“All the animals, the plants, the minerals, even other kinds of men, are being broken and reassembled every day, to preserve an elite few, who are the loudest to theorize on freedom, but the least free of all.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
Ultimate goal – 50,000 words.
Daily goal – 1,667 words
Goal total so far – 18,337 words
Words written today – 3,064
Words written so far – 14,729 words
Words to goal – -3,608
But it seems to me that once you begin a gesture it’s fatal not to go through with it.
—-John Updike, A&P
As I committed the other day I am doing Nanowrimo – the National Novel Writing Month this November – writing a 50,000 word (small) novel in a month. Not necessary a good novel, or even a readable novel, but one of 50K words.
I have fallen behind, missed a couple days (too tired when I came home from work – fell dead asleep) and wrote too little on a couple days. But I had a good day today (a little over 3,000 words) and more importantly, have worked out a nice way to work.
I’ll do a blog entry on my writing machine and explain it in detal – but in essence is is a Raspberry Pi microcomputer mounted on the back of an old monitor, hooked up with a wireless keyboard and mouse. I run a program called Focuswriter set up to look like the old Wordperfect 5.1 – you know, that sharp white text on a blue background. It’s a distraction free full-screen experience, but I do have a bar on the bottom of the screen that gives me my constant word count and the percentage of the way to 1.667. This makes it surprisingly easy to crank out the words and get to the daily goal. We’ll see how it works combating the exhaustion of the workday (and I do have to work late several days this week).
Today I hammered out some bits of backstory and filler for a few hundred words. Then, looking for something that I could string out for at least a couple thousand, I looked in one of my books of writing prompts, The 3 A.M. Epiphany Almost immediately I came across a hint that suggested borrowing from a trusted source. The one in particular suggested taking a favorite story and rewriting it, giving it your own voice and changing what you want. I immediately thought of what might be my favorite of all time, A&P by John Updike (read the story here).
I hammered out my version – changing it from three girls to two (characters already in my story), from an A&P to an IGA, and told it from the girl’s point of view. It’s odd… I didn’t re-read the story (to try and make it my own) and haven’t looked at it in years, have forgotten many details, but made the bag-boy named Sam – in the story it’s Sammy. The name must have been stuck in my memory.
So, did I cheat by stealing from Updike? I don’t think so – it’s more of an homage.
Snippet of what I wrote:
Teresa knelt beside Beth’s chair and squirted the oil on to her back. She spread it out and rubbed it in until it disappeared into Beth’s skin.
“I’m thirsty,” Beth said in a luxurious voice, enjoying the afternoon, the sun, and, though she would never admit it, the feel of Teresa’s smooth hands sliding oily across her skin. She closed her eyes and thought of Sam and how his long, tight, sinewy body felt against hers, even her back, while they were in the pool at night. She was seized with a sudden desire to see him, in the daylight, and for him to see her, like this.
“I’ll go get some iced water, refill the pitcher.”
“No don’t,” said Beth.
“I don’t mind.”
“I don’t want water, not only water. I want some more of that drink we had earlier.”
“I made that, it was orange juice cooler, just orange juice and champagne.”
“My mom still has at least five bottles of champagne in the cupboard, leftover from my sister’s wedding,” said Beth.
“But…” said Teresa, before Beth cut her off.
“She doesn’t mind, she told me we could drink some, as long as we didn’t get hammered, as long as we left some for her.”
“No, it’s not that. We’re out of orange juice.”
“Oh?” said Beth. She sounded like she already knew they were out of orange juice.
“We could just drink the champagne.”
“No, I want some orange juice,” said Beth, “It wouldn’t be the same, it’s so hot today, champagne alone wouldn’t be refreshing enough.”
“Oh, where could we? I guess I could run down to the IGA and get some orange juice,” said Teresa.
“Yeah… I mean no, I’ll go.”
“Why don’t we both go?”
“Sure,” Beth said, “Let’s both.”
“Then there was a fine noise of rushing water from the crown of an oak at his back, as if a spigot there had been turned. Then the noise of fountains came from the crowns of all the tall trees. Why did he love storms, what was the meaning of his excitement when the door sprang open and the rain wind fled rudely up the stair, why had the simple task of shutting the windows of an old house seem fitting and urgent, why did the first watery notes of a storm wind have for him the unmistakable sound of good news, cheer, glad tidings?”
― John Cheever,