After ‘winning’ NaNoWriMo 2016 with 50,012 words, to say I burnt out would be an understatement. Today, 9 months after the grueling 1700 words per day and just a day before commencing the 3rd Draft Novel Writing Course with The Writers’ Studio is the first time I have looked over what I wrote, and much of it ain’t pretty.
Below are just a few scenes I edited in celebration of this return to my work in progress. It will be an intense 7 months, but somehow I don’t think it will be as crazy as November 2016.
Why the lion? Aside from why not, I’m a Leo, it has taken some courage to commit to this course, and this was a beauty we saw at Melbourne Zoo a few weeks ago. I may be projecting but I think there was a yearning in his expression- for the wild? for the plains of the Serengeti? for her true nature to shine? for that complete novel in the not too distant future?
In the months leading up to her 16th birthday, Winnie had kept an eye on the Trading Post. The best offer she saw after tallying up her life savings and birthday money was a 1959 Winnebago, one owner, low km’s and best of all, going for $1400, a small fortune but not so great that she didn’t have money spare to deck it out with the comforts of a home. That was 1984 and she’s lived in that van since, enjoying the confusion of some people who thought it was her namesake.
The freedom of all her worldly possessions bundled up in a moving carriage gave her a more expansive existence than her family home, taking off on a whim, answering only to her intuition. When first her mother, then her father died, she’d sensed a need to return home within days of their passing, just in time to exchange necessary goodbyes. On her return home before his death, her father had joked that she was the grim reaper, coming to take him away as she’d done with her mother a few years earlier. Although a joke, it touched a nerve, but she bit her tongue from saying what she thought—he’d been drinking buddies with the grim reaper his whole adult life, eventually succumbing to the attack on his liver that forced his body to shut down prematurely. Her mother’s death would have been comical had it not been so sad; she’d slipped on a bar of soap at the soap factory where she worked, bumped her head and never came to.
The first time they crossed paths was when Mildred was around 10. Winnie had been walking Ortiz through the forest trail, slowing down when she overheard a conversation, a child’s giddy laugh smattered with chatter. She saw the child but noted the girl was alone, silenced by the rustling of leaves and Ortiz’s barking on their approach. The girl’s response on seeing Winne was to turn and run, not even daring a hello. She left behind a red ribbon which must have fallen out of the mass of curly hair that tousled as she darted off.
Back once more in Ravenswood, Winnie noticed the girl, now a woman, had finally moved out of her mother’s home. She didn’t need to look too far, following the trail Mildred left, as visible to Winnie as the drifting of clouds in the sky and sheen on asphalt after rain— vibrating particles that all creatures shed in daily existence, skin, hair, fur, flakes of scalp, bits of fingernail, specks of spittle, unique colours and scents that alerted of Mildred’s presence, a spectrum as unique as her fingerprints serving as Winnie’s GPS. She parked just a street away from where the signals were strong and Mildred sat in her kitchen in her unsuspecting, un-shed form.
Mildred opened the window and sure enough, Frank flew in. Cocking his head, he held her stare.
‘Oh, so you talk?’
It unsettled her, but something in this and the series of strange events she’d learnt to take in her stride made her certain of her decision to reject VJ’s offer.
Lost in thought, staring at the entrance to the walk in robe, she imagined her mother lying on the steel gurney, flimsy blankets over her slight frame, insufficient to keep her warm; she was always complaining of the cold. Shaking herself free of the image, she turned back to Frank.
The window was closed, no bird in sight. Jammed in the frame was a red ribbon, still and flat on the inner-side and flapping in the breeze in a farewell to Frank on the other side of the smeared glass pane.