Okay, the last week threw me for a bit of a loop. Early last week I got not one, but two job interviews for positions in my field, something I have been wanting for almost five years now. That was quickly followed by two job offers and the need to make a big decision. Right after the job interviews, I had to leave for San Francisco for a work-related meeting followed by a mini-vacation. We returned to Chicago just in time for Thanksgiving and the exhaustion set in. Not to mention the extreme guilt for leaving the kitties for six days with only our wonderful cat-sitter to come in and check on them once a day. So basically, I haven't left the house since Wednesday afternoon (not counting a brief run to the grocery store for some essentials) and haven't written more than a paragraph in the last 10 days. This is a severe NaNoWriMo fail. I'm not proud that I let life get in the way and interfere. But I'm not giving up yet either. I still have four whole days and while I may not reach my initial goals, I can at least try to see how far I can get. I just wanted to pop in and let you all know I am alive and my absence was mostly for good reasons. Now I am off to write, write, write!
Story #12 is the first from this project to be inspired by a song. Thank you so much to Josh Kanuch from the band Machinegun Mojo for sharing their song Woman with me for this project. You can download it or listen to it here, which of course I strongly recommend you do!
Title: Too Much Woman
Inspiration: Woman by Machinegun Mojo
Story Word Count: 3909
Project Word Count: 24333
Summary: When lifelong best friends Toby and Nate fall for the same train wreck of a woman it wreaks havoc in their friendship and their lives driving them to consider choices they never thought they'd have to make.
What I Like About This Story: Macy Rae, the woman the two friends fall for, is a scheming, manipulative bitch and she was tons of fun to write. I do feel a little bad for treating the men in my story the way I had to to further the plot, as both Nate and Toby are pretty decent guys, even if they do have questionable taste in women, but it was great experimenting with Macy Rae's character.
I am on track for word count, which means I can indulge in a little flash fiction for the next couple to try and get caught up on my story count.
Happy creating, all!
I love it when the stories pour out without any hiccups. Not that it's not going to require a fair amount of revision later, but Story #11 came easily, which is nice considering that Story #10 put up such a fight.
I wanted to use something from a different medium for this story and Edwin Giraldo's digital creation above seemed like a great candidate. I loved the colors and of course I can't think of bubbles with thinking of blowing bubbles as a kid. (Something I confess that I still very much get a kick out of. Hey, I'm a kid at heart. Don't hold that against me.) Check out Edwin's gallery here. There's some really cool stuff there.
Title: Little Bits of Magic
Muse: Edwin Giraldo
Story Word Count: 1946
Total Word Count: 20424
Summary: This story is about Natalie, a teenage girl who is spending the afternoon watching her three-year-old nephew, taking him to the park to blow bubbles from the enormous jug she has bought for him. As the story unfolds, it is revealed that Natalie's older sister desperately wants another baby, but another pregnancy could would put her at serious risk health-wise. In an effort to save her sister's family, Natalie has purposely gotten pregnant with the intention of giving the baby to her sister and brother-in-law to raise as their own. She has yet to tell anyone, waiting for the perfect moment to give her sister the ultimate gift.
What I Like About This Story: Well, I'm a sucker for complicated family relationships and I couldn't resist writing about something like a pregnant teen -- something that would normally be met with a negative response from a family -- but in this reality, once her family has gotten over the shock of it, may bring them even closer together. Of course, only being sixteen, Natalie probably hasn't thought through the ramifications this may have on her own life, but that is one of the things that makes this such a selfless act. I grew quickly attached to this little family as their story unfolded before me.
I finally have gotten back into writing mode (I think I need the added pressure of being behind schedule. The procrastinator in me remains firmly in charge, it seems.) At any rate, Story #10 came from a wonderful photo, but I am awaiting permission from the artist to post in on my site. However, since the story is complete, I wanted to get the summary up and up my word count so I can move on to Story #11 and possibly get caught up this weekend. If the photographer grants me permission to use his work, I will update this post. Regardless of whether he does or not, I am very pleased that he chose to share it with me.
Title: The House
Story Word Count: 1758
Total Word Count: 18478
Summary: A group of senior citizens are frustrated with living with their adult children and decide to pool their resources to rent a house on their own. The seniors find life in The House to be exhilarating, but their children are worried for them and try to get them to move back with them.
What I Like About This Story: Most of my work is very character driven, but in this story, the characters remain virtually unnamed and it is instead the idea of the magical effect The House has on the seniors that drives the story. Their children kind of function as a Greek Chorus throughout the story. This was a very different kind of story for me, far more experimental than I usually write. And while it certainly will need a fair amount of revision, this is one of the reasons I decided to tackle this project. I was hoping it would drive me to try different kinds of stories.
On to #11!
In standard NaNoWriMo tradition, Week Two is always harder than week one. It's like running as hard as you can for as long as you can. While the adrenaline is pumping, you feel like you can run forever. Then you stop to catch your breath and your legs don't want to work anymore. Well, apparently, I am not exempt to the traditional Week Two slump, which is why I haven't updated anything in the last couple of days. Feeling good about being right on track, I decided to give my brain a little break, and now, whenever I look at Story #10, trying to push it along to an end, I just can't seem to get up much speed. But there is good news. . . today is Friday, and I have all weekend to get moving again. I plan to be back on track by Monday (half-way there!), but I just wanted to let anyone know who might be checking up on me that I am still here and still plugging along, albeit more slowly than I was last week. For those other Nano-ers out there, hang in there! We'll overcome Week Two together!
So I really wanted to stick to my plan and write only from the lovely photos, artwork, and words of inspiration sent to me by all of you generous people. However, yesterday, I was standing on a corner in downtown Chicago waiting for the light to change so I could head to an appointment, and I looked up to find I could see into one of the practice studios of the Joffrey Ballet and the moment had a lot of personal depth for me and I felt the need to write about it and turn it into a story. So I am giving the Joffrey Ballet credit for inspiring me on story #9.
Muse: The Joffrey Ballet
Story Word Count: 373
Total Word Count: 16720
Summary: A woman waiting on a street corner for the light to change colors looks above her to see into a dance studio where professional dancers are practicing. This sparks contemplation on her own life and dreams and the moment becomes deeply important to her.
What I Like About This Story: I love writing about a single moment that looks like nothing from the outside but can be life altering to the person experiencing it.
Fellow NaNoWriMo-er Ian Catto responded to my call for muses and shared the above picture of his cat. Being a cat person myself, I kind of felt this project would be missing something if I didn't use it. So, this cat, who I know is probably yawning, but looks insanely happy to me, worked its way in to story #8. Thanks, Ian! And thank your kitty too! :)
Muse: Ian Catto
Story Word Count: 911
Total Word Count: 16357
Summary: This flash fiction is in the head of college student Jill who has recently moved in with the eternally bubbly Peggy and her ultra friendly cat. Jill is quickly pushed over the edge and develops a plan to get Peggy out of her "happy place".
What I Like About This Story: Well, I love flash fiction and I have no idea if Jill is insane, or Peggy is, or if both/neither are. It was quite fun to write and has encouraged me to try more dark humor.
Photographer Chris Pluchar was kind enough to offer up his photography for inspiration and I had a lot of fun perusing his site looking for my next story. When I came across this photo, I knew it was the perfect setting for a story I'd been kicking around for a long time. Nothing like a quaint Irish pub to get the mouth watering and the creative juices flowing.
Title: Bad Boys
Muse: Chris Pluchar
Story Word Count: 2198 words
Total Word Count: 15446
Story Summary: Lacy is a waitress in an Irish pub and she has long harbored fantasies about having a torrid affair with regular customer Jake. The only problem is, she's married and he isn't quite the bad boy she wants him to be. . .
What I Like About This Story: This story turned out nothing like I first envisioned. I wanted Lacy to be sympathetic, trapped in a terrible marriage and looking for a way out. But as I was writing, I realized, Lacy's life really isn't so bad, and she is simply looking for trouble because she is bored with the choices she's made in life. I don't usually write characters who are purposely and knowingly trying to mess things up for themselves without good reason, so this story widened my comfort zone a little more. This has been a great, unexpected benefit to this project so far.
Now, can I get two more written today and officially catch up?
My sweet<3 has developed an endearing habit of collecting and hording words for me knowing I will ask him for one when I am stuck. I know that no matter when I ask him, he'll be able to supply me one. I've written several stories based on words he has given me and even seen a couple of them published. I asked him for a new word a couple of days ago, and he supplied me with "waves". Instantly the ocean came to mind and I knew it had to be a love story.
Title: Sand of the Desert, Sand of the Sea
Muse: My sweet<3
Story Word Count: 1583
Total Word Count: 13248
Summary: Nadia has spent her whole life in the Southwest and has never seen the ocean. She and her fiance travel east to meet his family. She is nervous about whether or not they will accept her. Along the way, she asks to stop so she can walk into the ocean for the first time. The experience soothes her fears and she realizes the only things that are important, she carries in her heart.
What I Like About This Story: I like that because Nadia has yet to meet Colby's family, her conflict is entirely internal. She has no idea if they are going to welcome her with open arms or judge her. But I think the tendency to borrow trouble this way is human nature and this makes Nadia feel genuine to me.
Fortunately, Story #5 presented itself to me with ease, thanks to Dominick Navarra's beautiful piece of folk art. This lovely hummingbird, along with a number of other beautiful pieces can be appreciated here. I would like to point out that this story brings my word count up to EXACTLY where I need to be on day 7 to reach 50,000 words by day 30. That is a happy coincidence! Now if I can just somehow manage to squeeze out two more stories today. Not holding my breath, but I am pleased with the amount of writing I got done this weekend nonetheless.
Muse: Dominick Navarra
Story Word Count: 2645
Total Word Count: 11665
Summary: When Olivia finds herself unexpectedly living with the father she didn't even know she had, she is full of doubts about whether or not this man is really her father. The two struggle to find a balance in their now upturned lives, and Hank tries to bond with Olivia by showing her the hummingbirds that come through his yard every summer.
What I Like About This Story: I know without a doubt that my writing group would tell me this is not a short story but instead a beginning to a novel. And I wouldn't be able to argue with them. I am a sucker for complicated relationships and love packing tons of back story into just a few pages. But what I really like about this story is the last line and all the emotions Olivia feels when she sees a hummingbird for the first time.