Monday, November 30, 2009
I do plan to continue to write a little bit every day until I finish the first draft of this story. I'll continue to post my word count, too.
“Give me a minute,” she said, returning to the cabin and dressing as silently as possible. As she slipped out the door to meet her brother, the sun was just rising, and the day promised to be hot...
...Claire narrowed her eyes. “Summer camp and pranks go together like baked beans and franks,” she said. “The trick is to never let it get personal.” She sighed. “Don’t worry, there’s a work order in for your door—it will probably be fixed before you get back from the survival campout.”
Word count: 16847
Sunday, November 29, 2009
“How about worms in their beds?” Dana suggested. “That would be gross.”
Hannah laughed. “Yeah it would.”...
...“5:30,” he answered. “I need to go back to the meadow to see if there’s a trail or something, so I can make sure that the thing I hit last night is okay. Come with me?”
Word count: 16466
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Hannah and Dana went to the campfire for a little while, but their hearts were not in it. They sat alone on the quieter side of the ring and talked, their voices low.
“I hate to see Greg so upset,” said Dana. “It was an accident, though.”
“He’s really protective of animals,” Hannah explained. “At home he won’t even kill a spider; he scoops it up in a cup and puts it outside. He’s always been that way.”
“That’s sweet,” said Dana. “The world would be a better place if more people were as nice as he is. Hey! That reminds me, what are we going to do about Regina and her henchmen?”
“I haven’t really had much time to think about it today,” said Hannah. She looked around and found all three of them watching her and Dana intently from across the flames. Was it her imagination or did they look a little less arrogant than before? She wondered if her threats that morning had actually intimidated them, or if there was some other reason for this unexpected change.
Word count: 16002
Friday, November 27, 2009
“Isn’t everything better with ice cream?” Dana asked as she caught up with the group. “What’s happening?”...
...I just want to go back to my cabin,” he told her. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
Word count: 15824
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Greg had fared much better, but he commiserated with Hannah on the way to wash up before dinner. “Who’s fault is this, Mom or Dad?” asked Hannah...
...“A la mode!” they said together. It was a silly routine that they did with their dad, but Hannah felt better knowing that when she was out in the woods, Greg would be there, too.
Word count: 15031
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Hannah discovered that shooting a bow and arrow was a lot harder than it looked; there was nothing natural to her about trying to hold the arrow in place while drawing back the string, aiming, and then firing. She missed the target almost every time. Joe came over to her and suggested a different bow. She had chosen a long bow because it looked like the ones she had seen in movies like Robin Hood. Joe had given her a bow that was shaped like a bracket in a math problem; he called it a recurve and explained that it might be better for a beginner, but not even the new bow could help Hannah, and she spent a frustrating afternoon.
Word count: 14387
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
He smiled and said, "You know, you should really write a lot this weekend."
"You must be Hannah and Greg," Joe waved them over. He smiled but did not make eye contact. “Archery is a lot of fun,” he told the group, “but obviously there are some pretty strict safety rules. Even with these beginner bows and arrows, someone can get seriously injured unless everyone is careful.” ...
...“The most important thing is to never, never, never shoot at a person or any other living thing. Don’t even aim within 50 yards of them. In the event that someone or something breaches the safety zone, you will hear three short blasts of the whistle. At that time, shooting must stop immediately. We WILL practice this—it is as much or more important than hitting the target.”
Word count 14270
Monday, November 23, 2009
The lunch service went very successfully, and Hannah was almost sorry to untie her apron and head for the archery range. She liked the rhythm and concrete results of the kitchen—seeing, smelling, and tasting the product of your hard work right away, and feeling pride when others appreciated it, too. She thought she might never again take a simple burger and fries for granted.
She ran into Greg on her way to archery. They both smiled to find out that he was in the same session, and that made her wonder, too. Just a couple of days ago, she would have paid money to get rid of him for a week or ten days, but now it seemed like he was all she had, and the surprising thing of it was that he was enough. She threw her arm around him affectionately as they hiked.
Counselor Joe was just getting ready to begin when they entered the clearing. Eight targets were set up against bales of hay.
Word Count: 14051
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Here's what it starts to be like for me somewhere in the midsection of a novel:
(1) I've written the beginning, but I'm pretty sure it's a pile of crap.
(2) The end, when I even dare to contemplate it, feels as far away as Uranus.
(3) The prose I'm writing right now, here in the middle, sounds like a stiff little busybody who's sat down too hard on a nettle.
(4) I've discovered that my plot, even if it's an engaging plot, has sections that are not engaging to write, and I'm bogged down in those doldrums sections, when all I want is to move on to the exciting parts that are just ahead but I can't, not until I've written the parts that will get me there. Boring!
(5) The house is strewn with post-it notes on which are written about a gazillion important reminders of things I must somehow remember to find a way to weave into the novel at some point, although, where, I can't imagine. Some of the post-it notes are written hastily in a code I have since forgotten. ("He is temperamentally sweet, but dangerous, like Jake." That would be very helpful, if I had the slightest idea to whom "he" refers, or if I knew anyone named Jake.)(6) Worst of all, whenever I take a step back and try to examine objectively this unstructured mess that is half created and half still living in my head and heart and hope (and on a gazillion post-it notes)... I get this horrible, sinking feeling that my novel isn't actually about anything.
Wow. How validating to read my very feelings written by someone else. (Oh, and she also said that writing 50,000 words requires skills that can be learned, how else? By writing. And that she's never written 50,000 words in less than 8 months.)
Grab a clean apron from the hooks behind you and come on in.”
Hannah enjoyed the morning. She liked to cook, and learning some shortcuts for chopping had been fun. She had never seen a giant number 10 can, much less one filled with more ketchup than her family would eat in a year, and the industrial opener they used to crank the lid off was pretty amazing, too. Jean had calmly overseen all the work, working at her cutting board on the stainless steel table, and directing the six kids in the kitchen...
...Hannah wasn’t sure how to respond. She sensed that something of value was being lost, but she couldn’t say what it was. Miss Jean looked up at the clock on the wall. “Time to get back in the kitchen,” she announced.
Word count: 13884
Saturday, November 21, 2009
“The first rule of kitchen duty is don’t get hurt,” she told them in a pronounced drawl. “The kitchen can be a dangerous place, full of things that are hot and sharp. It is also a place where you prepare and serve the food that others will eat, so the second rule is to be careful and clean.”
It all made sense to Hannah. These were very close to her parents’ rules when she helped in the kitchen at home.
“Our lunch today will be hamburgers, grilled cheese, and French fries. Of course we’ll need some griddlers, and fryers, and servers, but some of you will need to chop vegetables for the salad bar and prep the chicken and biscuits for dinner.”
Word Count: 13480
Friday, November 20, 2009
Hannah enjoyed a leisurely breakfast that had only been improved by the sight of Leslie and Cheryl screeching and jumping at every pop of the bacon grease on the huge griddle where they working when she made her way through the food line. That duo was dejectedly eating a late breakfast in the back corner of the dining hall, when, at nine am sharp, Hannah and the rest of the kitchen crew presented themselves to Miss Jean, the camp cook.
Jean was a solid woman of about her mother’s age, and Hannah liked her immediately, despite her gruff, matter of fact manner.
Word count: 13358
Thursday, November 19, 2009
She held her breath and lay as still as she could. Her mind raced and she fought the urge to jump screaming from the bed. The shadowy figure pushed out from between the bags under her bed and waddled across the cabin. In the moonlight it looked like a giant rat, bristly with a hairless tail, and it was moving toward the bunk where Dana slept. Hannah could see her over there lying on her stomach, one arm hanging over the side of her bed, oblivious to the menacing creature that was scraping toward her...
...“What are we going to do then?” Kelly asked.
Word count: 13256
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Claire left, and the four girls prepared for bed. “You could have told her we were in the bathroom, or something” Leslie said with exasperation.
“But you weren’t,” said Lori. “That would have been against the rules to lie.”...
...She lifted her head ever so slightly from the pillow and looked toward her feet. She froze when she saw a dark shape trundle heavily across her blanket toward the wall. Before she could do anything, it slithered into the narrow crack and disappeared under her bed.
Word Count: 12620
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The fire was just a pile of smoldering embers when Hannah and Dana left to turn in for the night. It had been a fun evening. They listened to Hunter and Graham make fools of themselves singing Born to Run with Hank, and they had participated in a marshmallow roasting contest— Hannah won in the perfectly-golden-brown category, and Rhett won in the too-charred-to-eat-but-I’ll-go-for-it-anyway category...
...“Seven!” sputtered Cheryl. “I thought duty started at 9!”
“Not for you,” Claire told them. “You’ll be the breakfast crew.”
Word Count: 12085
Monday, November 16, 2009
1. You are trying to be perfect.
2. You are under pressure to produce the finished product too fast.
3. You have been sitting down too much.
She provides three solid suggestions for coping with such blockage. It's worth a read.
The rest of the afternoon passed without incident, and Hannah was able to take a long, hot shower before dinner. It gave her some time to think, and the water washed away some of her anxiety and anger. She realized that she kind of liked camp so far. She and Greg had met some pretty cool kids, and the activities had been fun so far. She was also beginning to appreciate that she was too busy to dwell on her parents and everything that was riding on whether they would be able to work things out. There’s nothing I can do about it, she thought...
...A screen door slammed, Mary's dress waved. Greg came out to join them. “I have hiking and canoeing tomorrow, but kitchen duty wasn’t too bad,” he reported.
Word Count: 11787
Sunday, November 15, 2009
This morning we took advantage of the first sunny day since Tuesday and went for a hike along the Potomac. We walked the ridge until the trail dropped down to the confluence of Difficult Run and the river; after that we went upstream back to the parking lot. It was unseasonably warm, 72 in November, and the water was high because of all the rain.
Dana, Greg, and Rhett were already eating when Hannah got to lunch. “Where’s Graham?” Greg asked as Hannah put her tray down on the table...
...“Later Brace Face,” said Leslie.
Word Count: 11035
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Hannah had never been in a canoe in her life, but she found that she had a natural talent for it. After the basic safety presentation and paddling instruction, Doc had them try to navigate through a series of anchored floats that were set up just beyond the large platform in the lake. Her partner was Graham, and the two of them paddled through the course easily. Doc was impressed. “You two are a ringer team,” he called from his own canoe, as they floated and watched the other pairs struggle through...
...Hunter handed her a paddle. “Shall we?” he asked.
“Absolutely,” Hannah grinned.
Word Count: 10412
Friday, November 13, 2009
Janet, the clipboard, did the head count for their cabin that night. “Do you have your flashlights handy?” she asked them. “Because, while I wouldn’t recommend leaving the cabin at night for any reason other than an extreme emergency, I really wouldn’t recommend leaving it without a flashlight. That being said, if we find you outside, you better have a pretty good explanation, otherwise it’s a disciplinary issue. ‘night ladies.”...
...The bell on the lake view porch rang, interrupting their conversation. “Ten minutes to session one!” Hank called happily. “Be on time!”
Word count: 9611
Thursday, November 12, 2009
The western sky burned orange and red and a crescent moon was pressed high into the purple above it by the time Hannah and Dana got up to the fire ring. Dozens of people were silhouetted black shadows against the flames. As they approached, they could hear someone strumming an acoustic guitar and a small chorus of voices singing along to an Eagles tune. On the far side, closest to the main building Anne and Brian were handing out hot cocoa, marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate. Doc and Janet were busy balancing a couple of old-fashioned-looking metal contraptions with long wooden handles over some red hot embers. As they passed, Hannah heard sharp hissing and cracks, and then caught the unmistakable aroma of popcorn. Small groups of kids sat on and around the benches laughing and chatting. In spite of herself, Hannah relaxed. This is pretty cool, she thought...
...Doc stood on a bench and clapped his hands. “Okay folks, time to head toward your cabins. Wash up, do what you need to do, check in is in 15 minutes.”
Word count: 8840
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Noted with interest.
Hannah was pleasantly surprised at how good the food was. They had a choice of fried chicken or lasagna with green beans and jello. The first night, the counselors served and cleaned up, but the twins took great delight in reminding Greg that he would be the one wearing the apron tomorrow. Their kidding was good-natured, and Hannah was glad that Greg had found friends so quickly. There was still an hour or so until it would be dark enough for the campfire, and Rhett and Graham offered to show the Wilders and Dana around the camp a little bit...
...“No way,” Dana answered. “Those girls are the worst kind of bullies. I’m not going to just stand there and watch them push you around. They don’t scare me, anyway.”
“Thanks,” said Hannah.
Word count: 8475
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The line moved ahead and soon they were standing next to the bulletin board. "I can't look," said Dana. "What if it's survival first?"
"What if it's kitchen duty first?" asked Graham.
Greg stepped resolutely forward to examine the list. He ran his finger over the groups scanning them until he found what he was looking for. "Monday morning: Hannah, Graham- canoeing; Dana- archery; Rhett and me- hiking," he announced. "Monday afternoon: Dana and Hannah- swimming, Rhett and Graham- archery, me- kitchen. That's okay, though. I'd rather get it over with."
"What! No survival?" moaned Rhett. "I've been waiting a whole year to do that again."
"Well, another few days won't kill you," said Dana. "You'll survive." They all laughed at the joke as the line moved forward and into the mess hall.
Word count: 7732
Monday, November 9, 2009
...Dana turned to Hannah. “Are you going to dinner now?”
“Yeah,” Hannah answered. “I want to wait for my brother, though”
“Can I eat with you guys?” Dana asked. “I, personally, do not want to eat with my brother, but I’m sure yours is nice enough...”
* * * * *
...You have to, like, really survive, all by yourself overnight in the woods," explained Rhett.
"Whaaat?" said Hannah. "How about the buddy rule?"
"Well, okay, you're not all alone, but it's only kids, no counselors," Rhett answered."First they train us, then they take us out and leave us for one whole night. It... is... AWESOME!"
"Scary awesome," his brother added, "but still awesome."
Greg, Dana, and Hannah exchanged alarmed looks. This was not what they had in mind.
Word count: 7592
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Claire cleared her throat. “Well, I’m sooo glad we got that worked out.”...
...He looked at the other counselors. “Did I forget anything?” Hank smiled; Janet scowled; Claire sneezed; Brian yawned; Anne looked at her feet, and Joe shrugged. “All right,” Doc said. “Let’s eat!”
Word Count: 7164
Saturday, November 7, 2009
“… girls on the left, guys on the right,” Doc was saying. “Grab your gear from the pile and find your cabin group.”
Greg looked a little panicky. “Are you okay?” Hannah whispered...
...“You’ll block our view of the boys.”
Dana shrugged. “Whatever. I wasn’t going to take it anyway.”
Word count: 6180
Friday, November 6, 2009
Next to Hannah, Greg was getting a little antsy. He was the kind of kid who was a real stickler for the rules. Their dad used to tease him about how well he could stay in the lines when he colored. "You know, Greg, the lines are not always your friends," Dad would say. Thinking back on it now, Hannah sucked on her teeth, making a tsk sound. Maybe Dad should have made better friends with the lines, she thought. Around them, there were impatient sighs and muttering, but the group quieted. "My name is Doc," he told them. "Those of you who have been here before know that I'm the head counselor."
Where did that nickname come from? Hannah wondered. He didn't look old enough to be a doctor, plus, what kind of doctor would work at a summer camp? Remind me not to get sick in the next two weeks, she thought.
Word count: 4764
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Soon enough, though, the road curved to the right and down, and several cabins and a small lake emerged brown and blue from the green. The bus pulled to a stop on a circular driveway with a flagpole at the center. All the children stood up, gathering their things quickly and pressing toward the aisle. The bus driver did not move. “I don’t know where ya’ll think you’re going,” he said. The folding door remained closed. The cloud of dust that they had kicked up on their way into the drive billowed in the air outside, and Hannah could see nothing out the window.
As they stood there, eight figures appeared out of the gloom. Had they been standing there al along, Hannah wondered, or did they just get here? The door to the bus opened then, and the line of kids moved forward.
Word Count: 4558
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
...As they spoke, Hannah felt the bus slowing. To their right was a carved wooden sign with an arrow pointing up a rutted gravel lane, Camp High Ridge. The bus down shifted and the engine seemed to grind as they turned onto the narrow road heading up. Here we go, she thought.
Word count: 4318
(I'm hoping to make up some words over the weekend!)
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
... “What are you looking at?” the girl asked when she caught Hannah’s eye.
“Not much,” Hannah shrugged and turned her shoulder.
Hunter snorted, but the girl ignored it. “I’m Amy,” she introduced herself.
Total word count: 3839
Monday, November 2, 2009
...The next morning, her parents acted like nothing unusual had happened the night before, and the furnace was working fine, water gurgled quietly through the radiators.
Total word count: 3011
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Hannah Wilder stared out the window of the bus. Barbed wire and blackberry brambles lined field after field of corn or tobacco as they rolled up and down the hilly two-lane road. She recognized the crops from car trips with her parents. Her mother always drove, and her father always quizzed them from the passenger seat. “What’s the name of this river?” he’d ask every time they headed north to visit her grandparents...
...Hannah and Greg looked at each other, and stood quickly, scraping their chairs back. They followed their mother to the kitchen but continued out the back door. Hannah was a few feet ahead, but they both knew where they were going. Three summers ago, their parents had built a tree house in the big mulberry in the corner of the backyard. Her tears were falling furiously when Hannah hit the ladder, and she could hear Greg choking on sobs behind her. Once safely inside, she sat down hard, wrapped her arms around her legs and cried. Greg leaned against her, and it was the sound of his misery that finally broke through her own. She put an arm around him and wiped her face. He continued to weep for a few more minutes, but she squeezed his shoulder and whispered that it would be all right.
Word count: 1591