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Unread postby Rhiannon » Wed Nov 10, 2004 1:32 am

Do pardon the bump, I thought I'd share an excerpt as well as a tidbit of how it's been going since Sunday.

True enough, the first week, I stumbled with a great amount of difficulty. Yesterday, however, I was about to nearly double my word count, adding over 5,400 words. Today has not been as inspired, but I am at least moving forward in the right direction. I didn't sleep well last night, and came up with a great deal of plots and events to move the story forward well into at least the 30,000 mark. Though, of course, my characters can always go in a completely opposite direction.

Anyhow, part of yesterday's lengthy journey was a ceremony in which the main character (Shadow Bear) performs a ceremonial killing (a warrior's death type thing) for her grandfather (Rain Arrow), assisted by her friend (Laughing River). I really enjoyed writing the ceremony - I spent my time with it, unlike other parts of the novel so far - and I've been sharing it with other Nano'ers at the least to enjoy my success. The quality is of course not the best, but I like it anyway. December (or March!) is the time for making this novel pretty. For now, it's an ugly hack with a nice story.

Anyway, the excerpt is fairly long, but enjoy.

Laughing River took to the task of setting up the various artifacts they had brought in. On each side of the sleeping mat, he placed a unique object. On the eastern side of the bed, at Rain Arrow’s left hand, went a smooth mottled stone, carved in the shape of a bear. On the southern side was placed a hawk’s feather, golden-red even in the dim firelight. On the western side went a small bracelet made of otter claws, and finally, on the northern side at Rain Arrow’s head, went a long, thin branch of their most prized tree, the honeylocust. As these were put into place, Shadow Bear took the herbs she had gotten from Leaf Mender, and mashed them in a small mortar, adding a small dash of water from a jug. Once it was mixed into a watery paste, she rose to her feet, looking over again at her friend for support.

“He will sleep easy with this,” he told her, making a gentle sweep with his arm toward her grandfather. Slightly sheepish, she stepped forward and knelt by his head, lifting his head up and resting it in her lap. She was amazed with what little resistance the dying man’s body gave to her as she parted his lips open.

“Just this little tincture, grandfather, swallow it down carefully,” she instructed him. Using the pestle, she carefully scooped the medicine into his mouth, pausing at every small swallow he took to brush the part of the medicine that slipped past the corners of his lips back into his mouth again for the next swallow. When the mixture was as downed as she sensed he could manage, she gently pillowed his head back down, kissing his clammy forehead.

Laughing River held his hands out by her expectantly, and she handed over the mortar and pestle. As he stepped away, she adjusted herself so that she knelt on his right side, and waited as Laughing River brought her three items – two hemp twines each about a foot long, and a bone knife. The latter felt icy in her hands as she took it from him and placed it in her lap. It was her own knife – given to her by her grandfather when she became a woman – but it felt distinctively heavier, a reflection of her own soul at this moment. Laughing River placed a hand on her back briefly, and then stepped back toward the fire, watching her with solemn eyes.

“On this night of the Grass Month, with a blue moon shining over the rivers of our home, we have come to see Rain Arrow sail into the stars,” Shadow Bear began reciting. The words were like a warm breeze over her, and she settled easily into repeating them from the ceremony she had composed earlier in the afternoon. “May the guardians of our tribe, the great Sun of the white sky and the Maiden Moon of the black sky, and the elements of the earth bear witness to this ceremony, and hear our humble prayers.

“From the eastern mountains we came, a hardened people unafraid of the challenges that lay before us, for what had been behind us had tested our faith in the world and in each other, yet we thrived. It was in the mountains that we first met Bear, the guardian of the sun, who first sees us into the world. From this, we have learned that we begin the world with an empty mind and eyes wide-open, brave and undaunted by the challenges that are to come our way.”

She touched her left hand and bowed her head briefly to the east, before continuing. “From the south, as our people began to grow as the Clear Waters, came war. The men that were sent to us from the long and hot plains of the vast south came as if on the wind, their arrows afire with the blazing feathers of the hawks. Through this challenge, we made our first stumbles in the world; we had believed ourselves undefeatable, and yet we were found bleeding in our homes; we had thought ourselves peaceable, yet we found ourselves hated by those who thought we had come to slay them. Over many long years, the war was fought, until two unlikely heroes met from each tribe and discovered the fears that had caused the conflict. From there, the Hawk’s Blood tribe and the Clear Waters tribe were friends, and even lovers. We had grown through this troubled time, learning from our initial mistakes, how to walk in our new home. So it is that we, as young people, make stumbling and deadly mistakes, and yet rise to stand on our feet, stronger than before.” Shadow Bear genuflected to the south, and rested her hands on her knees.

“In the west, we settled ourselves and began to learn the ways of the river. We met a new friend here as well, by the name of Otter. He taught us how to catch the silver darts that sped through the water’s currents, and taught us of the many things that we could use the river for. He brought us the peace of mind that comes with settling down in our aging years, raising a family well, keeping a balance of serenity and hope in our lives, even in the cold autumn months when the leaves tremble and the food becomes scarce.

“And in the north,” she said, pausing to bow her head westward and touch her right palm, “it is that we saw forests, much like the homeland that we had come from. There are many times that we long to return to that home, where food was plentiful, and there was always shelter and safety from the world around us. And though we may venture, at times, on pilgrimages amongst the heavy dark leaves, we always return until the wind calls through the branches, calling us home, back to the forest where the children of the Great Sun and the Maiden Moon dance and play, unafraid and free forever.”

Shadow Bear brought her head down and touched her forehead, blowing a deep, cool breath over her grandfather’s face. He murmured in response to the feeling, but the herbs she had given him had taken full effect by now, and so he was in the state between body and spirit, waiting for her to release him. Grasping the twine, she reached over and bound his left wrist, then returned to bind his right, just at the base of the palm, tied tight enough to make his hand go limp and white.

“So it is that we bind ourselves to the earth, and it rewards us by letting the river of life flow through us, changing us with every breath. When we are born, the cord to our mother is tied and we are severed from her. Now, as you die, let your cord to the earth, who has become your mother in your life, be severed, and let your spirit return to the dark forest from which it came.” Shadow Bear took a deep breath and lifted the knife into her hands. It felt lighter, and warm now. She began to ponder how he would bleed, but she quickly avoided that distracting thought to focus on her duty. Reaching over to his left wrist, she drew the knife across the thin skin that protected what blood remained in her grandfather’s body. The cut took several moments to begin to bleed, but as it did, she turned away from the thinness of the blood to the other wrist, committing the same cut. As the blood seeped from his tired body, she placed the knife into the hands of Laughing River – when he had stepped forward, she had never known – and took the corners of the top edge of the white blanket into her hands, drawing it over his body slowly, first to cover his torso and arms, his shoulders, his neck, and finally his head. Looking down into the drained face of the man, she whispered, “Enjoy the forests, grandfather, and lead me to them when it is my time,” and then placed the blanket over his face as well, his entire body covered to shelter his spirit as his body gave its life away.

She rose unsteadily to her feet then, and turned to face Laughing River, who stood expectantly before the fire. Her steps were shaky and her heart pounded as she stepped forward, and for a moment she lurched, her head buzzing. But she made it alone, standing before the taller man and looking up into his face. With an expression more serious than she had ever seen, he brought the knife up and drew the stained blade across her cheeks, three small swipes on each side, deep enough that they would leave a scar. As her blood began to drain from her face, even as her grandfather’s blood mixed in to seal the wounds, Laughing River spoke to her with a voice that sounded almost like the delicate babble of a river just after the ice had broke. “Now, Shadow Bear, take the blood from the river of Rain Arrow’s life, and let it meld with yours. Now let your rivers are as one, and may you follow the course that his current has set. Become as he was, and fulfill the promises he gave to you.”

Shadow Bear trembled, the words so beautiful to her that tears flowed fresh from her eyes, stinging the cuts on her cheeks. The buzzing in her head grew louder, sounding like a thousand hives of angered wasps, and she felt as if the earth swayed in every direction beneath her. The last thing she felt was the opening of a deep pit beneath her as she sank, sank deep and long, into the heart of the Mother Earth.
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Unread postby IsbenFaith » Sat Nov 13, 2004 2:25 am

Beautifully written!

When you write the whole thing are you going to try to get it published or at least put it somewhere we can read it?
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Unread postby Kong Wen » Mon Nov 15, 2004 6:10 pm

You're almost half-way there, at the exact half-way point in the month! That's some nice effort. Do you expect to have to do a little cramming in the last few days of the month?

I hope you're just writing away, and saving all of your revision work until after the end of the contest. My advice would be to shelf this novel on December 1st and then get it back out after the New Year for revisions and preparation for spending a lot of time in the mail. ;)
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Unread postby Rhiannon » Mon Nov 15, 2004 6:41 pm

Isben: Yes, I do think I will attempt on getting it published. If, after a long time with revision and the postal service, I still can't get it published, I'll put it up for self-publication for those interested, and shelve it as a mainstream publication unless I become a famous author otherwise and have someone buy it from me.


I do think I may have to cram the last few days of the month, but it also depends on how the novel keeps its own pace. There are days I fall behind, and days I soar ahead. If I'm lucky, I'll get ahead of the pace. If not, I'll be cramming starting around Thanksgiving.

And yeah, I'm not letting myself revise anything as of yet. It's hard sometimes - I always wrote things to perfection the first time around, only to look at them a day later and find them not perfect, ad infinitum, and so I never got anything accomplished. I've gotten so much more written though by just writing what comes to mind - the bare essentials, the plot, the dialogue, no matter how terribly simple or uninspired the diction is. Revised, the novel will look a hundred times better. And be almost completely rewritten too, I imagine (in terms of diction and syntax).

I don't expect this novel to end come 50,000 words, either. As of now, my characters have taken control of the plot, so I write it as it comes, but being halfway with the wordcount, I'm likely not even a quarter of the way with the story. That's fine, however; if I want to send this to a big publisher, it's going to have to be around 150,000 words.

After this contest though, I don't think I'll be sweating that number.
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Unread postby Kong Wen » Thu Nov 03, 2005 7:38 am

Anyone doing NaNoWriMo this year?
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Unread postby Rhiannon » Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:20 am

It's that time again!

Who's in this year? Anyone?

My plans (since I beat the challenge last year) are to have a little creative fun, especially as I need to get myself thinking more creatively every day.

So I will be trying to incorporate every dare on the NaNoWriMo forums into my "novel." It'll be... interesting.

I also plan on blogging the novel publicly, so people can see how strange it is (and see that I'm keeping to my word of each and every dare).
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Unread postby The Amazing Mi Heng » Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:48 am

I'm doing it. Not sure what I'm going to write yet though.
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Unread postby Elven Fury » Mon Oct 23, 2006 1:13 pm

I am planning on doing it.
I got a fanatasy series going and look forward to this time every year, despite the stresses it causes.
Good Luck everyone!
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Unread postby Shi Tong » Tue Oct 24, 2006 11:02 am

Rhiannon,

I wish I had time to read your extract, and I also wish I had time to enter the competition! All I wanted to do is wish you the best of luck!

Good luck!!
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Unread postby Rhiannon » Wed Nov 01, 2006 10:05 pm

Thanks!

I suppose it helps to like, post the address of where I'm posting this online.

Warning: Contents are... PG-13ish. I don't think there's going to be anything directly smutty, but there is language and probably violence and plenty of "wtf?" moments.

Anyhow, Rhiannon's NaNovel is at the link. Clicky. :)
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