The last time I really dedicated myself to Nanowrimo was in…2005? 2006 more likely. Maybe even a bit later. Which means that maybe the first real draft of Polishing the Bones is not as old as I thought it was. Oh well. So much for memory.
I decided a couple of weeks ago to give Nanowrimo another try. Another grand push of writing. I thought I had to write 75,000 words this month. I could do it. 2500 words a day. God help me. But I was going to do it.
I just checked the website, and I only have to write 50,000 words. A grand 1700 words a day. I can do that. I can so do that. Especially because today’s total is just 2,292 words. Oh yeah. Good day. Good start.
Nanowrimo…National Novel Writing Month. In 30 days, I need to write 50,000 words that might or might not end up as a editable manuscript. In 30 days, I am going to sit down at some computer on a daily basis and pull the plugs out of my brain and let the words drain.
Today, I sat in my office and closed my eyes. I saw my character. I felt the coldness of the city where she lived. I heard the murmuring of the river that bisects the city, the heavy waves that curled up like blue-gray-white horse heads before folding back into the current. Her daughter is gone. Because of her (the mother’s actions). Because the daughter is selfish and unforgiving.
I’m writing one of the stories for my Pedestals in October collection: a series of short stories that is analyzing the reality and mythology of being a woman in the 21st Century. We keep lauding how far we have come. We keep talking about smashing the glass ceiling. And then I watched the unfolding of the #Metoo movement and wondered…have we really come that far?
My first story in the collection was “Put On, Put Up, Put Out, Put Away.” I was analyzing the sexual maturation of women. I was exploring what it means to be a woman and seen as a sexual object, who is expected to put on the makeup or the airs or the flirtatious bobbleheaded silliness that might be attractive to someone in society. I, like many men and women, have had to put up with the boorish behavior. The insults. The disgusting salacious conversations about sex and sexual behavior that was intended to make me uncomfortable, to make me writhe. And I responded by ducking my head and pouring out my fury onto paper. The story had its birth. I am still angry about that night, when I had to listen to a person go on and on about sexual exploits and if I responded in any way, I would have been told that I was just being “sensitive.” That the person was just trying “to get a rise out of me.”
I noticed the mythology of the third date. The magical date in which consummation is an expected point. In the misery-monologue I mentioned earlier, the individual talked about “putting out,” like sex was a currency. I was perplexed that the space between a person’s legs can be used as a form of bartering. Sure, I am absolutely aware of prostitution. Of trading sexual favors. Of human trafficking. When I was a girl, my mother accidentally took the family on a tour of the red light district in Amsterdam. I learned a lot in the space of a city block. I know Mom was likely trying to explore the legendary canals. I think she chose the wrong canal.
But what I’ve also learned is the after effect, the seducee being “put away” and disregarded following the trade. The seducer has reached climax. The needs leading up to that point has been satiated. Box up the other. Put them in a closet. Wait for another time when a new need has risen.
Pedestals in October is inspired by various frustrations I have with the boxing in of humanity, of women. I do not herald men as the aggressor. I do not see men as those who are instigating and creating the greatest and most grievances against women. If anything, many of my greatest betrayals were at the hands of women. I’m still pulling carpet fibers out of my elbows from all the times I landed on them when the carpet was ripped out from under me.
And so, November has arrived. It is time to write. Time to dedicate myself to hours of closing my eyes and feeling the muscles in my face so that i can write about facial expression more authentically. It is time to take off my shoes and socks and put on the shoes of those who are very, very different from me and feel the gravel, the asphalt, the grass, the mud beneath their feet.
2292 words on day one. Not a bad way to start. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I still have two pages of Polishing the Bones to edit before I can go to bed.