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NaNoWriMo: Week Two…a.k.a. Hitting the Wall

November 16, 2009
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I am blocked.  I know what I need to say, but I can’t get the words out.  I know that I need to get my protagonist from one place to another, but can I figure out how to get her there?  Can I heck!  I type and type for what feels like hours, but when I check my word count it has moved forward a mere hundred or so words – two hundred if I am very lucky.  By now, I should be well on my way to 30,000 words.  As of right now, I am at…wait… 6,811.  Ouch.  I feel ill.  Maybe my story not moving forward is my Main Character’s way of telling me she doesn’t want to go there.  Maybe she has decided she would rather be in a romantic drama than a fantasy novel.  Maybe she wants out altogether.  Who knows?  Who cares?  For now, she stays put and I stay chained to my laptop in pursuit of a reasonably feasible transition for my MC from real-life to fantasy world.  I am completely resolved that I will be approaching 40,000 words by the end of week three…so in 6 days’ time.  Bring on the coffee…!

In the meantime, having decided that under no circumstances was I going to allow anyone to read any of my novel in its pathetic, unchecked, unedited state, I have decided to allow you a peek at the first part of the first chapter.  No more than that – if I threaten to publish any more of it before it has been ripped to pieces by my inner editor in December, I give you permission to shout at me.  Loudly.  So please, when you read it bear in mind that I have not been through it with my usual ten fine-tooth combs.  There are mistakes, clunky passages and really bad descriptions.  But it’s the first part of my first novel and therefore I love it – please treat it with care, my friends.

CHAPTER ONE

My name is Lilibet Harper, and I am a failure.  This is the thought that is swirling around and around my brain as I trudge the mile or so home from school.  The weather is dismal.  The rain and the wind seem to echo my tormented, bleak mood perfectly.  The sky is the colour of slate and furious-looking clouds are whipping their way across the atmosphere.  The chill in the air is biting, I imagine I can feel the bitter cold fingers of the early evening frost curling around me and the thought spurs me onwards.  I quicken my step a little, trying to avoid the many puddles on the pot-holed pavement.  All of a sudden I hear a car approaching from behind me further down the road, but I don’t turn to look.  I do not need to, for I already know who it is.  As I knew it would, the car accelerates just as I am passing an enormous pool of water which has collected by a blocked drain at the side of the road.  The wave generated by the speeding car soaks me from head to toe and I can just hear the laughter and whooping of its occupants as it disappears from view.  I am already wet through from the rain, so the fact that I have received another drenching does not bother me, particularly.  The fact that I have been targeted deliberately is what upsets me.  And it is what makes me angry.  Really angry.

I plod on towards home, knowing there is not far to go now.  Pulling my sodden jacket tighter around me only serves to chill my body further and I start to shiver slightly.  There is no point getting mad, I decide – there is nothing I can do tonight anyway, so I try to put the puddle incident out of my mind and concentrate on the English assignment I need to complete instead.  I have been putting it off for the best part of a week and it is due in tomorrow.  Mr McClusky will have a fit if I don’t get it in on time – he has never been known for his tolerance of tardiness and I have no wish to be on the receiving end of his wrath.  My best – who am I kidding?  My only – friend, Lola, is coming over after dinner to work on it with me and I know I have some research to do before she arrives.  Perhaps spending some time gazing at the comforting blankness of my computer screen will give me the chance to calm down a little.  Certainly conducting research on Charles Dickens was likely to numb my brain sufficiently for me to forget, even for just a little while.

Finally, I am within sight of home.  I can see my grandmother, Gwendoline, bustling about in the kitchen, preparing something delicious for dinner.  I have lived with Nana ever since I was a baby.  I have never known my parents.  Nana said that they were unable to look after me, so she took over instead.    However, I have never felt that I have missed out on anything that other kids had – I don’t think that you can miss something that you never knew to begin with.  Not knowing how it feels to live with and be raised by my natural parents, I have nothing to compare with what I do have.  All I know is, Nana has been a fantastic person to live with, learn from and love.  Her violet eyes sparkle when she laughs and her silver hair is usually pinned up in an unruly bun.  She loves to regale me with stories about her various adventures when she was younger, and she has a wonderful giggle that makes everyone around her join in.  She is cuddly and caring and kind – the most wonderful person I know.  Unfortunately, the fact that I have an ‘unconventional’ home life just gives ammunition to those that like to bully me at school.  No, I shake my head – I am not going to give them the satisfaction of taking over my evening as well as my daytime.

I wave to Nana as I pass the kitchen window and enter the front gate of the cottage.  She glances up from the stove as she sees me pass, and smiles.  I stop on my way up the path to rescue Patches, our year-old black-and-white cat, who has been waiting for me to arrive home.  She sits halfway between the front door and the gate every day, rain or shine.  Today she, like me, is bedraggled and cold.  I pick her up and she nestles in my arms, purring softly and looking up at me with her beautiful green eyes.  “Come on, silly girl,” I chastise her softly as I open the door and enter the welcoming warmth of home.

Entering the small hallway, I gently place Patches in her basket by the radiator, where she proceeds to shake herself vigorously before commencing her washing routine.  Knowing that she could be there for a while drying off, and that she is just happy now that I am home, I hang up my coat and bag and take off my boots.  Poking my head around the kitchen door, I can see Nana busily chopping vegetables.
“Hello Nana.”  She turns to smile at me, wiping her hands on her apron then holding out her arms and I grin at her in return.
“Lilly!” she exclaims warmly.  “How was school?”
“Don’t hug me, Nana – I’m soaked!”  I laugh, neatly avoid the question.  I peer over her shoulder at the delicious-looking sauce simmering in the pan behind her and dip a finger into it to taste.  She playfully bats my hand away and chuckles.
“Wait until it’s done,” she laughs.
“Do I have time for a shower before dinner?  I really need to get out of these wet clothes.”
“Yes, dear,” she says with a smile.  “Dinner will be ready in 15 minutes or so.”  I lean in and kiss her on the cheek.
“Thanks, Nana.”

I quickly climb the narrow staircase, knowing that if Nana says 15 minutes, it will be more like 10, so I had better get a move on.  I turn on the water to allow it to get warm, and head to my bedroom to remove the wet, sticky jeans and shirt that I have been stuck in all day.  Re-entering the bathroom, I step into the shower, allowing the pounding of the water to wash away all of the day’s stresses.  I love this moment of alone time, surrounded by steam, the water pounding out a gentle rhythm across my body.  I indulge myself like this for a couple of minutes, before forcing myself to shampoo my hair and get cleaned up.

By the time I am back inside the haven of my bedroom, I am feeling a little better.  It’s surprising how much a warm shower and a comfortable sweater can make a difference to a mood – can make me feel almost human again.  I have always been something of a loner, preferring the friendship of one or two people and my own company to the pack ideology of many of the other kids.  I always feel like I never quite fit in with everyone else, though I can never pinpoint exactly why.  I always feel removed, like I’m watching events rather than a participant.

Shaking my head of the last of the depressing thoughts, I tie my still-wet hair into a loose ponytail, knowing that I don’t have the time to dry it before dinner is ready and not wanting to keep Nana waiting.  I take a deep breath, mentally preparing myself for the inevitable small-talk that accompanies a family meal – however small that family may be.  I have never confided in Nana about the situation at school.  Not because I don’t trust her, or think that she won’t care.  On the contrary, I think she would care too much and the last thing I would ever want to do would be to upset her.  So I carry it with me instead, pretending to her that everything is fine.  I’m not so sure she always believes me, but she never asks the question, so I never volunteer the answer.  Things are easier for us both this way.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2009 19:24

    I like how it’s developing! I want to know what’s going on, so you’ve achieved every writer’s first goal: hooking the reader.

    I look forward to more!

  2. tndaisy1960 permalink
    November 16, 2009 21:36

    I want to get to know this person better! Yes, I’m hooked, too!

  3. Gina Watson permalink
    November 16, 2009 22:58

    A real draw, want to know more just how it should be set the scene then reel them in. Terrific

  4. Leonard permalink
    November 17, 2009 05:36

    Nice beginning overall! You have a great character on your hands so far. Looking forward to future developments. She has real potential, as do you!

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