Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo 2011

A Tentative Excerpt from Free Fall

I’m not going to lie, I’m normally very cagey about what I post with regards to NaNoWriMo. Most of the time, whatever I do share, in terms of excerpts, can already be found on my NaNoWriMo profile, under the Novel Info. These are, of course, the only excerpts I feel somewhat confident in sharing. They are also, usually, the first part of the first chapter, or something to that effect. So, guess what I’m going to be posting here?

I have other reasons for this, though. The main reason this year is the difficulty I have in trying to find an all-ages-appropriate excerpt, because there always seems to be something with me. Anything. If I was a director, I’d be notorious for getting my films an 18 certificate or above, I’m almost sure of it, and my novels, I will admit, have this tendency to go a similar way. This year, this is especially prevalent. More so than any year before, and most of my novel thus far has been laced with … well, we’ll call them ‘literary nasties’ shall we?

So yes, indeed, this is the excerpt from my profile, possibly with more to come as the month goes on, however, this is entirely dependent on 1. my cumulative word count at any time and 2. whether or not I feel it’s appropriate. I’m also doing this, somewhat, to see if I can clear my name, perhaps? What I mean is that I don’t think that this excerpt is terrible, but alongside the rest of the novel, it needs work. I like it better than some of the things I’ve written, which says a lot, considering this was a part of what I wrote on the first day … and the general consensus seems to be that writing 17,000 words in a day cannot possibly yield results.

I’ll leave that up to you to decide, however. Critique, criticize, something else beginning with C here and feel free to rip this to shreds if you do so desire!

“Courtney smiles at the woman opposite, wearing nothing but a satin gown, one elbow resting on the counter top while she sips her coffee the way she’s always liked it: black. Her short, blond hair is a mess, poker-straight layers curling at the ends, at the edges, the bottom layer falling in soft waves. Every morning, and he knows this because he’s watched her do it, still feigning sleep, she gets up a half-hour earlier than he does to put on a thin layer of make-up, the layer she’s wearing now. Her second skin. The only face she wants him to know, a fake beauty that he can wake up to every morning.

Her nails, manicured, on her free hand, they trawl through her hair, feeling for split and damaged ends, the ones she cuts off after she colors. She could almost look as though she doesn’t quite know where she is, as though the world is a new, foreign experience for her, every morning waking up to the early noise of a city just taking its first steps. Taxi cabs and cars stuck in traffic. A crash that almost happens, but doesn’t. She uses her free hand to pull her robe back onto her right shoulder, then to check her cell phone resting at the edge of the counter. She purses her lips, takes another sip of coffee, and says nothing.

She could be any other girl in the city, looking this way, only Courtney doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want her to think that there are a million others like her, even though this is a cruel truth that both of them know. It’s why she bleaches her hair lighter than the rest of them. It’s why she tries to make sure she’s the best dressed at every work function, every dinner party. Every time they go out for sushi, she goes the extra mile. And he loves her for it.

Courtney’s tie hangs loose about his neck, silver-gray, looking almost as though it’s attached to his pinstripe white shirt. Some object, some accessory, that doesn’t move. A different tie for every day of the week, a new appendage that flaps around while he looks for more coffee grounds, while he offers to cook the bacon, Monday morning’s treat that Alison insists he cut every last sliver of fat from. Most days, she leaves it there in the middle of the plate, not as an insult, but because she just can’t take the risk. Because just sniffing it piles on calories.

He runs a hand along his shaved, stinging face. He checks for stubble. He knows there’s an ingrown hair or two, but he can’t do anything about it. This is something he realizes as he checks his watch. His hair is dry, now, combed flat, not blown dry. His pants are neatly ironed with the creases perfect, meticulous, like some invisible housekeeper did it in the middle of the night, rather than him doing it, in the evening before he slides into bed. All part of the same routine. He doesn’t quite know why it is that they keep doing this same thing, over and over again, but the fact remains that they do, and he doesn’t see sense in refusing to go along with it; they have a good life. Whenever things start to seem wrong, this is what he tells himself.

Whenever things start to go wrong, this is all a part of what Courtney thinks to himself. Death and destruction in the news once again. Gunshots. Sirens. Things he knows he’ll end up dealing with in the morning, in the evening, whenever he gets that call. If he’s not due to do it, he sits behind the same desk all day and files the same paperwork, trying to remember a time when his life wasn’t made up of the same routines. As a kid, all he did was stare at the television screen. He’s still staring at it, only now, it’s a pile of papers that need to be signed, or the raw ingredients he needs to cook for when the girl, the blond, Alison, gets home from work late, or the pants he needs to iron before he goes to sleep, or his girlfriend waiting for him in bed. Do something too many times, and it all becomes a part of the same ongoing routine.

When she’s done with her coffee, Alison gets to her feet, hopping off the high stool with the gown fluttering around her thighs. Courtney, he finds it difficult to care about it anymore, but then he reminds himself who he’s looking at. Alison. It almost seems impossible for him not to love her, he’s been doing it for so long.

The two of them, Courtney and Alison, they’ve been living in the same co-op building, the same apartment, for a decade. They’ve had the same décor since 2001; the same off-white that never dates or goes out of fashion. The two of them, they’d like to live in a home that’s on the cutting edge of the latest trends, but the fact of the matter is, they have better things to spend their money on. A cabinet behind the dining table displays an array of vintage wines, spirits matured for half a century or more. They live on a diet that, over the years, has come to cost more than the rent on the place. They try to eat out more times a week than they eat in, so Courtney knows which days he’s going to be preparing a meal, and when they do eat out, it’s never takeaway or pizza. Sometimes this is all Courtney wants.

Courtney and Alison, they’re both the ailing product of a world raised by pop culture. A world that refused to look on in shock and awe, and instead either turned away or joined in, aware of how the depraved were now the center of attention. In a world where indecent exposure and lewd behavior became common practice. After Courtney turned seventeen, he stepped into this world and now he can’t get out. He can’t escape it. He grew up in a decade of unrest and dissatisfaction, where he never could see why everyone was so distracted by their finances. Where he never wanted for anything, except his parents.”


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Filed under Excerpts & Short Stories, NaNoWriMo

Free Fall Fridays #3

So, first of all, my apologies for the absolute lack of posts recently. Things have been getting a little crazy in the run up to NaNo, and since the start … and for the time being, they seemed to have cooled off, at least a little. In part, this has been very much my own fault. I don’t know when I decided that I’m crazy, but somewhere along the line, I resolved to write 50,000 words in 3 days. so, I’ll start off by  saying this:

I can’t feel my rear end or my wrists. There, I said it.

Moving on. I have quite a bit to say about the first three days of NaNoWriMo, the first being that it feels more like three weeks than three days to me. It’s a strange sensation that I’ve never experienced while NaNoing before, although this might just be due to my crazy goal. Similarly, I’m really feeling the passage of time slipping by in my novel in a way I never expected it to. I’m getting the same feeling writing it as I get when I’m reading a novel I enjoy; I want to press on, read or write further, but doing so means I get closer and closer to the end all the time, and this is something I really don’t want to happen. These characters, for some reason, I just don’t want to leave them behind at the end, which kind of relates to my next point. That I’m absolutely terrified about what is going to happen when I hit the 100k – 120k mark.

I’m a little bit in love with Free Fall, more than I thought I might be in the end. My initial plan was that, once I was done writing it, I’d either revert back to writing Strictly Business or  move on to a new project that I haven’t planned at all. But I just don’t want to stop writing Free Fall. I know I’m going to have to, eventually, but I’m scared of that happening.

Courtney hasn’t turned out exactly the way I’d planned him, but I’m finding that I’m really connecting with him, however warped that sounds. The entire novel is supposed to be his downward spiral, and  today especially, I’m really feeling this happening. Perhaps this is why I’m so apprehensive about what happens next, but it really feels as though things are starting to fall apart; there’s a sense that Courtney just wants to go back to the beginning, to the way things were, but of course, this cannot happen. Otherwise where would the story be? That said, I am tempted to write a ‘prequel’ of sorts that won’t be included in the end product, just for my own sanity/satiation. It’s not just Courtney, though. I’ve felt a little bit sad and a lot more like wallowing in my own sadness every time I’ve come to the end of every short story thus far, like I just can’t bear to do this but have to. It’s a good feeling, if depressing, because simply put, it means I’m engaging with the story, which was something I was scared I wouldn’t be able to do.

What else … oh, yes, strange things are happening in the world of my novel, too. Normally, I have to plan out every twist, and yet something revealed itself quite early in the day today that was just too good to pass up. These stories weren’t supposed to be linked quite so explicitly, not because it wouldn’t work, but mostly because I didn’t think I had it in me to link characters from one story to another and so on. As it turns out, the story I was most worried about writing has probably been the easiest to write thus far.

Anyway, I’m very, very conscious of the  fact that I’m gushing about this. I’m on something of a high at present, and I’m sure that it’s showing, either in my terrible sentence structure throughout this post, or because the only negative thing I’ve said thus far is about not being able to feel certain body parts.

Every November has its highs and lows. The lows that stick out for me in particular, are always the same; there’s the insinuation that what I’m writing isn’t any good because I’ve written it quickly. Not entirely aimed at me of course, but at ‘overachievers’ in general, and I think it’s unfair to seek justification in the devaluation of others’ work. I know that there are parts of my novel I’m going to look at and cry over, and not in a good way. But I also know that I have something here, I feel good about it, so to be told that there’s no possible way it’s good is a little disheartening, especially this early in the month.

Because here’s the thing: the goal of 50,000 words in thirty days is not a  goal to be sniffed at! It’s terribly hard, especially if you’re doing it for the first time, and I recall that my first NaNoWriMo was steeped in despair. I saw these excessive word counts and wondered how on earth it was possible. I wallowed for ten days, refusing to write, almost unable to write, until a friend snapped me out of it, but those ten days, I was convinced I would never make it.

I especially admire the people who take on the challenge of NaNoWriMo with busy personal and professional lives, a thing I have avoided most years. I respect these people, because I know that this is something I would never be able to do; juggle all of these things simultaneously. I can’t tell you how great these people really are. They balance everything and still manage to write a novel within a month. This is not to be looked down on at all.

My only reason for pitching a goal as I have is the fact that I’m unemployed, and would have changed it to suit had I managed to land a job. As it turns out (which reminds me, my characters are developing strange little catchphrases, a la Snuff) I’m probably not going to land a full time position in the foreseeable future, so here I am. I’m whiling my days away by writing.

I’m still just as excited about the remaining 27 days of NaNoWriMo as ever. Here’s hoping that everyone else is, too!




Filed under NaNoWriMo

Two Hours Until NaNoWriMo 2011

That it is. So, with only two hours left until the madness begins, I’d like to say a few words.

I am possibly more excited for NaNoWriMo this year than I ever have been before, although exactly why is difficult to say. Every year, there’s a fantastic energy about the forums, so huge that it’s impossible not to get excited over the thought of this 50,000 (or in my case, 200,000) word venture.

Naturally, I have my concerns. This is the first year I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo that I haven’t had other things to do simultaneously – by other things, I mean coursework and other such commitments, as opposed to the social aspects. For this reason, I’m terribly frightened that I won’t fully take advantage of this opportunity, as though I’ll have too much time on my hands. Without that constant battle, finding times and places to write at every given moment, I fear I might slip off the beaten path and into procrastination hell. I mean, what’s stopping me from just writing for one or two hours a day and just sleeping for the rest? I can’t afford to do this, of course … I need a routine!

On the other hand, this might just be the concentrated effort I have been in need of. What I mean by that is that it’s simple enough for me to sit down and hammer out perhaps a thousand words in a few short sittings, and do this maybe two or three times a month. It’s not so much that I lose my way with projects is that I’m easily distracted, and yet every November until now, NaNoWriMo has ensured that I am not nearly as easily distracted as I usually am. Sitting down to write, knowing that I only have thirty days in which to write all of it, and seeing my stats page come to a standstill is unsettling enough to give me a brief kick and force me to get on with it. Perfect, in other words.

Fears and aims aside, I feel reasonably at ease with the prospect of starting my project within the next two hours. I haven’t prepared as much as I usually do, though I put this mostly down to the fact that, in the cases of most of my characters, I’m starting from a single idea and just running with it throughout their stories. The direction is always a killer for me; as long as I have a fairly concrete plot, which I do, I feel ready to tackle that mountain of words!

Or fall from halfway up said mountain. We’ll see what happens.


Filed under NaNoWriMo