Sunday, October 25, 2009

Getting A Feel For NaNoWriMo

***************I practiced writing 1667 words at one sitting last night. That's the daily requirement I'll need to write in order to reach a total of 50,000 words during National Novel Writing Month. I sat down at my computer with no idea of what I was going to write. My mind went to Halloween, possibly because a fellow blogger has been writing about her love for creating horror stories. I just went with the thoughts that came to me and wrote without a break from 8:30 until 9:38.

(I don't expect you to read what I posted below, but by scrolling down you'll get an idea of how much writing all of the NaNoWriMo participants will need to do per day. Of course, it really doesn't matter how much is written per day as long as the word count reaches 50,000 by midnight, November 31st).

Thus, without further ado, here are the first and probably final pages of my practice story.


Crimson Baker left her home by the back door at 5:30 Halloween evening. She struggled with the costume she carried in a large zebra print satchel. Crimson had told her mother she was going to her friend Sasha’s house to a Halloween party. But Crimson had other plans.

Since earlier in the week, Crimson had been awakened every night by a voice whispering in her ear. Every night she became more and more drawn to the words she was told by this unknown visitor. The first night, the voice told her that she must do everything she was instructed to do or she would be punished. Crimson didn’t feel intimidated by her companion. The voice was calm and matter-of-fact.

The second night the voice told her to go to a costume store and pick out a witches costume, a complete witches outfit with a wig, hat, cape, mask, skirt, shoes and long fingernails. That was easy enough and by the next night when Crimson crawled under her covers, she has everything in a satchel at the foot of her bed.

Her next night’s sleep was interrupted at exactly midnight. Crimson sat up and waited to hear the whispers she’d become accustomed to. The room was deathly quiet and Crimson put her head back down on her pillow.

“Get up and come to the window,” said a low voice from across the room. Crimson hesitated for a second but felt herself getting up and moving in the direction of the window facing the backyard. She hadn’t moved of her own choice; she was drawn to the window instead. The voice she heard this time was the same voice she’d responded to previously yet there was an urgency she hadn’t detected before.

“You’ll be taking quite a journey when Halloween arrives. Look out into the dark. Are you ready to go into the darkest night of your life? Are you ready to become part of the one night a year when terror reigns supreme? Will you continue to follow my instructions to the letter?”

Crimson nodded her head in response to each question. She was frightened by what she was being told but she felt that she had no choice but to acquiesce. Crimson began to realize that she was losing control. Whatever she did on Halloween night would be determined by the entity behind the whispers she’d been hearing these past nights.

Crimson was weary the next morning, the day before Halloween. She felt as though she was coming down with a cold and wondered if she’d gotten chilled during the night while she stood by the window. If she was going out on Halloween night, she couldn’t be sick and miss school. That’s what motivated her to get dressed and go down with her coat and schoolbooks to the kitchen.

“You look kind of pale, Crimson. Are you feeling alright?” her mother asked.

“Oh, sure. I’m good to go,” replied Crimson. “I think I’ll skip breakfast though. I’m not very hungry.”

“That’s not a good sign,” her mother said. “Take a granola bar with you and I’ll pour you a glass of juice. You’ve got a long day ahead of you with volleyball practice after school. You’ll need all the energy you can get and skipping meals isn’t an option. Here, drink this and put this granola bar in your purse.”

Crimson drank the juice and grabbed the granola bar. “Thanks, Mom,” she said as she slipped on her coat. “Pick me up at 5:30?” she called over her shoulder as she went out the front door to catch the bus.

“Yes, I’ll be there,” her mother answered.

Crimson went to the end of her driveway and set her books down. She knew her mother was right about eating so she unwrapped her on-the-go breakfast and nibbled on it while she waited for the bus. She was relieved that her parents hadn’t heard anything that was going on in her room the last few nights. Whoever was speaking to her at least had the sense to be quiet.

The bus came rumbling down the street and Crimson picked up her books and stood ready to board. When the bus door cranked open, Crimson scrambled up the steps, ignoring the bus driver. The guy gave her the creeps. The look on his face when she had glanced at him other mornings was enough to make her give up riding the bus if not for Sasha’s company on the ride to school.

Crimson found Sasha in the seat they always occupied, the second to the last seat on the left side of the bus as you faced the front. Sasha giggled when Crimson sat down and asked her if the driver had winked at her again.

“I didn’t give him a chance to, for Pete’s sake,” Crimson grumbled.

“You’re breaking his heart, you mean thing, you,” Sasha joked.

Crimson didn’t feel like discussing that weirdo bus driver so she let the subject drop. She and Sasha had been best friends forever, at least, since first grade. Now that they were freshmen, their friendship was closer than ever.

Crimson hadn’t mentioned to Sasha that her nights had been quite unusual lately. For some reason, she felt that this was something she shouldn’t share with anyone, even Sasha. This would be the first time she had no one to turn to with her questions and concerns. It was lonely, a feeling Crimson wasn’t familiar with. She sat stiffly in her seat.

“Did you study for the Algebra test,” Sasha asked. “I was up until 10:30 practicing the equations.”

“Not much. The equations are pretty easy, I think,” said Crimson.

“You’re so lucky, Crimson. You really like Algebra, don’t you,” said Sasha.

“You’re right, I do,” Crimson answered.

The bus swung into the driveway that ran past the front door of Madison High School and squealed to a stop. Crimson and Sasha followed the rest of the group as they swarmed down the center aisle of the bus and poured out in front of the main doors. Crimson felt the bus driver’s eyes on her as she passed but she purposely looked in the opposite direction as she followed Sasha down the steps.

Sasha and Crimson walked side by side down the hallway to their lockers. After shoving their coats and the books they didn’t need for their first class into their lockers, they walked to the bathroom. All of the girls liked to check their hair and makeup in between classes. It was hard to get a peek at themselves with so many girls fighting for the mirrors but they saw enough to assure they were a bit more than presentable and went back out into the hall.

“I’m glad Algebra is first so I can get this test off my mind,” Sasha said.

“Well, good luck with it. I’d say you deserve a good grade after all the studying you did,” Crimson said as they walked into Mr. McDonald’s classroom.

Their Algebra teacher stood at the door watching the activities in the hall and nodded when his students entered. Mr. McDonald was strict and most of the students in the school detested him. He had more rules than most students could keep track of but Crimson had no trouble following his strict agenda to the letter and in fact enjoyed doing things his way.

Crimson finished her test before anyone else and sat back in her seat. Her mind wandered back to the night and the voice at her window. Part of her denied that any of the past few nights’ happenings had actually occurred. Part of her wanted to believe she had dreamed it all. A stronger part of her believed that she would follow the instructions that had been whispered to her beyond buying the witch costume. She felt a trickle of perspiration run down the middle of her back and felt it soak into the waistband of her jeans. It startled her since she wasn’t overly warm. She shivered unexpectedly and then looked back down at her exam.

The rest of Algebra class passed in a blur for Crimson and she felt like she had awakened from a nap when the class was over and she realized everyone was gathering their books to leave. She caught up with Sasha at the door and asked her how she felt about the test.

“I think I did pretty good. The last equation was the hardest and I’m not so sure about it but I’m just glad to be done and to know I didn’t flunk it,” Sasha said.

“Good girl. I’m proud of you,” Crimson said as she nudged her shoulder into Sasha’s. “You underestimate yourself when everyone knows you’ve the mind of a genius. Just relax and let your inner strengths do their work.”

“Right, right…genius,” Sasha said. They walked side by side to their lockers.

The day passed without anything unusual or unexpected happening. Sasha took the bus home since she wasn’t on the volleyball team. She’d tried out for the team but with her asthma it was hard for her to keep up with the practice drills and she decided to drop out. Crimson was upset to be doing something without her friend but she loved volleyball so much she continued on and made the team.

After volleyball practice and a shower, Crimson ran out to where her mother was waiting in the car. She slid in the front seat with her coat and books, turned and stashed them in the back seat .

“You look nice and rosy in the cheeks now, Crimson, much better than this morning. Did you eat your granola bar and your lunch?” her mother asked.

“Yup. I was hungry at lunch time so I ate like a horse. I even finished Sasha’s sandwich,” Crimson answered.

“I hope you’re hungry again because I made a big pot of chili and a pan of cornbread. I’ll smear some peanut butter on some celery sticks and that’ll be dinner,” her mother said.

“That’s sounds real good to me,” Crimson said as they pulled in the driveway and on into the garage. “I’ll run upstairs with my books and then I’ll come back down to help set the table.”

(I have no idea where this story would go if I continued on with it...but it was fun to write a story beginning).


Anonymous said...

I love the part about the perspiration running down Crimson's back. Will you be completing this story? You have piqued my interest!

Anonymous said...

Auntie thinks you are sure all warmed up and ready to go for the big challenge starting Npv. 1st. GOOD LUCK!!!

Anonymous said...

Now that's the way to do it. Just let the keyboard take control and let the characters tell you the story.

From what you described prior to the story, this was a freewriting experience. You have done a marvelous job in my opinion. Your stream of conscious writing is very rich.

You are ready for the challenge my friend.

Shaddy said...

limehrinfar: Thanks for stopping by. I have no plans to go any further with the story, no solid ideas although the bus driver could easily come into the story on Halloween night. That's my problem, I have no complete or even incomplete stories in my head, longing to be told. What I write during November may very well stay right where I create it. It may be a bunch of scenes going no where in particular. Oh well, so be it.

Auntie: I truly appreciate your good luck wishes especially since I know you wonder why I'm intrigued by challenges like this. Every family has at least one "crazy" member and I'm the one in ours.

darksculptures: Thank you for the positive feedback. I love writing with abandon. As I'm writing I doubt that what's coming out is any good at all but I don't let that stop me. When I'm finished and go back and read my words, I'm often rather pleased with what I find.

A week from now we'll be off and running, my friend.

Gullible said...

Nice start to a story, Shaddy. You've given us a hint of danger along with a normal day in the life of.

But, a warning: too much practice can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. ;)

Shaddy said...

Gully: Thanks, good buddy. Do I recall correctly that you had some problems when you participated in NaNoWriMo some time ago?

Thanks for the warning. I'll try to restraint myself from writing 50,000 words per evening in practice sessions. :)

Gullible said...

Put me in the hospital for six days, after 21,000 words. But that whole thing was unrelated, and still undiagnosed. Per usual.

Annie said...

Ok you can't stop writing it now!!!!!!!!! I am totally engaged!!!

Shaddy said...

Gully: Gonna do it again this year? NaNoWriMo, that is, not six days in the hospital.

Annie: Aw...thanks for reading the whole thing!