As I explained on my buddy Ing’s blog, I’m sort of cheating for this year’s NaNoWriMo.
Last November, I used NaNo to begin the prequel to Waiting For Spring. At that time it was called The Wendy House and focused on Brian’s mother, Wendy. Once December rolled around, and I had written over 74,000 words, I discovered I didn’t like it much. I was too busy with finishing the final-final edits of Waiting For Spring, then with shopping it out, to worry about the new book, so I let it rot in a folder on my PC.
Then, back in July, I had an idea of how to improve it. I did a personal NaNo so I could rewrite it.
I still didn’t like it. I put it away again.
Then, a few weeks ago, I had a revelation about Rick and Wendy, as well as a new idea of how to tell their story, which has got me super psyched about writing it (again!). I’m going to write it from each of their POV in alternating chapters. The trick? Wendy’s story will be told in the past–when she and Rick were married–and Rick’s will be told in the present–years after Wendy’s death. (NOTE: This is not a spoiler. Wendy died fourteen years before the events of Waiting For Spring, a fact established early on in that book.) I don’t have a new name for it as yet. Until then I’ll refer to it as Wendy and Rick’s book. (Ain’t I clever?)
Anyway, now I’m starting the damned thing again. Even though it’s sort of cheating–because I’m supposed to come to the NaNo table with something brand new–it isn’t really cheating, because I’m starting the book from scratch. And I’m not counting anything I bring over from the first two attempts in my word count.
Clear as mud? I thought so.
Here’s a snipit that I’m keeping from last year’s attempt, but not counting towards my 2008 word count. (The only new stuff I’ve written gives away the ending. That’s right, I started at the end…)
Rick was sitting on the porch steps, covered in sweat and dust, drinking a beer. He polished it off and tossed it aside. It clink-clanked against a pile of empty cans on the ground in front of him. He still wouldn’t meet her eyes. Instead, he pulled a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket. He lit one slowly, deliberately, with shaking hands, inhaled deeply, and blew the smoke away from her; away from Rachel. She was rolling around inside of Wendy, trying to get comfortable. Wendy knew just how she felt.
He finally spoke. “Where’s Brian?”
“At the Burkes’ house. I’m supposed to pick him up after supper.”
He nodded, still staring at the ground, and took another long drag from his cigarette. He held it in for a long time, and Wendy wondered if it hurt. If the smoke was burning his throat and nose and lungs. He blew it all out with his next words.
“You gonna let me see my son one more time before you take off on your little adventure?”
“We’re…Brian and I aren’t going. Paul is. He’s leaving today, but…I’m not.”
He finally looked up. His eyes were bleary, bloodshot, almost green in the bright, summer sun. The sight of them made Wendy finally cry; small, choking, muffled sobs. She covered her face with her hands and let it out, stood there in front of her husband, mourning the loss of another man. Of her other life. She didn’t expect him to comfort her, and he didn’t. He just sat there, smoking, waiting for her to finish.
Once she did, she wiped her eyes on her shirttail and looked at him once more. He stubbed out his cigarette on the step beside him and shook his head.
“So…what? He’s had his fun and now he’s all done with you? Is that it?”
“No. It was me. I decided to stay.”
He scoffed. “Just like that.”
“And what do you want from me?”
Her throat made a sound she didn’t recognize, something that was almost a sob. Her head and heart were pounding and she was dizzy with grief. With exhaustion. Drifting in a storm of pain and confusion and the only thing that seemed steady was Rick. Even though she knew he wasn’t.
But what she wanted was a home. She wanted to be home. For the first time in her life it’s what she wanted. She just didn’t know if she wanted it with him. But Rachel kicked her again, and it’s when she knew. If she wanted it at all, it had to be with him.
He stood up and made his way over slowly, put his arms around her. They were tentative, almost gentle. She buried her face in his dirty shirt and he kissed the top of her head. It almost made her smile. Because she’d forgotten how nice his lips were. How beautiful he really was.
They had sex, of course, right on his brother’s bed. He had to make sure she was rid of every trace of Paul. But he was slow and tender, like he was afraid he was going to hurt her. Just like Paul had always been. But she wasn’t thinking of Paul. She wasn’t thinking of Rick. She was imagining the hot, white sand and warm, blue waves that she knew she’d never see. Lying on the beach, alone, in the golden California sun. It felt just like goodbye.