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.

Day Twelve #nanowrimo

day 12Words for the day: 2144 (target was 2.5K)
T-shirt: 2010 Official ‘Snakes and Ladders’ NaNoWriMo t-shirt
Best music vibe: UNKLE

The love of a woman will undo a man’s very sanity. It will pick him apart at the seams and restitch him in a way that only he can feel. And the world will carousel around him as if nothing has changed. But different he is, for to love is to gain and lose the entire world in a heart beat. ~David Ramsey

As a storm bears down on my corner of the world, just as there’s also a storm brewing in Dalhousie.

Today I reached the midpoint of the novel. Coming in at 36.5K this means the novel will be somewhere in the vicinity of 75K when finished. That means I am literally in the middle and if I keep writing, there will be time aplenty to end this before the month.

Today I got to delve into the other side of Ramsey and I was surprised at what I found. All manner of truly smart things come out of his mouth (and Christian too making me realise more than ever how much of a CHANNEL I am for characters. I couldn’t think this stuff up if I tried!)

David Ramsey is modeled on a real life man from the mid 17th Century. He was the first master of the Guild of Clock and Watchmakers. He was Clockmaker to James the First but fell from favour, ended up in debtor’s prison and his death is recorded as a post script in a letter from his son.

While Ramsey loved his cogs and springs, he like most of the other scientists of his time made all manner of ‘instruments’ and was deeply interested in the occult. When I stumbled across him back in April looking for information on clock making I had no idea he would end up front and centre of my story.

And now, after all this time, I know what motivates him. Plus, how it is possible that Christian may become the next Ramsey.

The scene that ran through my head in the depths of the night, I’m not sure if it will play out just the way I saw it. It’s a bit like the scene with Tabitha and the Sculptor. It came to me in the dead of night and I thought it far too awful to work within the story. But I made it happen and I suspect, given it’s the same antagonist the same will happen with Christian. But that’s all saved up for tomorrow.

Yesterday I gave you a look at the Brothers Hammond, today it is my pleasure to present Ramsey!

* * *

“Do you love Tabitha,” Ramsey asked, swinging the lamp off the bench and holding it beneath him so the light played tricks with his face.

“I am afraid to know my heart.”

“Afraid you should be.” He caressed the music box briefly and turned back to Christian. “I loved a woman. Her name was Antoinette. That was Antoinette’s silhouette in the music box. There is another of her buried somewhere in this house, a portrait, painted by Paul van Somer, not a silhouette.

“Why not put it front a centre where everyone can see it, such a fine painting that it is? To do so would be to place it where I would pass it every day. Two, three, a dozen times a day. Do I wish to say to the world this is what I loved a lost. To relive each time that loss as I gaze up at her. No. I took her painting and put it somewhere safe. And as long as I live, so does she. To die is to truly lose her forever because only I am left to remember her.”

Ramsey looked up and realised he was talking aloud.

“Where did you meet her?”

“I applaud you Mr MacLeod either as an ignoramus of merit or an astute scholar of time. For you ask where and not when. Good, good.”

He began to pace and the lantern threw chaotic shadows against the walls. The machines at the back appeared to momentarily live and then die.

“We are not so un-alike, Mister MacLeod.”

He stopped pacing as though he needed to halt the forward momentum for his thoughts to catch up with him.

“Where? Yes, Where? I met Antoinette at the King’s court. She had come to be lady-in-waiting to the Queen. And both Paul and I fell passionately in love with her. Only I was married and Paul wasn’t. The painting, it is his. Forever am I tormented to see her through the eyes of the man who was my friend, who did not have the tenacity or imagination to be her lover for all time.”

He began to pace again and his mechanical minions lived and died by the swing of the lantern.

“I lost everything to try and win her: my commission at court, the small amount of money I had saved, my house, my reputation, everything until I was thrown in debtor’s prison. And it was there she finally came to me and confessed her love. By the time I had bought my way out of debtor’s prison, it was too late. She was dead from a fever. Paul had returned to Brussels and I was alone again in a life I didn’t want to be part of.

“I was old before my time. Worn out. Prison had leached from my will to live. I thought I was dead inside. Rather than go home and attempt to resurrect myself I died in a fire. Easy enough to do back then, not so much poking around in the ashes to decipher the who, what, when and why. And David Ramsey, the first Master of the Clock and Watchmakers Guild died and I was born in his ashes.”

He lifted the wick of the kerosene lamp and unlocked a door on the far wall, motioned for Christian to follow him.

“I have spent the rest of my life experimenting with the parameters of time…” Christian stepped into a huge circular room. The light bounced off a massive clockwork mechanism in the middle. “…trying to find my way back.”

Day Eleven #nanowrimo

Day 11Words for the day: 3817 (target was 2.5K)
T-shirt: No t-shirt today, it was write from home in your bikini day
Best music vibe: “War Stories” album UNKLE

My NaNo stats tell me that at this rate I will finish in five days time. On Saturday I will have reached my goal. If only my goal was just 50K.

I joked that I like days like today. Days where writing does not feel like opening a vein that refuses to bleed. Conversation always drives my stories and when you put seven people in a room together, there is going to be plenty to say, thank you very much.

Plus the last 24 hours has had a few good reveals. I know who Marie is now. The boys in the band with Becca revealed themselves in brothers (The Brothers Hammond) and I finally worked out the narrative link that gets Christian down into the basement with Ramsey.

What has been most interesting has been revisiting the midpoint. As the word count midpoint came closer (and I relented and wrote down everything that needed to occur between where I was at and where the midpoint would be) I realised that perhaps I’d got the midpoint wrong. After all it is the pivot. It turns every 180 degrees.

The midpoint is not Tabitha going into the sculptor’s chamber. Something has already happened to make Tabitha rethink going to the sculptor. By that point Christian’s behaviour has taken a weird trajectory away from her and that is the impetus for her to go to the sculptor.

So I now think the midpoint belongs to the scene where Christian goes down into the basement with Ramsey and is lured into service, in what appears at first to be a little innocent tinkering, but becomes Christian’s obsession as he is able to extrapolate the potential the opportunity presents in the long term.

Which brings me to today’s extract. How about some characters we haven’t seen too much of yet?

In Act One Gordo arrives at the Orientation Evening in a 70’s shirt and pinstriped pants. His brother Ham in a tweed jacket and too-tight jeans. Gordo is the younger brother, plays guitar, does the electronic loop, sings a bit. Ham is a 3rd year medical student and plays the drums. And he’s another lurking character with an interesting back story and arc.

* * *

“Is she always such a loud pain in the arse?” Christian said to Gordo.

“She does the whole bad girl, righteous anger thing well. Underneath it all, she’s not so bad. You know Chrissy Amphlett, the whole school-girl get up. The bitch thing is Becca’s costume.”

“It worked great until we come out of it on the wrong side of the street press,” Ham butted in.

“That was once,” Gordo defended.

“And the whole Jayden as Voldemort thing.”

“Let the Jayden thing go, okay. He left because he wanted to.”

“He left because of Becca.”

“You know about the Rolling Stones, yeah?” Christian said slicing into the middle of the brothers’ argument.

“Everyone knows about the Stones.”

“But about the Stones, about being bad boys.” Gordo and Ham looked liked they’d been cut free from the moorings of the conversation. “There couldn’t be another Beatles, right, so management created the Rolling Stones’s image as the anti-Beatles,” Christian explained.

“But over time they became the bad boys of rock and roll; a self-fulfilling prophecy. And they copped it badly. Where the Beatles waltzed from country to country, gig to gig, and were generally the darlings of the press, the Rolling Stones had gigs turn into riots and shut down, they were hounded and misrepresented by the press, harassed coming through customs and that was before Keith and all the shit with drugs. Then there was Ultimo. You want to be careful what you are creating today. It might not be who you want to be tomorrow.”

Day Ten #nanowrimo

Day 10Words for the day: 3851 (target was to reach 30K)
T-shirt: Infinity
Best song vibe: More of The Preatures (this is getting a bit ridiculous!)

Hello and welcome to the end of the first third of NaNo. I reached 30K today (30623 if I’m going to be pedantic about numbers). I’m ahead of the word count for 50K and for 75K. That’s a good feeling.

What’s less of a good feeling is the realisation I have a lot to pack into the next 5-7K in order to line the events up for the mid point switch back. After feeling like it was taking forever to get to where I wanted to go now it’s like arriving far too early. So I need to sit down and think hard about what needs to play about between the first dinner party and Tabitha’s visit to the sculptor.

I knew there was something not quite right about the trajectory of Tabitha and Christian’s sexual relationship and I think I fixed that up today. Added an extra scene in and now I think it is a smoother transition.

I’ve ended today with all residents sitting down to their first fancy dinner. Christian and Tabitha are playing a married couple to conform to the protocols of the house, Becca has been running off at the mouth and I’m still unsure how the character of Marie fits in. I keep thinking there needs to be two of her to get through all the work that is required (and that just gave me a brilliant idea).

I’ll leave off with the horizontal folk dancing for a bit and leave you with a sweet and tender moment. I’m intrigued at how all these moments come via Christian and not Tabitha!

* * *

A shiver ran down her back.

“Someone walk on your grave?”

“Just me stepping over my dead thoughts. The bits of me I left behind to come here.” His stroked the side of her hip and moved his hand down to settle on her stomach. “I think the silence might have crushed me if I’d come here alone. I thought I could do it. But I don’t think I would’ve survived.”

“You would have done it. You are stronger than you think you are. The waif of a girl I knew at high school, she grew into an amazing woman.”

“But Robert –”

“You can define your life by your past or by your future.”

“What am I to you? Past or future?”

“You are and have always been my present.” He reached up so his hand nestled on top of her heart, the pound of it an aphrodisiac of a different kind. “You are the gift of life. You made me feel alive when I didn’t even realise I was dead inside.”

“We’re not going to come out of this the same people we went in, are we?”

The rhythm of her heart beneath his hand sped up. “Probably not.”

“You remember how I asked you when we’d know it was the end?”

“And I said when it was the end. I was trying to be all philosophical for you. I thought that was the sort of person you’d be attracted to.”

“I was only ever attracted to you, not some other version of you.” her hand rested over the top of his. “I think it’s only now that it’s starting. Everything else was just prologue.”

“Then let’s just be happy then and not worry that every prologue is bookended with an epilogue.”

“Is that you trying to be philosophical again?”

“No, that’s just me being wanky and thinking shit aloud that was probably best unsaid,” he said, kissing her shoulder.

“Speaking of the unsaid, do you see the light in the walls?” Tabitha asked, rolling away from him so they were looking at each other through the void of the darkness. He felt her fingers on his cheek bones and on his lips.

“I don’t see anything. It’s dark.”

“The light moves through the walls like clouds across the sky,” Tabitha said in a drowsy voice that like the night before, felt like it came from a long way off even though he felt the words on his lips. “I saw one that looked like a rabbit.”

“I only see you.” He moved forward until his lips brushed hers.

“What do I look like in the dark?”

“Perfect,” he said, kissing her harder.

The only protest, when he lifted her leg up over his and he slid slowly into her, was from a body that was two decades too old to keep pace with his desire for her.

“We’re in no rush,” she whispered as if she’d heard his thoughts and he surrendered to the motion of two bodies learning to fit together.