Surviving Nanowrimo # 2

I am back with encouraging news. You can write a novel in the month of November. It not only is possible but it’s do-able. Just sit down in your chair and go to work on November 1st. Before you know it, 50,000 words have appeared on your computer screen. A few cups of coffee and a daily shot of persistence and easy peasy.

Oh, you don’t drink coffee. You’re English. Well, maybe a cup of tea is the ticket. Whatever gets your subby-conscious out of bed is the thing.

So, where to begin on that fine November 1st morning since you didn’t prepare during October? Or you’ve spent the whole month debating over which idea to choose from when you have a bucketful of ideas.

I have an exercise that has worked very well for me. It’s called What-if, and it goes like this. Mosey over to the Monochromia blog and check out the photographs for the day. Pick two.

For example: Maybe I see a photograph of a woman holding a surfboard. In a second photograph, twenty people at a party stand around in small groups of three or four.

WHAT IF the woman was at the party, standing alone in a corner holding a surfboard?
WHY is she standing alone in the corner and with a surfboard? Gotta find out.

I, the author, walk into the room. Several of the folks give me a “hi-ya doing, Uncle Bardie?”

I nod my greetings and walk over to the woman. “What’s a nice girl like you doing with a big surfboard like that in a place this?”

She turns to me. “Waiting  for the Second Coming. You have heard of the Second Coming, haven’t you?”

“I thought it had already occurred at Ulu Watu.” I’ve always wanted to use Ulu Watu in a sentence. Now I’ve had my chance.”

“Oh, that was just a prelude.”

I introduce myself. She says, “Just call me Chad.”

“Chad?”

“Stands for Carolyn Hermione Allyson Deboit.”

THEN WHAT HAPPENED?

Across the room, a man in his early twenties,  looks at me. After a moment, he walks over.

“You okay, Sis?”

“You know I’m not.”

He gives me a challenge, but his sister continues, “You know how I hate these parties.”

WHAT IF he gets angry.

See how the process works. Keep answering those three questions and pretty soon you have a scene. Before you know it your answers have accumulated into two thousand words on the page and you have a character you can follow to who knows where.

Initially you might want to be in the photograph. However soon you’re going to disappear unless you are a character. The important thing is to let your imagination run wild like the mustangs who used to roam free out West. If you trust your imagination, you’re going to be in for a wild ride.

Near 500 words: Ancestors

The woman in the door of the wooden hut stood before Rufus. Her dark hair and her brown eyes were full of life though her life was hard.

Her focus reminded Rufus of the last time he saw his father. It was late at night and the old man sat at his desk, studying a photograph of his father who had been gone some thirty years. There was a light in the old man’s eyes. It wasn’t the light from the table lamp. It was another kind of light. It was the light of memory.

Or was it more? Was it the light of someone who has experienced some piece of the divine in his life? Rufus’ father never spoke of his father.

“Can I have some water?” Rufus asked the woman in the doorway.

The woman smiled. Instead of water, she invited him inside her one-room house. A house that was spotlessly clean. In the corner was an altar to some god or other. He didn’t ask since he knew it would be as rude as asking his father about his grandfather. She brought him a cup of tea and offered him a seat on one of the three wooden chairs.

Rufus took out his camera and pointed to it. “Can I take your photograph?”

The woman blushed, then shook her head yes.

Rufus pointed and snapped several pictures. Then he finished his tea. He thanked her for her hospitality.

It was a brief encounter but not as brief as the night he saw his father studying the photograph of his father.

As he walked up the path away from the woman’s house, he missed his father and his grandfather. Perhaps in another life. Perhaps.