[ID: Photo of a blue and purple tent in the middle of a field, underneath a star-filled sky. There’s a bright star standing out on the right-hand side of the image. The interior of the tent is lit up. Next to the tent are the words, “BLINDTHEWIND - camp nano april” in a serif font.]
BLINDTHEWIND — weekly NaNo update
HI WHO HAS TWO THUMBS AND JUST FINISHED A FIRST DRAFT COMPLETELY?
YES, HELLO, IT'S ME.
I literally don't know what to say at the moment, my folks. Always the Bridesmaid is currently standing at 36, nearly 37k. It's the shortest chaptered work I've completed, it's the first one I've completed in a long time, and it's the first original novella I've ever completed, period. It's that last one that really gets me. I've started things, but I've never completed things—not things that were more than a short story. And here it is, a novella that's a little over four months of work, just ... done. Sort of. I still need to edit, but the point is, it's ... done.
That's the good news. The bad news is that it's only the second week of NaNo, so I actually have to keep working. Like, the temptation to take a break is very real. It was extremely hard to start anything else the moment I plopped down the last word. (Friday night, for those curious.) But I have daily word counts to make and an entirely different WIP to do this to, so ... on I went.
So we've got the good and the bad. The ugly (only not really—more like hilarious, if we're honest) news iiiiiis ... that's right, fuckers. We're back on The Arcadia's bullshit.
And let me tell you. That was an entirely different struggle in itself. Because, like, there are so many different challenges with it. The tone is wildly different, for one, so despite some earlier writing exercises back in March, it's weird to get back into Etaoin's extremely flippant narration style. The other thing is I don't actually have the rest of the novel planned out. Like, I'd pantsed this, remember? I just have a vague idea of what I want to do for the remaining third of the book, which means that the remainder of Camp NaNo is going to be an absolute train wreck.
At the very least, though, this is the last third of the book. I've just introduced a character I've wanted to include since the beginning, who I've decided should be pivotal to a conflict that I'm gonna be rewriting (so that ... there is conflict, period). The resolution of that is going to be in a couple of chapters, and after that happens, I think I'm probably going to go into the final chapter or two of the book. It's really downhill from here; I just have to get back into the swing of things.
Anyway, rambling aside, how's about some excerpts? Mostly Always the Bridesmaid, because I'm still riding that goddamn rush. 8)
(By the way, if you don't want spoilers for that one, don't click the cut because, yeah, spoilers for Always the Bridesmaid.)
CURRENT WORD COUNT: 22570
EXCERPTS: [read more below—hit permalink if you’re on my blog]
Her eyes brim with tears, and she pulls her hand away from the Librarian’s to wipe her face with the back of an arm. When she looks back at him, she’s smiling, and her eyes are still glistening, and it’s clear that for once—for the first time since they had met—Sadie has nothing to say. She coughs and croaks, her voice caught in her throat, until the Librarian gently takes her arm again.
“Come on,” he says. “It’s time to go home now.”
Truthfully, he has no idea what’s about to happen. He knows the door won’t open for him, and he has no idea whether or not he’ll be able to order it open with his newfound grasp of command. Worse yet, if the Library is telling the truth about Sadie and if she is indeed a librarian too, then the door won’t open for her either.
And that is why he maneuvers her to the door but presses his hands into her shoulders and positions her to its left, with a wide enough berth between herself and its face.
“Stay here and do not move a muscle,” he tells her. “Do you understand?”
“And do you trust me?” he asks.
She nods again. There is no hesitation.
He lets her go, then walks calmly back to the table. He grabs one of the heavy wooden chairs and touches its seat to the flames. When it catches, he walks back towards the door, and halfway between the table and the door, he hoists the flaming chair over his shoulder and throws it with everything within him at the door. The chair breaks as soon as it hits, raining wood and flames onto the base of the door. Ignoring Sadie’s screams, the Librarian doubles back, picks up another chair, and storms forward, smashing the chair into the face of the door. He can’t tell how much damage he’s doing to it. All his focus is dedicated to taking the door down through any means possible, and not an iota of his being will stop until the door is gone. The chair’s legs go first against the solid wood. Then the seat. Then back. And finally, the Librarian has no choice but to switch to kicking. His boot comes down hard on the lock once. Then twice. And then, finally, on the third time, it yields. The wood splinters beneath his foot. The brass bends inward. And the door is gone, leaving a gaping darkness beyond it.
[I posted this to the server the moment I finished the scene, to mark the end of new material I had to write for this draft. At that time, I had to do a few more things, of course. Rewrite two scenes. Write a transition. But it was that moment when I was literally just at the cusp of finishing, when I'd slammed down a scene in a sitting, that I just had to take inventory of how far both I and the Librarian had come.
Anyway, in this scene, he sets fire to the goddamn Library because fuck you, sundew. It's basically the moment where he finally realizes he's had power over himself all along and that the Library wasn't actually a prison.
Actually, speaking of that...]
There’s a rush of something in the Librarian’s chest at that thought. The idea of being alone in the midst of people is not something entirely new to him, but it still hits him that Sadie has felt it. He wants to comfort her somehow, but all he can think of is reaching down to collect another string of cranes. On his way back up, he takes a good look at this apartment of hers. It’s not that bad, for a city, he thinks. A small living room. Small kitchen. Door to what looks like a bathroom. And … a single door to a bedroom.
“Do you live here on your own?” he asks.
“Pfft. Maybe I should do that thing you did with me,” she jokes. “Restrict you to one question a day or something.”
The Librarian’s heart freezes at that. Has he gone too far? “Sorry. If that’s too personal—”
“No, not at all,” Sadie replies. Her grin widens. “In fact … let’s make a deal.” She extends her hand. “You get to ask me a question, then I get to ask you one, and we both have to be honest with each other. Sound good?”
The Librarian raises his eyebrows at this, but his response comes surprisingly easily. He grabs her hand in his free one. “Of course.”
“Good.” She withdraws. “Then yes, I live here alone. I used to live here with my ex-girlfriend, but, um. She’s an ex for a reason. It hasn’t been all that easy since. Which, you know. Led to all that stuff I told you in the Library.”
The Librarian’s eyes sink to the cranes again, but the one with “OVERDUE” on its wing has disappeared in a mass of other paper birds.
“My turn!” Sadie announces. “Okay, now that we’re out of the Library and you’ve got nothing stopping you … what’s your name?”
Ah yes. The inevitable. The Librarian rolls the question around in his head for a bit, and to his relief—to his surprised relief—he can’t think of anything that’s holding him back from telling the truth.
And the second he says it, it feels as if entire pounds shed off his bones. His body feels lighter, and the air he breathes into his lungs feels cooler. And the look on Sadie’s face? The light, the warmth, the delight—it starts a fire in his chest where lead had been a moment ago.
“Lykos,” she repeats. “Lykos of Alexandria.”
“Alexandreia,” he corrects. “Technically.”
[You have no idea how long I've been waiting to write those last few lines.]
“Do you know why we’re doing this?” the Librarian asks.
Sadie presses her lips together and shakes her head. She’s too engrossed in the folding to look up at him.
“It’s because this will help,” he tells her. “There’s a legend that if you fold one thousand paper cranes, just like this one, then your wish will come true.”
Sadie stops. All her crane is missing is a head, but she pauses to look up at the Librarian. “Really?”
“Possibly,” the Librarian says. Then, he thinks about it—about who he’s talking to—for a second, and he adds, “Very likely. But you need to believe it will. Understand?”
He finishes his crane, then shows her how to poke a hole in its back and thread a string through. He does the same for her crane, once she’s finished it, and he dangles the two before her.
“Whenever you feel lost or alone, whenever you feel you need it the most, make a crane and think about your wish,” he tells her. “The more you do this, the more your troubles will melt away. Do you understand?”
She nods but doesn’t say a word. The Librarian places the two cranes in her hands and closes her fingers over them.
“That’s all I have to tell you right now,” he says. “Good luck, Sadie, on everything that weighs you down right now.”
With that, he releases her hands and turns her around by her shoulders. Behind her, the door to the Library appears, perfectly framed by the cutout of the Emerald City. He nudges her forward, and she trots towards the door. When she reaches it, she turns around and waves.
“Nice meeting you, Mr. Librarian!” she calls.
And then, she turns the doorknob, trots through the doorway, and vanishes completely.
The Librarian watches the door close and exhales. The children are always the hardest, he thinks. But there’s a silver lining, as far as he’s concerned.
Usually, when children go through the Library, they never come back.
[Sharing this and one other bit from Always the Bridesmaid, as these were the last two things I wrote. In this case, I rewrote Sadie's introduction, and although there are some bits that could be buffed out, it's overall something I'm a lot happier with. It's not as awkward as the original had been ... which actually, come to think of it, is kinda an example to myself of how much I've improved over the past month. It's weird to look at the beginnings of this work, to see how the narration smooths out and how dialogue comes a little easier. It's still a little rough in spots towards the end, but it's a lot more interesting than in the beginning. Funny how writing as often as you can will do that to you.]
He really tries not to think about it. Coffee, ground fine, into the percolator. Water filled just enough for a cup. Percolator on the stove. Heat turned up high.
And now, he waits. He leans against the counter, head in his hands. He inhales slowly, then reaches down with one of his hands to open a drawer next to him. In it, he finds the one book that’s frustrated him more than any other in the Library. His hands run over its cover, over the intricate apple tart displayed on its cover. He flips it open to a random page—it never matters to him which one—and as the percolator pops next to him, he reads each step in creating the perfect mille-feuille.
It isn’t long before he loses all track of time. The percolator continues popping next to him, but soon, he can’t even hear it. Slowly but surely, his kitchen begins to smell like coffee, then bitter coffee, and it’s at that point when there’s a knock at his door.
[The literal last thing I'd written for Always the Bridesmaid, shared here partly for that fact and also because this man really was a dumpster fire before Sadie got through to him.]
“I need you to settle an argument we’re having,” Duncan says. He motions to Russell. “This asshole absolutely refuses to think rationally about it, so I’m going to tell you about our thought experiment, you’ll give me your honest opinion, and I’ll tell you what his extremely pedestrian opinion is.”
“I’m gonna spit in your next coffee,” Russell growls.
“You say that like it’s a thing I don’t want, and that confuses me,” Duncan fires back. “So what do you think, Etaoin?”
“Do I have to answer this question?”
Russell and Duncan give me a no and a yes, simultaneously and immediately.
I give them both a dirty look. “I think you’re both a waste of my time but that Duncan will ask me anyway.”
“And you’d be correct!” Duncan replies with a shit-eating smile. “So. The question. A real conundrum of a philosophical—”
“If Batman and Iron Man got into a fight, who would win?” Russell asks.
I let the question sink in a little. Turn it over in my head. Really think of the perfect response.
And then, that perfect response comes to me.
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
[And here we have the first thing I wrote for the Arcadia in months. It's good to be back, everyone!]
To spite him, I pour a little espresso out and add in more hot water than I usually would. Fuck Duncan.
Unfortunately, before I can put it up, Russell is at my side.
“Hey, hey, hey,” he said. His voice is low, gruff, and forceful, and it makes me stand at attention. (In a platonic, highly terrified way, as I cannot emphasize enough how much I do not care for more allosexual pursuits.) “I saw what you did with Duncan’s americano just now.”
“Um. Yeah?” I respond. I try to make myself sound nonchalant. I’m pretty sure I’ve succeeded in making myself sound like an idiot teenager who’s trying to be cool.
He grabs the cup off of me before I can put it up on the bar. “Make it again with decaf,” he tells me. “And make sure there’re grounds in the espresso while you’re at it. And I’ll give you my tips for the night if you do it every time the smug bastard comes up here and tries to worm in a single goddamn word about stupid movie shit with his order.”
I stare at him for a second. He stares back, then hammers down the americano in one shot. This only terrifies me more, to be honest.
“I’ve had a long day,” he tells me as he hands me the cup. I don’t need to ask him. I know he wants me to put the fucked-up americano in this cup.
And I think about it for a second, then glance at the tips cup. Really, I don’t need the incentive, but it’s nice to take inventory of what’s important.
“Get a picture of Duncan’s reaction when he realizes,” I tell him.
“The fuck you take me for?” Russell responds. “You’re getting a fucking video.”
Never mind. I love this man.
Duncan doesn’t notice. It’s actually a little disappointing.
[It really is good to be back. :')
Also, as I've said on Discord, casual reminder that Duncan is: 1) a customer, and 2) Russell's life partner (not that Etaoin knows the latter).]
TAGLIST: (send an ask to be added/removed to any of these!)
(Removing repeats to avoid annoying folks, haha. Sorry for previous weeks!)
Gen: @atbwrites @sereniatta @radiomacbeth @girl-like-substance @slam-dunkrai @leadhelmetcosmonaut @fourteenzero @avian-writes @veiliza @ladywithalamp
Camp NaNo: @drippingmoon
Always the Bridesmaid: @ashen-crest @isherwoodj @stardustspiral @chazzawrites @dynadratina @homesteadchronicles @writingbyjillian @crystallized-ink @ayzrules @manotelier @chishiio @kittensartswriting @ecwrenn @oh-no-another-idea @celestepens @ladywithalamp @lunewell
The Arcadia: @oceancold @alicewestwater @dallonswords @tuoyu @write-the-stars-and-shadows
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The necessary meal
‘You’re Camille, I’m Victoria,’ greets the ex-wife at the restaurant table, ‘sit next to me, I’m dying to know all about you.’ She lays a kiss on Edward’s cheek.
My fists clench. Get off him! He isn’t yours any more.
‘You look great!’ Victoria gushes, eyeing me up and down. I can feel the eyes of her friends at the table on me also. Two by two, all established couples.
‘Doesn’t she,’ agrees Edward, squeezing my waist.
I smile beatifically and fold myself into the chair beside Victoria’s. I’m introduced to everyone and then; ‘Edward tells me you don’t have children?’
How rude! Of course, it is a fair enough question, I’m here because she wants to meet me before I am introduced to her and Edward’s daughters. I take a deep gulp of wine, letting the deep wounds of my past show in my dark eyes.
‘I never drink,’ Victoria states disapprovingly, ‘I understand you work really long hours at the hospital. You’re a doctor right?’
‘No. I’m an assistant,’ I reply vaguely.
‘Camille’s doing a nursing degree,’ says Edward.
Victoria looks satisfied, there is no-one at the table who doesn’t have a PhD or MD, Edward was at pains to tell me the identities and qualifications of everyone there. He is quite the name dropper when he gets going.
They’re all looking at me pityingly as if being an assistant is beneath them somehow. We order our food, Edward squeezes my hand under the table, but he doesn’t come to my aid.
‘So you live on Westfields housing estate do you? Is property expensive there?’ Victoria asks.
‘I wouldn’t know, I rent,’ I answer.
Between starter and main course, Victoria and one of her friends get up and go to the ladies room. After a moment I follow, I go through the first door and stand in the vestibule behind the other, listening.
‘How come she looks that good?’ Victoria is raging, ‘no way is she 40 years old! She looks about 25! And look at Edward all moony eyed! It’s obviously a sex thing! Well, she’s not meeting Amelie and Olivia! Over my dead body!’
‘Do you have a say in that?’ her friend asks.
‘Edward will do anything for a quiet life,’ she replies smugly.
I open the door and rush into a cubicle before they notice it’s me. I sit there for as long as possible before I go out there again.
After pudding I feign a headache and tell Edward I’m going home early. He offers to escort me, but I turn him down. Victoria looks radiantly triumphant.
I head for the car park; a glance from me and the street light above Victoria’s Mercedes goes out. The darkness swallows me and I melt into mist so I can filter my way into her back seats; taking form again just in time to hear the click of her heels. She gets in to drive and I pounce, grabbing her by the neck. She makes a peculiar gargling sound as my teeth sever her throat. I drink the life from her greedily, then shove her lifeless corpse into the passenger seat.
In the morning they will discover her car in the river. Poor Victoria; she came off the road inexplicably – was she tired? Drained after a long evening’s socialising? I laugh darkly, then belch unexpectedly. Ugh! Ex-wives like that one! They always have the same bitter after taste, like a leftover Chinese takeaway the next morning. Devouring them is necessary though, because the rest of the broken family taste so very good.
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