So, how has your week been? Are you all done, or still racing toward the finish line? Have you burned out yet, or did you pace yourself nicely?
We'll be back with a final NaNo wrap up on Wednesday, but for now, we'll reflect on our last week.
After reaching my 50K in week 3, I took week 4 pretty easy. I managed to reach 60,000 words by Friday, and I was really enthusiastic about attending the last two write-ins for my local area this weekend, where I planned to make a last minute sprint for the 70K mark. It was all lining up nicely, too- at least plot-wise, with eight scenes to go before I reach the end of the bits I wanted to finish during NaNo. Energy wise, I was feeling the burn. If it was a choice of staring blankly or writing, one was a lot more preferable to the other.
And then disaster struck, quite literally, on Friday afternoon. As you've heard, my toddler has been sick on and off this month, but she'd been much better this week. Ha. Anyway, I'll spare you the details, but suffice to say she scored a direct, full-on, full-frontal hit on my beloved Macbook with one of her patented barf fountains.
Hysteria, people. Hysteria.
Time, plus my brother, who's an Apple "Genius" technician, will tell whether the computer itself can survive. At this point it's doubtful. When I rang Apple, they told me to call my insurance company and tell them it was a write-off.
The data, on the other hand, should all be fine. Said brother is organising to transfer everything from the hard drive to my external drive early this week, and then we'll see what happens with the actual machine. It likely means a shiny new computer for me- which would be awesome, if we could afford what insurance won't cover, which we can't. But never mind- we'll work it out, because we have to. I'm too far along in this process to stop now.
As to snippets, at least 30000 of my most recent words are trapped in limbo on that hard drive :(
But on the upside, I did send an enormous chunk around to the ATWOP ladies and a couple of other friends last week, and I can access that, at least. I've posted snippets from most of this chunk on the Forum, but I have one or two unrevealed patches I can share.
The smoke was a thick blanket settled across the road, and as she came to the homestead gate, Bessie was whickering nervously, shuffling about, throwing her head in the air.
In the end, she slid out of the saddle and tied the reins to the gatepost. She let herself in and walked cautiously through the soup, not able to see more than a few feet ahead. The acrid taste of incinerated trees burned at the back of her throat and made her cough, and as she walked on she realised that the ground beneath her feet was getting hotter.
So hot, in the end, that she had to stop and back up a few places, swallowing her fear as she looked down at the mess of charcoal that lay across the path. Fragments of ash fluttered in the wind like so many tiny grey ghosts, rolling over one another as they chased across her shoes.
She heard a crunch on the path ahead, and as she looked up the figure of a man emerged.
Her heart leaped. Walsh was her first thought. And then he came closer, and with a flood of relief, she saw that it was Tom.
She ran to him, calling his name, hoarse, and he caught her in his arms.
“Oh, Kitty.” His voice cracked. “It’s all gone.”
She closed her eyes. His waistcoat was rough against her cheek. “I know.”
She’d known it from the minute she walked through the gate, deep down. All those little ghosts were her past, leaving her behind. Stopping a moment to say goodbye, and then gone.
“It’ll be all right. You’ll see. We’ve still got…”
She stood back at the same moment. “Edenvale.”
Not just Edenvale. Bill. Jim. The fire had come from up the hill. And if Golden Valley was gone, then…
Tom took her hand, grimly determined, and pulled her back toward the gate.
I'm still on a roll, managing to get something written every day. Lately I've been exploring more of Carrie's point of view, something I should have done earlier in NaNo because Carrie just flows forth, fully formed and talking. I might have made 50,000 words, had I stuck with her.
*Waiting for Nathan
By early afternoon the men had returned to work at the winery and I had put away the lunch fixings. I was alone in the house, nerves strung tight with anticipation and anxiety. Finally, in the futile hope of distracting myself, I climbed the stairs to my attic studio, my haven under the eaves of the upper floor, and tried to concentrate on a watercolor painting.
It was warm in the attic room, even with the slight breeze from the window near the old farm table where I sat, brush in hand. I considered the painting before me, not really convinced I wanted to paint. Twirling the brush absently, I followed the lines in the painting, the twisted and gnarled branches of a vine, not really seeing any of it as my thoughts continued to skip, like the needle on a scratched record, to Nathan.
His leaving had left an empty place here just as surely as Rob’s disappearance had. Rob’s was final, an irrevocable leaving. Nathan’s was not and his self-imposed exile was noticed, but never spoken of. Both had left the family bereft, splintered like the weathered posts in the vineyard.
Mostly, I wondered if he hated me. Me, the girl he once had nothing but the softest caresses for, the one who had lit up his dove-gray eyes with happiness. Would he now look at me with contempt, with hurt, with apathy? Much as I wanted to see him, I dreaded it, dreaded what I would find in his eyes.
I put a stop to such over-emotional thoughts and tried to concentrate on the painting. I squinted critically at my work-in-progress, a watercolor of an Alicante Bouschet vine in fall-foliage colors of reds and purples. It was incomplete, but I couldn’t put my finger on what was missing. Maybe I should try to add a few touches to the leaves, or fill in some of the—
“It needs more burnt umber with a touch of vermillion, don’t you think?”
A touch of vermillion? His old joke, his same warm voice full of humor. I recognized it before I saw him and relief flooded through me as I turned in my chair to see him standing against door jam, smiling at his own joke.
Like the years had never separated us, I replied, “Nathan Rivers you have a pathetic lack of artistic talent.”
It was my stock reply to any of his so-called artistic suggestions for my work. He laughed then, just the same as always, a laugh like a good whiskey warming me to the core. Before I knew what I’d done, I was out of my chair and hugging him fiercely.
Just as fiercely he embraced me, his body hard and lean, smelling of soap and of himself. I stepped out of his arms just about as quickly as I’d flung myself into them, suddenly embarrassed at being so intimate.
“You don’t have an artistic bone in your body,”
“But you’ve always had enough for both of us.”
“It’s a good thing.”
We regarded each other then. Me, studying him like he was one of my painting subjects, measuring the height of him, the firm line of his jaw, the tiny lines at the corners of his eyes. He was still the Nathan I remembered, but with a flint-like edge, as if life had hardened him.
My scrutiny finally unsettled him and he walked past me to the table, picking up the watercolor and pretending to study it.
“I interrupted you,” he said. “What are you painting?”
He knew perfectly well what it was. I’d lay good money on the table that he also knew exactly which vine, in which block of vines, it was. It was a granddaddy vine, older than anyone could remember, thick at the base, gnarled and twisted, one that put on a stunning display of colors every fall.
“That old vine near the stone barn, remember it?”
He nodded at the painting. “It’s a masterpiece.”
I raised my eyebrows at that bit of overstated generosity. With a hint of irony I said, “I can’t be flattered by a man with a criminal lack of artistic sense.”
With a brief smile, he set the painting back on the table. My little joke faded into the warm air around us, leaving nothing but the sound of a buzzing fly against the window screen.
“It’s good to see you, Nate,” I said quietly, my throat tightening. “It’s been a long time.”
At last his eyes stayed on mine, letting me search their depths. But there was nothing to be found within those sea-gray eyes; nothing but deep, unfathomable mystery. He would not let me in.