I meant to write a blog post yesterday, being as it was Monday and all, but I didn’t. (Obviously.)

I did, however, write 2468 words on my NaNo project. Per my usual daily word counts, it would have been an absolutely spectacular day — I consider myself doing okay anytime I break a thousand, doing well when I break 1500. However, on Sunday I wrote almost 2600, so yesterday wasn’t even the best day of the week. On November 4th, I wrote 3457, possibly making it my best day of all-time. (Not a sure thing, since I don’t generally track word count like this, but definitely close.)

In other words, my NaNo project is going well. I’m learning some interesting things along the way. Some of them feel like things I knew when I was writing fanfiction but forgot when I started writing for publication, namely 1) the person to amuse is me, and if someone else reads it someday and is also amused, that’s just icing on the cake and 2) get the story down, fix the words later, and if later never comes, so what?

But some of them are absolutely new to me. The most important of those is that choosing to go along with the story is so, so, so much more fun than demanding the story stick to the script. I had intentions for this story and multiple times now I’ve done something that three paragraphs or two pages later, I’ve had to say, “Oh, no, X won’t work, I screwed up.” In past projects, I would have gone back and fixed the problem or I would have deleted pages. Frequently, in past projects, I’ve gotten stuck for days at a time, finally decided that I was headed in the wrong direction, and deleted chapters or more. In this project, I keep saying, “I guess I’m headed someplace else,” and letting the story take me where it will. Obviously, I have no idea whether this project will ever even be readable by someone else, but I’m having enormously more fun writing it than I’ve had while writing in… well, years.

And yes, that does mean I’m questioning my life choices again. Writing is more fun when it’s for me than when I have to care about the people who are going to leave me one-star reviews and let me know they’re disappointed that I didn’t write a better book and tell me all the things I did wrong and suggest that I should have spent more time editing. Ha. I have to admit that specific review kind of made me laugh. Seriously. Seriously! I’m glad I believe in karma.

I haven’t gotten very far with said questioning, though. At best, it’s realizing that I’d rather not have money thoughts mixed up with story thoughts, but then realizing that I seriously don’t have time to worry about that this month. This month, I have 50,000 words to write. This month, I have an entire novel to finish. This month, I get to have fun with the words.

And so, a random snippet, because while the words are imperfect and flawed and a rough draft (blah-blah-blah, excuses), they’re mine and I love them.

(The story begins here.)

Cici and the Curator snippet:

“One?” Cici asked brightly. Human generic but something about his attire looked familiar, as if it were a uniform she ought to recognize.

“No, thank you.” He pronounced the words carefully.

Not a native speaker, then.

“I search for my captain,” the man said. “It is that I believe that she came here a few days ago.”

Cici’s heart stopped beating.

Not literally, of course. If it had literally stopped beating, she would have been dead. But it felt like it stopped beating, like every drop of blood in her veins froze in place.

“Oh?” she asked, keeping her voice as casual as possible. “We don’t allow guests to stay in the exhibit overnight.”

“No, of coss not.”

Not unexpectedly, it was the same slithery accent as the blue woman had. But this man looked nothing like the blue woman.

Cici felt almost indignant about that. If he’d been blue, if he’d had orange eyes, she might have had some warning. She would have known what to expect. She would have been prepared for trouble.

But this guy just looked like a guy. Well, maybe his skin was slightly purple-tinted and his eyes perhaps were more to the yellow than those of the average human being. Still, she wouldn’t have recognized him as related to the blue woman.

The man held up a picture. It was the blue woman.

“Can you tell me if she was here?”

To lie or not to lie, that was the question.

Cici licked her lips. “She was, yes.” She hoped she didn’t look anywhere near as nervous as she felt, but her skin was prickling like mad, and a dangerous heat was rising in her chest. “With two big dogs. Very big.”

“Yes!” The man flashed white teeth at her, looking delighted. “That is good news, very good news.”

“I didn’t let her in,” Cici said.

He deflated. “But no?”

She lifted a shoulder, looking apologetic. “The dogs, you see. We don’t allow pets in the galleries.”

“I see.” He frowned. “My captain, she is very…” He paused, seeming to search for the word. “Persistent.”

“She was, yes.” Cici didn’t say anything more. She let the silence stretch. Partially it was because she was trying very hard to channel her mother — no one in ten systems would dream of trying to interrogate her mother, she’d wither anyone who dared with a single look — but mostly it was because she couldn’t think of a single thing to say.
Not one.

Her brain was totally blank, except for thoughts of the dogs sleeping in the lunchbox practically under her feet.

Please let them keep sleeping. Please let them have had enough lunch. Please let them not hear a familiar voice and come out to investigate. Cici had no idea who she was begging for help, but every thought she was capable of having was running along the same lines: Please let the dogs be good.

Good? A sleepy voice said in her head. Guard? Work?

With each word, the voice got a little more alert.

No guard, Cici said, trying to keep her mental voice calm and soothing. Sleep.

Sleep. Cici could practically hear the dog’s mental yawn.

Sleep, Cici repeated.

Meanwhile, with her actual voice, she was completely silent.

The man in front of her was moving his lips, soundlessly, and then he said, “Tell me what happened.”

Cici could almost see the waft of purple magic that flowed from him like air. It reached her and hesitated, flowing up and over her.

She didn’t change her expression, but her panic hardened into annoyance.

Magic? On her? How rude!

It was probably a truth-telling spell, or maybe a total-recall spell with a nudge of persuasion to force her to talk, but what kind of person used mind magic on a total stranger without permission?

She was tempted to turn him into a toad. Very tempted.

But that would just be doubling her problems.

In related news, in my spare time I’ve been having fun with cover designs. 🙂