Archive for November, 2010


NaNoWriMo: Day 11 – Burnout

Day’s Word Count: 6,632.

Total Word Count: 32,655.

Words to Go: 17,345.

Oh my God, I did it. I doubled my average word count. Christ, that feels better than I can tell you, seriously. I aimed for 5,200 and soared right over it.

The downside to this is that I might have burned myself out completely. I’m praying not, but it’s entirely possible. Near the end of the night I found myself staring at the page begging the words to come out but receiving nothing. Nothing more depressing than that. I have such a vast story to get to. I have such destructive things to make happen and then to heal. To think that tomorrow I might be sitting here wishing I could write again is a horrifying thing.

But today had to happen, and I can’t complain. Leana and Andrew took over my mind again, as my snippets demonstrated. It was actually sort of funny how that happened. After finishing a section in Tenor’s POV and rejoicing because I was finally back on the way to the plot again, I came back to Leana and started what appeared to be a very innocent scene with her doing homework on Sunday night. But as I was writing it, I began to see the scene developing in my mind, literally being told what the story itself wanted to do, and I nearly cried. I believe I paraphrased it nicely to my boyfriend as “NO, story! No, you’re not allowed to have Leana go see Andrew again, for Christ’s sake! T_T”

Suffice to say I wrote the scene anyway because it had to be done. But luckily the first weekend of the book is over and done with and I can move on to more logical things to advance the plot.

On that same train of thought, I was honestly almost crippled today as I read back over some of what I wrote and realized that it’s not good yet. It was horrible. I asked myself how I could ever be a novelist if what I wrote came out like this.

God likes to play with things like that, though. The NaNoWriMo website sends out pep talks maybe once or twice a week from published authors that are often relatively well-known so that we don’t lose our steam. The one today came from author John Green, and one paragraph generally gave me everything I needed to keep going:

“At this point, you’ve probably realized that it’s nearly impossible to write a good book in a month. I’ve been at this a while and have yet to write a book in less than three years. All of us harbor secret hopes that a magnificent novel will tumble out of the sky and appear on our screens, but almost universally, writing is hard, slow, and totally unglamorous. So why finish what you’ve started? Because in two weeks, when you are done, you will be grateful for the experience. Also, you will have learned a lot about writing and humanness and the inestimable value of tilting at windmills.”

For any of you who are doing NaNoWriMo and reading this, it’s so true, you know. Especially at my age. I’m nowhere near hitting the way I’m going to write for the rest of my life, not by a long shot. I have a lot of bad habits to kick, which is really what my novel is one big experiment for. I’m taking a more dialogue-driven approach at this point in an attempt to get rid of my really flowery days, where I spewed adverbs and such things like rainbow vomit. I might totally overdo this new style, but I’m not going to know until I try and I definitely can’t just stick with the old stuff. It wasn’t working for me at all.

Besides. There’s always an insane amount of time for editing later if I decide I ever want to pursue publication with this novel. We’ll see what happens.

I leave this entry today with my favorite part of John Green’s pep talk: “So here’s the pep part of my pep talk: Go spit in the face of our inevitable obsolescence and finish your @#$&ng novel.”

Yes sir.

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NaNoWriMo: Snippet #3

Why am I doing this? Leana thought as she slid into her car and started it, taking only a single glance at the clock before she pulled out of the driveway and started driving aimlessly. What am I running from?

She was only a few miles down the street before she unconsciously clicked on her turn signal and slid into the lane merging on the freeway. It was there that she knew exactly where she was headed. She tightened her hands on the steering wheel as she let out a long sigh.

The city was small enough that she could reach nearly anywhere she wanted to go within fifteen minutes, but those fifteen minutes often felt as if they were the longest minutes of her life when she was in this state. Everything was more stilted. Everyone around her seemed to drive more smoothly, as if they didn’t want to distract her from the thoughts she was going to be forced into having.

Three days. There were three days left before her eighteenth birthday. After that, she promised herself that she would work on those college applications. She’d finish them and send them in and just leave it be. She’d get into every college she applied to and everyone would be happy. Heck, she might even get to go to school with Rebecca or Janie. It wouldn’t be bad, not at all.

Then why won’t you just do it?

Leana reached down with a scowl and turned on her CD player, immediately becoming immersed in Handel’s Messiah. Music always calmed her thoughts, she realized. Most of the time, it even brought her mind to a complete standstill and let her run solely on autopilot, completely uncaring about whatever was going on in the world around her. Today was not one of those days. As she pulled into the parking lot of Fly’s Java Hut she stared at the building, her heart thudding so hard against her ribs that she was afraid one of them might break.

“Don’t think,” she whispered, closing her eyes for a moment and conjuring up an image of Strong Leana who was clothed in leather and wielded an epic sword. “Don’t worry about what people think.” Leana exhaled slowly and brought her head back against the headrest with a low hum in her throat. “Just do it.”

She turned off the car and found herself at odds with silence again. Well. Either she could go inside the warm building or she could freeze to death. As horrifying as the next few months of her life seemed, she decided to choose life.

The instant that she walked into the building, each step slow and frozen, she was bathed in easy listening music and the smell of coffee grinds. “Hey, welcome to Fly’s Ja…the hell you doing here, Keane?”

Leana smiled weakly at Andrew, who stood stationed behind the counter in a white button-down shirt and a brown apron. “Can’t a girl get some coffee every once and a while?”

He laughed and looked to the side, shaking his head a little, before he waved her over. “C’mon, I’ll hook you up. What’re you feeling today, girl?”

As she carefully unwound her scarf from her neck, she studied the menu. Admitting she had never actually drank any coffee that she liked didn’t seem like the best thing to do. “…I don’t really-”

“Don’t worry about it.” Andrew immediately grabbed a cup and began moving so quickly that Leana couldn’t help but pronounce him a beast at that very moment in time. His movements were so fluid, so elegant, that there was no doubt he’d been doing this for quite some time now. The full tip jar right in front of his register suggested the same.

Leana took advantage of the quiet to remove her winter garb while investigating the building itself. It seemed built for young adults and teenagers like herself, being full of comfy chairs and cozy couches and only a few tables and chairs. A pair of hipsters sat in one of the little nooks, both clad in skinny jeans and vests and glasses without any lenses in them. She wondered vaguely if the two guys would ever be able to have kids in their life when they wore pants like that. She took in the rest of the décor curiously, noting the warm colors and the low lighting. It gave her such a sense of comfort that she immediately felt herself relaxing.

“You like marshmallows?”

She blinked and looked back at Andrew, giving a nod to his questioning glance, and he plopped a handful into her cup before he stirred it all up and offered it to her. Hot chocolate. A nice, if not predictable, treat. “Thanks. How much?”

He shrugged again, waving her off. “I got this. You stickin’ around for a little while?”

Admitting that he was the sole reason she came here didn’t seem like the right idea either. “Yeah, sure, why not?”

He grinned and pointed toward another little nook. “Head over there. I’ll be there in a sec.” She apparently didn’t even have a choice in the matter, as he disappeared around the corner a second later and started yelling to someone about going on break.

As she made her way to the corner, juggling about thirty pounds of wool and a drink, Leana felt her cheeks begin to flame. Well. She was here now. He was coming to hang with her and she hadn’t even had to ask. So what in the world was she going to talk to him about? She nestled herself into one of the chairs, curling her legs up beneath her. That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?

Andrew appeared a few moments later, his apron abandoned, and plopped down into the chair perpendicular from hers with a satisfied sigh. “Fuck, standing around like that all day could kill a man.” He leaned back into the chair, nearly sinking into it. For the first time, Leana could really see just how lean he was. He had broad shoulders, but the rest of him tapered off to a slim waist with just a wee amount of bulk to it. Amazing what you could find out about a person when they weren’t covering themselves with clothes that were about five sizes too big for them.

He allowed only a moment of silence before Andrew tilted his head to the side along the back of the chair and looked at her, quirking a brow. “So. What’s up?”

Leana shrugged, blowing across the steaming surface of her hot chocolate as she did so. The marshmallows spun in a rather amusing little dance. “Not much. You?”

He stared at her for a moment before he smirked and sat up again. “Apparently I didn’t ask the right question.” He leaned forward and planted his elbows on his knees. God, had he really seen through her that fast? As he tucked his chin into his palms and quirked a brow, his eyes twinkled with a bit of amusement. “What the hell are you doing at a coffee shop when you hate coffee?”

She still wasn’t completely convinced that he wasn’t a stalker. Leana looked down at the surface of her drink, watching the marshmallows begin to come to a stop. “How’d you know that?”

“You and Danielle hate coffee. Kevin hates hot tea.” Fabric rustled as he shrugged and began tapping his index fingers against his knees. “Think you all talked about it in U.S. History once or twice.”

A little mental mapping was required, but Leana soon remembered that while she and Danielle Fentress and Kevin Bishop sat together in History a year ago, Andrew sat a couple of rows away from them. “That’s kind of creepy that you still remember that.”

Andrew chuckled again, complicating the beat against his knees as he did so. “I remember weird shit. Doesn’t mean you’re getting out of answering my question.”

The door opened and another voice called out in welcome to the coffee shop and Leana glanced up, thankful for the distraction. It wasn’t anyone she knew, but it gave her a moment to formulate her thoughts. That was becoming increasingly more difficult when she swore that Andrew was burning a hole in the side of her face with how intently he was watching her. “Maybe I just wanted some hot chocolate.”

“Uh-uh.” Leana looked up at Andrew. He was grinning at her as if he took some sort of weird pleasure out of making her squirm. She wasn’t exactly surprised. “You didn’t know what to ask for, remember? Hey, you gonna drink that thing or not?”

She took a drink without any more hesitation and immediately blinked when the liquid hit her tongue, furrowing her brow in confusion. “God, that’s good. What’s in this?”

“Secret recipe of yours truly. Gotta have something to do here when it gets slow.” He scooted to the edge of the chair, his knee pressing gently against hers, and dropped his voice a bit in volume. “Leana, we’ve had like…ten classes together in high school and you ain’t never once come lookin’ for me.” She looked up at him again and took in the sheer curiosity in his face. There was something nice about knowing something he didn’t when he seemed so apt at guessing the exact reasons why she hesitated about doing anything these days. “And I’m pretty damn sure you never walked into this place once in your life before today, have you?”

Leana shook her head and cleared her throat, looking down toward the drink again, but she froze when Andrew tapped her knee with his own. “No, I…”

He tapped it again a little harder and stopped the second she looked up at him again. “For God’s sakes, Leana, I can’t tell when you’re lying to me if you don’t look me in the eye.” He was smirking again, quirking a brow, and she felt a sense of frustration well up in the pit of her stomach again. This was just some game to him, wasn’t it? He studied her for a few moments before he opened his mouth as if to say something and rubbed his chin gently. “…oh, damn, I know why you’re here.”

How? Leana wanted to shout. How in the WORLD could you know why I’m here? I haven’t even said anything! But she merely sighed, the frustration leaking out and leaving her with the burn of exhaustion instead, and tightened her hold on her hot chocolate. “Why?”

“You’re runnin’ from something, ain’t you?”

She stared at him blankly for a moment. “…Andrew, why are you working here? Shouldn’t you be working some fortune teller booth or something?”

He smacked his knee with a loud laugh, leaning back in his chair again. “Hot damn, I’m good!”

“No, seriously,” Leana pleaded as she dragged a hand through her hair and set her hot chocolate on the floor before she squeezed it so hard that it exploded. “How in the world did you come up with that?”

“Girl, I wasn‘t lying when I said I keep an eye on stuff. Now c‘mon.” Andrew crossed his legs, resting his ankle on one of his knees, and tugged his ponytail holder out of his hair. The dirty blond strands almost immediately obscured half of his face. “You gonna make me guess the rest of it too?”

“I just want to know why the hell you know all this!” She slammed her hands down onto the plush arm rests of the chair and leaned forward, feeling a headache beginning to develop from just how tense her brow was. “Rebecca doesn’t even pick up on that stuff!”

He snorted and looked off to the side. “No offense, Keane, but your friend’s not the brightest crayon in the box.”

“…she’s got a three-point-eight GPA.”

“Not that.” Andrew waved off her words with a roll of his eyes. “She got a brain, but that’s about all that’s up there, you know? She doesn’t have a trace of empathy anywhere in her body.”

“And you do?”

The way he looked at her made her feel tiny and stupid for asking that question all at the same time. He dragged his hand through his hair, shoving the longer bangs to the side of his face, before he leaned forward again, apparently incapable of sitting still. “C’mon, tell me what’s up. I only got like ten minutes left on break and I got a feelin’ you ain’t stickin’ around after that.”

Immediately she felt a choking sensation in her throat, like a giant barrier had just lifted to block off any chance of her talking. No. She couldn’t talk about it. She was an idiot for coming here. She shook her head frantically and stood up, grabbing her coat. “I-I gotta go.”

“Like hell you do.” He was on his feet a second later, cornering her in the nook so suddenly that she fell back into the chair with a little gasp of surprise. She stared at him with huge eyes and felt the faint traces of fear shoot through her veins as he leaned down and planted his hands on either arm of the chair. “Keane, if you don’t fuckin’ get this out now, you ain’t ever getting it out. C’mon. The hell’s so scary about talking to a kid like me anyway?”

Leana looked away stubbornly, clamping her mouth shut as she fought off a shiver. God, this wasn’t fair. This wasn’t fair at all. “Just let me leave,” she whispered.

“I’m not letting you- Keane, will you just look at me?” She complied. “Just say it.”

She gritted her teeth. “Why won’t you let me go?”

“Because someone needs to make you grow up, and I’m damn tired of watchin’ other people walk all over you.”

“Isn’t that what you’re doing right now?” Even as she cowered in her chair, she glared at him and growled out the words easily. As long as he stayed there and didn’t come any closer, he couldn’t hurt her, especially when other people were still in this building. “God knows you’re not letting me make my own choice.”

“So what?” he snapped back, frowning back at her as he tilted his head to the side. “What the hell’re you gonna do about it, Keane?”

A shock shot through her body, from her toes straight to her fingers, and she shoved her hands out the second that they were pricked with the energy. “Get off!” Andrew stumbled away, tripping over her hot chocolate and sending it spilling across the floor and onto his khaki pants. He froze there, staring down at it, and the room was utterly silent, all three of the individuals in the building staring at them in confusion. But when Andrew looked up at her there wasn’t a trace of anger on his face. In fact, he was smirking.

“That’s what I’m talking about,” he murmured, nodding in her direction, and Leana was sure she’d never felt more confused in her life. He walked back toward her, lifting a hand for her to high-five. “That’s what I’m fucking talking about!”

She just stared at him. “What?”

“That’s what you’ve gotta do, Keane.” He compromised and held his hand out to her. She took it this time, and he tugged her out of her chair and onto her feet. “Don’t take shit from us, got it?”

A realization of what just happened spun through her head and she blinked at him a few times. …oh my God. He’s like a freaking wizard or something. “Did you seriously just plan that or something?”

“Pfft.” He waved her words off for the millionth time that day even as he bent down to grab her cup and chuck it in a nearby trashcan. “I don’t plan a damn thing, you know that. Now go on, get out of here. I gotta clean up your mess before someone kicks you out for good or something.” And that was it. No goodbye. No anything. Andrew just grabbed his apron and headed back toward the counter like nothing had happened, like her world wasn’t just completely rocked. Leana stared at his retreating back before wondering if he might have been serious and grabbing all of her stuff. She was in her car less than a minute later.

The pizza in the cafeteria never looked desirable, but when compared to the other things available in the lunch line Leana found that it was the most edible choice of them all. She frowned a bit as she looked around the loud, crowded place upon emerging from the line. There was no way she was finding a table in here. With Rebecca and Janie tucked away in class right now, it wasn’t like there was anyone who would consciously save a seat for her. She made only one scan before she shook her head and made her way out of the cafeteria, heading toward a little secluded section of the hallways that few students occupied in this period.

“Yo, Keane!”

Somehow, that wasn’t the most comforting voice to hear. She paused a step and looked over her shoulder, seeing Andrew Wilson jogging toward her with a hefty slice of pizza of his own on a place. “Where you headed, Keane?”

“The media hallway.”

“Mind if I tag along?”

She had the sneaking suspicion that he wasn’t exactly going to listen if she told him no. “No, go for it. I’m sure I’ll appreciate the company.”

“Sweet.” He gave her a little smile as he walked past her, leaving Leana to jog a few steps to keep up. When she caught up she realized that music was blaring from the headphones around his neck, something that apparently had a lot of screaming in it. She wasn’t exactly surprised. They walked in silence, something that was neither awkward nor comfortable, before the both of them settled down in the hallway, Leana against the wall and Andrew balanced easily on the thick block that served as the bottom of a banister for the nearby three stairs. “So guess what I found.”

“Mmm?” Leana blinked, still staring down at her pizza as she carefully picked off the pieces of greasy sausage.

“Heads up.” His MP3 player landed against her stomach, barely missing the pizza, and the headphones clattered to the floor. “Damn it, Keane,” Andrew said with a chuckle as she scowled up at him and went to putting the headphones to rights. “When I tell you ‘heads up,’ that ain’t just for my health.”

“Most people give me more than a millisecond to react, you know. What am I looking at?”

“Just put ‘em on and press play.”

She frowned at him again, entirely conscious of the teasing tone on his words, but put the headphones on and investigated the MP3 player before she found the proper button. What surrounded her made her eyes widen a bit, and she looked up at him. “This is-”

“Shh,” He pressed his index finger to his lips, quirking a brow even as he smirked at her. “Just listen.”

Leana blinked and tilted her head back, immediately becoming lost in the faint licks of Chopin. She knew the piece well. It was one of her favorites, actually, one of his nocturnes. But only a few measures in, she heard the faint clicking of drumsticks together and felt her fingers immediately clutch against her legs to brace herself for what she could imagine might be coming. Instead of the explosion she expected, however, there was only a rock vibe that came from the electric guitar and the bass that entered in as well. No screaming. In fact, when the singer entered into the song with a faint vocalization, she found she rather liked his tone.

“What is this?” she murmured, looking up at Andrew again as she wrinkled her forehead.

“A Summer Serenade. Thought you might like ‘em.” He took a hearty bite of his pizza, looking altogether far too satisfied with himself.

She shook her head, tugging the headphones off as the song surged into the first chorus. “Why’d you make me listen to it?”

Andrew blinked and shrugged, leaning forward for her to toss his MP3 player back to him. “I’unno, thought you might dig ‘em. Heard ‘em on the radio and thought about that stuff you’ve got in your car, you know?” He chuckled as he slid it into his backpack with such a sense of care that it looked as if he’d birthed the thing himself. “Ain’t no reason you should think anything but that classical stuff’s the devil.”

“I don’t!” Leana crossed her arms over her chest with a frown, but when Andrew merely grinned at her again she had the feeling that she didn’t appear very intimidating at all. “I like loads of other music!”

“Right.” His feet began to tap against the wall he sat on in a faint marching beat, every few moments throwing in a touch of syncopation. “So did you like it or not?”

Even though she still felt a little stung, she shrugged and went back to her pizza. “Guess so.”

“You guess so.”

Did he want a dissertation from her on her feelings or something? “They made a nice countermelody to it. Sounded like they knew what they were doing, and I guess Chopin’s not rolling in his grave or anything.”

“Cool.” Andrew crossed his legs one over the other loosely as he sat back a bit on the wall, looking down the hallway. He seemed antsy. Leana supposed she wasn’t surprised. She’d always entertained thoughts about her classmates, and his happened to be that he had some sort of attention deficit disorder or something. “Guess that Chopin guy was kind of cool or whatever. Besides, it’s pretty sweet to hear some guys who ain’t afraid to try something new.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Some guys who don’t just do whatever they’re told to.”

Leana flicked her eyes up to look at Andrew’s face, but he was still staring down the hall, taking a gigantic bite of his pizza in the process. The jolt she’d felt in her stomach froze in an instant, leaving with her a vaguely unsatisfied sense of nausea. Eating didn’t sound too desirable anymore. She pushed the pizza away from her and wrapped her arms around her legs. “…Andrew, does it sound weird if I ask you why you’re having lunch with me?”

“A little.” He looked back at her and smirked, setting the pizza down and brushing the crumbs free from his hands before he reached up and smoothed his hair out of his face. “Is it really that important?”

No, she thought, looking away from him again and biting her bottom lip. It’s not actually the question I really want to ask anyway. She pressed her chin down against her knees before she shrugged gently. “Just curious.”

“Pfft, didn’t know I needed a reason.” She took solace in the fact that there was amusement in his tone, and not the cruel kind that sounded like he was about to laugh at her because he thought she was crazy either. She wasn’t really expecting it when he slid off of the wall and sat against it instead, the tips of his thick skater shoes pressing lightly into her own ballerina slippers, but a glance back at his face told her that he was still entirely comfortable about the situation. “Look, Keane, I notice when things change around here, and you’ve gotten a hell of a lot quieter than you’ve ever been.” She looked down toward the floor, but he tilted his head down as well, following her gaze until she looked back up at him. “Is it so weird that I notice shit?”

“Sounds kind of creepy, yeah.” But even though she regretted the words as soon as she said them, Andrew didn’t look offended. Instead he chuckled and looked off to the side, shaking his head a little bit before he gathered his hair up and slid a black ponytail holder around it from his wrist.

“I’m smarter than people think I am, and the classes here are fuckin’ boring.” He curled his long legs up to his chest as well, though he merely rested his forearms against his kneecaps languidly. “I can tell you anything you wanna know about anyone we got class with because that’s what I pay attention to instead. Ain’t nothing creepy about it.” A door opened nearby and they both looked at it, watching the student head down the hall toward the bathroom. Leana caught sight of the nearby wall clock in the process and saw that they only had a few minutes left before class started again.

She found herself both relieved and frustrated. Was she uncomfortable that this guy, someone who didn’t know anything about her, was figuring out stuff that none of her best friends had even noticed yet? Did she want to hear more? “Whatever. Lunch is almost over.” She got up and grabbed her stuff in a hurry, but paused when she noticed Andrew hadn’t moved. He was just sitting there watching her. “…I’m fine. Seriously. You don’t have to worry about it, okay?”

Andrew shrugged, still staying quite contently where he was. “I ain’t worried about you. You got a good head on your shoulders when you use it.”

She made a face at him before she grabbed both of their plates. “You skipping class or something?”

“Don’t got the patience for math today. See you around, Keane.”

“You too, Andrew.”

As she walked down the hallway to their math class, she found her head spinning all over again, making her feel like she needed to sit down and cry for a few hours. There was no way she was going to retain anything she learned today.

Her mind was so filled with busy streets and hot dog vendors for the rest of the day that it drew her away from her English test on Beowulf and her Spanish verbal exam. By the time that she reached her car at the end of the day, she realized she had no idea how she got there. Her head was spinning.

Leana sighed and leaned against her car, closing her eyes as she pressed her cheek against the cold metal. Warm clouds wafted against the glass from between her lips. How she longed to see other worlds than this. How numb to this city had she become after almost eighteen years?

“Leana?”

She jumped and looked over her shoulder. Andrew Wilson, metalhead extraordinaire, stood there, backpack hanging over his arm and eyebrow quirked. She cocked a brow right back at him before formulating a response. “Hey. What’s up?”

“Not much.” He sauntered closer to her with a shrug, looking around the empty parking lot. God, how long had she been standing there? “You falling asleep on your car or something?”

She laughed nervously and shook her head, smoothing her hair out of her face. “No, just…spacing out. What are you still doing here?” He might have a reason that she didn’t know about, she guessed. They had, what, like two classes together?

He shrugged, shoving a hand into his baggy pants. “Car’s in the shop. I’m walking home.”

It was like twenty degrees outside, if that much. She wouldn’t wish a walk like that on the most bloodthirsty serial killer. Leana stared at him blankly before she unlocked the car door and opened it. With the grace of a TV game show host, she gestured toward the seat.

Andrew stared back with a smirk before he shrugged again and tossed his backpack into the floorboard. “Whatever. What kind of music you got in here?” Without invitation he grabbed the broad CD holder on the floor and begin flipping through it. Well. Leana supposed she couldn’t expect manners from everyone. By the time she was situated in the seat next to him, he was furrowing his brow and frowning very intently.

Here it comes.

“The hell is this stuff?” he asked, flipping through each of the pockets so quickly that she doubted he was even looking at the stuff. “You one of those hoity-toity people?”

Leana made a mental note to turn off the radio the instant that the car was on. “What do you mean?” she asked patiently as she pulled out of the parking spot.

“Operas, symphonies, sonatas…seriously, what the hell, Keane?”

“Maybe some of us like that stuff. Where do I go?”

“Turn left at the stop sign and go straight.” He sounded so utterly confused that Leana frowned, feeling herself tense up. What was wrong with what she liked? She cleared her throat, glancing toward him when she came to a stop before they went on. “What’d you think you’d find?”

Andrew snorted and shrugged, kicking back a little further in the seat. “Hell if I know. But not this.” He tugged out one of the CDs and held it up to the light, trying to read some of the faded type. Another little glance told her that he’d found one of her favorite CDs in the entire folder, one CD in a series of all of Beethoven’s symphonies. She found herself hoping he’d washed his hands recently so he didn’t make the smudging and the faded print any worse. “Maybe some pop, maybe some jazz…damn, maybe even some rock, but not this.”

“I’m sorry to disappoint you,” she replied in a clipped tone, determined to keep her eyes straight ahead at all times. She should be used to this sort of stuff by now, right? High school was high school. Judging happened everywhere. Which doesn’t explain why I’ve got this kid with long hair and baggy clothes in my car. …I’ll figure that out later.

He slid the CD back into the folder, another glance telling her that he was treating it incredibly carefully. Thank God. “You like what you like. Just not used to being surprised, that’s all. Take a left at the stoplight.”

She did so in chilly silence.

Remarkably, Andrew seemed to handle it well. He drummed his fingers against his faded jeans, occasionally giving a solid thud of his boots against the floorboard. There was something going on in his head, that was for sure, but Leana decided she didn’t care what it was. “Guess I’m not that surprised,” he finally said, reaching up to shove his hand through his hair and away from his face. “You’re in the choir, right?”

“Yep.”

“That’s all you guys sing in there, right?”

“Yes. It’s beautiful.”

Andrew shrugged again. “Makes sense, then. I mean, my old man’s played guitar since before I was even born. Means I’m gonna like rock or something, right?”

For a moment Leana forgot that she was mad at him and furrowed her brow, gnawing on her bottom lip a bit. “Depends on what he plays. You could like jazz or something too.”

“Guess so. Take a right at the stop sign. Last house on the left.”

She continued driving, turning over the thoughts in her head. It’d explain a lot, that was for sure. Even in middle school, that’s what she listened to. It just made sense. If that was what she was singing in her choir, what better way to get practice than by singing along?

“That what you wanna do after school?” Andrew asked, closing the CD folder and leaning forward to place it gently on the floor, far away from his feet. Good idea.

“What, like being a classical performer or something?”

He shrugged as they came to a stop in his house’s driveway, turning his head to look at her with an entirely neutral expression on his face. Funny how he could say half of what he’d already said in the car and still look like he wasn’t going to judge her by whatever she said back. “Yeah, why not? Go to college for it or whatever?”

“…huh.” Now that she entertained the idea, she realized she’d never really thought about life like that. Coming from a high school devoted to the arts, she knew that a number of her peers were going to college to pursue their art area of choice as a career, but that never seemed realistic to her. If you were going to major in something, shouldn’t it be in something useful? Why even go to college for it? “…I don’t know.”

“…you’re going to college, right?” He grinned at her, tilting his head to the side as he turned in his seat to face her. “You’re a quiet girl. That’s what you do.”

Leana narrowed her eyes and frowned at him for a moment, only receiving a chuckle in response, before she turned her car off and thudded her head back against the headrest. “Yeah, I guess I’m going to college. I’m just…undecided about what I wanna do.”

“You guess? Try to sound a little more unenthusiastic there, why don’t you?” he asked dryly.

How did you sound enthusiastic about something that you really didn’t give a crap about? At the same time, how did you decide it was okay to tell the truth when everyone else wanted to hear a lie from you? “Yeah, I’m going.”

Andrew shrugged as he reached over and opened his door. “If you love it so much, why don’t you do it?”

“It’s not that si…look, I’ve got stuff I’ve gotta do and all.”

“I get it.” He tossed his backpack onto his shoulder and gave her a little chin pop in farewell. “Thanks for the ride, Keane. See you later.”

Leana had never remembered such a long drive home.

Day’s Word Count: 4,758.

Total Word Count: 26,023.

Words to Go: 23,977.

I’m definitely geeking out a little about those almost-5,000 words. I can’t believe I did that today. I sacrificed time I could have spent studying for a test or seeing a concert on campus, but goodness, it was so far beyond worth it I can’t even explain it. I finally hit on a pair of characters that have the most outrageous chemistry together and it gave me such a heady high that I just couldn’t stop. Even when I forced myself to close the scene, I hated myself for it because all I wanted to do was write more.

Unfortunately, it also means I’ve run into a little problem. You see, this pair of characters with the outrageous chemistry is not my main romantic pairing, Leana/Tenor. It is actually the friendship pairing of Leana/Andrew. I also have a feeling that they’re going to end up having crushes on each other at some point or another…and that could severely ruin the flow of my novel. At the same time, they get on so well that I can’t step up and tell them to stop. If I did, I’d be forcing my characters into what I designated as the appropriate ways for them to respond, and I’d be so mad at myself for it. I’d literally be destroying the flow of the novel.

But dang it, Andrew and Leana, can’t you guys just behave and go with the flow? D8 Not freaking fair.

I also had the idea that every 10 days (Day 10, Day 20, and Day 30. I have no idea why I’m making that clear.) I am going to post a few snippets of what I’ve been writing recently so everyone can get a flow of how my writing style’s changing, of what I’m proud of, of what I want opinions on, etc. Today, it’s going to be the three snippets of interaction that Leana and Andrew have had just so that everyone can giggle at the fact that I’m writing profanity now and how uncomfortable it makes me. At the same time, I also want to know if anyone else can read the chemistry that’s developing between them or to see if I’m just crazy.

In sort of related news, tomorrow the Nashville NaNos are having a Double Your Word Count day and I’m sort of scared. Basically you take your average word count over the course of these 10 days (so mine would be about 2,600) and then double it (which would be 5,200) and you write that much for the day. We’re also in the middle of a word war with the Netherlands area on that day, which means we have to kick in and write as dang much as we possibly can. Kiiiiiiind of excited, not gonna lie. And scared. And excited. It keeps going back and forth, really.

Something tells me I’m going to need a dang good Leana/Andrew scene if I’m going to get that far.

Day’s Word Count: 2,391.

Total Word Count: 21,265.

Words to Go: 28,735.

It’s very strange to look at my Total Word Count and my Words to Go and to see their leftmost digit being the same. As that gap continues to close, I think I’m going to geek out majorly. Heck, when my Words to Go drops down to the 19,000s, I’ll probably throw a party and make cupcakes and swim in a pool of sprinkles or something.

Today was another fascinating day for character development. My dear loudmouth metalhead, the guy who invaded my story when I was least expecting it with his propensity for profanity, invaded once again today. I wasn’t planning this scene. In fact, I had just finished a scene where the male protagonist feels subconsciously attracted to the female protagonist for the first time and I was feeling pretty freaking excited. And then all of the sudden Andrew comes flying back into Leana’s territory, long hair waving in the wind and headphones blaring. I basically stared at the page the second he informed me that he should enter and sighed. Something told me it was going to be important.

And it was. Oh, it was. For the first time, I wrote what any child in my first church would have his mouth washed out for saying. It felt right. I knew that it had to happen. This is Andrew we’re talking about, and he often speaks conversationally with profanity and what not. But God, that was weird. I stared at the page after I wrote it and let the word sink into my eyes, the knowledge that I’d just wrote that, that if I ever had this novel published and my mom or dad read it they’d probably be sorely disappointed in me. And then I went on and wrote more profanity a few minutes later. Part of me is still reeling with how bizarre it feels.

And yet, even though I would never say those words in my life, it’s right. This is legitimately Andrew’s character. And it isn’t a reflection on myself as a person, as a writer, as any of that. If anything, I should be more worried about how the public would see the subject of my novel than the fact that I am writing profanity while I absolutely refuse to say it. And yet the nervousness is still there. I sent that part of my writing today to several people, in fact, asking them to read it for me and to let me know if it sounds right.

I’m not sure if I should be pleased or worried that one of them told me that I write profanity very well and in very natural places.

I am relieved, however, that as I sit here writing this tonight I both have a huge desire to keep writing as well as to sing. I blame the desire to write on the fact that I’m getting so close to my characters, that I’m finally getting past the introductory stages of the novel into the tension-filled and psychological chocolate center. The desire to sing is a little more intricate.

All right, I’m going to state a fact that I might catch a lot of flak for but that needs to be said: my current musical obsession right now is Linkin Park. Yes, I said it, and I’m not ashamed of it. They catch a lot of flak here and there among some people my age for being emo (which I will happily make fun of because, let’s face it, in many songs they are) and for the quality of their albums going down as they release them (which I will wholeheartedly disagree with except for in the case of Minutes to Midnight, which still managed to have three or four songs I think are just as superb as their others) and generally I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who thinks it’s ‘cool’ to like them, which means it’s probably a good thing I rarely care about what’s ‘cool’ these days. When it comes right down to it, I’m a bigger fan of Mike Shinoda, given that I think he has a genius lyrical and musical mind whether it comes to LP or his side hip-hop project, Fort Minor, but hey, they’re all cool.

This is all to say that Mike’s blog is one of many on WordPress that I follow and today he posted a link to their video filmed from one of their concerts in celebration of them receiving the Best Live Performance EMA a few days ago. I watched it and was almost immediately overcome by wonder. They put so much passion into their songs and their performances that I could literally feel it radiating off of my computer screen. I left there to go to one of my college classes, one solely developed around the concept of each student developing their own personal style in singing, and watched four of my classmates perform absolutely awesome pieces that made my heart soar even further. I left that class and made my way back to my dorm, walking through a live performance of several bands in the courtyard of my dorm along the way, and by the time I sat in front of my computer against I was exploding with Heart and Pat Benatar at the top of my ever-loving lungs.

This is a good feeling. My mind is wholly centered around the arts today. I want to write. I want to sing. I want to perform. I want to look at beautiful paintings and stare in wonder. I want to read. I want to listen to all kinds of music. I want to go to all sorts of live performances. I want to watch a good movie. I want to see a good play. If only I could live like that for the rest of my life, I would be content.

By the way, for any writers struggling for inspiration, go check out the link in my sidebar, NaNo Bloggers. 🙂 Over 170 blogs participating in NaNoWriMo all ready for you to pick their brains free of interesting and inspiring tidbits.

Day’s Word Count: 1,926.

Total Word Count: 18,874.

Words to Go: 31,126.

If there’s anything wonderful about being a writer, it’s being able to make the most obnoxious metaphors about your creations due to little things that happen in your everyday life.

For example…there is a smattering of loose gravel along one of the sidewalks I typically walk down to get back to my college campus from one of my classes. It’s not a big deal. It comes from the neighboring parking lot. Etc. I’ve handled it a billion times before, in fact, with absolutely no problems.

Today I guess I let my guard down because I ended up skidding suddenly and nearly doing the splits. Luckily my knee caught me before any really painful things happened, though I now have multiple brightly colored bruises as well as several angry scabs along it from the fall. Miraculously my jeans came out perfectly fine, and I can only thank God that I wasn’t wearing my jeans with the gigantic holes in the knees like I considered doing earlier today because it would have ended up a heck of a lot worse than just a little limp and a little annoying pain for a few days.

Now, consider the amusing metaphor for my novel: you drop your guard for a second, and suddenly you’re so far out of your comfort zone that it hurts. Genius, right? ;P

My mentor and I are finally delving into the more intimate parts of the story arc that I’m planning, the various things that absolutely must happen in order to make this happen (aka: an inciting incident that forces the character to try to escape his comfort zone, etc.), and it’s really making me dive into this things headlong. Gosh, I wish I met with him more than once a week. With these wacky metaphors appearing in my head and all, God knows I need someone to guide me toward the path of literary success.

Almost to 20k. And then almost to 25k, the halfway mark. Wow. I’m doing this. I’m seriously doing this, you guys, and it’s GOOD. Like, it’s actually half-decent writing. I can’t even express to you how exciting it is. 8D Thanks for sticking with me. You rock.

NaNoWriMo: Day 7 – Drugs

Day’s Word Count: 3,508.

Total Word Count: 16,948.

Words to Go: 33,052.

I missed a day blogging. Sort of depressing, but given that I only wrote 98 words yesterday, I suppose I don’t feel too bad about it. I also missed my first official NaNoWriMo write-in because I woke up and felt so dang sick that I didn’t know what to do with myself, but a few hours of sleep fixed that right up. I ended up going on a date with my boyfriend to the local art museum down here, and it was just…incredible.

There is something about viewing works by such artists as Manet that really strikes you down to the very marrow in your bones. Lingering there, just a foot or two away, you can see the individual brush strokes. You realize that you are standing right in proximity to where the artist stood before he lifted his paintbrush and made another flourish. You can literally feel the raw energy in the air, stoking everything around you like a fire until you can barely breathe anymore.

I attended the exhibition, whose paintings were donated for this tour by the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, for an assignment for one of my classes. We were to go and find a painting and write a 500-word reflection on it. The painting that I chose was this:

There are literally no high-quality images of this painting online, for goodness sakes. It’s “L’Enigme” by Gustave Doré, and I cannot even express to you how overcome I was when I saw this painting. I literally did a double-take, stared at it for about five minutes straight, and then began to tear up.

The story behind it is that this is after a war in France. The winged figure there, she represents France, in fact. The creature she is clinging to is a sphinx. In Greek mythology, the sphinx was a creature that tormented the countryside by asking the various passersby riddles. If they did not give a correct answer, she devoured them. The unspoken theme behind this painting, in my eyes, is the sphinx staring down at the winged figure and asking her “Why war?” And there is no answer to be had. But nothing about this painting was truly real to me until I saw the woman in the front, clinging to her child.

I want to tell a story like that one day. I want someone to read what I write and to feel something quake inside of them at the sheer magnitude of what I am saying. I want them to feel so in touch with my characters that they connect with them through the pages, that when they finish the book they find themselves imagining the rest of their stories. I want them to miss my characters like old friends. That is the power of art, and I am utterly and wholly addicted to it.

I am pleased to express a confrontation I had with one of my protagonists today, in fact. Anyone who creates should be very well familiar with the fight that your creation will occasionally put up once you’ve given them enough life. Mine went a little something like this:

Me: Tenor, go have a fight with your wife.

Tenor: No. 8|

Me: …what the heck do you m-

Tenor: I love my wife. 8| Why would I fight with her?

Me: You’re going to have a fight with your wife whether you like it or not, you know. >_<

Tenor: B| No. I refuse.

Me: … -sigh- Tara, go fight with your husband.

Tara: -shrugs- Okay. -goes off to crush his dreams-

I loved that. Even though it took me a solid day and a half to write this confrontation between them and even though I still don’t think it’s quite believable enough, it shows me that I’ve truly created something, and that he’s got a strong enough personality that he’s going to fight me tooth-and-nail to hold on to what he wants and what he needs.

This is the reason I will never understand why people drink or smoke or do drugs. Creating isn’t my anti-drug. Creating is my drug. I get a buzz and a high off of it bigger than anything else in the world. To quote a great sage by the name of Robin Williams, “Why do you think Einstein always looked like that?”

Day’s Word Count: 2,083.

Total Word Count: 13,440.

Words to Go: 36,560.

Today is the first time that I’ve really realized how difficult it is for me to find a balance with this. I am consumed almost daily by two great artistic passions: singing and writing. In the midst of my writing, I realized I haven’t practiced since I started NaNoWriMo, not once. It’s a miracle that I pulled such an awesome voice out of my butt in my vocal lessons on Thursday, actually.

Today I also went to a friend’s senior recital and listened to the beautiful sounds of a viola for a half hour or so. After that, I found it almost impossible to dive into my writing. It was so strange. I found I couldn’t focus because all I wanted to do was listen to and be around music.

Thus I reach my first dilemma…how am I to strike a balance between my love for music and my love for literature? How do I complete this novel – and make a good one at that – and manage to kick tail at my jury until their jaws drop? How am I supposed to make this possible when I can’t even write at the same rate I have been for the past few days simply because I dropped my guard for a second and became absolutely swept up in the world of music again?

Tomorrow I also attend my first official NaNoWriMo write-in, where many of us across the Nashville area will gather in the Parthenon and write at the feet of artistic giants. Not gonna lie, I’m kind of nervous. Will I get anything done? Will I sort of just snuggle up in a corner and ignore everyone else just to write? Will I make any friends to expand my community of writers? Kind of an intimidating thing for a girl like me.

Apparently tonight is just a night full of questions. I also have very little to say. There’s a great deal of frustration, stress, and tension afoot tonight, and I can but pray that God will relieve me of it.

…no, I take that back.

I can only pray that He will stand back and let me fight through this frustration, stress, and tension…until I’ve smote it all with His help and have something beautiful to show for it.

Day’s Word Count: 3806.

Total Word Count: 11,357.

Words to Go: 38,643.

First of all, I have one thing to say.

I have passed the 10,000 word mark.

Good heavens, I’ve never written this much for NaNoWriMo before, not once. I’ve reached perhaps the 6,000 word count before I give up and run off to do what I think are more important things. Generally I’m pretty sure that I just think I can’t do it and, with no encouragement and with nothing keeping me going, I give up and give a massive middle finger to NaNoWriMo and storm off elsewhere to do something easier, something that would never challenge me even if it tried.

Today is an amazing reminder that sometimes those things that challenge you are entirely worth it in the end, even if it means you’re crying at the end and trying to figure out how you made it in the first place.

I made it my personal goal yesterday to pass the 10K mark today, and the moment that I passed that filled me with joy. It’s a tradition on the Nashville section of the NaNoWriMo forums to post the sentences that drew you over the 10K line in a special thread, and I thought that I would carry on that tradition over here. Before you read this, I’d like to remind you that editing as you go is highly frowned upon during NaNoWriMo. Thus, I am not responsible for the various things in these sentences that need to be changed…not yet:

 

She pressed down on a few keys absently, feeling the strong major chord flit around the air around her. She paused and proceeded to the next major chord, a mere half-step up from the last. The next chord she tried, however, made a slight chill run down her spine, and she was quick to lift her hand from the keys.

“C-sharp diminished.”

Leana looked over her shoulder quickly, eyes wide and standing to her feet. The new student teacher stood calmly in the doorframe, leaning against it with his head tilted to the side and his longer blond hair curling lightly in front of his eyes. He smiled kindly at her and proceeded into the room, moving past her to his desk. “Don’t stop on my account,” he said softly, placing his bag by his chair before he turned to face her and sat carefully on the edge of the desk.

 

There are so many things I want to do with those sentences to make myself feel better, but that’s part of the entire process of NaNoWriMo. You get these words out. You push yourself to create them. You prove to yourself that you are entirely capable of it, no matter how many times you have to fail to get there. You can go back and edit it all in NaNoEdMo in March, but you can do it with your head held high because, by God, you just wrote a novel, and you deserve a nice three month break for that alone.

In the midst of my smacking the ball out of left field like that today, I suddenly remembered what the real world was again. I remembered my responsibilities to it as a full-time student who is preparing for an audition into the Performance emphasis of my major, Commercial Music (which basically means that I’m learning how to sing any genre that isn’t classical and how to sing it well. :D) as well as holding down several intensive academic classes.

It all occurred to me at around 5:30pm when I realized that I had several math problems due tomorrow that I had yet to start on. Keep in mind that this isn’t your standard arithmetic. Currently we are studying graph theory, and one of these problems literally took me thirty-two minutes to solve. That’s around how long it took me to write my two-page essay due tomorrow with a healthy amount of bs-ing involved. ONE problem.

I’ve never felt as much stress as I did when I had to literally drag myself away from the computer and my writing in order to finish it.

It’s a reminder that I can’t live in a fairy tale world where I write all the live long day or anything like that. As nice as it would be, I suppose that part of becoming an adult is learning how to balance all of your responsibilities and to put them in an order that’s best for you, not necessarily what you want it to be.

Gosh. How lame is that.