Ever heard or NaNoWriMo? Kind of sounds like it’s from “Mork & Mindy” – Nano-Nano.
It actually stands for National Novel Writing Month. In November thousands of writers dedicate themselves to writing a 50,000 word novel in a month.
Obviously it’s not publisher-ready at the end of that 30 days, but the idea is to put your butt in the seat and WRITE. I’ve wanted to participate for the last several years but I’ve always looked at the calendar and realized there was no way it was going to work.
Well this year, I really don’t have any excuses. I’m not working full time, no trips are planned. No more excuses. (As a bonus it is National Adoption Month and I have a ton of fantastic adoptive families guest posting for me this month.)
So I’m going to do it. I’ve got a little widget in the sidebar over there so you can see my word count progress. Technically you’re not supposed to start until November. But I wrote an opening scene for my novel a few months ago. It’s all that I have done. So we’re going to build on that.
In truth, I am terrified of this venture. Fiction is totally out of my comfort zone. I have a journalism background and work well in the non-fiction world. But now that I have my first book under my belt I feel like this is a challenge I need to tackle. I’ll just keep telling the voices in my head to shut up and keep writing.
Want to read the opening scene? Here it is…
They were trying to keep their voices quiet, but Ayanna could still pick up words. “Work…the city…household help.” She busied herself sweeping the dirt floor of their tiny home, trying to be invisible as her grandmother stood outside the shack talking to the man in the fancy suit.
She had seen the man before. It was hard to miss him in his nice clothes amid the swirling dust and heat of their small Ethiopian village. He had come twice before – talking in hushed tones with the grandmas. Grandmas weighed down with the responsibility of caring for their orphaned grandchildren.
Ayanna was uneasy whenever the man was around. She felt as if she was being inspected, her future weighed against the possibilities. Staying in the village represented only one possible outcome – arranged marriage. At 14 she was still a few years from being of acceptable age to get married, but in the remote areas ofEthiopiathere was little regard for what the law said about marriage. Here, marriage was about survival.
On his second visit to the village the stranger left with two of the older girls. Their grandmothers, relieved that these youngsters were no longer in their charge, scurried away to protect the coins they now held in their hands – coins that would buy food for the remaining children for several months. More money would come once the girls had jobs. The man promised.
Ayanna looked around the room that had been the only home she had known. Sheets of corrugated tin nailed to a crude wood frame. Inside they had lined the walls with flattened cardboard they had scrounged from the dump to provide extra warmth during the cool evenings. With each rain the cardboard would droop with the weight of the water and have to be laid out to dry when the sun came out.
The voices grew louder, Grandmother anxious, the man trying to soothe and reassure her. Panic begin to set as Ayanna’s eyes scanned the room and locked on to her eleven-year-old sister Nashrat who sat playing quietly with her doll, oblivious to the change that seemed about to happen.
Ayanna couldn’t leave. Who would watch over Nashrat? Ayanna had seen the way some of the men in the village had eyed her younger sister. She knew the evil that played in their minds for many thought that sleeping with a young virgin would cure them of the sickness. In truth it just seemed to spread it faster.
No! Ayanna would not leave her sister unprotected. Surely Grandmother would not ask her to leave. If they needed money Ayanna would find some other way to earn it. A shudder washed over her as she thought of what she might have to do. But if it meant she could stay, wouldn’t it be worth it?
The voices quieted and Ayanna peeked through a hole in the metal wall watching the man walk toward his fancy truck. Dust spit up a cloud that seemed to hang in the air as he sped away.
Grandmother sat on the small wooden stool near their cooking fire. Tears streamed down her dusty, wrinkled cheeks as she stared off to the horizon watching the bright red sun descend behind the dry landscape. She stirred the simmering pot, not realizing that the fire had gone out while she had been talking to the man.
If you opened a book and that was the first page and a half, would you want to keep reading?