Day Four: National Novel Writing Month

Words today: 4286. Words in total: 12,000.

Favourite line: And the two of them could have been quite the team, especially if Trish was willing to overlook the occasional dead body in the hallway.

Warm-up Writing: Piles of leaves creeped her out.
She hated how they smelled, she hated their brown crumpled shapes. She hated how they looked in a pile, hated how they came to life and skittered across her driveway in the wind. She hated the word skittered. When the word came to mind, because there was no other way to describe the moving leaves, she would shudder and wish that she hadn’t thought about it.
Despite all that, it wasn’t really the leaves themselves that were the problem. The problem was that they created space for things that she would rather not nurture. Under the leaves there was room for worms, and beetles and those tiny things with all the legs that her sister insisted were centipedes but Laura insisted were too small to have that name. If the leaves didn’t pile up, and they would, no matter how diligent you were with the rake, then all of those bugs would probably still exist but they would be far better hidden. Then, Laura wouldn’t have a reminder of their existence all of the time and she wouldn’t have to slow her breathing to look out in her own yard. She could go most of the year without being afraid of bugs, even spiders in the shower didn’t upset her, but somehow once fall came, the world felt like a blanket of creepy crawlies trying to draw themselves up over her shoulder all the time.
Fall was bad enough, with the sky darkening so early, with the smell of rot rolling out of the woods, with people chirping on about sweaters, and with Christmas boosting starting right after Hallowe’en. The leaves were really the final straw, the thing that would tip the balance between her being ‘Fine’ when people asked and her growling at them in some sort of primal fashion for daring to inquire.
She just couldn’t live with the notion of the leaves, dank beds for bugs laid our across her back lawn. Usually she was out there immediately after they fell, raking like her life depended on it, but this time they had come down in a bit of a rainstorm and they were slick before she could get to them. There was no way she was taking a rake to them now, to have beetles and bugs of all kinds rushing away from the areas exposed by her instrument. She was going to have to hire someone to take them all away, rake them, bag them and remove them. She didn’t usually shy away from difficult tasks but she wasn’t getting close to this one. It was bad enough to see the leaves at this point, if she raked then dreams of slippery critters would crawl through her nights and she’d never rest again.
She wasn’t even bothering to try to live with her fear, or to take control of it, she just wanted to be on the other side of it and able to look out her window again.

Piles of leaves just creeped her out.

Day 3: National Novel Writing Month

Favourite Sentence: (about arguing about minor things before getting to the real point) It would be like a warrior heading off the killing fields but stopping to argue with every peasant along the way.

Warm-up Writing:

Elizabeth had dragged me out of the house at 9PM, getting me to change out of my slippers and pajamas, forcing me to put down my book. The trade-off was supposed to be fun. The party was supposed to have great food, terrific music and hot men. Instead, the snacks were chips and cheesies, someone was flipping rapidly between iTunes play lists and the men all had a kind of sweaty sheen to them but not a single one of them could even be called cute. I was doing my best to avoid everyone. I just sat in the corner, scrolling through texts on my phone, trying to look like I shouldn’t be disturbed.
I couldn’t believe I had let myself be dragged along again. Elizabeth always had these rumours of ‘great’ parties, always snagged an invitation to something ‘cool’, but they were rarely even interesting, let alone cool or great. Elizabeth was like that though. She was so enthusiastic that she brought you into her excitement without you really realizing what was happening. She would arrive, face bright, words tripping over each other as she spilled them out, hands moving like sparks.
Even though you knew better, you’d find yourself somehow believing that this was the one, this was the party you had been hoping for, this was the epic event that you would be talking about for years. It never was, of course. It would end up being just like every other party, not bad, but seeming worse because of the picture Elizabeth had painted of the terrific time you would have.
The worst of it was that Elizabeth was crushed every time. You’d think that after the first few parties that she’d ease off on the excitement or at least prepare herself to be let down, but instead, she was passionate about every single one. She genuinely believed, each time, that this was the event she had been waiting for, that this was her Cinderella’s ball.
It wasn’t that she was looking for a prince, that wasn’t what Elizabeth was about. She was looking for magic.
Not spells or potions or anything like that, she was looking for that kind of evening where you can’t believe how fast the time has gone. The night where you look around and everyone seems caught up in the same thing, each of them some sort of cog in a party machine that just keeps generating excitement for as long as the celebrants can absorb it. The kind of party that goes on in everyone else’s photos, people caught in a moment of joy, arms overhead, faces ecstatic, feet a blur.
I’ve never been to one of those parties, at least not with Elizabeth. I never have the heart to remind her, though, when she shows up at my house with the party possibilities spooling out in front of her, that she felt this exact same way about the last one.

NaNoWriMo Day 2

I’m challenging myself to do National Novel Writing Month and for my own amusement (and possibly yours) I will be posting my favourite line of the day and my practice writing (kind of a warm-up exercise before I get to my novel writing). I got the idea to share work-in-progress from Austin Kleon‘s book Show Your Work! The stuff I share this month will be pretty unpolished so please be kind. – See more at:
I’m challenging myself to do National Novel Writing Month and for my own amusement (and possibly yours) I will be posting my favourite line of the day and my practice writing (kind of a warm-up exercise before I get to my novel writing). I got the idea to share work-in-progress from Austin Kleon‘s book Show Your Work! The stuff I share this month will be pretty unpolished so please be kind. – See more at:

Fave line of the day: He just looked at her with a hurt and puzzled expression, as if she were letting him down for not finding him as fascinating as he did.

Word Count – 2606 for the day, 5211 total (not including warm-up writing)

Practice (my writing warm-up for the day):

Day Two

She tried to tell herself that the practice was the important thing but it hardly every worked. After spending your formative years being taught how to strive, it was hard to let go of the notion that you had to be heading somewhere.
It didn’t help that most of the people in her class were under ten. That’s what happened when you decided to take a group ukulele class. She had naively assumed that there would be other adults who would want to learn to play. She had imagined going for coffee after class, laughing about their nerdy instructor, picking away on their ukes while they chatted. The class was nothing like that.

For starters, the instructor was anything but nerdy, he was a muscled handsome man with hair she could just barely keep her fingers out of. He had a rumble-y voice that carried over, or rather beneath, the earnest plinking of the ukuleles in the room. She couldn’t concentrate when he spoke. As he began, she would drop her fingers from the uke and just listen. It wasn’t conducive to learning an instrument, but it was probably good for his ego. They probably would have ended up in a very different conversation if they hadn’t been surrounded by a group of eager 9 year olds whose enthusiasm far outstripped their skills. It wasn’t really possible for them to strike up anything, aside from a glance and wink, while the squad of plinkers filled the room with an unholy noise.
She practiced at home, partially to try to improve, and partially to impress him. She didn’t seem to be getting anywhere though, to her ears, she still sounded like a joke. She wished she had signed up for private lessons.
That began a whole other set of ideas of how the class would go. Matthew leaned around her, showing her where to put her fingers on the strings. That deep voice in her ear as he gave her further instruction.If she closed her eyes, she could picture the whole scenario. Half an hour of her struggling to concentrate on the ukulele. Perhaps meeting after class for coffee then deciding that he should walk her home.
The thought didn’t make her group class any more appealing, so she called in the morning to switch to private lessons. The rest of the week was eaten up in practice – practice conversations, practice outfits, and even some ukulele practice. By the time that Friday came she was composed entirely of nerves and adrenaline.

What was he going to say? Was this a waste of time? Had she misunderstood their connection? Would her week of practice be a waste?

Her boot heels clicked along the tiles in the hallway, giving her steps an authority she didn’t feel. She took a deep breath and turned into the classroom where he was waiting.



National Novel Writing Month

I’m challenging myself to do National Novel Writing Month and for my own amusement (and possibly yours) I will be posting my favourite line of the day and my practice writing (kind of a warm-up exercise before I get to my novel writing). I got the idea to share work-in-progress from Austin Kleon‘s book Show Your Work! The stuff I share this month will be pretty unpolished so please be kind.

Here’s Day One:

Favourite line: Her knuckles were white as she peered over the steering wheel at the dark road ahead. It was always annoying when the metaphors in life got this obvious.

Practice: (this has NOTHING to do with my novel)

Eloise had never been one of those people who longed to know the future. She didn’t visit psychics, never glanced at tarot cards or runes, she didn’t even read her horoscope. So when her fall over the stairs left her able to glimpse a few minutes forward, she didn’t thrill at the new discovery, she was horrified.

It sounds, at first, like it might be exciting to know what’s coming but it’s really the worst kind of horror, since a few minutes is often enough to see something horrible but not enough to do anything about it.

Sure, she had had time to grab the toddler who took a sharp left into the traffic on Water Street while his mother was picking up some dropped packages, and she could put up a hand to catch the frisbee careering towards her head at Bowring Park, but it hadn’t been enough time to convince that teenaged girl that her skateboard trick was going to end in disaster.

It was typical, really. Probably fifteen-year-old Eloise wouldn’t have listened to a middle-aged Mom who came racing out of the convenience store and begged her not to try the jump either. It was harsh to be the Mom in that scenario, even if the kid wasn’t yours. She had felt like she had to bear witness though, to stick around while the girl – Hannah was her name, judging by her friend’s sobbing repetition- built up speed and ramped over the path next to the building. It looked fantastic at first, her black hair soaring out behind her, her arms extended for mid air balance. For those few seconds, it could have been a photo in a ad. It didn’t last.

Something went wrong as the girl was about to land. It was hard to tell what happened exactly, but anyone could tell something was off. The girl’s trick ended just as Eloise had seen that it would, the one light brown arm folded over the girl’s head, the other out to the side, legs crumpled underneath, and a long, bloody scrape up the side of her ribs. The mental image had been horrible. The reality was, of course, far worse. She wasn’t dead, the jump wasn’t that high, but she as going to be in a lot of pain for a long time.

Eloise sent flowers. It didn’t feel like enough, but what else could she do? Sure, Hannah would likely listen to her now, but what good would it be to warn her of upcoming blood tests and the way her face would look when the meds wore off? Seeing a few minutes into the future was useless.

The papers didn’t think so, though. They started calling right after Hannah’s accident, one of her friends must have told someone about the crazy lady who had warned them not to do the jump. So Eloise had an inbox full of media requests, and her voicemail was full. She wasn’t going to talk to anyone about it though, there was no point in cataloging another way that her reality didn’t match up to people’s expectations.