NaNoWriMo · Writing

NaNoWriMo – The Halfway Mark and an Extract

Today it is the 15th of November which means it marks the halfway point of National Novel Writing Month. It means that people all over the world are aiming to hit and break the 25,000 word point in their novels.

I’m almost there, it’s only lunch time and I have 587 words left to write to hit the neat diagonal line across my stats graph that shows where I need to be to finish my 50,000 words on 30th November. You never know,I might get a bit ahead and make it easier for myself. We’ll have to see.

How am I finding my NaNoWriMo experience?

I’m tired. The first week was stressful because I hadn’t worked out how to balance writing with washing up and chasing after the kids and remembering to top up the electric meter etc etc and I got wound up and behind on my word count and wanted to quit before I’d even started.

I really wanted to write this story but when I actually sat down to write it I got scared by all the little details that I hadn’t worked out – How were George and Eóghan going to get to where I wanted them? How could I make the bits in between main events interesting? How could I make the characters make vital decisions without it sounding like they’d had personality transplants and gone back on everything they believed in? I almost gave up and walked away.

But Caius has very patiently got me through it, encouraging me, feeding me chocolate and helping when I get stuck. He is a very good teddy bear.

Liberty has helped by checking through bits I’m not sure on and laughing at my silly typos and stopping me from getting too stressed out. (You know, ‘Hello Hounds’ really don’t sound as scary as ‘Hell Hounds’…)

James accidentally fixed all my panicking by encouraging me to join in with a couple of half-hour writing ‘sprints’ whilst we were on-line at the same time. Suddenly I found a way to sit down and fire out 700 or so words in half an hour without getting distracted or frustrated. I landed myself on a way of writing that worked even on days where I had no idea where the story was going.

In fact, the moments where I have big blank bits with vague ideas of ‘my characters are here, they need to go here’ have turned out to be the most fun to write. I sit down a bit worried that I don’t know what’s going on and the next thing I know new characters have wandered in or something happens and I get to the end of the scene and think ‘Wow. That wasn’t what I was expecting.’ My characters have turned into more rounded people and the world has solidified around them. I may be writing this story but I certainly don’t know exactly how it’s going to be when I finish because, sometimes, my characters have minds of their own and lead me a merry dance instead of doing what I had planned for them.

I have missed writing. I knew I was missing it but I hadn’t realised how much. Tackling NaNoWriMo has helped me to break out of the slump I had fallen into since having the Smalls and I like to think that after it is over I will be able to continue because I feel much more like myself for the first time in a long while. I feel less of a fraud saying I’m a writer now.

To celebrate making it to the halfway point without throwing my laptop out of a window or giving up on my story, here’s an extract of what I have written so far. It is still only a first draft so there may well be errors in it – editing is for next month.

Faerie Or No: An Extract

They broke out of the trees into the tiny clearing around the yew tree into a blaze of sunshine, shimmering lightly on the mist around its trunk.

“That’s it!” George ran forward and stood on the edge of the mist. “This is the place we came through. Come on, Pest, let’s go home before Father kills us for being late home.”

He tapped his leg and Tempest trotted over reluctantly. His confident happy demeanour replaced by what struck George as disappointment.

“Sorry, Boy, but this isn’t where we’re meant to be. Maybe we can come back and visit again sometime.” He looked up at Eóghan who was still standing at the edge of the trees.

Eóghan shrugged. “If you like. I might be around, might have moved on.”

George thought he looked guilty as he spoke, as if there was something he was keeping back, but brushed the thought aside. It didn’t really matter anyway because he was going home.

“Thanks for helping us get back.” George offered a genuine smile to Eóghan. “Might see you again then.”

“Sure. And, er, thanks for saving me.” Eóghan’s smile was less wide than George’s but no less genuine. “Nice to meet a fellow human.”

“Likewise,” said George, before turning around and walking into the tree. “Ow.”

The trunk of the yew tree was very much solid beneath the mist. George ran his hands over it, pressing and stroking, looking for a door or a button or a soft patch to push through.

Nothing. It was just a big old yew tree dressed in mist. There was no gateway or door to Earth in it that George could find.

In a sudden wave of anger and disappointment he kicked out at the trunk and then sat down because his foot hurt. He was sat in the mist and when he breathed he could taste it – ancient and thick like the sweet-dust smell of old books mixed with some sort of spice.

He leaned back against the tree and Tempest sat by his side, ever constant.

“I don’t understand. This is definitely the right tree.”

He wasn’t talking to anyone in particular and the mist was so dense he couldn’t even see if Eóghan was still there. He didn’t really care.

Tempest licked his face before gently taking George’s sleeve in his mouth and trying to tug him away from the tree, whining softly.

“No, Tempest, we need to go home. We should just wait here for it to open again. Maybe when the bats come through – it’ll be getting dark in a couple of hours, that’s not long.”

Tempest got more insistent, his whines turning to soft growls.

“Tempest! Get off.”

Tempest let go and sat back down in front of him, still growling gently. Then he stood up and ran back out of the mist, barked once and ran back and growled. He repeated this over and over until, grumbling, George stood up.

“Fine. Whatever. Rusalka said you were destined to be my guide or whatever so why not? It’s not like stuff could get any weirder is it? I’ll just listen to the crazy Ocean Nymph and follow my dog wherever he goes. At least I’ll have small furry animals to eat.” He stomped out of the mist to find Eóghan still standing where he’d left him.

“You met an Ocean Nymph?” His tone was impressed.

“Yes. She gave me Tempest, hypnotised my mother and practically slept with my father in front of me. It was scary.”

“Wow. Did you…?”

George wrinkled his nose. “No. She tried but when she got close she smelled like dead fish and looked really creepy and evil. I ran off.”

“Awesome. I’ve never met any of the Ocean Fey – never been out of the forest. Well, never really been anywhere but the town I lived in if I’m honest. Quercetum City is where the ocean meets the trees, I always wanted to go but Ma said I needed to wait ‘til I was older. She said…” He faltered and stopped speaking. “Never mind.”

George was puzzled but could tell the other boy didn’t want to speak about whatever was on his mind. Instead he decided that whilst he was stuck he should learn everything he could about where he was. In fact, as soon as that thought entered his mind it briefly eclipsed everything else. All he wanted was knowledge. He want to know. He needed to learn. The names of the trees, what that horse creature was called, where he was, what all the Faerie cities were called, were there other cities than the one Eóghan mentioned?

“George. George! Are you okay?”

George opened his eyes to discover he was lying on his back with Eóghan and Tempest staring down at him. He had to blink a few times to make them come into focus and stop the ringing in his ears.

“I think so. What happened?”

“You just sort of went all stiff and your eyes glazed over and then you fell over and started twitching.” Eóghan slid his daggers back into their sheaths and George was momentarily disturbed that his instinct had been to arm himself. “I thought you were dying or something.”

“No, I was just… overwhelmed by everything. Or something.” He sat up and waited for the world to stop spinning before standing again. “Falling into another world doesn’t appear to do you much good.”

Eóghan laughed, clearly relieved that George was both capable of standing and being sarcastic.

“What now?” asked George. “I feel like I need a plan.”

Eóghan glanced at the sky. “We should probably find somewhere to camp for the night – it’ll be sunset soon.”

George looked up and wondered how Eóghan had been able to work that out from the tiny patch of blue above them. “How do you know?”

Eóghan explained about how he’d used the shadows and the way the trees leaves were turned to work out the position of the sun and how, from that, he knew how long it was ‘til sunset. George absorbed every word and felt better to be learning. The part of his mind that had taken over a few minutes before was sated and he was able to think more clearly as they wandered, looking for a suitable camp site amongst the undergrowth.

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