My readers should know by now that I’m two weeks (nearly half-way) into NaNoWriMo, working on the sequel to Kenning Magic. If you check the tiny calendar in the right widget bar, you’ll see that I’m making sporadic progress, although I’m behind on word count by a bit more than a day. I should be at about 22K.
But I’m not worried. Yet. I can catch up this weekend. Or after Thanksgiving (which I’m celebrating on Tuesday instead of Thursday due to scheduling conflicts). Or after I’ve graded the latest stack of papers. Or after I’ve finished these two books by Diana Wynne Jones.
I’ll start to worry if I don’t put a few more green boxes into that calendar. Green marks productive days, where I write beyond the daily 1666-word minimum. Yellow marks days on which I’ve done some writing, but not the minimum. Red — well, you can probably guess. I like to think of those non-writing days as thinking days — figuring out plot, motivation, characters’ names. When he was quite young, a friend’s son used to protest, if accused of falling asleep in the car, “I wasn’t asleep, I was thinking!” I feel that way about “not writing” — I’m never not writing, even in those hours when I’m not racking up the word count.
Meanwhile, I’ve finished DWJ’s Hexwood and am nearly done with Fire & Hemlock. In the the first book, Jones plays around with the Arthurian legend, and in the second she riffs on Tam Lin. Each has something to say about how memory messes around with the world we think we live in. Hexwood is the more challenging read, looping back and forth across time, with characters older, then younger, then older again, as if each version of a self exists concurrently. I was half-way through the novel before I had enough pieces of this puzzle to understand what was going on, and I felt so proud of myself to have figured out a critical connection a whole page before it was revealed.
Fire & Hemlock, on the other hand, is much more straight-forward, the mystery lying in why things are happening. Why has Polly lost memories nearly a decade old? What is the secret that the beautiful Laurel is protecting? Who is Thomas Lynn? Whose side is Seb on? Chapter headings (quotes from Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer) provide a mythical touchstone that inevitably guides my expectations. I think I know where this is going — if I’m right, I’ll be pleased, but if I’m wrong, I’ll be even happier, because Jones will have provided, once again, a fantasy tale that surprised me from beginning to end.
For my NaNo project, I’ve written not quite 800 words today. I head off now for school, but I’ll get back to my project tonight. To my fellow NaNo-ers, Keep writing! To myself, the same. To my friends and readers, thanks for your support.