Quite a gap in NaNo updating! That doesn’t mean I haven’t been novelizing though. I had a particularly excellent Day 4 last Friday, writing just over 3,000 words to build up a solid cushion for a weekend spent traveling. I kept up well the beginning of this week too, even on Election Day which I had expected to be too busy for much writing–but I got several hundred words in on my lunch break, writing up a confrontation at the Mardi Gras ball.
And then yesterday those election results came back and…well, this is not a political blog, so let’s just suffice to say it was a very, very bad day. Under the circumstances, getting any words written was a victory. Today has been slightly better emotionally but busier in the usual way of life, so I’m currently running about 600 words behind schedule. With a friend’s birthday party tomorrow that number may rise, but I think I’ll be able to catch up over the weekend.
On a plot front, I’m just about reaching the end of a pretty large, vaguely-defined section of the book, and catching up to the point where the action grows more intense. Or to put it another way, after a stretch of mostly character development I’m reaching a more plot-driven portion. I hope this will make the remainder of the book a bit easier…but one never knows!
For now, an excerpt, and I think a hopeful one is appropriate. I actually wrote about half of this earlier (mostly the second half, oddly enough) and just completed it a few days ago, so it’s not all NaNo writing…but no matter.
When Meg spoke, it was the relatively innocuous and not very enlightening comment, “You know, the wonderful thing about a masquerade, everyone wears a mask.”
True enough, they did. “Yes.” And?
“I was just wondering…are you planning to go this year?”
Ah. “No,” Erik said shortly.
A few months ago that would have made her drop the idea, but now she ventured on with, “I mean, you went last year and—”
“That was unusual and it was a mistake.” What a horrible evening it had turned out to be.
“Well, the ‘don’t touch me’ sign was,” she agreed, with a smile that invited him to join into the joke.
Last year’s masquerade was hardly something he wanted to joke about. “The entire evening was an ill-conceived idea and—”
“But it’s so perfect,” she bubbled up, “you can go mingle with everyone and they won’t even know it’s you!”
“Why on earth would I want to mingle? I don’t like them, they don’t like me—”
“They don’t like the Phantom. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like you.”
That caught him up short a bit. He hadn’t realized she understood that nuance. It didn’t stop him from saying, “It’s the same thing.”
“Not quite,” she countered, accurately. “So if you don’t want to mingle, just come and watch all the costumes and the inevitable mayhem.”
“I can do that from behind a wall.”
“Not as well.”
She sighed. “All right, fine, don’t come. But it’s too bad really, because it’s a fun party. One of the highlights of February. And February is my favorite month.”
Seeing a glimmer of a topic change opportunity, without thinking Erik said, “No one’s favorite month is February.” He realized a beat too late that this might have been rather too severe.
“It’s mine,” she responded with an impudent smile.
Well, if she wasn’t going to be off-put by an argument, and was willing to pursue this less fraught topic… “February is cold and dark—”
“I should think that would appeal to you,” she murmured.
“Not to most people—and it’s long past Christmas and still weeks away from spring and it has essentially no redeeming characteristics.”
“Except the daffodils.”
“Daffodils start blooming in February. I watch for them every year, and suddenly from one day to the next they spring up in the most unlikely places all over Paris. Like little pieces of sunshine in window boxes and street corners. They were planted months earlier and have been waiting all through the winter to suddenly spring up in February. They stay in flower for days and days when they finally do bloom, and when they finally fade, by then it’s spring. They’re like the heralds of spring, and since they come before the nicer season, there’s still all the anticipation.”
“But it’s still a cold, miserable month.” A few flowers did not change any of the other characteristics of the month.
“Yes, I know. But there are daffodils, and daffodils are my favorite flowers.”
“Oh, well, in that case,” Erik said, raising his hands and surrendering the argument. That should have been the end of it, but she was looking at him with a certain intensity. After a moment he rubbed the back of his neck and said, “What?”
Meg sighed, looked down and smoothed her skirt over her lap. “I know you think I’m silly and naïve, but I’m not really.”
“I don’t think that,” he protested, because it was obviously the thing to say. Even though he did think she was naïve, and maybe a little silly at times—though it was a nice silliness. That wasn’t quite the word anyway…light-hearted, rather. The kind who enjoyed masquerades without dark undercurrents.
“I know that February is cold and dark and all the rest that you said. But there are daffodils. I know there are bad things in the world, plenty of them, but it doesn’t make me naïve because I believe there are good things too, or that I’d rather focus on those. Bad things aren’t somehow more real by virtue of being bad. I’d rather think of February as the month when the daffodils bloom, not the cold middle of winter.”
“Not everyone finds it that easy to think about the good things.”
She half-smiled, a lopsided smile. “What makes you think it’s always easy for me?”
The idea that she might work at it, that she might not be just naturally sunny, had never occurred to him. He looked away, rubbing his palm against his leg and suddenly wishing he was sitting at his piano because it was easy to just launch a melody as a distraction but much harder when you had to stand up and walk across the room to do it. Maybe there really was some trick to it, some skill she had that he lacked, to look at February and see daffodils and a masquerade party, instead of cold wind and long nights.
“I’ll think about it,” he said abruptly. “The mardi gras. I might come. Maybe.”
If she thought this was an odd topic change, she didn’t show it. Just smiled as though she had already won the mardi gras debate. Which, really, he supposed she had.