I needed something to prod myself back to life, back to writing my novel. Yesterday, I decided to take advantage of a scheduled write-in with my regional NaNoWriMo group. In terms of raw numbers, I don’t get a lot of writing done at a write-in, and the added travel time makes it look like an inefficient way to boost my word count. The people who come out for these events are usually more interested in social bonding, and their chatter about where they are in their books is a distraction when I’m trying to write mine.
Still, just being in the presence of other WriMos gives me some assurance than I am not unique in my struggles. They offer one another the same advice I hear every year, about how to “tame the inner editor” and “feel free to write crap” and suggestions like “add zombies” just to keep the plot moving. I repeat the same advice to other newbies, and ignore most of it myself.
Yesterday’s conversation brought up examples of various poisons a character might use to kill someone. While I had no intention of poisoning my characters, the mention of mushrooms sparked an idea for me. Poisonous mushrooms are often taken in small doses as hallucinogens, for fun as well as religious experiences. No one in my novel has mentioned the use of substances, legal or illegal, for recreation or mood altering or escape. In a story about a spiritual quest, how did I neglect the possibilities of drugs?
She shifted the cushion which was propped under her arm. She thought about the process involved in choosing to perform such a simple action. In the moment, she forgot whether or not she had completed the thought, and so she shifted the pillow again. This action felt so familiar that she questioned whether or not she had actually done it, rather than thinking about it. It was impossible to see the difference. Maybe she had only imagined moving the cushion. Maybe she had only imagined that she had thought about doing it. She reached for the cushion – again? She watched her own hands as if they were a visual echo.
I haven’t decided what drug she has taken. I don’t have much personal experience, so I might simply make up something appropriate for her world. Maybe this scene will be a turning point in her quest, or maybe it will be a dead-end, but at least she’s willing to explore the questions. She’s been rather passive lately.
I took a walk this morning, looking for more writing prompts. What the universe gave me was a glass marble with flecks of sparkle inside, an unmarked compact disk lying in the street, and a delivery van with the word ‘HOPE’ on the side. The CD was scratched, probably run over by the garbage truck, but the laser surface still reflected rainbows of color. I wonder what had been recorded on it.