jump to navigation

Nation Novel Writing Month 2010 RECAP December 10, 2010

Posted by ashiah in Books.
add a comment

I feel like I’m still recovering from this year’s NanoWriMo. Unlike past years, I actually finished early this year and completed my 50,000 words two days before deadline. But I wasn’t ecstatic; I didn’t even feel congratulatory. I was just happy it was over. For the first time I actually felt like it was kind of a waste of time this year. Maybe I’m just being hard on myself. Maybe six months from now I’ll look back and see I didn’t write pure crap, but we’ll see.



The Synopsis

Oh, boy. OK, so this year I had this great idea to help me write outside my comfort zone. I usually write about lonely 20-something losers who are thrust into bizarre situations, but this year I wanted to do something different. So I set up a challenge for myself: the plan was to randomly pick a photo on Google images and write a novel based on that one photo. Well, on midnight November 1, the photo I randomly selected was of an old woman. So I cheated and picked another picture, which was a picture of a middle-aged woman and child. I decided that I would write a story using these two photos as inspiration.

OK, so the story is about an old, retired nurse who lives with her divorced, unemployed daughter. Helen (the protagonist) is loved and respected in her community through her work at church, and, on the down low, is known as the go-to source for a quick and confidential illegal home abortion. But things spin out of control when one of Helen’s patients dies from a botched abortion, which pisses off a bunch of entitled hicks or something. There’s a subplot of Karen (Helen’s daughter) dealing with being forced to work at Starbucks and her unsuccessful luck in post-divorce dating (I just can’t help writing about losers). Her plot doesn’t really go anywhere, though. The entire novel just sucks, to be honest. I’m not used to writing these domestic drama type stories, but it was good practice I guess.


WARNING! The following excerpt is unedited and is full of typos, grammar mistakes and possibly other things that will make an English teacher cry.

Helen crossed her arms bitterly and continued reading her book. Oh Jerry, she thought. She had known him since he was a boy. Unlike the other young people in the neighborhood, Jerry never left. He got a job, got married and literally moved into the house down the street from where he grew up. He had two daughters, the oldest was 15. Her name was Michelle, a beautiful girl who, unfortunately, was growing up too fast. Helen would often see the girl coming home late at night and coming home early in the morning on a school night. The young girl had been sent away before in the past, but she always came back and never seemed to be redeemed or ready to change her ways. She wasn’t a bad kid by any means. She was smart, made good grades whenever she’s actually in school and overall seemed to have a good head on her shoulders. The problem was that she fell in love. A boy she met at church had completely changed her life. She was infatuated with him and would do anything to be around him, including skipping school and fighting adamantly with her worried parents. Her parents would tell her that she had no idea what love it or what it was like to truly be in love. They told her that she was just a dumb kid doesn’t stupid things that dumb kids always do and then later grow up to regret. But Michelle always persisted. Her love was real, she was not stupid or naïve, nor was she going through some kind of rebellious stage. She loved him more than she should love anyone. How did she know? She just knew, Michell told Helen one day.

“I have never been certain of anything ever in my life,” she spoke to her as if she was already 90 years old. “But I’m certain about this. If I can be certain about anything in my life, I can be certain about him.”

Helen has had her fair share of stubborn youth who swear the world to her about their lives, about their experiences and about how if they do things their way it would turn out much different from when their older counterparts did it. But they always came back, sometimes several years later, holding their caps in their hands as they confess about their horrible youthful ways. These people would usually do this at church on Sunday morning. They would approach the pulpit, head hanging low but spirits high. They had left the church in their young ways, have strayed from the great one and realized they couldn’t go on with their lives without God in their lives again. The church would all echo an “amen, amen” as the former child testified about their wicked ways and how they are now reformed in the name of the most high. The former children would fall on their knees, their palms lifted to the tiled ceiling. “Forgive me, Lord,” they would cry. “If only we had listened.”

The congregation would rejoice but in a manner that suggested a sly bit of passive aggressiveness. They predicted this all along and was now proven right. They felt content with this fact, but would never admit it.

But Helen never felt this way about Michelle. She was different. She could never imagine Michelle being one of those former children who crawled back to their humble upbringings on hands and knees. Michelle knew what she wanted, but her stance wasn’t out of stubbornness. It was a sense of quiet wisdom and knowledge that Helen perceived from Michelle after their first meeting. Helen couldn’t explain why she exactly inferred this theory about Michelle; it was just something she felt, something she felt quite strongly about. Something she knew had to be true because she always trusted her instinct.

Michelle was a smart girl even though on the surface it might not appear so, especially now with her father having to ask Helen again to do her little favor for them. But there was probably much more to the story than she knew.