Friday, November 27, 2009

National Novel Writing Month: Completed! with an overview

I finished off the very, very rough first draft of "I don't know if I love you (but I might)" at 50,024 words. This is my third year doing this. I've completed each time. This was by far the most difficult year. I searched the manuscript for something that I could excerpt out here. But there was nothing I really liked. So here is the story pitch:

Jay Boudreaux and David Goldman are driving from DC to New Orleans for Jay's father's funeral. Jay's father, Bubba Boudreaux, was a big man in New Orleans, well loved, but with a troubling past marked by alcoholism and strained relations with his wife, Sally Boudreaux. Passing through Greensboro, Jay and David get into an accident with a motorcycle driven by Sara Smith (the one character I carried over from last year's "The Duke of Sunrises"). Sara goes into a coma, and Jay and David decide to wait it out in the hospital.

Sara is stuck between life and death in something akin to the afterlife-- set in a 1950's federal building with bad florescent lighting and mismatched furniture. There she meets Bubba Boudreaux, who is being guided through his first days in the afterlife by Mason, who has been here for a few thousand years.

The back story on Sara is that she was running from DC after the death of the man she was living with, Aaron Washington. Aaron was an artist who had found recent success in the DC art scene and then committed suicide by metro train.

Sara is treated by Dr. Amir Sindh, who is completely incompetent, but who has a brilliant record of diagnosis and treatment because he is constantly accompanied by the soul of his grandmother, Zayd, who won't allow him to make a mistake. He fumbles through and finds the correct diagnosis for Sara and saves her life.

In Greensboro, David attends an AA meeting and meets two characters who are bound together by ancient history: Mr. Deacon and Missus Circe. I'll admit it here: Mr. Deacon was my favorite character. I based him on Anansi. Note: if you're writing something and can't seem to make it work, put Anansi in your story-- he can do damn near anything. A large portion of the story is about Deacon and Circe-- in reality, they originally were slaves in New Orleans who have been alive since the 1600's. Part of their history bases their relationship on love/hate, but they are inseparable on this earth.

I don't want to ruin everything, but Deacon and Circe end up being instrumental in Sara Smith coming out of her coma. There is a connection between Missus Circe and Aaron Washington, Sara's dead lover. When it is over, Missus Circe passes away.

After Sara comes out of the coma, Jay and David continue on down to New Orleans for Bubba Boudreaux's funeral only to find that Deacon has beat them to NOLA, where he is consoling his old friend and Jay's mother, Sally Boudreaux. Jay, David, Deacon, and Sally attend Bubba's funeral, where we find out that Deacon (Anansi) is able to move freely between this world and the afterlife, which makes for a little comedy with Bubba Boudreaux, the deceased.

At the end of the book, Sara Smith is back in DC, trying to piece her life back together. David and Jay are just arriving in DC, and a friendship with possibilities has struck up between David and Sara. Bubba and Missus Circe spend time in the afterlife together accompanied by Aaron Washington. And Deacon is somewhere-- not tied to any one place or any one life.

I really don't know what to do with this story. If it is like the two previous stories, it will sit on my hard disk and that will be that. I feel like I never want to look at the story again, but I just finished it today and am a little sick of it. I also know that some of my best writing went into this draft. In any case, I'm very proud and very happy to be finished.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

National Novel Writing Month: Excerpt

My buddy Johnny asked me to post an excerpt from my ongoing submission to National Novel Writing Month. I'm a little over 13,000 words into it. The working title is, "I don't know if I love you (but I might)":

Sally Boudreaux held the funeral announcement in her hands and shook her head in disbelief. Boudreaux was possibly one of the most common names in New Orleans; hell, it might just be the most common name. Boudreauxs had been some of the first settlers of this god forsaken place, had probably worked some of the first ships to land at the port of New Orleans four hundred years ago, had most likely populated just about every square mile from the French Quarter to the Lake Pontchartrain. Boudreaux was a pretty damn popular name in New Orleans.

And those dumb sons-of-a-bitches had misspelled Boudreaux on her husband’s funeral announcements. Boudreax.

What the hell was she going to do?

She’d have to deal with it. She’d have to deal with every damned thing. Larry and Michelle would mean well, but they had five kids to take care of—five! And her other son, Jay… well, Jay.

Sally put down the funeral announcement and looked down into her coffee cup. Jay.

She had finished the cup and stood to get a refill. It occurred to her that she could walk down to The Last Drop and have someone make breakfast for her. But Sally just was not ready for all of her neighbors who frequented The Last Drop to sympathize with her, to crowd around her to see if she was doing all right.

She was doing all right. Of course she was doing all right. Bubba Boudreaux—not Boudreax—had been a miserable son-of-a-bitch who had two-timed Sally miserably. He had been drunk and disorderly in just about every bar on Bourbon Street, had gotten his sorry ass thrown out of places it was damn near impossible to get thrown out of, and had gotten her woken up to bail him out of the parish drunk tank more times than she liked to imagine. Things had taken a turn for the better the day that Bubba Boudreaux—not Boudreax—had finally kicked the bucket with an esophageal hemorrhage. She hoped it hurt. She hoped it hurt like a son-of-a-bitch.

Sally held the funeral announcement to her face and sobbed into it, the ink staining her cheeks.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New song: Sitting in a circle

"Sitting in a circle" by Timothy Chen Allen

We are sitting in a circle
in a room above a store
and we're waiting for a sign that never comes

And we look into each others' eyes
and wonder if it's wrong
to be impatient with the process
brings us home

And I would not believe
that you would ever look away
I'd be a sorry friend to think of you that way

But I myself am falling asleep right now
I can't do much more than promise that I'll stay

But I myself am having trouble opening my eyes
I'd like to go to sleep right now if I may.