Saturday, November 2, 2013

Let the writing commence!

Welcome to November and to National Novel Writing Month! Yesterday was day one and I thought I'd start the month off by sharing a little bit of the novel with you. I can't promise that I will share the entire novel here on the Island but I do promise to keep you up to date on my progress and the progress of my awesome writing buddies. You can still sign up or just support NatNoWriMo by visiting their website. You can also buy your NatNoWriMo participating friends presents or drinks. That would be nice of you.

So here it goes - an excerpt from my novel, The Metro Counselor (title still in a work in progress). Please excuse grammar at this time.


“How do people do this everyday?” Marie hadn’t meant for that to be so loud but it just popped out of her mouth before she could stop the comment. The Metro was exhausting and she couldn’t understand how people could go through the hassle day in and day out.
Her husband, James, sat next to her but didn’t immediately respond. He was distracted, staring out the window of the train watching the monuments speed by. Impressive and presidential; it would be cool to see these everyday on your way to work. How could you not appreciate being near all this history? Marie didn’t seem as enamored of the city as he was. Cities weren’t her thing.
“What did you say?” he asked.
“I said that I didn’t understand how people did this everyday. Commuting by train seems exhausting,” Marie answered.
“I can see that, I guess. But I can also see the positives. You don’t have to sit in traffic, you can read or listen to music, no standing in the rain at the bus stop. It seems like it would be sort of relaxing. Unless the train stopped and you were stuck somewhere,” James replied.
As soon as the words were out of his mouth the train lurched and stopped. And lurched and stopped. The train stopped and started twice more. And then it just stopped. Everything went very quiet and the lights flickered on then off. Audible sighs could be heard across the train car. People sitting near James and Marie started at James, shooting daggers out of their eyes – like his comment had somehow made the train stop.
The speaker crackled and the driver made an announcement that the train would be moving soon. His voice cut out so it was hard to hear exactly what he said when describing the problem.
“Did he say that there was bear on the track?” someone asked.
“I don’t think he said bear. Maybe deer but even that doesn’t make any sense.” Replied another random commuter.
The hum of conversation amongst passengers died down and people went back to whatever it was they were doing before the train stopped. James still noticed, or so he thought, a few people still staring at him accusingly. He felt uncomfortable. Maybe he was being paranoid but he really felt like people were staring at him. The train started to get hotter. It was a perfect May day – warm, sunny, a slight breeze outside. But trapped in a Metro car, the sun seemed too bright and the warm of the day too much for James. They sat and sat some more. It seemed like an eternity (but was really only 10 minutes).
“Do you think what I said caused the train to stop? Like how you’re not supposed to say “Macbeth” in a theater?” James whispered to Marie.
Marie looked at her husband and considered her response carefully. She didn’t actually believe he had caused the train to stop but he had been insufferable all week about the efficiency of public transportation. She really wanted to rub it in and have a little fun at his expense. But his face was so serious and she knew people were watching them and judging.
“No, you did not cause the train to stop. Unless you have some magical powers you haven’t told me about, there’s no way you could have caused it to happen. It’s not even like you were wishing for it to happen. Stop being crazy.”
She tried to change the subject. “What do you want to do for dinner tonight? We could try that place near the hotel that my brother recommended. Sushi sounds good right?”
James nodded and continued to look out the window. All week he had been making grand statements about the efficiency of public transportation sounding more insufferable with every statement. He knew Marie was being nice and placating him. Maybe he was being paranoid but out of the corner of his eye he kept seeing the man across the aisle glaring at him. James felt like the guy wanted to say something to him but was holding back. The guy was bigger than James. There’s no way James would be able to get out of a fight with this guy. He just kept thinking, “Please start moving. Please start moving.” If his comment could stop the train then this mantra would be able to get it started again.
The guy was really glaring at James. James was not being paranoid or dramatic. He was starting to get nervous and Marie was going on and on about sushi. Didn’t she see the man glaring at them? It would just take one small move or a glance to set this guy off. Would the rest of the passengers jump in and help the guy pummel James? He and Marie were clearly tourists and he knew the other passengers would show no mercy.
Just as James started to say something to Marie about glaring guy, he felt someone tap him on the shoulder. He didn’t really want to turn around but he knew he had to.
The tapper turned out to be a woman sitting behind James and Marie. She was probably in her sixties and looked like a retired schoolteacher or librarian. She smiled at James and Marie. “You have nothing to be worried about. No one is blaming you for the train stopping. This happens during rush hour on occasion. The train will start back up in a few minutes and we’ll all be on our way. And that man is not glaring at you.”
            James stared at her. How did she know exactly what he had been thinking? Was she psychic? Was she a witch? This was just crazy.
“Ummm, thanks,” he replied. “It just seemed really odd that it happened at the exact moment I said it. Maybe I’m just tired. We’ve been doing so much this week. It’s been amazing but it’s also really exhausting.”
The woman nodded and looked interested in what James was saying. She smiled again – such a warm, welcoming smile. “It’s hard not to push yourself when visiting DC. There’s something to do at every turn. Your wife is right; you should go to that sushi restaurant by your hotel. Sit outside. It’s definitely a sit outside kind of night. Is today your last day in town?”
Before James could respond, the train lurched again and this time it didn’t stop. The air kicked back on and the lights stopped flickering. The glaring man’s features seemed to soften and they were finally on their way. James felt himself cool down and sighed in relief. Marie took his hand. He turned back to the woman, “We’re here two more days. We were thinking of going to the zoo tomorrow and then spend our last day in Old Town.”
“Excellent ideas. The weather is perfect for the zoo and there are only so many museums you can see. Make sure to see the pandas.”
The woman went back to her book and James and Marie started discussing their plans for the last few days of their vacation. Their stop came and they got up to leave. James smiled and waved at the woman. The two left the train and went on to dinner. James was still unsure of how the woman knew exactly what he was thinking. She had found the perfect words to calm him down. It was odd. Comforting but odd.
The woman watched the couple leave the train. She knew that the man was confused by her comments. That was her job; she was supposed to help ease travelers worries and defuse situations on the Metro before they got out of hand. Her shift was just beginning and it was a Friday night. She hoped this was the only disruption - mechanical issues always made people grumpy. Drunk coeds and lost tourists were more her speed. She could help them make smart life choices and make sure everyone got where they needed to go safely. She closed her book at took out her phone. No notifications, no emergencies. It was early so she hadn’t really expected there to be anything yet. As the train pulled into the last stop on the line, she packed up her phone and book and moved with the crowds to get off the train. Instead of leaving the station, she simply moved to another car on the train. She waved to the driver and prepared for the rest of her shift.
Another Friday night in DC had begun for the Metro Counselor.

So there you have it - the beginning of my novel. I was not sure I would get to 1667 but I wrote 2742 words yesterday; that was just the prologue and chapter one. I even think I figured out a plot point that I hadn't thought of and I created a character I hadn't planned for but I think he will create more action later on. I hope that I can keep up the momentum throughout the month. I've decided to create an incentive box for myself. As I meet certain goals (as yet to be determined) throughout the month and when I get to the end, I can reward myself with something. Bribery, incentives, rewards - same difference.

Next week on the Island, it's time for the Lego purse reveal. I know you're dying to see how it turned out. I'm pretty excited about it and looking forward to seeing how it plays out at my work event next week.

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