“A poet can survive everything but a misprint.”
Oscar Wilde

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Days Thirteen Through Seventeen: Nine Does Not Equal Nine
Thu 2011-11-17 16:38:04 (in context)
  • 28,437 words (if poetry, lines) long

Been continuing along on the novel at an average sort of pace. Haven't done any more multi-thousand-word heroics since Saturday's 5K, but I've kept my stats graph right on the diagonal line. See for yourself!

(Note: It would appear that the current incarnation of the NaNoWriMo website uses one's novel title as a building block of one's stats URL. Thus: NaNoWriMo.org/[2-letter Language Code]/participants/[Username]/novels/[Novel Title]/stats. So when I finally come up with a better title, that URL might change. Unlike here at actually writing blog, where each work in progress gets its own unchanging 8-letter code, and changes to titles simply cause confusion on earlier blog posts where I refer in the text to the crappy working title but the blue word-count block shows the sparkly new right title, which may yet change again in some future time and cause more confusion. AND SO FORTH.)

I'm still working on Chapter 4, otherwise known as Bitsy and Her Sister's Ghost. Also, I've begun reading the archives of Mimi Smartypants. This is a blog full of the snark. It makes me chortle. But it also makes me feel kind of stupid. See, Mimi often talks about her daughter Nora, and Nora at eight sounds a lot more sophisticated than the voice I've given Bitsy to talk about her ninth birthday party in.

(Erm. So. You click on that link, and then you scroll past Mimi's gynecological musings -- hee! socks -- and finally you get to the Nora bit at #9 and following.)

It's not that I don't remember what it was like to be eight. I just forget which memories went with which number of years old. Ask me about third grade and I will reel off all sorts of memories. I will tell you what games we played at recess, who was in my home room, who I had a crush on, what books I read in the library, what field trips we took, what I did in the afternoons, and what kind of fights I had with my parents. I'll tell you about the cold fusion exhibit we got all fruitlessly exited about. I'll tell you about schmoozing my way into a Haley's Comet camping trip and it being too overcast to see the actual comet. (That might have been fourth grade rather than third. Same home room though.) I'll probably also tell you, because I have no freakin' filters, all sorts of other things I remember doing that were so stupid and embarrassing that when I think of them today I start humming reflexively as a sort of mental LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU. But ask me about being eight years old, and before I tell you all that stuff, I'll have to go, "Wait. When was that? Let's see... eight minus five is... Oh! I was in 3rd grade. That was the year that..." Only then can the nostalgic brain dump from 1984 commence.

And you will undoubtedly smile in a pained sort of way and look for a good excuse to exit the conversation before I really got going.

All this is just to say, I know I've written Bitsy too young. But I don't realize it on autopilot. I wanted the point of view of a small, scared, unsophisticated child, and I picked an arbitrary single digit. Which turned out to be the wrong digit. Only now I've gotten attached both to Bitsy's voice and to all sorts of things that depend on nine being the right digit after all. Crap.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do to resolve this conflict, but I know when I'm going do it: Not in November. First draft, peeps. First draft.

"But even though that monster let her through, she ran into more monsters and every single one of them wanted something. The lady gave away her pretty robes and her sparkly dancing shoes and her beauty and her hair and her voice and everything. Now she was nobody. That's what it takes to go into the land of the dead. You have to stop being your alive self."

Bitsy felt cold and all numb with scared. She knew now that Camerie was taking her to the land of the dead. Camerie had to go. She'd been a ghost for more than nine years, and ghosts have to go away sooner or later. Being in Bitsy's body didn't matter -- it just meant Camerie would walk there instead of blow away. Bitsy didn't want Camerie to go there. Bitsy really didn't want to go there herself. Bitsy didn't want to stop being Bitsy.

"Finally the lady who used to be a queen ended up in front of the throne of the queen of the dead. That was her sister. But the alive queen had given away her crown and her clothes and her face and her self and everything. So the dead queen didn't recognize her. She just said, 'Someone living has come to visit me. And I'm hungry!' Dead people are always hungry. 'So hang this person on a hook and we'll eat her up!' So that's what the court of the dead did. They tapped the living queen on her head, and she wasn't alive anymore. Then they hung her up on a hook in a cold meat locker. Then they got ready to carve her up and eat her."

Bitsy couldn't keep quiet anymore. Is that what's going to happen to me when we get to the land of the dead?

"Don't be stupid. We're not going to the land of the dead."

Then where are we going?

Camerie got mad again. "Don't ask that! Stop asking questions! Shut up!" She started running again.