01 November 2014

Rites of Passage Read: Week One

This week we're reading chapters 1-10.

In the first drafts of Rites of Passage, I broke the book into four parts. Each part started with lyrics from a song that was used during "smoke shows" at my military school. I still have a CD made by my corporals of songs that were played during intense training sessions on our deck. The title of the CD? Three F%*$ed-Up Corporals.

So, during each week of this Read Along, I'm going to introduce you to songs that take me back to very specific times and places during my experience. These are songs that I listened to on repeat while writing and revising Rites of Passage.

This week's song is Blue Monday. It was originally sung by New Order, but the Orgy version is the one we listened to all the time.

Just like you'll see with Sam over these first ten chapters, the beginning of military school is a lot of "tearing down" of individuals to build them back up as a company or family.  It's a tradition that's carried out throughout boot camps as well as at military schools. While the idea may seem barbaric to those of us on the outside, the need to trust your fellow company members and leaders is very important, especially in life-or-death situations in the military. We'll talk more about different ways to do this later in the Read Along, but for now, read these lyrics from the song:

How does it feel
to treat me like you do
When you've laid your hands upon me
and told me who you are?
I thought I was mistaken
I thought I heard your words
Tell me, how do I feel?
Tell me now how do I feel?

There were many times at military school where I felt I wasn't in control. I was told when to wake up, when to eat, where to go, what to do, especially during the first week, before classes started. I wanted, from the beginning, to show how intimidating military school can be, but also, how it can build a group up (sometimes in their mutual hatred of someone).

The scene that had to be included in this part? Declaration Day. My own version at military school was called Dog River Run Day. There was no way I couldn't include this part of the book when, for me, Dog River Run was one of the most important days of my military school career. I still think about that day and how good we felt at the end, knowing we had survived the week and had completed something amazing with the other recruits in Alpha Company.

Alpha Company (yours truly is in that muddy mess--can you find me?)
Norwich University, August 1999
Dog River Run

I hope you enjoy the first ten chapters! When you're done, feel free to add comments below asking questions! I'll try to answer them next week.

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