Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly

NaNo WriMo Week 2 Highlights

21 Comments

We’re almost half way through the month. Eek! How is everyone going?

I’ve managed over 26,000 words, although I’ve now done almost 2 weeks of ‘writing bilge.’ In the past day or two I’ve started to feel more comfortable with how my writing sounds, but it’s been quite a struggle up until that point.

A couple of nights ago I decided to change Edward’s profession from teacher to businessman in the hope that it will make certain story points easier. However, the result is that the majority of what I’d written up until that point has to change. Doh!

But here’s where the beauty of first drafts kicks in. I will make those changes in the next draft. For now, I’ve typed up some quick notes on how will I change things and then I’m continuing on with my current draft – writing as if he’s always been a businessman.

I find this fantastically liberating for two reasons:

  • Firstly, because I don’t have to trudge back to the start and begin again. I finally have some writing momentum. I don’t want to lose that by starting at the beginning again. As I continue writing, there will always be things I want to change earlier in the story. But I’ve set the precedent – no going back until we’ve reached the end. Leave a note and keep writing!
  • Secondly, because I know it will be easy to start on my second draft. I know when I pull it out of the draw several months down the track, I won’t read it and wonder where I’m going to start. I already know. The thing is a mess and lots of scenes are out of order. By the time I clean up the structure, I’ll be on a roll – having gathered momentum again to keep making progress.

So I’m very pleased with what I’ve accomplished this week. What about you? Please share with us some highlights (or difficulties) of your week.

It’s been very hard to choose an excerpt from my writing this week because, as mentioned above, I’ve been working through bilge. However, yesterday I wrote the following and decided this was what I wanted to share.

Here’s a little background: Edward has met our leading lady (Peta) on a plane into Beijing and she’s given him her phone number in case he ever needs help. After that, he was picked up from the airport by a Chinese representative of his company and taken to his new apartment.

He is jet lagged and just wants a cup of tea before curling up for some shut-eye. In the process of attempting to make a cup of tea, he discovers there is no kettle, water is leaking from under the kitchen sink and the gas won’t light. He goes downstairs to find the building manager and ends up coming across ‘Mr. Go’ who speaks virtually no English. Mr. Go is now standing in Edward’s kitchen trying to communicate with him.

With me so far? Remember, this is first draft stuff so it’s pretty rough at this stage – spit and polish comes later.

Edward fumbled around in his pocket. There, on a piece of paper, was Peta’s phone number. When she gave it to him, he actually had no intention of using it, but right now he would give anything for an English speaker. He dialed and then waited.

‘Hello?’ said the voice.

Edward sighed in relief. ‘Hello. This is Edward. We met on the plane.’

‘Oh hi! How’s life?’

‘Frustrating.’

‘Ah,’ she said. ‘Welcome to China.’

‘There’s a leak under the kitchen sink and the gas won’t work. I think the building manager is here to look at it but I can’t understand what he’s saying.’

‘You think the building manager is there? Are you worried you’re hallucinating?’

‘No, what I mean is there is a man here who I think is the building manager.’

‘Ah. I get you. Do you need some help?’

‘Yes,’ said Edward. ‘Help is exactly what I need.’

‘So leak under the sink and a problem with the gas, right?’

‘Right.’

‘Let me talk to the guy.’

Edward handed the phone over again. Mr. Go had been feeling all the pipes under the sink and turning the tap on and off. He stopped, wiped his wet hand on his shirt and took the phone. The two of them had a chummy conversation, after which Mr. Go handed the phone back with a smile.

Edward put it back to his ear. ‘How did that go?’

‘He already knows about the leak. He says he’ll need to go get his stuff and come back to fix it.’

Edward felt his eyes close. ‘Great,’ he said, with no enthusiasm.

‘He’s going to look at the gas now.’

As she said this, Mr. Go pushed down on the stove knob. The stove clicked a couple of times and then belched fiery gas. Mr. Go fiddled with something, Edward was too tired to see what. Then Mr. Go pressed the knob again. This time the gas flames leapt over a foot into the air with a percussive whoosh, like the first few seconds of a rocket liftoff.

‘Mm,’ said Mr. Go, with a nod. Then he turned to Edward, gave him the thumbs up sign and said, ‘Okay!’

Edward realised the breeze in his mouth was caused by the dropping of his jaw. ‘Okay?’ he croaked. ‘You call that okay?’

Mr. Go glanced back at the stove. He pushed down the knob again, resulting in the same violent explosion. ‘Mm. Okay.’

Edward couldn’t peel his eyes off the spot where the flames had just been. The merest whimper escaped his lips.

‘Do you need me to come around?’ said Peta, her voice sounding suddenly far away. ‘I think you need someone there with you.’

Edward tried to speak, but the heaviness had now migrated to his throat and nothing would come out.

‘Where are you staying?’ she said. ‘What’s the address?’

A further realisation hit him. ‘I have no idea where I am.’

‘Give the phone back to the guy. I’ll ask him.’

Edward mechanically handed the phone back to Mr. Go, who was watching Edward with amusement. He started chatting, then pointing in different directions with his finger. Nodding a couple of times, he said ‘bye bye’ and gave the phone back again.

‘Turns out I live really close by,’ she said to Edward. ‘I’ll be over there shortly.’

Edward gurgled something in reply and then she hung up.

Mr. Go pointed to the sink and then to the door. He said something, then toddled out.

Edward staggered to the couch and eased himself down. Asimov hopped up beside him, putting his head on Edward’s lap.

‘Good grief,’ Edward said to no one in particular. ‘What have I got myself into?’

For the record, my gas stove does exactly that. We have to lean back whenever we light it so as not to catch any part of our person aflame. Ah, China. What fun.

Now, please share with us a snippet from your writing this week. It doesn’t have to be polished, just something which you liked.

Remember, everyone is welcome to join in. You don’t have to be doing NaNo WriMo, and you don’t have to be writing a first draft. Share a snippet of something you’ve written this week and feel proud of it.

P.S. I’ve just come across this interesting new writing blog called Swagger run by 8 writers. They’ve already posted some interesting articles. My favourites so far are Becoming a Writer (a reminder on the true definition of ‘writer’) and Can’t Please Everyone (which is something I’m always forgetting). Take a look and enter their Swagger Swag Giveaway (hurry though as it ends November 15th).

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Author: Jessica

A writer who refuses to pin herself down to one genre. I'm passionate about helping other writers find their Creativity and enjoy a prolific writing life. You can always contact me by writing to Jessica at creativitysworkshop dot com, or follow me on Twitter @jessbaverstock

21 thoughts on “NaNo WriMo Week 2 Highlights

  1. AWESOME!!! I felt spectacularly exhausted WITH Edward, but at the same time could chuckle quite energetically with the scene. Nicely written! 🙂

    The most interesting thing I have written in the last week is a grocery list:
    Salt
    Herbiotics, Herbs of Gold brand
    Other assorted ear infection remedies perhaps?
    Bananas
    Paracetamol

    Wait – this isn’t what you’re looking for? ok, ok, but I was very pleased to have written it out, remembered to take it with me, AND been able to get every item on the list! That is a rare shopping trip for me…

    • I’ve been feeling jet lagged too because of Edward! I had all these things I had expected him to do on the first day in Beijing, and neither of us could manage them because he was jet lagged. It was so funny. He ended up falling asleep on the couch while he had visitors and not waking up until after it was dark!

      Congratulations for writing such a comprehensive list and remembering it and getting every item. Good for you!

      How is the ear infection? Any better?

      • Okay, so I’m not the only one who’s experienced this?! Amazing…maybe not so amazing when I consider the fact that we’re talking about two writers who frequently suffer inexplicable exhaustion and then have to “write what we know”…lol. Only, it’s so much easier in fiction, because the exhaustion doesn’t have to be inexplicable. Yours was because your character was jet-lagged. Mine was because my character had been up all night writing, and then accidentally scared his just-older-than toddler into fleeing from him across a busy street…so, uh…physical and emotional utter exhaustion. And, writing exhaustion is tiring! But, it’s really not as bad as writing panic attacks! Unfortunately (and embarrassingly), I learned that the hard way…actually injured myself a bit at the time. Writing is a hazardous occupation!

      • Yep, definitely not the only one who has this problem. 😉

        Sorry to hear you injured yourself. The pen, after all, is mightier than the sword so it’s only to be expected that writing would be a hazardous occupation. 😛

  2. Awesome, you must be so proud of yourself you are rocking!!

    • I’m very pleased with my word count and I keep reminding myself that the quality will come later. I have to first get words out on the page. If I accomplish that, I have succeeded!

      How is your writing coming along? I know you’ve been traveling so it’s always harder when you’re away from your easel, right?

  3. Hi Jessica! An Australian living in China? That’s got to provide you with lots of grist for your stories. Thanks for visiting Swagger http://swaggerwriters.blogspot.com/ and posting today. I’m going to list your blog on our blog list. Sure, you can enter our contest. Just don’t forget to “follow”. Good luck with NaNoWriMo. I’m trying to do the opposite this month and condense two books into one. Editing is not so much fun as the spewing.

    • Lots and lots of grist! I’m trying not to take it for granted. 🙂

      I’m following through my Google Reader, which is difficult to track on blog stats (darn it). Is that okay?

      I hope your editing is working out well. It might not be as fun as spewing, but it’s where the story comes into its own – and that’s exciting!

  4. My NanoWrimo snippet is this introduction to a minor character: “Cows have four stomachs, but Cue could still out eat them.”

  5. So glad to hear that you’re noting the changes and planning to go back to them in the next draft. So many people get so hung up in going back and going back that they never get the first draft finished! Sounds like you are doing just great with Nano this year!

  6. NIce post…I always like stranger in a strange land stories. Thanks also for stopping by my blog. I’m doing a much smaller challenge this month, the PiBoIdMo (one picture book idea a day this month), but it, like NaNoWriMo, is a great way to jump start the creative juices.

  7. Pingback: NaNo WriMo Week 4 Highlights « Creativity's Workshop

  8. The entire snippet was awesome! It had me grinning from ear-to-ear, because I could just visualize Mr. Go. I feel like I’ve been there. It’s a bit of a combination of growing up with a Mr. Fix-It whose “language” I always had a challenge understanding, and currently trying to teach ASL to people who speak Spanish. I recently had a discussion IN SPANISH about the comparative grammatical structures, proclivity for synonyms, and pronoun usage of ASL, English and Spanish, respectively. I was extraordinarily proud of myself. Because, honestly, my Spanish is REALLY BAD! But, I think the woman and I managed to actually COMMUNICATE about the complexities of language…and I didn’t lapse into English once!

    Anyway, I loved the whole thing with the leak that was put on hold and the terrifying gas stove. The house I lived in when you came and visited the U.S. had similar interestingnesses. Made…everything…..interesting. 😀 I can empathize with Edward. And I like Peta!

    • Congratulations on the language success. It’s such a great feeling when you’re able to express yourself in a second language. I’ve been working so hard on my Chinese for ordering bottles of water (those massive ones to go atop water dispensers). You wouldn’t think it, but there’s a lot of vocab involved (address, size of bottle, brand of bottle, distilled water, pure water, mineral water, bottle deposit). The other day I managed to order myself two bottles of water (one pure, one mineral) and explain that I needed to pay a deposit on one of the bottles. Success! I danced around the apartment in glee, something that makes no sense unless you’ve tried to create sentences in another language.
      And I remember that house. 😉 Very interesting.

  9. Snippet:

    A pillowcase was tacked up over the apartment window, moonlight filtering in through the woven fibers of the thin cotton fabric. The city lights may shut out the stars, but the moon shines even in Seattle. Somehow the moon always took him through space and time back to that bridge. “…how many moons are reflected in the lake?…” Stupid song. Stop doing this to me. He could see the moonlight shining, dancing, wavering on the ripples of the pond…feel the wood beneath him creak with footsteps…taste the cigarette smoke on his tongue, its acrid warmth filling his lungs…feel his hands shake. Time to leave. Time to leave and not come back. He could see her eyes…more perfect than any moon that ever shone…twin moons, reflecting the moonlight of that perfect still moment when she first told him that she cared…and his heart forgot to beat. Stupid moon.

    There was a lead weight on his chest. It was crushing him. He flung himself off the mattress, grabbing his notebook, and took the two strides to the bathroom in the dark. Shutting the door behind him, he flipped the light switch and sat down on the cold linoleum…and began to write. His pen moved furiously across the page for the next several hours. Never mind that he was sitting there in just his boxers, and it was cold. Never mind the light in the bathroom flickered in such a way that made his eyes buggy. Never mind his neck and shoulders and hips and knees screaming out in pain, each in their turn. Never mind that he kept losing circulation in his feet and calf muscles to the point that they were totally numb, and he had to pound them with his fists to get the sensation back into them, and the horrible aching and unbearable billion fold acupuncture as they came back to life. Never mind that outside this room the moonlight was probably making way for the dawn. Never mind that his little girl would be waking up to an empty room with no idea where he’d gotten to. Okay, so that one he probably should mind. He forced himself to close the notebook and try to stand up – emphasis on the word, “try.” It took considerable time and effort to attain a standing position despite all the muscle groups in his entire body banding together to go on strike, due to the cruel and unreasonable working conditions. He pushed the door and it squawked open. Well, if she wasn’t awake before, she will be now.

    A twisted heap of sheets and blankets rose and fell with the soft, steady breathing of the small child beneath them. There was a magnetic pull. Without conscious thought, he found himself beside this heap, gently pulling the covers away so he could see the softness of her face in the yellow-white rays of sunrise that crept through the pillowcase. In that light, he could see even the fine soft hairs on the gentle slope of her cheek. The crisp clean air filled his nostrils, his lungs. His eyes stung with lack of sleep, and something else. His fingers went unbidden to the girl’s hair, just where the hairline curved at the edge of her forehead, stroking its softness timidly. His chest heaved in a quaking sigh. His throat constricted, and he swallowed with difficulty. For once, his lips didn’t ask his permission. It had something to do with the smooth softness underneath his fingertips, and the light on her face, and the peaceful sound of her breath, and the sweetness…the sweetness…

    Tenderly, his lips kissed the sweet, soft, pinkness of her cheek…just once.

    The sleeping child would never know the moment her father first kissed her. She would never know how long he stood there watching her as she slept in the early morning stillness. Like so many other moments that a child can never remember, and a parent can never forget – this one passed quietly, without fanfare or monument; and when it was done, Isaac turned slowly toward the window, took two steps, sat down at the table, opened his notebook, and again, began to write.

    • Aww, I really loved that! I have ended up writing on the floor of the bathroom in the middle of the night so your description was spot on!
      And that moment with his daughter was lovely. Wonderful moment in an interesting character arc.

    • Again – WOW.

      I am floored.

      You’re phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal.

      Your characters (I’m including Jess and Luke in this) have such emotional weight, and elicit such a connection to the reader, yet so much of them is still a mystery. I want to follow them, want to see their various stories unfold, want to be there for each step that reveals their fractured souls, and each breath that continues their journey.

      If there is ever anything more of this available to the general public, I hope I have the privilege of reading it.

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