Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Guess the Plot
Swimming to the Summit
1. A team of expert climbers, racing to the summit of Mount Everest to rescue a fellow mountaineer, discover that global warming is definitely no hoax.
2. For the teenagers at Orion Space Station, swimming to the summit at Ryevee is a rite of passage. But Jarrod Carruthers is convinced that those who participate come back different . . . alien even. Only trouble is, his daughter won't believe him, and she's ready to swim.
3. Denny considers his depression "drowning," and the day he tried to kill himself "the summit." Now he's swimming toward . . . Never mind. It's kind of nuts, but hey, it makes sense to Denny. Also, a princess and the Ghost of Christmas Past.
4. Survivorman Les Stroud recounts his seven day adventure to reach the summit of the Briny Deep Mountain. Hilarity ensues when he discovers that his camp at the base of the mountain is five thousand feet under the Pacific Ocean, forcing him to jerry-rig scuba gear using bubble gum, shoe laces and a screwdriver.
5. Seth is fed up with his diminutive Master Gurgl. First the "Do or do not, no try," line; and now "Swim to the summit." He's dead sick of cryptic aphorisms and wants to go slay evil.
6. Arch-villain Thor Braun, whose boyhood dream of climbing Mount Everest was crushed when an industrial accident left him with paralyzing vertigo, has hatched the ultimate plan: drop Everest into the ocean to cause flooding that will annihilate all life as we know it, and then fulfill his dream--without having to get way up high.
Dear Evil Editor,
Denny Holmes could have been at the top of the Class of 2006. Instead, he dropped out in May to work at a gas station with his cousin Joe. Now he’s [making six times what he would have with a degree in English.] back for a fifth year and, as he writes in his journal, “it’s like touring your life with the Ghost of Christmas Past. Nobody sees you.” [Assuming we're in the northern hemisphere, if you've made it to May of your senior year and you had any chance of being at the top of your class, even flunking your final exams is unlikely to keep you from graduating. And if it does, they wouldn't make you take the entire senior year over. They'd arrange for you to pick up where you left off. Their goal is to get rid of you, ASAP.]
Denny's mind is set on surviving a second senior year, this time without the drinking, the bad attitude, [This kid could have been at the top of his class? Hey, I coulda been another Einstein if I'd been willing to ignore the fact that calculus has no real-world application, and if I'd laid off the drugs.] or the months when he couldn’t go home. In November, a flashback to the night his parents sent him to live with Joe’s family [You'll miss us, Den, but at least you'll always have plenty of gas for your car.] sparks a panic attack and Denny lashes out at himself, cutting his arm. Some friends treat it like a joke; Denny's parents and Joe assume it’s a suicide attempt. The only person who asks is Liz, [I hope it wasn't a cry for attention. When you slice open your arm and bleed all over the house as a cry for attention, and only one person bothers to ask why there's a huge gash in your arm, you'd better get on Prozac fast.] a “princess” from the rich side of town whose friendship surprises Denny, gradually evolving into love. But even with Liz by his side, Denny can’t escape the fear that he’ll find himself back in the depression he refers to as “the drowning.” Nor can he bring himself to walk away from his lifelong friends who miss the “old Denny”--the guy who was up for anything and never turned down a dare.
When Denny’s Northern Irish father must visit Belfast for the first time since escaping the violent city of his youth, his courage and honesty inspire Denny to piece together his muddled memories of “the drowning.” Instead of trying to forget the past, he begins to accept and make amends for one day up on the Summit that nearly cut short much more than Denny’s senior year.
“Swimming to the Summit” is Denny’s journal of the events that lead him to understand that in order to be trusted again he needs to be able to trust himself, and the only way to do that is to rely on the friends and family who love him. [Is it in journal form, or a novel adapted from a journal?] The 100,000 word mainstream fiction manuscript is complete and available upon request.
Thank you for your time,
So "The Summit" is the highest point his depression reached, the point at which he almost killed himself? Usually we refer to this as the lowest point. It seems like if depression is analogous to drowning, trying to break free of depression would be swimming toward the surface. But if the surface (or "summit," if you prefer, though I'd go with "surface") is when the depression was at its worst, I'm not sure I'd want to go back there. Trying to understand what was going on at your lowest point is one thing; trying to get back there is another. The easiest fix (assuming I'm making any sense) is to call the book Swiming to the Summit or Surface, but to call the place he was at when he tried to kill himself something else, like "rock bottom."
The connection between Dad going to Belfast and Denny pulling his life together is a bit tenuous. If Dad can stand to go back to the city where he grew up, I can stand to face a really bad day I had. Probably it's stronger in the book.