I start by humming, midrange. There isn’t as much friction in my throat if I keep my lips parted as I was taught. But the point of hitting these notes isn’t for an audience, it’s to reduce the strangled feeling in the muscles of my neck. It always helps because I distract myself with the rather tricky melody and the frequency of the hum feels like healing fingers on all the is awry. Each tim, I start the pitch a little lower until I feel like a purring cat.
This is dipping my hands into toffee and watching as the sticky but welcome substance pulls away, staying with me. It’s crystalline chocolate that tastes great while flowing through me without stopping.
It’s the sensation of finally finding the note.
Here’s a little bit from the mind of a character I might want to develop.
Maybe it was time, she thought with a wince of irony, to settle into her identity. Twenty years ago, she’d seen herself as fit for only a life of forced leisure, perhaps as the wife of some rich man who would never expect her to get her hands dirty with the stuff of working, wages, schedules. She’d had immense help viewing herself in this way. If it had been her own idea, the intoxicatingly luring taste of real life wouldn’t have been so attractive, whispering its promises in her ear. Sudden discovery of her capability wouldn’t have filled her mind with dreams of being a real person one day. She wouldn’t have met with advisors to plot her course or figure out how to bring her desires to life. The flow of new words blossoming from her tongue would have been bitter, not sweet, but they were truly too good to forsake.
But here she was in the present, seeing that everything except the sugar daddy existed. There was simply nothing to talk about — no conversation– no words to share with the everyday people whom she ran across on rare occasions. It hurt deeply to know that she had nothing to contribute or tell anyone. At best, they tolerated her situation. At worst, they treated her as if she had come from an alien planet.
So bring on the watercolors, the music lessons, the multiple languages. These things would have made her happy in the context of a full life. But her identity was of an empty shell, the country club wife without a husband and no more profound or meaningful thoughts than the selecting a new body wash or how to procure the next great fashion. She never made the adjustment but the adjustment had certainly defined her. She had not made her bed but she had little choice but to lie in it. Maybe if she stopped resisting the changes, it could somehow build a better frame than the empty calorie emotions of nothingness.
A long time ago, I felt that I had to participate in every writing marathon that existed to prove I “really was a writer.” I suppose I’m not really any closer to answering that question than I was in 2005 but I started toying with the idea of sitting this one out when I opened my word pricessor app and saw the long, overwhelming pile of unfinished manuscripts alongside finished manuscripts in dire need of editing before I could ever dream of doing anything productive or public with any of them. I asked a writer friend if it would be too weird for me to skip this year, even perhaps extending the no marathon time until JuNoWriMo 2017 if I haven’t cleaned up my mess by then. (Even if my mess is still looming by JuNo, I’ll do June anyway because thus particular marathon has my heart and I’ll always do it, just because it’s that special…) Because she’s sensible and efficient, the kind of person who wisely manages her time and uses common sense where many of us (and by us, I’m referring to myself) do not. After our conversation, I felt a lot clearer and determined regarding my decision. I will dedicate the time that I would normally use to create just one more unfinished project that will languish in my word processor to finishing and editing the pieces I have already started. I’m definitely cheering for everyone who does undertake the challenge, though. It is a beautiful, frustrating and transformative month. Once you start, you will amaze yourself and never be the same kind of writer. Best wishes to all!
I started my summer writing journey in June with the fabulous JuNoWriMo and introduced my character, Corinna, to the world of Juno. It was so much fun to explore seemingly disjointed dream stories, much like I post here, within a broader arc. Corinna is a character who is genetically different from her peers, a fact which causes much misery in her life and carries nearly fatal consequences. But once she receives a visit from one of her DNA donors across nearly a century, things begin to change as Corinna’s dreams have healing power both for her and for those whom she meets in her nightly adventures.
For July CampNaNoWriMo, I’ve decided to extend Corinna’s story through the eyes of one of her newfound friends, a young woman named Charlotte. Like Corinna, Charlotte is also different and is hiding her true identity from everyone except Corinna. What is meant to be a fun weekend turns more than challenging as a third person who shares Charlotte and Corinna’s differences, a young child with a gift for writing, shows up on Charlotte’s doorstep, having run away from home. What follows is what keeps me writing about these characters every day!
I think my characters are all looking for a sense of home, belonging and family. All three of them have lacked each of these things in the traditional way but try to find it with each other. The July project has a different kind of energy than the June introduction because Corinna was battling life and death and finding the meaning in an existence which most people had told her was futile. This month, she’s empowered and ready to allow others to benefit from her journey even more than was possible in the first installment.
Here’s a little character prep work I’m doing for JuNoWriMo, which starts in a few days. I’m happy to be in the process of getting to know a character called Corrine. Part of her lives inside of me and part of her is yet to be defined. My next step and hers are what follow.
What do you see in defeat? Victory? Strength? When does the curtain part and one is allowed to see the next step?
Some lie in their memories and do not create a momentum for going onward, but a precious few will transform tears into laughter, day into night, storms into sunshine.
A few receive a little help as they make a decision. Sometimes we see an outstretched hand, a friendly voice telling us to take it, and we take our pride in our hearts and flung it out the window, never too immovable to say yes.
Corrine was such a person, learning slowly how to overcome with each new person she met on her journey. Some had hands of flesh which she could hold and some did not. Often it seemed that the ones who did not were able to affect her the most.
You have been pulled back into the past by a wrecking ball slamming into your side, spilling blood as it goes along its path of the destruction of someone else’s helpfulness. But we have also been thrust into the future against our wills. The two collide as you consider the way the wooden planks meet on the floor below you before all is dust, flannel and conifers. Your life, whatever there is left of it here, is evergreen. For this reason you squeeze your eyes closed as you wait for the end to come and expect me to join you, though I do not.
You wish you could tell me that there is so much more love than you expected, still flannel and conifers but freedom under the bluest sky you’ve ever seen. Your life, whatever there will be in the future is evergreen.
I am saved by a lover, but you question what exactly I have been saved for. If he loves me, doesn’t he want me to stay out of the dark and scary nights, away from the blood and hopelessness? To wait in a lonely room and wish I could have joined you when I had the chance? Your love for me is evergreen, and the last thought I have every night before I go to sleep is how glorious it will be to walk with you beneath those skies and hold your hand, no needles falling, no clouds to bring the rain.
Completed wrimos! I’ve reached my goal of winning twelve wrimos in a row, creating an entire year of my life that I’ve dedicated to writing months, aka wrimos. For some reason, this month seemed to go very slowly and I was a little concerned about not finishing on time. But I approached it one writing session at a time and it worked out.
Next vines JuNoWriMo and I’m so happy and humbled to be on the crew this year. I’ll be handling social media for the group, so when you see more about JuNo on Twitter and Facebook, that’s me!
I wish every writer would try Juno because it’s truly unlike any other wrimo I have ever joined. Because it’s still a small group, there’s a level of intimacy and community that one simply does not find during NaNoWriMo. It’s great that it’s huge, that’s what makes it what it is. But I craved a closer relationship with my fellow writers and JuNoWriMo provides exactly that. If you would like to join me three in roughly five weeks, please go to the JuNoWriMo site and also visit JuNoWriMo’s Facebook page to learn more.
Is it just me or has the year already started to pass all too quickly? Today was the beginning of the April session of Camp NaNoWriMo, which marks a very special milestone for me. It’s my twelfth writing month, meaning I’ve spent a cumulative year participating in them! I’ll never forget my first wrimo back in November 2005. I hadn’t written anything 50,000 words long in my life and I didn’t begin to know how to approach the challenge. So I merely dove in and hoped for the best, somehow managing to surpass my goal despite starting a full week late because I wasn’t convinced that I had the courage to try! I nearly missed verifying my word count at the end because of a blizzard induced power outage. But the most important thing that occurred as a result of my first challenge was the newfound proof that I could indeed write something that long!
I didn’t participate again for several years, but when I came back to it in 2012, the goal didn’t seem much less daunting than in the first year, but I decided to start and keep going. This time, my daily quota of between 2000-3000 words became easier as the month wore on. It just kept going as more opportunities opened up, such as the relatively new Camp sessions, as well as JuNoWriMo. Each session encouraged me to try another. Before I knew it, I was counting down to the twelfth time!
As you know from my first session, it’s never too late to start, so if you’re interested, visit the Camp NaNoWriMo page and begin your writing adventures!
The bridge sends me into hyperspace, swinging on a rope, toes curling as I fly through the air. Sunlight filters through my hair and I can’t help but notice the expression in your eyes as you watch me purposefully fall into the water below the rope; effervescent like the dappled waves. The tension and release as I float back and forth intoxicates you until you join me in the refreshing cool. Then it’s wave after wave and their identical echoes out to the distant shore that we can barely see even on a summer afternoon.
Flickering fire lit the lamps and the open bonfire in the middle of the tribal house where the entire community gathered. A young man whose messy black hair perpetually fell into his eyes held an older model of camcorder on his shoulder, somber as he watched the people file in through the lens. It was the coldest night of the year with a thick cascade of snow falling silently from the heavens, brushing the hats and shoulders of each citizen, lingering even longer than the young man expected as the building offered little improvement in temperature from the frigid outdoors. The snow only disappeared from the privileged individuals who had earned a seat near to the central blaze, but the rest wore white flecks on their clothing, visually separating who was in control. It wasn’t something the cameraman liked to consider because his father and grandfather had taught him that every individual in a society was equal, even if they performed different tasks in the community. But they had never lived on this island in the vastness of a polar ocean. Here it was survival at its sharpest, often cutting ideals out of the equation in favor of the majority of the community still living by the time spring arrived. Each season had its own cruel beauty in a way outsiders could never imagine. No flowers pushed through topsoil to announce the arrival of a new time of year. The frost merely melted and it was possible to bury the dead from the long, dark winter with enough natural light to forego the torches until autumn. Summer was a blinding mass of sunshine and melting water, mud and mosquitos that created an entirely new risk.
The leader of the town banged a gavel on the nearest bench reserved for the elites. The meeting had begun.
Hours later, the young man shivered in his hut, wondering if he was a type of elite himself because he was equipped with the necessary electricity to power his camera. Records must be kept and the town leaders realized the logic of supplying him with what would accomplish the objective.
After plugging the camera into the power source, the man fell to sleep rather quickly, spent by the cold. As he dreamed, his lips curved into a smile as he saw the graceful and brave young woman who had defied convention and lived on a rock in the ocean, riding above the standards of the town. She lived her own life, even if only inside his imagination.