Dec 27, 2011

Illness of the Greatest Master

November of every year is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. For those unaware, NaNoWriMo is a personal challenge with hundreds of thousands of participants, in which your goal is to write a novel containing at least 50,000 words over the course of November. You win if you complete your novel; your prize is the book that you just wrote. I've never considered myself to be much of a writer, particularly not for something of such a grand scale, but this year I had a few friends who were planning to participate, so I figured I might as well try it out.

At 10:00 PM on October 31, two hours before NaNoWriMo would officially begin, I had no plans for my novel. I was scrambling to try to figure out even the vaguest semblance of a plot, or even a genre or general style. I ultimately decided to take my efforts to the realm of the unknown: I would stitch together my title one word at a time, via a random word generator, and figure out my plot from there. After finding a generator that allowed me to choose the part of speech, I tried out a few different templates: "the <noun>'s <adjective> <noun>," for example, and "the <adjective> <noun> <verb>s." After creating a dozen-odd titles, I finally found the one: Illness of the Greatest Master.

At my friend Evan's suggestion, illness was to refer not to a disease, but rather to the more colloquial ill; e.g., "yo, that be so ill." Obviously, I was going to be writing a street novel, complete with all the hip lingo.

I don't know who this is, but my November was
expected to be filled with good folks like him.
Next part of the title: the Greatest Master. It should be noted that there wasn't just one master; we were talking about the greatest master. There was more than one. But where do you draw the line? What defines who is a "master"? Logically, there had to be some sort of a ranking system.

So, to put two and two together: my novel was going to be about a society of rappers, and your position in this society was determined by your rapping ability. Poor rappers would be but measly peons, while the finest lyricists would be the aristocrats. And the finest lyricist of them all was, of course, the Greatest Master.

Specifically, my novel would be a rags-to-riches story. It would start with this poor white kid without a penny to his name, who accidentally stumbles upon this society and learns how to rap. He starts out at the bottom, but slowly learns his lessons, out-rapping the others one-by-one until he would eventually become the Greatest Master, and essentially run the world.

The second the clock struck midnight, I hit the ground running, not stopping until I was at 2000 words. After day 3, I was just over 5,000 words in, leaving my novel slightly ahead of schedule. My main character had just found the local meeting place of this rapper society, and was observing the way things run. I realized that it was that time, that inevitable moment, when I would have to write my first rap.
I don't know who this person is either, but it was starting to look
like my November would more realistically be filled with a lot of this guy.
After putting off the rap for a fair while, I finally sat down muscled through. I tried to think about things that the rapper type like. The individual performing this rap was named Diesel (referred to as DZ, more often pronounced "Deez"). I figured that was probably the name of a guy who liked cars a lot. Due to the conversation that he had just had before performing, it was evident that he also enjoyed to recreationally smoke cannabis. So logically, I had to write a rap about cars and weed.

Oh good. The two topics I knew the least about, in a language that I had no idea how to write.

I managed to power through, writing a rhythmically passable ode to marijuana, sprinkled liberally with your choice of colorful language. By that point, I was at 5,562 words. I never got around to continuing. That rap was the last thing I wrote.

Due to a tragic hard drive crash, I no longer possess my novel, which is quite a shame, because there were some parts of which I was rather proud. But I have, forever engraved in my past, the fact that I have written a rap about cars and weed.


  1. that (white) guy is MC Frontalot. you'd probably like him. he raps about nerdy stuff like robots and computer games. that other dude looks like a certified street hoopah though.

  2. Hmmm street hoopah eh?

  3. he's got the sideways hat. i cant see wether or not he's saggin his hoopin pants though. thats the critical part of hoopin atire. you would also like P.U.T.S. they have raps about appreciating your parents, eating well and treating women well

  4. This post brought me to tears. Literal tears of laughter. Why god do you not have this novel.