Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -- Gene Fowler

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Crossing the Finish Line

I have arrived in the Winner's Circle! *fanfare* I struggled quite a bit with the marathon this year, and sitting here now I feel less like I've won something and more like I dragged myself through an ordeal and survived. But I have my purple bar and all's right with the world.

This story is by far the most disjointed one I've ever written, and it's not complete in any sense. I lost control of it around the beginning of Week Three, I think, and while I continued writing on it, it never really coalesced into a coherent document. In part, that's what NaNoWriMo is about. I gave myself permission to write like a crazy person, and that's what I did. I always feel disappointed at the end, in a way, because I look at the thing I just wrote and think, "Man, it is gonna take a lot of work to get this thing into any kind of shape." Again, that's okay. That's what NaNo's for. At the end of thirty days of blood, sweat, and tears you have a 50,000 word document that's the starting place for a more complete work.

The hardest part is getting to Step Two. But CreateSpace is offering their free proof copy to winners again this year, and so I will resume, with great heaping amounts of foreboding, the task of editing my 2005 manuscript (and potentially its 2008 continuation/sequel), once I recover from November.

I've enjoyed the month I got to spend with a bunch of new characters. Though it may be some time before this manuscript sees the light of day, I'm hoping to properly outline it and wrestle it into sequential order, at the very least, before using what's usable and filling in the rest.

Here's part of what I wrote this morning to finish off the marathon: a passage about Idrega as a child meeting a human for the first time. Note: my Inner Editor has been muttering in my ear about too many 'very's and is horrified at my word-stretching usage of non-contracted words. Later, my dear Editor, later.

Idrega stared across the trading platform at the child of the human trader. The child, a male, if she had to make a guess, stood a head taller than she did. Its pale skin, not quite as pale as that of a morend slave, stood out as a stark contrast to its deep brown hair, which was haphazardly arranged on its head and drooped into its eyes. The eyes themselves did not look too different from Idrega's own eyes, excepting that they had the colour of faint peridot, a pale yellowish green.

The child stood very near its trader father, a very tall creature, yet broad and muscular. Idrega felt at once at ease and leery of this human. It was tall like the lesser races, not suited for work within the earth at all. Yet it was of stocky build, broad in the shoulders and possessed of thick, powerful looking biceps. The muscles of the creature sometimes strained the faded tunic it wore as it moved about the trading platform, talking to her own father about the quality of the weapons and the armour it had brought from the human lands far away.

Idrega had never seen a human up close before. She knew these were humans - she had seen them depicted on the engravings in the main dining hall, and near the fountain during gatherings. Humans, she had been told, did not usually live or work in the mountains, as the Keerenoi did. They chose instead to build settlements above the ground, carving pieces out of wood or stone and putting them together to create a safe place to be out of the elements. Idrega thought this silly. Why harvest trees or purchase stone only to make a shelter where one did not exist before? The method of the Keerenoi was far more efficient. Ensigar had begun, many many lifetimes ago, as a simple cave complex which the Keerenoi had adapted and expanded for their purposes. It was only one of many ways in which the human creatures differed from the Keerenoi.

She took a step closer to the human child, watching it intently. The child's green eyes focused on her, staring. Idrega wondered if this creature could understand her language. Her father, speaking with the trader, was slurring odd mouthfuls of the human tongue. It sounded as if he had a chunk of moduk stew in his mouth and had neglected to swallow it before speaking. The human trader smiled and nodded, glancing aside briefly to Idrega and its child.

"Say hello, Idrega," prompted her father. He turned back to talk with the human without checking to see if she had done as he had requested.

Thus emboldened, Idrega took another step forward. "My name is Idrega," she said to the child. "Who are you?"

The child's mouth opened briefly, but no sound came out. "Can you speak?" asked Idrega. "I only know a few words in your tongue," she admitted.

The child glanced to its father, who was involved in an in depth conversation with Idrega's father and paid no notice to it. It turned back to Idrega and slurred out a brief stream of human words in a low tone, its eyes turned toward the platform beneath its feet.

"Shlariat," Idrega offered, using one of two human words she knew.

The human trader looked over at her sharply, then cast a similar look upon her father, who came over to her immediately. "Idrega," he said, his cheeks darkening in embarrasment, "you are not to say that word."

"I don't speak human, father," she replied, confused as to his discomfiture. "The child doesn't speak our language."

"Yes, Idrega, I know that." Her father glanced to the trader, ducking his head slightly in a gesture of apology. "The word you spoke gives offense to the humans. You must not say it again."

Idrega paled. "I am sorry, father," she said quietly. She looked at the child, then at its father. "Will you tell them I didn't mean it, whatever it was that I said?"

Idrega's father laid a gentle hand on her head. "I will. I forgive you, Idrega. I am certain the humans will understand."

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