NaNo 2012: The First Three Days

“I am more the Richard Simmons school of novel writing. First we pony, then we write.”                                                                                                                      – ArmchairAuthor

If you were to look at my little graph on the NaNoWriMo site, the one that tracks word count, you might get the impression that I did nothing for the first few days and then busted out nearly 5k words today. That would not be an accurate impression. What I have been doing is writing longhand, I wrote more than half my word count that way at the kickoff write-in and today’s write-in. My husband was kind enough to transcribe it today with his crazy awesome typing skills so I could update my word count.

My story looks like a weak analogy.

It has not been an easy road. Starting that first draft often feels like squeezing a near-empty tube of toothpaste (or other things one squeezes in the bathroom): a whole lot of effort with very little visible reward. Sometimes it feels like it’s not worth the effort, like I’d rather just take the easy route and grab a new tube. I know I’ve hit my stride when I reach that moment where I stop just relating events and plot points and start thinking of ways to make it funny. I can do morose in my sleep, but I’ve got to be in a really comfortable groove for funny. I hit that moment today, and I have to say I’m feeling relieved. Here’s a bit of what I wrote this evening:

This time my hand found my knife on the first attempt, but again I could have saved the effort. It was just another bottle. Another green bottle. How had I walked by it without noticing? Actually, that wasn’t surprising. I felt pretty out of it. I kicked the bottle lightly and watched it roll away at glacial speed. Then I watched it roll back and bump the toe of my sneaker at the same pace. That didn’t seem right. I cast my eyes back over the last few feet of sand, I hadn’t come very far since the first bottle, but I didn’t see anything. Not so much as a green blotch or smudge on the white. I kicked the bottle harder and spun around with the half-mad thought that I would run away from it. Of all of the wild scenarios my imagination had conjured, none had involved being stalked by an empty beer bottle.

When it rolled back and struck my heel with a clank I could feel through my shoe, I reached down and picked it up. Maybe it doesn’t want to be litter. Maybe my purpose in life has just been discovered: custodian of supernatural wastelands. I swung my pack around to shove the bottle in, there was plenty of spare room now, and saw that it wasn’t empty as I’d thought. There was a folded strip of paper rattling around inside, sealed in by a wad of chewed gum. Ew. Beyond the point of caring about adding glassy litter to this sparkling desert, in fact thinking it might benefit from a color other than blue or white, I crouched down to smack the beer bottle hard against the ground. Except that the ground was basically sand and it just sort of shifted out of the way of my thick-air resistance slowed bottle. I groaned and unsheathed my knife, digging the wad of gum from the neck of the bottle with the tip. Not a brilliant move, since now my knife was smeared with gum. Perhaps I could disgust a marauding monster to death. I decided to ignore that problem for the moment, and shrugged my pack onto the ground as a lumpy makeshift seat. If the sand shredded it, I would deal with that later.

My narrow fingers worked to my advantage: I was able to turn the bottle upside down and hook a finger in around the paper to drag it out. I found myself disappointed to see it was just the rest of the label that had been torn from the bottle, until I noticed the angry scrawl on the back side:

 

Tim –

You’re an asshole. I hope you see this bottle floating by, and when you reach down to pick it up a shark eats you. Asshole.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        – Rick

P.S. I nailed Tiffany while you were in Vail.

 

I wasn’t sure what to make of that, it didn’t seem significant to my predicament, so I used the note to wipe as much of the gum off my blade as I could manage. It was still a little sticky in spots but I figured it would still work perfectly fine in a stabbing capacity. I had a mental image of trying to unsheath it as a massive dragon with toothy, slavering jaws breathed in my face…only to have pink bubblegum strands stretch long. Well. I didn’t seem likely to slay a dragon with a dagger in any case.          

I promise  that this all makes sense in the context of my novel, and hopefully it is at least somewhat entertaining out of it.

Other NaNo related things:

 

I may be the only person on the planet who eats it on purpose.

1. This sequel is fueled by candy corn and Dr. Pepper. One of the Chico NaNos asked me if it was easier or harder to write a sequel, and all I could say is that it was different. I know my characters a lot better, but my plot is not nearly as clear in my mind as Grove’s was when I started. So I feel like I’m basically doing the opposite of what I did last year. It’s scary and exhilarating by turns, the fact that I don’t even know what will happen next.

2.Candy Cane Lane is the best tea of all time. Celestial Seasonings makes it, and you should buy a box or five. Sometimes I just go into my kitchen and smell the box, it’s that awesome.

3. The Chico NaNo folks are very cool. I have really been enjoying writing with them. An interesting bunch who are very easy to talk to, writing some stories I’d love to read!

4. Sometimes I hate my vocabulary, because my word count would be a lot higher if I used smaller words. On the other hand, I am morally opposed to dumbing it down when my character would know and use the words I’m using.

5. If you made big horrified eyes when I said I’m writing longhand, I will tell you why: I like how it feels. I like the feeling of the pencil scratching over the paper, and I feel like I write better stories that way. Typed words come cheap. Well, sort of. I’m not a very fast typist (which definitely has something to do with it). Plus, I can take my steno pad and Dollar Store glitter pencils anywhere and not worry that my battery will die. My word rate has not changed between methods, which is probably because I’m a Basher through and through.

A question for anyone who’s reading out there: If you sent a message in a bottle, what would it say?

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