Dig Far, Dig Deep…

Once again it’s time to check in on the progress of my NaNoWriMo project, and I have to say that things are looking pretty good! The theme of this section was “Earth,” and it had a few entertaining surprises in it. So let’s look at the breakdown:

  • The Hole – A giant sinkhole opens up in the middle of the city of Freestone, and the mayor calls on the great geologist Jenna Spenser and her team to find out what happened. What she discovers is the last thing anyone expects.
  • The Golemime, parts one, two, and three – Mimes are being murdered in Estervale! Someone with a vendetta is killing right under the noses of the police department, and the chief is determined to find the killer. Precinct thaumaturge Thaddeus Zoltaire is tasked with creating an indestructible mime golem to catch the killer!
  • Away From the Green – Evelyn Pierce is cursed with the ability to communicate with and control plant life. She’s moved to the middle of the desert to escape it, but a visit from Department of National Security special agent Tanner Quan may force her to face her true nature.
  • Mother Earth – Starlight Moonwhispers loves all living things, and she believes that humanity is a direct threat to the survival of the planet. Her meditations have guided her to occupy an oil company building, but this time they bring her somewhere else. She meets someone who opens her eyes to the true nature of her mission.

Most of these stories were really fun to write. Let’s get the big one out of the way first: I wrote The Golememe for a Worth1000 contest – “Mimes” – the rule for which was that you just had to write a story and put a mime in there somewhere. I found a nice way to do it while keeping to my NaNo project, and figured I could write maybe 2,000 words, edit down to the required 1,500 and call it a day.

But the story had other ideas.

Now imagine him about seven feet tall and terrifying.

Before I knew it, the story was blossoming out into a full-scale police thriller that eventually stretched to about 8,000 words. And that’s without some of the twists and character issues that I came up with while I was writing it. And for those of you who are Discworld fans, yes, I had the spirit of Constable Dorfl hovering over me the whole time. I’m certainly not the first person to put a golem into a police department, but I may be the first to put one into a stripey shirt and heavy face makeup. In any case, I really enjoyed this story and will probably come back to it someday.

As for the others – The Hole was interesting and has some potential, but I didn’t really connect too well with it. Re-reading it, the narrative has a kind of detached quality that needs fixing. As of yet, I don’t seem to have a character to tap into for a good point of view. Something to fix in re-writes.

And it was nice to see poor Evelyn Pierce again. This is a character I never expected to write about again. She showed up as a throwaway character in the story Interviews (about a case worker for de-powered metahumans), and then got randomly chosen for a character mash-up that paired her with my Constant Victim, Rachael Decker, in A Friend in Need. When I thought about what I would do for the “Earth” section, I knew she’d be a good choice. A woman who talks to plants? And isn’t really happy about it? Score. She’s really miserable, and I haven’t figured out exactly where her story ends up, but she seems to be one of those characters that lingers. And you should take good care of those.

Finally, the last Earth story came to me in a flash while I was walking home. I thank both my Muse and my Inner Cynic [1] for this one…

One of the things that annoys me about environmental politics and activism is this constant idea that humans are “destroying the earth.” We’re “ruining” the environment or “ravaging” the planet, and that image is used to get us to send money to their cause or carry our own shopping bags, or stop using baby seal fur to make toilet paper. [2]

Whether the earth can survive the Invasion of the Paper Dolls, however, is unknown.

The fact of the matter is that the Earth has already been hit with far worse than anything we can throw at it. Ice ages, meteor impacts, mass extinctions, supervolcanoes, all these have happened in the planet’s long history, often more than once, and it’s survived. More than that, it’s flourished.

So maybe it’s time to admit that we don’t actually have the power to either save or destroy the earth. Maybe what we’re really interested in is saving our species. We’ve grown up in a very nice period of the earth’s history, and we want to not screw that up any more than we have to. Sooner or later, something will happen to wipe us out, of course. Let’s just try not to make it happen at our own hand.

So the story is a wee bit soapboxy, but the idea of taking a starry-eyed hippie girl and crushing her naive yet earnest dreams and ambitions just made me laugh and laugh and laugh….

It was an interesting six days of writing, and there are only twelve more to go! The next section is Air, and I have a few ideas bubbling around in my head for that. But first, some stats:

It turns out that I’m damn near at the goal of 50,000 words. The Earth section by itself was 15,997 words – not as good as Water, but better than Fire. Last night I hit 48,851 total, for an average of 2,714 words per story. I figure today’s story should put me over the top, so long as it’s over 1,200 words – which, if the rest of this month is any indication, it should very well be. And if I keep writing at this rate, the whole month should net me a bit over 80,000 words. Definitely a new record.

Thanks to everyone who’s commented and said kind things and all that. I appreciate the feedback.

Today's the big day!


[1] I’m not sure if I have an Inner Cynic or if he has an Inner Me….
[2] It’s soft and absorbent, dammit! You’ll never get me to stop!


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