Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holy crap.

I did it. I wrote 50K worth of words in one month. Seriously, I'm just as shocked as you all are. So, things that I learned this NaNoWriMo session:

1) It's not possible to do this without taking days off and then writing like mad to catch up. Well, maybe it is. But not if you're married (and want to stay married) and have kids.

2) Most of what I wrote is utter pap. But there are some really very good bits in there that I'm proud of.

3) I'm not even half-way through the story. Sad as that is, it's good in another way - it means that I get to get to the good parts now.

4) It's REALLY fun to write about Vikings beheading each other. (Heh.)

5) I'm astonished that I managed to write this much. I'm stupefied that some of it is really good. I'm delighted, 'cause now I get to edit the hell out it. And maybe I'll even start thinking about getting it published. As a book. A really real book. Only thing is...I have no idea where to even start with the whole publishing gambit. Maybe I'll just finish the book first.

Anyway, even though I am acutely aware of the rampant plagiarism that plagues the InterWebz, I'm going to post the first few paragraphs of the book here, all of which are TOTALLY UNEDITED and written under the shadow of some serious sleep deprivation. Enjoy. Feel free to leave comments and criticism. I'm a big girl, and can take it. Not to mention that no matter how much someone ladles out the one's going to take away the fact that I am a bad ass writing mo-fo. Word to ya mama, indeed.


She knelt in front of the large river stone, and poured her bounty onto its smooth surface. To her dismay, a few of the hazelnuts slipped off the slick surface and bounced down the slope until they plopped into the rushing waters of the river Fane.
Displeased with herself, she frowned, set her jaw in determination and carefully set the rest of her treasures to the side of the stone, settling them in a small depression in the muddy earth. Next, she cast around until she found a small, heart-sized rock. Clutching her tool in one hand, she delicately placed a single hazelnut on the smooth river stone and smashed it with her newly prized weapon of choice.

Her deft fingers picked apart the hazelnut from the remains of the shell, and she greedily scooped the nut meat into her mouth. The summer had been cold, and there had been much hunger in her village that season. As she cheerfully chewed on the savoury treat, the remains of the shell were gently placed to her side with great care. They were soon joined by the shattered shells of other hazelnuts, and the pile grew high in short order.

The soft sunbeams of the afternoon struggled to break through the clouds that had covered the land for days. She lifted her head to their occasional warmth, grateful for the sensation that flooded the sky. She did not realize that she had been shivering, but then again, youth often forgets to feel pain. It is only the old who remember the aches of the flesh and who sigh with the weight of their burdens. The young carry all of their woes lightly, and do so without the benefit of a long memory.

The light shimmered and reflected off of the girl’s glorious hair, and the colours mirrored the shades of the dead leaves surrounding her feet. As hungry as she was, she made sure not to gorge herself on the nuts immediately. She set aside a small pile of the nuts and set herself to the task of building her mighty armada.

The next step in building her grand navy was to find twigs and leaves of the perfect size. Fortunately, the forest floor was covered with the detritus of the changing seasons. She quickly collected a small bundle of twigs and carried them in her cloak, taking care not to snag her brat on any stray points of wood. Leaves were everywhere to be found, but she wanted very specific colours for the sails of her fleet. Only the brilliant red-orange leaves that looked like flames would do for her sails, anything less would be unworthy of her efforts.

As she stepped through the dim woods, she occasionally dropped to one knee and selected a leaf. It was examined with a studied scrutiny, and was either discarded summarily or was carefully placed in the makeshift pouch she had made from a corner of her cloak. As she knelt, the chilled mud soaked into the hem of her leine, but she was wholly unaware of either the filth or the cold. The falling of the leaves into a lush blanket of skeletal feathers hardly seemed to make a difference to the earth beneath her feet. It remained as clammy as it had remained all summer.

Finally satisfied that she had collected an adequate number of masts and sails, she made her way back to her shattered shells. She sat on the turf edging the river, making sure that she tucked her feet in and that her woollen dress was wound tightly around her. It would not do to return to her home with soaking wet shoes – she had been beaten before for lesser offenses. She winced slightly at the memory, and then reapplied herself to the task set before her.

Carefully, she took one of the largest shards of hazelnut shell, and gently fixed a small twig to it using the mud of the riverbank as glue. Then, one of the flaming leaves was gently pierced twice by the twig. And with the tiniest of motions, her flagship was ready. She continued building boats, carefully selecting only the largest pieces of shell and the proudest of leafy sails.

When she had built seven boats, she gathered them in her cloak and carefully brought them down to the edge of the river. She crouched down and set her fleet gently into the water, one by one. The breeze caught the sails of the first few, and they bobbed down the river with ever increasingly unsteady gaits. At last, the largest of her boats, her flagship, her pride and joy, set sail and headed down the river. It sailed true, and to her delight, went straight to the middle of the broad river and swiftly raced along the current.

Her attention was all for the little boats cascading down the river. So much so that she did not notice the large boat that was moving upstream until its shadow enveloped her tiny fleet. When she looked up at the warship in wonder, her gaze was returned by those of thirty heavily armoured men. Most of them stared at her impassively, and continued to row. One of them, however, lifted his hand to his mouth. He pursed his lips, and raised one finger to them, indicating that she should be quiet. Her terror was such that she could not have moved from the river’s edge, even if the thought had crossed her mind.

The boat continued on its way and she watched them silently sail upriver. It was only after they had disappeared around the bend of the river that she found her feet and fled into the forest. On the boat, one of the men had notched an arrow to his bow, and was tracking the fleeing girl’s back. But the man who had warned the girl to be silent, shook his head. The arrow was lowered, and Aideen continued to run through the forest, panicked and thinking only of the need to return home.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I was *this* close...

I had the last hat cast on, and somehow didn't quite get around to finishing it before November hit like a Mack truck. But I'm consoling myself with the idea that I'll have something to work on during any downtime I get from NaNoWriMo.

Speaking of which, it's going really well. After a bumpy start (and some serious miscommunication between the Mister and myself about exactly how involved I was going to be with this), I'm starting to settle into a routine. The kids are in bed and asleep by 9, generally. So, once I get myself ready (teapot full, iPod plugged in, Halloween chocolate at hand and fingerless mitts on), it's about 9:30. If I write solidly until midnight, I seem to be able to crank out about 2K worth of words in a night.

So, life continues as usual, except that instead of knitting/gaming/web surfing, I'm writing at night. To be perfectly honest, this process has been much more exhilarating than I could have imagined it to be. I'm not a dirty drafter by nature, but forcing myself to just. get. it. out. has been liberating. I certainly wouldn't say that the story is writing itself. I'm gaining characters at a breakneck speed, and am only FINALLY getting around to the original arc of the story that I intended to write. Everything so far has just been a plot device to get the characters I wanted to write about to the place where I wanted them to be. Mind you, it's a very wordy and bloody plot device...

Seriously, I don't know if I'm repressing something weird but this is easily one of the most violent stories that I've ever written. And I'm not even into the second chapter. I even have sections that aren't completed yet, as I'm having difficulty visualizing them. All it says is "BATTLE SCENE". I'm more of a linear writer - the story unfolds as it wants, so this skipping around from here to there is all new to me. Not sure that I like it, but it sure as hell is easier than scrubbing my way through a difficult section just to get it over and done with.

Wish me luck, I seem to be doing ok. Word count as of last night = 5356.