Last month I participated, as I have many times before, in Camp NaNo, which is kind of a spin-off of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, in November. I like doing Camp because you can set your own goals instead of conforming to the “50,000 word in a month” paradigm of NaNoWriMo.
This April, my goal was to write 10 min a day, or 300 minutes total. Good news: I managed 400 minutes over the month. So, yay for winning!
Even better news: I finished a complete draft of a novel!
This novel, which I have been calling Ash and Team, is one that I have been working on since NaNoWriMo of 2013. Six long years. I started this as a practice novel, and I know that actually publishing it would require more research than I have time for currently, so while you will likely never see this story in print (or even in revisions), I still feel really proud of this accomplishment. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end; it has character development; it has some humor and a magic system; it even has some prose that I really enjoy reading.
The draft is about 44,000 words, which is quite short for a novel, but it is after all a fairy tale retelling. Also, I tend to severely underwrite in my initial drafts, so if I ever finished it I’m sure it would be a bit longer.
You can read some excerpts from Ash and Team here, and in honor of my first “completed” novel, here’s another brief excerpt from the very (happy) end of the story.
ASH (OUR CINDERELLA CHARACTER)
TEAM (OUR “PRINCE,” AN INVISIBLE SPIRIT)
MEG (TEAM’S OLDER SISTER, THE NARRATOR)
I could tell that she was nervous, so I held her hand as we walked to the edge of the lake. I wanted to tell her not to be, but in truth I was just a little nervous myself. And anyways, no one has ever stopped being nervous just because someone else told them not to be. It just does not work like that.
I hoped that maybe somewhere in those nerves was also a little bit of excitement. Either way, I did what I could to support her. She was already my sister in my heart, if not in fact.
In time, we saw him come. I smiled when I saw him on the horizon. I knew he would come, of course, after our spirit walk, but I couldn’t help but feel just a bit relieved regardless. He looked magnificent. I thought I might feel ridiculous playing my part at this point, but I fell back into habit seamlessly.
“Do you see my brother?” I asked her.
“Yes,” she said, letting out the breath she had been holding. She had not taken her eyes from him yet.
“And from what is his shoulder strap made?” I asked.
“Oh,” she said. “Oh, it is the rainbow!”
And so it was. I could hear the awe in her voice as she saw my brother for the first time in all his glory. Such things were within his power, a power he never asked for but lived with every day. A power he never used frivolously, only to help us live, the same way he had gained it in the first place.
“And what is his bow string?”
Her eyes were wide. “It’s…the Milky Way,” she whispered. For in his weapon my brother harnessed the power of all the galaxy. It shone with unthinkable energy; life and death were tied up in it.
For a moment she was so dazzled that she forgot who she was looking at. But my brother saw us waiting for him and picked up his pace. Soon, his face was clearly in view. She could have no doubt that it was Team. She had recognized him in the river from the same distance when she had only known him a few days. She would know him anywhere, dressed in anything, whether his bow was made of stars or
“Oh,” she breathed, and then she was off running towards him. He had dropped all his gear and was hurrying to her. With his speed, she didn’t make it very far before he caught up with her, grabbed her up and spun her around. She shouted with laughter as her feet left the ground.
When he finally put her down, she opened her mouth to speak but he was faster as always. “No, let me say something first, Ash. I’m sorry. Listen, you don’t have to marry me. You don’t have to do anything. Just, please stay.”
Her only answer was to reach up to kiss him.
A moment later, she said, “How did you make your strap from a rainbow?”
He grinned. “I’ll tell you the story someday.” And he kissed her again.
Around this time, I decided I should return to the wigwam alone. They clearly weren’t going anywhere for a while.