NaNoWriMo: Writing Week 4

Day 22: I started postponing my walk, I realized, because then I would have to write. Like shooting the messenger, but in this case the messenger brings relief. We're coming into the home stretch, but what is left to say? Perhaps I would write the last story, or the penultimate story, since it would have to be written. Three of my characters had a conversation today, which turned out not to be so hard, after all. I just listened to them talk and wrote down what they said and what they responded to, and sometimes they told me a story I didn't know.

Day 23: No-electronics Day, so I had to swish around ideas in my head for most of it. I did some dye experiments with Brazil Nut (a nice, cool almost blue, brown). And I read. I read two books recently (Amazon links coming) that became the foundation for the evening's writing: one was Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith, the other was A Beginner's Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations by Pico Iyer. Both are favorite writers of mine, both are new books and pretty quick reads. In Smith's book, she incorporates dreams, imaginary friends, talking objects, and a very real year of loss in a surreal blend. Some of the conventions work better than others, but it was interesting to see what else can be included in an otherwise straightforward narrative. Iyer gave me the gift of thinking about silence and how it is perceived in Japan. His book is something you can dip into randomly, read on a train, and read its short vignettes and paragraphs in any order. So my story continued as a kind of lyrical meditation in the Quiet car. I left it short, around 1000 words, because I wanted to have time to watch a film (Late Night, with Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson, pretty good), but it also felt done.

Day 24: Thinking about endings and which stories needed more deepening information or more attention to what was happening, plot wise. A friend asked if there was going to be a big finale, and I said I didn't think so. But I did need to wrap up a particular plot arc, and I had not given a particular character a voice. That was today's work, and I got 500 words in before breakfast! It was interesting to get into this character's head. He needed an interaction, so I brought back a charismatic character who has been a link among all the other characters, to have a conversation with him. It went pretty well, I discovered some new things, and I was done around noon. Over 2000 words today to catch up.

Because I finished around noon, we were able to get out and walk around the UC Berkeley campus on this beautiful autumn day. I'm pretty sure I heard a raptor up in a tall tree. I asked my friend to give me a character or situation, which he did, and I knew exactly which of my characters would interact with the new guy. Addendum of 536 words, a head start on tomorrow, and a story in progress. That should help. Then three more stories after that. Almost there!

Day 25: Worked on the story I started last night. My morning walk revealed the new character's background and why he acted the way he did, and I was able to get the bulk of the story done before noon. Three. More. Stories.

Day 26: Who else hadn't I written about? Well, there was this one family in the background. I just pulled a fanciful story out of my head for them. Since there were four, each one had their own scene and their own interaction, so that turned out to be an easy 2051 words. Two more! The website counter says I have 2600 words to go!

Day 27: It poured rain last night, and the heat went on for the first time. I had a dream that gives me a better last line to yesterday's story, that tapped into my own emotions around this time of year. For today, I feel as though I am backing out of the world, showing it from a viewpoint that is farther and farther away. Today's story began with a lyrical landscape and all the birds. It took all day to figure out what this was. I'm still not sure. Description + Manifesto, maybe. Approximately 1450 words to go for the last story! The novel is pretty well wrapped up, though, so it will be interesting what I will be able to come up with tomorrow.

Day 28: This is it. I could stretch it out two more days, but I am feeling done. All the other stories and characters are wrapped up. I woke up with three new characters and an idea based on a childhood experience that would still fit the setting and the themes I have been working with. A dialogue with the new couple was half the story right there. I took a walk. A meeting with the third character was the rest. I typed in my final session's word count: 1502, and I began to cry. I can't really believe I put my butt in the chair and did it.