Day 26 #nanowrimo

day26Words for the day: 4225 (target was 4K)
T-shirt: It’s been a long sleeve top day
Best music vibe: Stone Temple Pilots

Armed with this mud map to the end, it should be a walk in the park, right? Well it’s a good find, to think you know where you are going, until the characters show up and do their own thing. Gah!

This time is was Ramsey turning up at dinner with extra people. Extra people who look like the staff living and working in the house. But who are obviously not the hired help.

Gosh and then there was the moment in the shower when Sally Sparrow moment came to  e… and I now have the opening written (you can read it below in a few minutes) and a half-written ending. With that I can unequivocally say, that despite all that goes on in Dalhousie, I will possibly be able to sell it as a romance book. It is still very much gothic horror, but that sub-genre has a very strong romance element to it.

But before I get ahead of myself, I need to finish the damn book. Then do all the additional research, redefine the characters in accordance to their new arcs, write a second, third, fourth and probably fifth draft.

Gosh – and all those words. I was aiming for 75,000 words. I’m sitting on 71,500 and I believe there are at least another 10,000 words to go. Perhaps a few more. The desire is still strong to finish this by Saturday night.

Bring out your cheer squads. I didn’t expect to be doing 4K days at this end of the game. And while the pom poms gather and the legs are warmed up, skirts pulled discretely down, a few words to open the actual novel.

* * *

The sound of rubber soles, squeaking and pounding behind her; the rhythm of panic mashed with the rumbling trundle of the suitcase wheels on polished floors and the eddy of conversations. Another punter late for a flight.

“Flight DJ424 for Sydney is paging passengers Dr Robert Selvaratnam and Mrs Robert Selvaratnam.” Mish stopped and looked up at the speaker. “Please make your way to gate 32. Your plane is boarded and ready for an immediate departure.”

“Miss Mulholland?” a voice called from behind. “Michelle Mulholland?”

A young man in a Flight Facilities t-shirt, ran toward her, looking between the screen on his phone and then up to her, as if checking a photograph. “Oh shit,” he puffed, stopping where she stood beneath the speaker, bending over to catch his breath. “I spend my whole life waiting for this one minute and I almost fuck it up entirely.”

He handed her an envelope, yellow and brittle, the ink faded by time, but the handwriting she’d know anywhere.

“She says her only regret was you’d never know. The rest would be taken care of.”

“She?”

“I’ve never read it. None of us have, but we were told it explains everything.”

Mish sliced open the envelope. Instead of taking out the letter she withdrew the photographs and flicked through them.

“I don’t understand,” she said. The boy was gone, swallowed by the swell of passengers flooding the concourse from a recent arrival. She glanced the opposite way toward the departures lounge. She’d left only five minutes maybe more given she’d stopped at the ladies.

“Jokes on me, right?” she said aloud, turning slowly waiting for the hidden camera crew to reveal themselves. A minute passed and another, as she stood in the sea of humanity, all moving toward somewhere else while she felt anchored to this one moment in time. Endlessly caught. Buffeted by irrational possibilities.

When the host of the new reality TV show didn’t step forward to announce the joke was one her, she pushed across the tide of travellers and opened the letter in a small enclave between a coke machine and an abandoned luggage trolley.

Days 21 – 25 #nanowrimo

days 19 to 23It’s been a while between dips into the blog. I am excited to announce that although it has been quiet here the words have continued off screen despite a few hiccups and life incursions.

It was a bit of a struggle toward the end of last week, Friday being a low point of just 800 words. Gratefully I woke early Saturday morning and as I lay in bed contemplating everything that I had to do, a long wrestled with conversation started downloading in my head. Upshot, I got 2100 words, alongside a spectacular breakfast and knew the day of my 40th party was going to work out fine.

Sunday I realised I wasn’t going to be able to wing it to the end of the novel. I needed to carefully think through the role all my characters had to play. And I knew I couldn’t do it alone. Friday I brained stormed a scene with Em for her novel over sushi lunch and Thursday with Rus for his (sadly not in person), so I knew it was time to call in a favour.

Rob and I sat in his steamy kitchen with my huge sketch book between us as thunder detonated around us and rain added extra humidity to the air rather than clear it. I truly sweated out a story.

And while I told bits of the story to help Rob piece together the newer, bigger version of the short story, those bits sounded increasing desperate and stupid. I tried not to scribble all over my mud/mine map. I could see Rob tapping his fingers on the table top in ever increasingly elaborate displays. And all I could think was ‘I fucked it all up.’ I have so fucked it up.

“You don’t want to turn it into a murder mystery,” he said.

“Hell, no. This is the ending.” I said.

And then the pieces fell into place. Who was playing who. Who really had all the stuff to lose. What I think is most amazing, is all the pieces were there, all the characters were in play and I had just failed to make one important connection between the characters. Bit by bit we went through and I fitted it all together. Who dies first and how. Who died next and how. Right down to the end.

The best bit about all of this, is the fun that will be had in the second draft when I get to go back and retrofit all this.

IMG_6467Back at the start of November Adam issued me with three dares. The second was to include a derided classical novel. When I told Lois about the dare she insisted that I share how it all played out. This is by no stretch of the imagination polished. But here is a bunch of folk sitting around a table… talking about stuff!

* * *

“Favourites?” Becca said, placing her knife and fork in the thick smear of Reading Sauce on her plate, the bottle now hidden from view and the brunt of puns about Cocks’s brand of sauces. “What do you think favourites actually means? What does it tell you about someone?”

“I think it’s what people don’t like that tell you more about them than what they actually like,” said Christian.

“Oh yeah, people will tell you what they don’t like without thinking,” Lucas said

“That’s not entirely correct. Half the time we don’t even know what we don’t like and the other half of time the we’re too afraid to say it,” Gordy countered

“So like, I ask someone what colour they really hate,” Becca continued, ignoring Lucas and Gordy, “and without  even thinking about it, they say orange.”

“I like orange,” Lucas said.

“You are weird,” Becca said. “Okay, but I ask them what their favourite colour is, and they have to, you know, think about it.”

“I said, my favourite colour is orange.”

“You’re being belligerent.”

“I am offering an alternate point of view.”

“You are being –”

“Maybe it’s kinda like body language, how it says all the things that we really don’t want to say.”

Tabitha straightened up and stopped pulling at the corners of her nails.

“Maybe you shouldn’t be asking about favourites. Maybe you should be asking what’s the best accidental indicator of the real person,” Ramsey said and turned to face the sculptor to his right, “of the person sitting next to you for example.”

“You mean the stuff that says stuff about themselves without them meaning to?” Lucas asked.

“I’m an open book,” the sculptor said and Tabitha was sure she’d never heard such profanity in a simple statement.

“Francois Mauriac says if you want to know a man’s heart look not to what he reads, but what he re-reads,” Tabitha said.

“Interesting,” commented Ramsey he went to pour the wine and the sculptor went to take the bottle from him. “Let’s not stand on tradition tonight,” he said, keeping hold of the bottle. “Let us just serve ourselves. I’d like us to be, what is the word, contempories.”

Becca suppressed a giggle behind her hand.

“I’ve never re-read a book,” the sculptor said.

Gordy accepted the bottle and poured himself some and then topped up Becca’s glass.

“You’ve read a book though?” Tabitha said.

“Of course I’ve read a book.” Gordy passed the bottle to Christian who emptied it between his glass and Tabitha’s.

“I’ve never re-read a book,” Lucas said. “I’ve hardly read any books that aren’t text books. A hand full of novels maybe. I can’t concentrate. My head skips a million miles an hour over stuff. I’m bored too easily by them.”

“I’ve re-read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ three times,” said Becca. “What do you reckon that says about me?”

“That you’re a decade too early for housewife porn,” Tabitha said, pulling apart a roll and teasing the soft white innards out. “And have nothing better do with your time.”

“So you’ve read it then?”

“I wouldn’t waste my time on cheap, badly written smut.”

“Smut… that’s a bit prudish isn’t it.”

“Prudish? Your vocabulary doesn’t mirror your taste in literature.” Tabitha put down the dismembered roll. “You have this idea of me as, what? A repressed bored housewife. You think sex in literature bothers me. That talking about sex at the dinner table bothers me?”

She felt Christian’s hand on her knee and she wasn’t sure if it was a come on or a back off. She pulled at the broach at her throat, wishing she could be free of the confines of the fucking clothes they had to wear.

“I read Lady Chatterley’s Lover when I was 17. I’ve read it several times since and each time I get something new from it. DH Lawrence wrote it in 1928 and uses words EL James won’t even use. Inner goddness and all that euphemistic crap. Does she even use the word cock?”

Tabitha gauged the reaction of her dining company. “If you want to actually learn something about intimate relationships, Becca, not normalised and popularised abusive relationships, why don’t you grab the first edition from the drawing room and read that. Broaden your mind.”

Becca sat fuming.

“I guarantee if you want to get off, DH Lawrence will get you there better and faster than anything Ms James spewed onto the page as bad Twilight fan fiction.”

“You didn’t just read DH Lawrence as a teenager, Tabby,” Christian said. “You’ve watched your fair share of crap on TV.”

“I’m loud and proud about my love of Die Hard.”

“Is there an expectation, Tabitha that one should read certain books, like certain books and re-read them in accordance with their creative enclave?” asked Ramsey re-routing the conversation.

“I read what I like. I read what I enjoy and I re-read the books that give me something every time I read them again. I don’t care what I’m meant to read. That’s a kill joy. Sure fire way to hate something.”

“It’s no different to your favourite movie. Or your favourite album then,” Gordy said.

“Unless it’s Jeff Fucking Buckley,” swore Tabitha and then blushed furiously. “I apologise, it’s just, I had this – boyfriend – who would only ever listen to Jeff Buckley. I can’t bear to listen to it. He totally ruined Jeff for me.”

“What does it mean to fixate on something then?” Ramsey asked.

“That’s a bit strong,” Gordy countered. “You can like something, you can want to feel it in your bones, but it doesn’t mean it’s like, some drug.”

“I don’t know, only ever listening to Jeff Buckley?” She rolled her eyes. “C’mon, he released two albums. At least if it was The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, someone with a back catalogue of work. Or someone who was going to produce new work.”

“Unless someone’s worked out the exhumation thing –”

“Everything you are talking about, it seems to me shines like a beacon of one of the fundamental flaws of humans,” The Sculptor said.

“And what would that be?” Tabitha asked.

“That we all seek comfort in the familiar and not the unknown. You re-read what?”

“The ‘Time Travellers Wife’?”

“Because why?”

“Because every time I pick it up Henry de Tamble lives.”

“Wasn’t he a pedaphile?” Becca interjected. “I heard he was.”

“He’s not a pedaphile.”

“So is it your inability to cope with death and loss that brings you back to reading it over and over again.”

“I’m not like Robert and the Jeff Buckley thing. I read, other books too.”

“But you come back to this book. Often, I am guessing.” He took a long sip and ensured he completely had the floor. “It just seems to me, that there is not enough time in a single life time to read all the important books, to see all the art, movies, listen to all the music, so why go back and do old stuff, when there is new stuff to be experienced. What life changing book might you miss because you’re back reading ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ again?”

“I believe there is a book that is meant to change my life, then it will find its way to me. And it will come at the right time. You realise that we’re not sharks. We’re not in perpetuation motion, consuming and hunting down the next thing. Moving to survive. There is nothing wrong with stopping. With comfort.”

“Isn’t there?” The Sculptor cocked an eyebrow and smiled, and his teeth glinted with a sharpened edge she hadn’t noticed before.

“So is there stuff we share with some people and not with others. Give them the illusion that we might like something when actually it’s not what we like. There was that article about the books people have to impress others.” Becca looked directly at Tabitha and before she could answer, Gordy cut in.

“What if repetitive consumption is something, we like, only do with some things and not others.”

“Like people who never form close and important relationships?” Tabitha said looking first at the Sculptor and then at Becca. “Or who never move beyond Jeff Buckley.”

“I can’t live without music, my favourite tracks are right up there with coffee in the morning,” Gordy said.

“You say tracks,” said Christian. “What about albums. We’re losing the ability to appreciate something as a whole. Don’t musicians create something as pieces of something bigger. What’s lost when you are  just creating singles?”

“You sound like you’re talking about a concept album.”

“It’s like a short story compared to a novel,” Tabitha said. “Both work if the writer knows what they are doing. But they are different beasts. You can’t compare one against the other.”

“Where is the light and shade if it’s all about one song?” Christian said.

“Is there not one perfect song in your life?”

“Doesn’t it change, as you change?”

“Is there one album you love every song on? Not one weak song. No fillers.”

“Several,” Christian said. “Because I appreciate them not just on each song’s individual merit but because of what they add to the tracks around them. What they create as a whole.”

“Why’d you give up music?” Becca asked and the buzz of conversation died. “Why do you keep turning down our invites to come and jam?”

“Like Tabitha said, you wait for the right time and right place… and sometimes,” he tapped his finger on the rim of the wine glass. “Sometimes the pieces just don’t fit. Or sometimes you break them, trying to make them fit.”

“So,” Becca said. “What’s your expression, Christian What’s the replay that’s most important.”

“Movies,” said Christian. “’Apocalypse Now’, if you want to pin me to one.”

“Books,” said Tabitha. “Followed by music.”

“Movies,” and Lucas. “Then clothes.”

“Music,” said Gordy.

“I can’t believe your banal enough to even ask that.”

“Then pretend she asked everyone but you then,” Tabitha snarked.

“Life,” cut in Ramsey, “Life is my most precious replay. Why I’m so grateful to have you here sharing yours with me.”

Day Nineteen & Twenty #nanowrimo

days 19 and 20Every story has a dark night of the soul that the character must survive and walk out the other side, changed in some way, to complete their quest.

It wouldn’t be a month of intense writing without a dark night of your own (not that I was intentionally courting one – I’m not that much of a masochist!). The last two days have been that for me (don’t let the happy smile on Day 19 fool you!).

There are any number of reasons, catalysts and contributors to this (some I would talk about and others I won’t) but I am glad to say that through the doubt and the tears and the struggle through a bunch of behind the scenes stuff, I kept writing even when I lost faith. The story rumbles on, carrying me kicking and screaming where necessary.

* * *

“In my novel, he lies to her,” she said, her voice choked up. “It’s a blast furnace that destroys everything that tries to come near it. The lie is like a piece of rotting meat in the esophagus of their relationship. They’re both choking on it.”

The image evoked the carnivorous hourglass in his dream: Aliyah masticated in the copper jaws, Joshie drawn into it. And in all these nightmares, where was Tabitha? The woman whose red tresses ate her.

Tabitha with her fading, red hair bound up in an untidy mess, looking as though someone had pulled her apart and sewn her back together in a way that wasn’t quite right. Like Ramsey had said about being in love.

‘What’s the fucking point,” she swore. “You’re not even listening. One day, Christian,” she said, standing up half-dressed in her corset and skirt. “One day, I’ll become the thinnest sheet of glass. And I’ll shatter and disappear.”

 

Day Eighteen #nanowrimo

day18Words for the day: 2300 (target was 2K)
T-shirt: Galifrey (though I’m still in PJs here)
Best music vibe: “Almost With You”

There is something to be said for the almost loss of momentum in passing 50K. I know I have an entire novel still to write – well another third to write, there is no time for bunking off, yet I feel the creep of fatigue. I think I need something really exciting to happen.

This morning I woke up knowing what I was going to write. It was the only thing that got my past the apathy creep, into the chair and writing. I’ve found once I make the first 1K for the day, the rest is generally easier. Makes sense I guess. Takes time to warm up.

I know there is a mess left behind and I know how to structurally fix it. The problem is it will take time and it won’t necessarily bring forth new words initially.

But for today I got Tabitha and Christian back together and there was something almost bittersweet in it. Obviously I need them back together so I can tear them apart. Again! Playing the original short story sound track dragged up a bunch of stuff I didn’t really want to sit with on a Monday morning, but I did it. And I got the words. And Christian and Tabitha are back together. For now.

There’s 22K left to write. I’m about at the point of no return where it’s going to go to shit really quickly and really badly. I guess I can enjoy this little quiet before the big storm.

To tease, I won’t give you a glimpse into their make up, as there are spoilers. Instead, let me introduce you to Velveteen.

* * *

The darkness seemed a lighter shade of grey after Christian was gone. Even the world beyond the windows didn’t pulse with the same intoxicating intensity. In the static she thought she could make out images: a rabbit dashing through long grass; lovers entwined; the slow moving hand of a clock; long tresses of hair swirling in an autumn wind; sand draining backward through an hourglass.

She closed the curtains and wound the mechanical guitarist, dropped more coal into the grate and stoked the fire. Only then did she wind the rabbit beside the typewriter. The small eye lit up and he sat up.

“What shall I call you?”

She tried to remember the name of the Velveteen Rabbit. Or was he just Velveteen? Velveteen had been one of Transvision Vamps albums, but like the book, she couldn’t even remember now if any of her favourite songs were on that album.

“Velveteen, then.” The perfect name for a patchwork rabbit, albeit a metal one.

She put Velveteen down on the abandoned pages of her novel, replacing the paperweight. When the mechanism wound down she counter-wound it and watched the way its tiny nose twitched. Inquisitive.

If Christian could make that, he could make some big-arse arm to haul a room out of time. She believed in him. In believing in him she no longer had to doubt herself. Doubt him. And the pain numbed, but didn’t leave.

The sound of the carriage roller warmed the places of her heart that had fallen cold in the absence of story. She didn’t need to read back over the last pages to know where her story left off. When she lost faith, her characters had lost faith and the story came to a grinding halt.

She closed her eyes and her fingers flew over the keys of the typewriter, newly oiled and tightened by Christian before he went back to the workshop. In her mind’s eye the words weren’t the only thing fuelled by the hope in Velveteen’s tiny turquoise eye.

Day Seventeen #nanowrimo

day 17Words for the day: 2276 (target was 2.K)
T-shirt: The Book was Better
Best music vibe: “Get Me A Macchiato, Pronto!” The Yacht Club DJs

This morning I left the house to get my words. A bit like yesterday, I wasn’t coming home until I had 2K. The only problems today weren’t just that I had a time limit and I had to also get groceries while I was out… the real problem was my brain was mash and I feared I’d hit the wall of my creativity. 50K in two weeks was tempting creative fatigue.

There are several days every month when my brain departs, my body shuts down and I’m best found on the couch or immersed in a book. I sleep lots. I expect nothing from myself. Yet yesterday I expected the biggest word count of this campaign.

And my primordial days kind of crept up on me, even though I was meant to be mindful of it’s sideswiping tendency.

It took forever to get words. To sink down.

It didn’t help that I found a glaring structural error in the book. I sent Christian below far too early. I need to space it out to build the tension – have him come up from the cave for Becca’s salon and disappear again. I have to build into the narrative the believability he’s doing something with Becca, or at the very least, make it look like Becca is chasing him.

So, in my mucky headspace, I took in the dark places that Tabitha goes to. It’s not a dreamscape like Jo goes through in Elyora, but the ethereal game of checkers Tabitha plays in the foyer with the ghosts of her children comes close to the storm scene in Elyora. The writing has the same lyrical horror of it.

I want to interweave her madness with Christians feverish work to prove himself to Ramsey. And in all of this two things are apparent: there is not enough of Ramsey (does this mean I remove him altogether?) and that I started far too early. I wonder if in the second draft the chop will be the first three chapters?

I need to plug all of this into Scrivener and begin to tease it apart so I can get the momentum rolling again for the ending.

And just when I think I don’t need any more threads I get the most poignant image of Maya at the grand piano in the drawing room playing. Ahhh – perhaps this is what might be seen during Tabitha’s lonely walks through the house at night.

Tonight I’ll leave you with the what goes down in the foyer in the dead of night.

* * *

The hallways were the highways and byways of Tabitha’s decay riddled heart at night. In the maze of thoughts they were unchanging, as she turned right and left, into parts of house she hadn’t even explored with Lucas. They called her into their embrace rather that sit alone in the room staring at the empty page and feeling the absence of her story as viscerally as the Christian’s.

But what was night? All the windows were clothed in heavy drapes to block out the inky void that lived beyond; a hypnotic nothingness beating a subliminal pulse. If you stared long enough into it, you would feel the ever so slight gravity, pulling you into it. She’d almost opened the window one night and climbed out into it, when it felt as though there was more beyond than was left within.

Night. Was it really night? What was night other than the absence of daylight and in the absence of daylight, could there be night?

The extinguishing of the lamps was hardly a ‘real’ night. False salutations of ‘Good evening’ at the dinner table when they arrived. ‘Sleep well’ when they left. If only she could sleep. The bed empty and cold and cavernous with only her in it.

Tabitha turned the corner and looked down the never-ending dark hallway, her PJs pants wavered in a breeze that skimmed the surface of the worn carpet.

A thousand other insomniacs, lost, wandering bare foot in the freezing cold, looking for their way home.

She followed the cold air and found herself at the door of Ramsey’s study. The handle turned and the door gave when she pushed it. The light from the lantern brushed against the walls like a paint wash over crayon. She remembered Jacqui thinking it was magic, the way her drawings lept off the page. The delight in her eyes.

“Mummy.” The laughter of children rang out from out in the foyer, small foots steps running, skipping, jumping. Ghosts playing hopscotch.

Her bare feet were silent on the black and white tiles. She moved from one thinking about how she had taught Louis to play checkers last summer while Robert was away.

“Crown me, Mum. Crown me, Mum,” he had chanted the first time he’d won through to the other side of the board.

Her bare feet slipped across the black tiles. Always moving diagonally. White feet, black tiles. “Now you can move forward and backward now.”

Forward to the edge of the board. And backward again. But no one here to play against. Just the good parts of her trying to hold out while the bad parts jumped her, and lined them all up out of reach. The good parts of her out of the game now.

“You be red,” he’d said. “I’ll be black. Then you can be black and I can be white.”

The cold burnt her feet and she started to cry.

There was nothing good left in her. Her children were ghosts from a life she wanted to escape. She had left them behind. Purposely.

You’ve forgotten your own children.

They’re home still. Asleep in the same minute I left them.

But you forget them.

The voices in her head tailed off until there was nothing. Just the cold press of silence and loneliness.

Day Sixteen #nanowrimo

day 16Words for the day: 8382 (target was reach 50K by the evening)
T-shirt: Fashion was less important that words today
Best music vibe: “Love Me Again” John Newman

I lay in bed half awake contemplating the possiblity of hitting 50K. It wasn’t something I had gone to bed thinking was doable but something in the haze of a 6am Saturday morning skim of consciousness, I thought it was.

I got up. I didn’t bother with a shower (I’m photographed again in my nighty!). I boiled the kettle, made tea and sat down. I checked my word count. I was just shy of 9K from the elusive ‘win’. Even as I typed, I wasn’t sure if I could make it. If I was setting myself up for disaster to even announce my intention publicly. Somewhere along the way I did.

Despite the eddy of arguments in my household and plans that shifted like quick sand, I left with a tissue drenched in ‘focus’ oil and headed to the Write In at Milton. It was my first chance to attend one and Mel did a great job of getting me sorted out with all my paraphenalia. Jon offered to put my catch up stickers on my card, until I told him I was waiting until I hit 50K. That was what I was there to do. And write I did.

If I had have been at home, you know, I would have wandered away and done washing, swept a floor, anything, because it was hard. It hurt. And when I realised that I was going to have to write the scene between Tabitha and the sculptor as my final scene for the day it felt like a cruel irony I would end up here.

It came with a silver lining. That scene in the sculptor’s lair is the only fully fleshed out scene in the entire short story. I copied and pasted it into my manuscript and reworked it to fit the new narrative. And then the end. Oh Christ! I found out exactly why she gave in and let him do what he did. While it’s no explicit about what happens in the end, you don’t need to be Einstein to work it out and perhaps that’s what makes it all the more horrible.

But I won’t leave that as my legacy at 50K.

This is the most I have ever written in two week (actually two weeks and two days). While I’m not writing this on the eve of the 16th day (I came home, sunk into a bath with a beer, tried to eat something and passed out in bed) I feel as though I can do a far better job of capturing it all with a brain that works.

I  know when writing is hard, it often means it is good, but hell…

Speaking of hell, let’s see what happens how Christian comes to sell his soul to the devil we will come to know better as The Sculptor (or John Hardgrave away everyone but Tabitha calls him!)

* * *

Christian knocked the scotch back and felt it curdle with the eggs in his stomach.

“That’s what I want to talk to you about.” He inclined his head to the book and the pages depicting breakfast that morning, sketched in. John would add colour later.

“I’d like to barter with you.” The words sounded ridiculous and he pulled at the place where his suspenders joined his breeches.

“Barter.” John took a slow savouring sip of the scotch.

“You want us all to sit for you. Tabitha refuses. She doesn’t want either of us to sit for you.”

“What do you have to barter, Christian?”

“I’ll sit for you,” Christian said rubbing his damp hands against the top of his trousers.

“And in return.”

“I want one of your sketch books. A blank one and a supply of pencils.” He knocked the rest of the scotch back and sat rotating the glass on the table top waiting for the reply.

“We are friends, are we not comrade. This seems a rather, formal request. I’d be happy to just give you one.”

Christian swallowed hard. “This is the only way it can be and Tabitha can’t know. She doesn’t want either of us in here.”

“Intriguing.” John poured more scotch for them both. “I generally ask that those who come here refrain from talking about what goes on in these four walls. I like to protect my subjects in that way.”

“And what goes on in these four walls?”

“Artistic surrender. On both our parts”

Christian felt a cold sweat break out over his body.

“Honesty. I demand honesty.” He sipped at his scotch. “What I produce is a multi-faceted experience. It is my story, your story and the story of us all reproduced in plaster and clay, in ink and watercolour. Art demands naked expression. It does not abide falseness.”

“I have nothing to hide,” Christian said and slammed the rest of the scotch back. “I’ve… been naked before. For. For Art.”

John poured more scotch and Christian saw the door open on the past, himself peering in: Aliyah passed out on a mattress, her long hair in a snarled halo around her head, hands and arms encrusted with oil paint; Grim plucking funk baselines in stained pair of Y-fronts on a battered couch, his chest gleaming with sweat and come down from the last hit.

“To show the good faith of our deal,” said John and the door shut. Christian was back in the messy studio a world away from that share house and his first and last taste of fame.

He placed the black sketch book on the table, several pencils alongside it and then topped up their glasses.

“For art,” toasted John.

“For art.”

Day Fifteen #nanowrimo

day 15Words for the day: 1487 (target was 2.5K)
T-shirt: It was write in your nighty morning!
Best music vibe: “Stonefield” self-titled album

“…sometimes it starts as a drop in the ocean and you don’t think too much about it. You don’t mean to hurt people.” Tabitha MacLeod

Welcome to the halfway point of the month! It’s hard to believe two entire weeks have passed by in a flurry of words and awesome camaraderie.

Today was one of those weird days where a scene came to me and I went with it, even though it’s from later on in the novel. Writing someone totally unhinged was a of fun, looping the conversation, riddling it with non-sequiturs, unexpected disclosures.

What I got out of the mouth of Lucas Hammond blew my understanding of the band apart. And now as I write (the morning after because my routine is totally shattered) I wonder if it’s the truth. Or if it’s a version of his truth which is so far removed from normality that it doesn’t matter is it’s actually true or not. It certainly makes the trajectory of Tabitha’s madness seem less extreme.

I put a small snippet up on Facebook when I was done yesterday and Lois Spangler commented: “I married him so I didn’t feel like a failure.” There is an entire social treatise wrapped up in this one line. And she is so correct. Only in this instance it comes with the added impetus of marrying someone so incompatible to escape the failure bred into her as a child who didn’t meet her parent’s expectations. Plus, in this paragraph I found out just what Robert does: a patents lawyer. As such they would be rolling in money!

I didn’t get back to the page in the evening. I spent the morning with homeschooling Mum’s at Alexandra Hills and the afternoon with Emily Craven. Both filled my soul so now, topped up with three rounds of awesome conversation (if I add in Thursday with Stacey) I’m word-powered to aim big on day 16!

Here is a little of the bizarre conversation between Tabitha and Lucas (Ham) Hammond.

* * *

“You come here too.” Tabitha startled and when she turned saw the slightly darker shape in the doorway.

“It looks that way.”

Lucas sat on the left hand side of her, the chair scraping through the night.

“I like to sit in the puppet master’s chair too.” Lucas drummed his fingers on the table top in an elaborate beat she struggled to follow. “We’re all his meat marionettes. He plucks the strings and we dance for him. Pinocchio Pinocchio, where art thou, Pinocchio.”

He moved about in his seat, the wooden structure creaking.

“You know where he keeps the booze. Something strong. Fuck, I need a hit of something.”

“I don’t know,” Tabitha said, feeling waves of desperation and something else peeling off Lucas. “I don’t come down here to drink.”

“Why do you come down here then?”

His hand fumbled in the dark and clasped around hers, cold and steely and sweaty.

“To be alone. It’s easier to be alone here than upstairs.”

“Becca and Gordy won’t let me back in there.”

The slow crush of his fingers around hers gave her every reason to think they were sensible in locking him out. But now he was in here. With her. “Are you scared of me? I can smell your fear.”

“How about we raid the kitchen.” The false lightness of her voice made her fear he’d see straight through it. “I’m starving and you know, I owe you for the night you brought me up food to my room.”

“Let’s make shadow puppets.”

He let go of her hand and she heard the scramble and smash of things falling, or pushed, dropped, from the sideboard.

“Fuck it.” More smashing.

Tabitha slowly slid the seat out from beneath the table. If she ran…

“Tabby, ahhh fuck it hurts.”

“Lucas?” She stopped trying to move away from the table.

“Did Christian fix that bath?”

“Yes.”

“I think I want a bath. Will you run me a bath?” Tabitha guessed from the sound he was pacing. “The only thing I remember from MacBeth – Lady MacBeth all fucked up and scrubbing her hands. All of Neptune’s seas and all of that. I need a bath. Fuck it. Bath, yeah a bath. I wanna go swimming. But it’s too cold to go swimming. Yeah. Too cold.”

Tabitha sat afraid to break into his rambling conversation.