NaNo 2013 revisited and possibly finished

I’ve taken my 2013 NaNo novel out of mothballs recently, deciding the time was pipe to revisit the unfinished work. After reaching the 50K word goal, I had nowhere to go with the story, no idea as to the next logical progression. I was in a rut, so I set it aside, convinced it would never see the light of day. Now I’m not so sure.

I had to delete nearly 10K words, and I see a ton of discrepancies from where I started writing and where the story ended up. I have a lot of work in store for me to make this a cohesive narrative, but here it is, in all it’s 62K word glory! Okay, you can’t see it yet, but believe me, it’s there.

What took me by surprise is the direction and change of tone it took, particularly in the past couple of days. What started off as a novel about a forty-two year old woman facing a divorce, morphed into a story about neglect, love and sex, abuse, including sexual abuse and rape, and even death. It isn’t simply about coping and moving on from a cheating spouse anymore. It evolved and became messier.

However, that’s what I like most about writing, the adventure. I have a general idea of what I want, but sometimes the way between two points can’t be a straight line. Sure it’s the quickest, but when in life do we take the quick way. Human nature is way too complicated for so simple a route. I may be the writer, but sometimes I feel as though I’m only along for the ride, just like everyone else.

It took me nine months for a solution to present itself. It took many nights for me to figure out my main character’s motivation for doing certain things, actions that ultimately imperils my main character and possibly her daughter. I tried my best to tie up all loose ends, but the husband isn’t one of those characters. He didn’t deserve that kind of send off, though he’s never the antagonist, just the catalyst that launches the story forward.

I plan to read and make as many corrections to the story before shelving it for a month or so. I’ll have to print it out and begin making wholesale revisions next, trying to get everything in line, but I need a little time and prospective first. I may pull out another unfinished word and play around with it next. I don’t know. I’ll play it by ear.


Success or failure: What do I choose?

I’ll never make it as a writer…

Quill and Ink

Quill and Ink (Photo credit: cgsheldon)

I can hear the voices clearly sometimes. You’re not good enough. No one will ever want to read your stuff. Why do you even try? The voices are jerks. I hate the voices in my head.

The voices are my own insecurities and doubts. Fear keeps me from doing what I should be doing to get ahead. The thought of another JOB makes me want to curl up into a fetal position and cry. I don’t want to work for the man. I don’t want to waste my life making another rich while I wear myself out. I don’t want that.

And neither does anyone else.

I see the dead look in people’s eyes as they trudge through the muck that is their everyday existence, and I can see the my own blank stare reflected back to me. Clock in, work, clock out, and then try to salvage at least a little bit of our day for ourselves, and our family and friends. We slave to break even, if we’re lucky. We toil just to put a roof over our heads and food to eat. We break our bodies only to fall further behind in life.

It’s happening. Look at the news. Look at the discontent among the laborers. Wages are stagnant, there is no real job growth, and hours are getting cut. The economy isn’t growing because the wealthy have stolen this country’s wealth and are hoarding it for themselves all the while wondering why they aren’t making anymore money.

I finally got a job and I’m off this week. I don’t go back until next week and only for 14 hours. The following week is about the same, but they scheduled me for a day I’m in class. Sorry, but I’m not jeopardizing my education for a go-nowhere-job where they don’t even care enough to get my schedule right. I did that once and I spent over a decade being miserable.

I’m not saying this to trash the labor force. I’m saying this to trash the employers, which is dangerous for me as I’m in the market to find a real full-time position somewhere. I am beginning the transition from student to employee all over again, and yes it scares the hell out of me.

What can I do?


Keyboard (Photo credit: Quinn deEskimo)

My only recourse is to use the only talent available to me and try to write for a living. Right out of the proverbial gate I’m met with the reality that most writers don’t make a living as writers. I wonder; how many aspiring writers are out there right now, toiling away on their computers, typewriters, and even notepads and pens, trying to write the next big thing? I know I am. I’m one of the invisible group, hoping to be taking out of obscurity and made famous for doing what I love.

Hell, here I am writing for free for myself, just to have an outlet to express my thoughts. I have a very limited readership, and I’m okay with that. Although I do want to grow my audience, my main objective is to write for writing’s sake. I write in order to discover what I believe, to put it into words, in a logical manner, that I can defend if I have to. I write in order to practice putting my thoughts down onto paper, or in this case onto the web. I write in order to learn.

You are my teachers and my evaluators. You who have taken the time to read my thoughts have become my greatest assets. I take my blog stats very seriously, and I take my Likes as a positive sign that I did a decent job. When no one reads my post, I feel that I did a poor job and that I need to do better.

My main problem is that I haven’t been as diligent as I should. I haven’t committed myself to write everyday like a writer ought to write. Be it trash or a masterpiece, without taking the time to sit down and actively engage in this craft, I will end up as a dreamer who wants the stars but remains content to watch them from afar.

But I’m not content. I’m tired of laying on the meadows at night, looking up without trying to reach out for those distant points of light. I’m tired of dreaming the dream that I yearn for, but refuse to pursue. I’m tired of hearing that I can do it, that I have the talent, “if only you’d go for it.” I will go for it. You’ll see.

In the meantime I will trudge along on this merry road, working for the marketplace, selling myself for a meager wage. It’s a sacrifice I have to pay, that I’m willing to pay, but this time I do so with my eyes open, with a plan for the future and a hope that I can escape.

We all have our dreams, and mine is to be financially independent, as much as is possible. If I have to work to enrich some man’s coffers, why shouldn’t that man be me? If I have to wear myself out, shouldn’t it be for my own benefit? In the process, if I am successful, I will end up helping others make money.

I just have to remember this: I need to sit down and write. Success or failure rests solely on my ability to set aside some time to write. Unless I sit down and get serious, I’ve already failed. I don’t want to fail, not this time and not with this. Failure is always an option, but success only becomes a possibility if I not only try but I do.

Short story – Harvest Moon

Happy Friday! I’ve been lazy all week. I never got around to posting anything on Wednesday, and it feels as though I’m no doing anything today. Too bummed I suppose. So instead I decided to put up this short story I wrote. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

“You’re so going to get me in trouble,” Evie whispered, before leaning out and kissing the boy standing outside her bedroom window.

“Only if you don’t keep your voice down,” Bryce whispered in return. Evie grinned as she jumped out her window, falling into his arms. She gave Bryce a quick kiss before she took his hand and ran down the driveway, toward his car. She jumped in while Bryce walked around to the driver’s side.

“Hurry, before we’re caught! I’m supposed to be in bed.”

“Calm down,” he said. The boy slowly pulled out, trying not to make too much noise as he stepped on the accelerator. Once he put a few blocks between them and the house, he relaxed and revved up his engine. A relaxed smile replaced the anxious look on his face as he sighed in relief. He’d have to bring her back and help sneak her back in, but in the meantime they had hours to enjoy together.

Bryce followed the road until he hit Highway 11. He then headed out-of-town for a few miles before turning down a dusty county road. After about a quarter-mile, he pulled off into a copse of trees. He knew that they’d be fully hidden from view, miles from the nearest house. The night was dark as the stars were hidden behind a veil of clouds. Bryce turned off the lights to the car and shut off the engine. The only light to be seen came from the harvest moon that had found a break in the clouds.

“Finally,” Evie purred as she jumped onto Bryce, straddling him, kissing him, and slowly grinding against him. He took no time in trying to bring her closer, the sweet vanilla scent of her perfume making him temporarily dizzy. In the pale moon light, Evie seemed to glow, giving her an almost angelic quality.

She paused to catch her breath, then slowly began to undo her top. “I’m tired of waiting. Please, let’s do this tonight,” she pleaded.

Bryce grew silent and swallowed hard, his mouth becoming dry. He wanted her more than anything, but still it would be their first time, and he would have preferred a more appropriate setting. Unfortunately, Evie was not the kind of girl who suffered rejection very well, and he knew that if he didn’t do this soon, she’d dump him and find someone who would.

“I love you, Evie,” he said. “If you really want this, I’ll do it.”

“And I love you, too, baby,” she squealed, delighted by his response. “I only need you. I promise, I’m yours forever.” She said the last words as she crossed her heart. Bryce relaxed a bit, accepting her declaration of love. He only wanted her. Too bad he was only sixteen and she fifteen. They would have to wait to make it official and get married, but at least tonight they would consummate their love.

Being young and agile, they crawled over the seats to get to the back seat with ease. Evie impatiently pulled Bryce on top of her, but they had only gotten as far as kissing each other. For all their desire to finally make love, they did feel a certain amount of reluctance. They realized that it would be a big step in their journey towards adulthood.

It didn’t take long before their hormones and excitement overpowered their sense of fear and trepidation. Instinct took over as they found a rhythm. Bryce began to pull his shirt off when a loud thump brought them back to reality. “What’s that?” She whispered, fearing that her parents had found them, glad that they were still dressed.

“I don’t know,” Bryce replied, his voice a little shaky but trying to sound braver than he felt. “Let me check it out, but it’s probably nothing.” He bent down and gave her a kiss before he reached over the seat to open the driver’s side door. He stepped out of the car and walked towards the back. Evie waited, embracing herself out of fear. She then heard him ask, his voice drenched in fear, “Who – who are you? Wha – what do you want?”

She didn’t hear an answer. All she could hear was a struggle breaking out between her boyfriend and some unknown stranger. It didn’t go on for very long before she heard him cry out in pain.

“Bryce!” Evie shouted, shaking uncontrollably in the back seat, frozen in fear.

“GET OUT OF HERE!” Her boyfriend barked, the pain evident in the way he struggled to shout. “RUN!” He tried to defend himself against an unknown attacker as Evie got out of the car. She immediately saw the cold gleam of steel before it disappeared. The next thing she heard was Bryce’s muffled cry, then the sound of death rattling in his throat.

Panicking, she screamed. She turned to flee, but a hand grabbed her by the hair and pulled her back. She lost her balance, hitting her head on the rear bumper as she fell, ending up on her back, completely dazed. Evie struggled to keep her eyes open as she tried to focus on her attacker. Finally, through her tears, she managed to see who had attacked them, the old druggie that lived outside of town.

“Help! Someone, anybody, help!” She continued to scream hysterically, but the old man only smiled his toothless grin. He then brandished his knife and slashed her throat before stabbing her in the gut.

She cried out in pain, afraid that the end had come.


Moon (Photo credit: shahbasharat)

Evelyn’s eyes flew open in terror. She sprang out of bed and gasped for air, drenched in a cold sweat. Beside her, her husband slept unaware of the nightmare that tormented his wife.

“It was only a dream. It was only a dream,” she chanted over and over again, trying to dispel the vivid images. The flashes were more than mere memory. She didn’t just remember that night, she had been there again. Twenty years later and she found herself there, reliving the horror as she had every year since that fateful night.

After catching her breath, she rolled out of bed and glided silently out the room. She paused for a moment and took a look at her reflection in the hallway mirror. The same girl who had snuck out of her parent’s house so many years ago stared back at her. Evelyn placed her hand absentmindedly on her abdomen and found the puncture wound where the old pervert had stabbed her. In the mirror, she could see the fresh gash on her neck where the old pervert had slashed her viciously.

She looked away and turned to go out the front door, passing the room where her teenaged daughter slept. A trouble maker, as she had been before the attack. Her daughter was a spitting image of her once wayward mother. She turned her back on her daughter, glad that she wouldn’t have to deal with her at the moment.

In the next room, her son sleep peacefully. He resembled his father, in looks and in behavior. He had the same temperament, easy, laid-back, and respectful. He never gave anyone any trouble, but he had no discernible personality. Her son was a blank slate, empty and passionless. She sometimes forgot that she had a son. She felt nothing for him, like she felt nothing for his father.

Finally, Evelyn walked out into the dark night. A blanket of clouds hid the stars from view, but she didn’t need them. She never did. Evelyn could make the walk in her sleep. She walked down the driveway, towards Highway 11. As far as she lived from the highway, it took her no time at all to find her way. Once again, she had made her way back to the copse of trees where she had been attacked. This was where she had witnessed Bryce die.

She walked alone, and stopped inches from where they had parked the car. Then through the darkness she saw it. She turned and walked forward, still in her nightgown and barefoot, inching ever closer. The glow of an iridescent form, lying motionless on the ground, appeared as though it had been summoned. She walked slowly, almost reverently, towards what she knew to be the corpse of her young, would-be lover.

It began to stir. Then without warning he sat up, and his blazing eyes locked onto hers. His eyes were terrible to behold, but she could not look away. His burning eyes would not release her gaze. She remained under his spell, locked by the sadness and the angelic beauty that death had bestowed on him. Then the instant he blinked, the illusion was broken, and Bryce smiled. “I wondered if you’d come tonight.”

“Like I had a choice,” Evelyn replied in a reverent tone. “You summoned me from the beyond. I heard the call and here I am.”

“The beyond,” he spat bitterly, the angelic expession replaced with one of bitterness and contempt. “I’m nowhere. Neither here nor there. Neither alive nor dead. Not of this world nor the next. I’m cursed to stay here, your prisoner in death as I would have been in life.”

“Don’t say that, please,” Evie protested, her voice wavering, tired of the decades old argument. “You can go. You’re free, so why stay?”

“You promised you’d be mine forever,” he reminded his old girlfriend. “Now, I’m afraid, I’m yours. I’m bound to you until you leave this fragile life. My soul is bound to yours. My blood mingled with your blood the moment his knife entered your flesh. I saw it all. I waited for you to cross over to me, but you never came,” he finished sadly. “You never came.”

“You wanted me to die?” She asked as she had asked every year.

“No,” he shook his head innocently, “never, but I do want you with me. I need you with me to move on. That’s why I call you.”

“You know I can’t.”

“But you still showed up,” Bryce smiled triumphantly. “You can’t escape your destiny, although you seem determined to prolong it for some stupid reason. Why? What’s so important that you have to stay behind?”

“I’m married,” she said angrily, but not meeting his gaze. “And I have two beautiful children.”

“You hate your husband,” Bryce’s spirit answered sarcastically. “You only married him because he was the opposite of me. He’s boring, predictable, and safe; he’s everything that I never was. You hoped that you could exorcise me, but instead you’ve brought me in even closer. Your very being calls out to me, too. You keep me here, bound to you.”

“And my children?”

“You daughter causes you nothing but pain. She’s you, and you hate her for it. She reminds you of everything you gave up, everything you rejected trying to get rid of me. You’re jealous of her, and you hate yourself for it.”

“And my son?”

“He’s your husband,” he said coldly.

She turned away from him, not wanting him so see her pain. She wanted to run, but she knew she could never escape him. The truth of his words cut her, but the truth was inescapable. She hated her life. Had she married someone adventurous, perhaps she could have moved on. Maybe if she had found someone she could love, Bryce could cross over and finally be at peace. She felt trapped, trapped by destiny, by truth, and her life’s choices. No matter the truth, she had responsibilities that she could not abandon.

“We don’t have much time you know,” the pale young ghost stated. He turned to where he had been murdered twenty years before. She followed, and could see the faint outline of where his blood had spilled.

“Did it hurt?” Evie wondered out loud.

“It did at first,” the ghost of Bryce admitted, with a shrug, “but only for a little while. Then the pain faded away suddenly, and I felt a warm peace take its place. Then everything turned black before the dazzle of some unearthly sphere blinded me. I was banished almost immediately, and I floated away and found myself here, to wait for you to join me.”

“Why didn’t you keep going then?” She asked, this time directly at him.

“I didn’t want to leave you alone,” he replied, taken aback by the question. “Until the last ties that bind me to mortal life are severed, I’m trapped her. I thought it was obvious. I’m now forced to wait for you so we could cross over together. I’m still waiting for you, you know?”

“I know,” she sighed. “I wish I could help you move on, but it’s not my time.”

“Your time came then, too,” he responded matter-of-factly. “That’s why you show up every harvest moon. All you have to do is to let go.” He held his hand out, inviting her to him. She smiled and tried to hold his hand, but couldn’t. “As long as you remain tethered to life we cannot be together. Why you choose your tortured life, I’ll never know.”

“It’s not so easy,” she cried. “I can’t leave mom alone. I won’t put her through that kind of loss again. She almost lost me once, and now I’m all she has left.”

“And what of my parents!” Bryce exploded. “They lost a son, but I still had the good sense to leave. They got over it.”

“I know, but I’m here, and I won’t do it to her. Not yet. I’m not ready to go.”

“I’ll drop it, but it’s not easy being stranded here in between life and death. Is this limbo or is this purgatory?”

“I don’t know,” she whispered. She turned and saw where she had been attacked and winced. The wounds physically healed, but she still carried them inside, a permanent part of her psyche. “They finally executed your murder,” she said casually.

“So? He scoffed. “He can no longer touch me here.” He saw her face fall and closed his eyes, overcome with understanding. “Ah? He could still hurt you, couldn’t he?”

“I saw him put down,” she said barely above a whisper, but he heard it clearly. “He looked at me, leered at me, defiling me all over again. He didn’t want me to die, you know. He wanted to screw with me, and he did until the end. He took my gift to you, and he took you from me, and left me to live a tortured life. I’m glad he’s finally dead.”

Bryce said nothing. He sat down on a fallen tree and stared at the dark sky. “I’ve sat here for twenty years, waiting for you to give up. I hate coming in second to that sorry excuse of a husband.”

“Second? You are my first, my true one and only. I don’t love him, not like I love you, but I can’t just die. I’m alive, and I have to live. If you truly loved me, you would let me live.”

“Then live! Stop coming here, but you know you can’t. You’re life ended when mine did. Why can’t you just accept it and come with me.” He stood up and walked up to her. “Go back to your life then, if that’s what you honestly want. What’s a lifetime when compared to eternity. Live your life, but don’t waste it. Embrace your passion and stop living a life that isn’t yours to live. Maybe you got a temporary reprieve, but you’re living on borrowed time. Maybe you have the choice to go or stay at the moment, but soon you won’t get to decide.”

“I love you. I’m yours forever.”

“As long as you’re his, I can’t be yours,” he sighed, ” but I love you, too.” He looked towards the horizon. “The sun is about to rise. It’s time for you to go if that’s what you want. I guess I’ll sleep for another year and hope that you’ll be ready then.”

He walked away, not giving her a chance to say anything, and faded from view, his light extinguished for another year. All she could see now was the failing light of the harvest moon leading her to where Bryce’s light had faded, beckoning her home.

She turned instead towards her house and instantly found herself in her bedroom. She looked down at her husband and regretted ever going out with the bore. Beside him, she saw her thirty-five year old self sleeping fitfully. She could see the faint lines around her eyes and her mouth, and a few gray hairs above her ear. She could see the scar of where her throat had been slashed. More importantly, she could see the ghost of her fifteen year old self yearning to be set free.

She froze, for the first time unsure of what to do. As much as she gripped, she still loved her children. Could she actually abandon them? And her husband? He had done the best he could do. He gave her everything he she asked for, everything she needed. She wanted for nothing, except perhaps some excitement every now and then. For all her complaints, she loved him, too, in a way.

She stood there, unable to make up her mind. She knew she had to decide before the sun broke over the horizon. Already the night sky began to give way to the telling hues of dawn. She had mere moments to decide, knowing that if she stayed she would enlist for another year. If she left, it would be over, and she would finally be able to rest.

She looked at herself asleep in bed and then out the window. The night slowly receded. She closed her eyes, trying to make up her mind, willing herself to come to a decision. She didn’t know what to do until the final moment before dawn broke.

The rooster began to crow in the distance. Evie opened her eyes. She had made her decision.