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Day Twenty-Nine: Yes, I did November 29, 2012

Posted by thejinx in enduring chaos, nanowrimo, writing.
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And for the fifth time, I have won NaNoWriMo. No matter how many times I win this challenge, or how many books I write to and past 50,000 words, or how little an accomplishment it may seem given how much of the story might be left after 50,000 words, NaNoWriMo always makes winning feel very gratifying.

And it is, of course. I may have learned how to write without the pressure of NaNoWriMo looming over my head, but I still don’t write that much at any other time of the year. And sitting here on the other side of the finish line, it feels good to have abandoned perfectionism, linear storylines, and preconceived notions of things like abrupt setting changes or character shifts, and just written what I wanted to write.

Not all of it was so smooth or so easy, of course. There were days it was forced, when I met my 1,667 words and felt an immense relief that I didn’t have to write any more, but there were also days when 2,500 words wasn’t enough for what I wanted to do. I had no 4,000-or-more-word days this year, but I wasn’t expecting any. I made it to 50,000 words and that’s the important part.

My process and my patterns remained pretty much the same this year, though I did step outside my comfort zone a little and wrote some later scenes long before they appeared in the story. Given the nature of these scenes, I think that disconnection actually helped them. (The character involved suffers some memory loss as the result of a concussion, so not knowing precisely what happened prior to these scenes helped give them distance.)

I also experimented with some new technology in the form of my new Android-powered .mp3 player. I did a little writing using the memo function, but what ended up being more useful was the voice recorder. Much as I hate the sound of my own voice, it was an effective way of dictating the story while I was out walking and had only one hand free, or else when typing on the display screen keyboard was too slow.

As for what happens now, truth be told this novel is going straight to the back burner, without even so much as finishing the scene I was in the midst of writing when I hit 50,000 words. Even had it been better planned out and not come out so sloppy, exploratory, and in desperate need of serious revision if not outright rewriting, it is a book 2, and book 1 must be polished and completed before I can give it more serious attention. It won’t be there long, because book 1 is planned for release next year, but these 50,000 words must wait until then at least.

That said, I will leave you with the excerpt I shared on my NaNoWriMo profile. Good luck to my fellow WriMo-ers in this final push.

Ashik could only stand and stare down at the carnage at his feet, a weary look in his eyes.

One of the others jogged over the hill and back down toward the rest of them. “The goats and horses fled fast long ago. Their tracks are faint and fading quickly. We would be hard pressed to find them again.”

Ashik said nothing, his eyes fixed on the body before him. Little remained of it, but there was enough to recognize the tattoos. In the time it took him to climb up the hill after stumbling, his entire family had been slaughtered.

The warriors milled about, picking what valuables they could recover from the fallen, or weapons from the wagons that had been destroyed, with some simply standing around uncertainly.

“What should we do?”

The silence that followed the question weighed heavily on Ashik until finally, he raised his gaze. The eyes of all the warriors that accompanied him, all that remained of the horde, fixed on him.

He narrowed his eyes a little. “Why are you all looking at me?”

The largest warrior, the grizzled man from Ais Ainlan’s clan, lifted his chin. “Burqabas was your uncle. By rights, that makes you the next chieftain.”

Ashik frowned. “You are the eldest among us, and the mightiest warrior. You should lead us.”

The large man snorted. “I am a hunter, boy. Not a leader. The Uniter chose us to join with your clan because we would follow your uncle faithfully.”

“It’s true, Ashik,” Ais Ainlan added, stepping forward. “The spirit talkers choose the leaders of our clan. It is our duty and our honor to follow them. We would not even know how to lead.”

Ashik glanced around at the others accompanying them. They all watched him steadily, none of them objecting to Ais Ainlan and the old warrior’s claims. Under the new day’s sunlight, he had seen that only one person of his village had survived the attack, with a handful of others of his clan accompanying them, though they hailed from different villages in other parts of the mountains. Most of the survivors came from Ais Ainlan’s clan, and all looked to him for guidance.

Setting his shoulders back, he inhaled deeply. “Gather the bodies. We must guide their spirits back to the earth.”

Though a few of the warriors paled a little, they all nodded and set to work collecting what they could of their horde. Ashik bent down to help as well, though his attempts led him up the hill where the demon man still lay.

He paused, glancing down at the armored man. Up close, he looked like any common man, a little lighter built and perhaps even younger than Ashik. His impact against the earth had created a jagged crater as wide as Ashik’s spread arms. Ashik had seen wild mountain goats plummet off cliffs with half the force this man had struck the ground, landing on soft loam, and even their huge, curving horns barely left a dent in the earth. How the demon man even remained whole, Ashik couldn’t imagine.

Lenara, the sole survivor from his village, around the age of his youngest aunt, strode up to him and looked down at the demon man while the clean up continued below. “Does he live?”

“He still breathes.”

She shook her head. “Incredible.” For a moment, they stared at him, but aside from the slight shifting of the mail beneath his deformed plate armor, he didn’t move. “What shall we do with him?”

“He is of the Sunset Lands, and is therefore our enemy, and his might is unparalleled.” Turning, he began walking back down the hill toward the growing pile of bodies. “But it would be shameful to strike him now. Let us leave him.” Nodding, Lenara followed him back down the hill.

Soon, the bodies of their fallen had been piled up at the base of the hills. They piled bundles of grass around its base and set it ablaze.

As the flames licked up over the people Ashik had known all his life, he began the traditional chant for the dead among his clan. Lenara and the others from his clan soon joined in, and those of Ais Ainlan’s clan added their own voices and their own words to it. Their chant lifted up into the air with the smoke and the stench of burning bodies, both of them stinging Ashik’s eyes and bringing up tears that ran over his war paint.

The warriors ended their chant in near unison, and he stared up at the pile of burning corpses, not yet any smaller. Ais Ainlan sidled over to him as he stood there, her voice low.

“What will we do now?”

He let out a sigh, still staring at the huge flames.

“Ashik. I know you wish to feed the fire until the bodies are all burned to ash and taken by the wind spirits, but we cannot linger here that long. Our supplies are gone.”

Closing his eyes, he bowed his head. “I know.” He raised his head, facing the warriors that gathered around him, and strengthened his voice. “We must find food.” He turned to the runner who had found the tracks of the horses and goats earlier. “Take us to the tracks. We will follow the clearest trail as long as we can. Perhaps some bags fell off the animals as they fled.”

Nodding, the runner turned and darted away back up one of the hills.

“The rest of you, keep watch for any game or edible plants you can find. And be on the lookout for that fox headed woman.” The rest of the warriors nodded in response. With one last look over his shoulder at the remains of the people of his village and the rest of his clan, buried among those warriors who had accompanied Ais Ainlan into these forsaken lands, he followed the runner, the rest of the group marching after him.

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