Today kicks off NaNoWriMo, and I’m participating this year because I have waaay too much stuff going on in my life to not take on a major project to distract myself.
I tell you what, I’m super sick of doctors and specialists.
Anyway, I asked Ian for an idea yesterday because I couldn’t make up my mind between the two ideas I had for this year’s NaNo.
So quick survey, should I write it offline, or should I make a new blog for Norman the Mole Boy and his adventures in life, love, and the underground?
P.S. I’m aprilvak on NaNo’s website if anyone needs another buddy.
So, who wants to read an excerpt of the novel I’ve written 50,845 words of so far?
One night I snuck out because I was bored and I didn’t have anything else to do. There’s only so much time I can spend on the computer pretending to be someone I’m not before I can’t take it anymore. So I got dressed and waited until my parents were busy and just walked out the front door. I guess that’s not really sneaking, since there wasn’t anything sneaky about it, just planning and forethought.
And it’s not like they were going to check on me in my room anyway. They might holler up the stairs that it was dinner time, but they wouldn’t come looking for me if I didn’t show up. I missed enough meals to ensure that, at least.
The spare key to my car that I kept hidden underneath the living room windowsill came in handy that night; I pulled it from its hiding place in the crumbled space between the bricks, started my car, and headed for the hills.
I drove for about an hour before finding an appropriate venue to ply my trade, and got off the interstate to get to work. The exit sign said New Lindberg, but I didn’t care what the town was called.
I decided to stop at the bowling alley to play pool. Even though I hadn’t bothered to meet anyone in this backward small town, I could still count on people my age being at a local bowling alley on a Friday night, stacking quarters on the edge of the pool table to claim the next game against the winner.
I was right. There was a group of seven kids my age, maybe sixteen to twenty-one, two girls and five guys, and they were laughing and joking and stabbing at each other with the pool cues. I knew I’d found my target.
I slapped my quarters on the table as soon as an open spot was available. I could feel the eyes of the boys crawling down my backside, but I didn’t care. I wanted them to look. that’s why I wore the skintight jeans that I wore, so that they would look. I wanted the girls to be jealous and the boys to drool, and it looked like that’s what I was going to get.
Let them look, I thought to myself. Maybe I’d fuck one later. Maybe I’d fuck all of them later.
I sat down at a nearby table and crossed my legs so I could swing the dangling foot. I refused to make eye contact with anyone, my way of playing hard to get. I could see one of the guys nudge the other one with his elbow, and I chose my target for the evening. Even if I ended up not fucking him, I would at least fuck with him.
My target sank the eight ball in the corner pocket, and I got up to choose my cue stick and take my place at the table. I slipped my quarters into the slots and slammed the mechanical tongue back into the table’s voracious, quarter-eating mouth. The sound of the balls dropping out of their locked cage was music to my ears.
I grabbed the triangle and racked the balls quickly and more professionally than anyone else I’d seen around here do it. When I had them all tightly adjusted to my satisfaction, I whipped the triangle up, spinning it around between my two forefingers as I squatted to slide it home into its little cubby hole on the side of the table.
He was practically drooling. Just how I like them.
“Are you gonna break or just stand there?” I asked him.
He chalked the end of his cue stick and took his place at the head of the table in lieu of answering me. When the cue ball hit the rack it was like a crack of lightning, but he didn’t make anything in.
“My turn,” I smiled at him.
I called all of my shots, and made most of them. I was wiping the floor with him, but he wasn’t taking it lying down. He kept up pretty well until we were down to the last two balls. Then he choked.
I was done playing, so I had to scratch on the eight ball so that he would win and have to take the next challenger instead of me playing them. It was all part of my game, and I knew how to play it well.
I went back to my seat at that table, and I watched his friends ribbing him about almost losing to a girl. He handed his stick to one of his buddies and came to sit down at the table with me.
“What’s your name?” he asked me.
“That’s a pretty name. A pretty name for a pretty girl.” I almost threw up on him. If this was the best pickup line he could come up with, I’d chosen a lot more poorly than I thought.
“Thanks.” I couldn’t just throw in the towel, though. I had to keep up appearances. I could see the two girls that had been hanging all over this guy and his four friends making faces at me, and I knew they were talking about me. Probably getting a story ready to spread around about me. Maybe syphilis or something.
“I’m Bobby,” he said, and smiled at me. He smiled at me, and I saw that his teeth were badly yellowed and practically fuzzy from lack of brushing. I could smell his breath from across the table: Bud Light and Marlboros. A class act, that’s for sure.
“Nice to meet you,” I said, looking him in the eyes and trying to breathe air that didn’t stink of poor white trash. I was failing.
“We’re just about done playing for the night, you wanna come hang out with us?” he asked.
Maybe things were going better than I expected. My lip began to curl up on one side.
“I’d love to,” I answered. “I’m new in town and I don’t know anyone around here yet. Or what there is to do here. Maybe you could teach me a thing or two about that.” I cringed internally. I can’t believe I talked shit about this guy’s pickup lines when that’s the garbage that came out of my mouth. But he didn’t notice anything wrong with it.
“Come on, then. Did you drive?” he asked. I shook my head. Like he’d ever find out. And my car would be safe enough here. Not that I cared if someone stole it. I could always steal someone else’s.
“Then you can ride with me. let’s go.” He beckoned me forward as he stood up. I meekly followed, but with my head held high. The girls shot daggers at me with their eyes, and I just smiled back over my shoulder at them and I reached up to loop my arm through Bobby’s arm.
He snugged his elbow against his body, pulling me a bit closer, and looked down at me in admiration. If only he knew what he was getting himself into. I smiled broadly back up at him.
His car turned out to be an old Firebird with the floorboards rusting out under my feet. I wasn’t sure how much weight I could put on it, so I just bent my knees to the side and rested my feet against the side of the door. He started the car, and it sounded just as loud and obnoxious as I had expected it to. It backfired twice before he even got out of the parking spot
I saw the other six climbing into an Oldsmobile and a Ford Escort and following us out of the parking lot.
He took a lot of turns to get to our destination, especially for a town as small as New Lindberg. But like I said, I have an excellent sense of direction, and I didn’t have a problem keeping up with where I was in relation to the bowling alley.
The streetlight was out in front of the house that was evidently where we were going, and he squealed into the driveway on two wheels and turned to look at me like I was supposed to appreciate what he liked to call driving. I didn’t appreciate it, but I fluttered my eyelashes at him anyway.
The Oldsmobile was right behind us, and they parked in the street before pouring out of the car. In another minute, the Ford Escort pulled up as well. I thought we were all going to go inside, because it was dark, and the mosquitoes were getting bad, but it turned out that we were all going to hang out underneath the carport. What a joy. I rolled my eyes.
Introductions were made all around. Bobby introduced me to everyone else as August, and I was surprised that he’d remembered it at all. The rest of the crew went around in a circle waving and saying their names. I don’t even remember them; they weren’t any names that stood out in my mind, just normal, generic, Jennifer and Steve type names.
Not that their names were important to me at all.
One of the girls went back to the Oldsmobile and retrieved a small baggie from the glove box. When she got back to the carport, I saw that it was a pair of joints. So we were going to get high before we fucked. Whatever, I can do that.
She lit one up and passed it to Bobby, who took a couple hits before passing it to me.
I took it like an old hand. I’d smoked plenty before, just with a group of people that I’d known for a long time. People I was familiar enough with and comfortable enough with. This was an entirely new experience for me, smoking pot with a pack of strangers that I’d only known for half an hour, most of whose names I couldn’t remember anymore.
I rolled with it, and took two big hits. It wasn’t bad pot. Pretty mellow flavor. I was starting to get a tiny bit high when I noticed how everyone else was looking at me.
And then I felt it. I didn’t know what it was just yet, but there was something in that joint that was more than weed. They all knew, and were waiting to see how I handled it. I looked around the circle of faces staring at me and I felt something creeping up my body, from my feet to my head. A warmth, a ring of cool fire that didn’t burn me.
I felt myself falling and took a step back to steady myself. One of the girls let out a hateful laugh, and I knew she was laughing at me. One of the guys began to smile. I knew that smile; I’d seen it too many times to not recognize it. Somebody thought he was going to get lucky with the girl he just got fucked up.
But I had news for him. Not today.
The joint continued to go around the circle, and I stepped back into the ring to take my hit. I wasn’t going to back down now. I could handle anything they could handle. I knew that much, at least.
Two more rounds and the joint was dead. Bobby killed it, and I said a little prayer to the many gods I didn’t believe in that I didn’t have to take another hit of whatever it was mixed in that pot, because the smallest part of me was beginning to be honest with myself, and I knew I couldn’t handle it half as well as I thought I could.
I staggered back again, but since they’d had just as much as me by now, the only person to notice was Bobby, who tried to catch me. I stumbled about five steps backward before I caught myself on one of the poles holding up the roof of the carport. I spun around it like a stripper and tightened my grip just enough to not hit the ground at the last minute. Bobby tried to walk over to check on me, but he stepped on his own untied shoelace and went down hard on his hands and knees.
I could hear one of the girls off in the dark corner close to the house laughing softly. I wanted to punch her in her slut face. Using both hands, I pulled myself back up to a respectable standing position.
One of the guys, the one with the pizza face like a road map, was reaching his hand up the shirt of one of the girls, the one with the long ponytail and the giant wire hoop earrings. Her head was lolled back on her neck, and she looked pretty out of it.
I was astonished to realize that all of this was going on out in the driveway of whoever’s house this was. At that moment I began to wonder if that was the reason why we didn’t go inside—because none of these people actually lived here anyway.
I felt something on my hips. I looked down and it was Bobby’s hands. I looked up and his face was directly in front of mine, his eyes closed and his lips pursed. He was coming in for a kiss. I turned my head and he got a mouthful of my hair. While he was sputtering, I pulled his hands off my waist and turned to leave.
“Fuck off, Bobby. you’re a piece of shit.” I spit the words at his feet like they were the foulest venom I could come up with. At that moment, they were. I wasn’t working at my full mental capacity just then.
The girl by the house laughed again, a high, tittering laugh that sent chills down my spine. I spun on my heel and headed for the street. Fortunately for me, my brain was still working well enough that I knew the bowling alley was only about half a mile away, as the crow flies. It was probably a good mile with all the twists and turns and dead ends between here and there, but that was still a walk I could definitely make without a problem.
I looked back over my shoulder once and Bobby was standing at the edge of the driveway with a lost, forlorn look on his face. One hand was still, but the other swung at his side as if he were trying to get up the energy to beckon me back to the party.
Not a chance, Bobby. Not a chance.
It was about an hour before I got back to my car. I wish I could say that most of the drugs had worn off by then, but I’d be lying if I did. I felt worse than ever. The only reason it took me as long as it did to get there was that the longer I walked, the more lost and confused I felt. My brain was stuck on a spin cycle, when all I wanted to do was finish drying out and fold myself up like laundry that needed to be put away.
I’ll be the first one to admit that I have absolutely no idea how I found my way back to the interstate, let alone how I drove all the way back to my house, where I parked in the driveway, crooked enough that neither of my parents were able to get their cars around mine the next morning.
When I got out and onto my doorstep, I couldn’t remember how to work the doorknob on the front door. After a couple of minutes that felt like an eternity, I realized that I was already inside, and contemplating the knob on the door to my room, from inside my room.
I turned around and looked at my bed. It must have been six feet off the ground. There was absolutely no way I could just collapse onto that bed, which was the only thing I wanted to do just then. I gave up and sat down on the floor.
I leaned back and my head hit the side of the door frame and rolled off it to land against the wall. Good enough. I tried to stretch my legs out, but they wouldn’t move, so I passed out right there.
The next day I woke up feeling the worst I’d ever felt without actually being sick. Everything that happened the night before felt like a dream that someone else had, something that I’d only heard about and hadn’t actually lived through.
I tried not to think about what could have happened. That wasn’t really a problem for me until I was older. You know, a teenager thinks she’s invincible. No chance of anything bad or life threatening ever happening.
Even though I’d already thrown my dignity into the trash and stomped on it, even though I didn’t believe that I was a decent human being worth even a cursory glimpse of happiness or respect, I still believed that nothing truly bad would happen to me.
I don’t know what I considered truly bad. Looking back on it now, I lived through a lot of horrible things. Things happened because of my poor decisions and because of my poor judgment, and because of the trust I put in the wrong people. I put my life into everyone else’s hands as often as possible.
I can’t imagine acting like that anymore.
Y’all. OMG. Seriously, this is the best NaNoWriMo yet. It’s the second day, and I’m over ten thousand words.
Ten. Thousand. Words.
They’re pouring out left and right. And this pile is only going to need minimal editing when I’m done with it. Right now I’m guessing about 80k is where I’ll find the finish line.
I’m psyched. I’m stoked. Let’s do this.
And hopefully my husband will survive this World Series. And my manager. He’s probably shitting bricks too.
I found this prompt today:
31. Take a small, boring moment that happened today and write as much as you can about it. Go overboard describing it, and make this boring moment exciting by describing it in intense detail with ecstatic prose. Eventually connect this small, boring detail with the grand narrative of your life, your bigger purpose and intentions.
I snake my hand out from beneath the comforting weight of my heavy comforter and grope the corner of my bedside table where my phone belongs until my fingers close around its expensive flimsiness.
Why do we pay so much money for these marvels of technology that honestly, aren’t that necessary at all? I can’t answer that question right now; I have more pressing issues on my mind. I tap and swipe, tap and swipe, until notepad opens.
The list of sandwich requests from Arby’s stares me in the face. I don’t need that anymore; I don’t remember what night we had Arby’s for dinner, but it’s not tonight–tonight I’m making chicken and dumplings. I press and hold; select all and delete.
And now the fun begins. I type furiously, thumbs softly tap-dancing across the tiny keyboard. What is this masterpiece? It’s the first outline I’ve ever attempted for NaNoWriMo. Tippity tap, tippity tap. I summarize, sentence fragment after brief sentence fragment. Details spring to mind right and left: add scene, add scene.
I’m excited; this is working out so much better than I had expected. I’m a pantser, I’ve always been a pantser. I don’t plan for NaNo–that’s crazy talk! And yet here I am planning instead of napping. It feels good. I’ll have no problem winning in twenty days or less, as is my goal this year. Maybe I’ll even finish this one!
I finish up my pseudo-outline; that was a lot of typing on my poor little phone, but I’m used to it. My finger slides up to press the lock button, and I lay my phone back on the table where I got it from in the first place.
I pull the cover back up over my shoulder and snuggle in as my hand returns from the table, sliding softly beneath my pillow, and I nap.
So here are the first 726 words of my NaNoWriMo novel. The actual beginning part, not the first 726 words I wrote. It was about four thousand words in from where I started on November 1. This is quite possibly the most awkwardly written part of the whole mess. I’m not sure if most of it is even worth saving; I may scrap the whole thing, except a few sentences, and start over. What bits do you think should stay?
I was already in motion when I came back to myself; running fast, as hard as I could. I slowed down as much as I dared, but there were others running on all sides of me. I had to find out what we were running from. But ‘back to myself’ implies that I was coming from somewhere, headed somewhere, headed to where I am now; as far as I knew, I had come from nowhere. I had no past. But I didn’t have time to spare for more than a passing thought or two in this direction. I had more pressing issues at the moment.
I ran; I ran because that’s what I had been doing for my entire four seconds of existence. I ran without knowing where or why, without even asking those questions. I ran because I felt danger coming for me.
I slowed enough to turn my head and look behind me without falling flat on my face on the ground. What I saw blew my mind. Even now, telling you about it, so much time has passed, but still…I don’t know what to make of it.
It would probably be easier for you to understand the beginning of this story if I had some kind of back story to give you. Fuck, it would be easier to tell if I had some kind of back story to give myself, but I don’t have anything. I can tell you what I wore.
My shorts were the first thing are the first thing that comes to mind when I think about my clothing that day. I guess you could even call it my birthday. Yes. I like the sound of that. One hell of a party! And in a twisted sort of way, absolutely true.
My shorts were cotton, woven cotton, olive drab, maybe olive green. Kind of in between the two colors, not that there’s much difference between olive green and good old olive drab. They were super soft from many wears and many washes, the most comfortable shorts I have ever owned. I mean, that I know about, of course. I could have had the world’s largest collection of comfortable shorts before my birthday for all I know, because I know nothing about anything before then.
Have I gotten that point across? I know nothing about my past. I have read baby name books, trying and trying to find some name that rang a bell, and nothing ever does. Nothing seems like my name before, nothing seems like the name of anyone I know. I don’t know my parents’ names, I don’t know if I have any brothers or sisters or what their names are if I do have them. I don’t know my grandparents. I don’t know my aunts and uncles. I don’t know if I have any cousins. I don’t know how many friends I had, if I had any, because I don’t know their names either. I don’t remember my third grade teacher, or the neighbor who always yelled at me for kicking my ball into the fence. I don’t have a real childhood, because I don’t have any of that. And it isn’t fair. I hate that I don’t have any of this. I hate that I can tie my shoes but I don’t know who taught me. I have that I can read and write but I don’t remember a single spelling test. I don’t even remember school at all. Did I graduate high school? Do I have a doctorate degree? Am I a middle school dropout? I don’t know.
And I can’t even guess at a way to find out. I did remember, briefly, in a flash of memory, but that disappeared as quickly as it came.
But at least I can tell you about these shorts. Can you visualize the color yet? Olive green. Olive drab. Mix em up and there you go, the color of my shorts. I have to admit, thought, they were a little bit shorter than I would have expected myself to be comfortable with. I showed a little too much skin, if you get my drift. But it was okay in those shorts. Everything was okay.
Including the fact that I was running with a good thirty other people, none of whom I recognized, as fast as we all could.
Y’all. Yesterday I read about this amazing thing, and it has helped me tremendously!
As I commented on Amanda’s post last night, I had never visited the NaNoWriMo forums before, and I’d never heard of a word crawl. You all know I was incredibly disgruntled and discouraged when I got home from work yesterday, but I still read a few (very few) posts before settling in bed with my Kindle.
I’m rereading the Night Angel trilogy, if you were wondering.
Anyway, After reading about Amanda’s incredible word counts from yesterday–this gal is over 35,000 already–I had to go check it out. The first one that caught my eye was the Fifty Headed Hydra. So I clicked it.
This challenge came into existence when someone I cannot remember the name of wrote 500 words in five minutes, but the only correctly spelled words were Fifty Headed Hydra.
Heck, I thought. I can do that. Five minutes later, I had 416 words! How cool is that?
About an hour later, after reading around and trying some other sprints and things, I ended up with 2,357 words for the day. Not too shabby for a day I was going to throw in the towel without even starting.
On the other hand, I absolutely cannot wait for Friday when I’m off work and have no appointments. I’ll novel a bit and then write at least half a dozen posts to schedule for the upcoming week. I don’t want to write about nothing but writing during NaNoWriMo; I want my blog to stay somewhere away from that so I can escape from the self-imposed albatross.
Although it’s working out much better this year than last year. I didn’t touch last year’s novel, even once, after November. Maybe I’ll rewrite it next year; it wasn’t a bad idea, it just didn’t thrill me after the first fifteen thousand words.
But seriously, look over there at that beautiful status bar–it’s filling up!