asher lo rasha. “Asher is upright; Asher is not wicked.” Asher asah kesef; Asher ashir. “Asher made money; Asher is rich.” (i love saying Asher ashir.) Jonathan said my sentences sounded like a Dr. Seuss book, so that’s exactly what i’m going to do—write a picture book full of wordplay in Hebrew. To make all this even better, one of my tablemates (we’re divided into groups of four) goes by the Hebrew name Asher, and has a two-year-old daughter. So fictional Asher will learn numbers and colours and other words, and have adventures, and render my readers tongue-tied in the process.

For Pentanteuch and Wisdom, i had a much harder time coming up with a story idea. All the ideas that were presenting themselves were based directly on the stories we were reading, but i am not interested in writing Biblical fiction. i wanted to write a story inspired by the class, not simply drawn from the reading. My exegetical paper was on one of the Lady Wisdom passages in Proverbs, though, and she fascinates me—but i didn’t know what to do with that. The solution turned out to be both simple and unexpected, and it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ve spent a fair amount of time so far this semester talking about how Israel adapted the literary traditions of neighbouring nations in writing their own history, creation myth/account, and even legal codes. Our professor broached the question of how far a Christian can go in engaging and adapting cultural forms in our own setting. And so i’m going to try something i’ve never thought to do before—intentionally adapt a cultural storytelling form towards which i would not naturally gravitate. i’m going to write a superhero story. i’ll seek to conform to the genre’s conventions, while inverting some of the themes and cliches. So far, my protagonist is about half-created. Her name is Hélène Hokma, named for my Hebrew professor (Hélène Dallaire—the name Hélène means “light”) and Lady Wisdom (Hokma, or Hokmot, in Proverbs). i’m still stuck on a nom de guerre and a concrete array of powers, although i do have some ideas and the beginnings of a costume. As for setting and theme, she’s going to live into a dark place like Gotham and do what Batman wishes he could do but can’t: Inspire hope and actual transformation of the city. Oh, i have ideas. You’ll just have to wait.

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