Here we are, the last day of November, which for many is already like the tenth day of Christmas. Though I, the hypocrite, will admit to having put up a tree on the night of Thanksgiving, it’s only because it’s my first tree since moving out of my parents’ house. I got excited, okay? It’s got multicolored lights.
But since it is still November, let me just take a moment to say that I hope everyone had a pleasant Thanksgiving (assuming you’re American) and that I’m very thankful for all the avenues blogging has opened up to me this past year. I could definitely be doing more (and will be, come 2020!), but it’s enough just to see a little growth here and there. Thank you to everyone who, whether by accident or by design, decided I was worthy of a follow!
So, NaNoWriMo. Did I complete all my goals? Oh, hell no. Not even close. As I suspected, the first half of the month started off strong, but the closer I got to the holiday season’s zero hour, the less focused NaNoWriMo felt. Work also got hectic at points, too, so you know… priorities. But it was still a lot of fun to do and in the end, I did produce something. I completed a goal: I finished a halfway-there manuscript, and because I refuse to give it a rest, I revised the heck out of it, too. I started with 38,000 words of an okay story and ended with 55,000 words of a halfway-decent story. And because I think I owe it to whoever’s reading, I’m going to give you an excerpt. You can read a quick synopsis here if you’re curious. Basically, it’s an origin story of The Nutcracker. Or, I guess, the series of events that will eventually lead to what happens in The Nutcracker.
an excerpt from my novel, aka, apologies in advance
Dominic awoke as if from the deepest recesses of a dream, the light fading into colors and the colors into shapes until he finally recognized where he was: right where he remembered being, under the tree beside the road to the palace. It was still nighttime, thankfully, but how far into the night he couldn’t tell. He groaned and tried to move, but his limbs felt heavy and sedated.
“Miss Owl,” he said. “I’m in need of your assistance!”
The mysterious bird alighted from the branch above and had already transformed into the clockworker herself before she’d touched the ground.
“I forgot to warn you about the leaded limbs,” she said. “That will go away in a moment.”
“How long was I gone?” he asked.
“Oh, a few hours,” she said. “I was surprised. I thought you’d be gone for days. Then we’d be in real trouble.” She sat down cross-legged before him. “Let me know when you can move again.”
“Fantastic. Do you know where you sent me? It certainly wasn’t where you’d intended, since you gave me the wrong currency! They didn’t even speak our language. It was pure luck that I happened upon a fellow and his daughter who spoke something close. I might’ve died there.”
“It wasn’t Bohemia? Hm, well, sometimes the clockwork doesn’t behave. We haven’t quite figured out why it changes, but it’s very common that we land somewhere… off-course, so to speak. Did you at least have an enlightening experience, then?”
He had to think about that a moment. It had felt a lot like a dream… a good dream, mostly. An exhilarating dream.
“I did,” he said.
“Then you’ve had your fill of clockwork magic?”
“No?” She leaned forward. “You’re not telling me you liked being in such a place?”
“I’m telling you that I’d like to go back. Soon, if you can help it.”
“No, you couldn’t possibly—” She stopped, and he realized then that she’d sent him there with the intent to traumatize him. She’d probably sent him to Spain on purpose, just so he’d feel especially lost and terrified. “Who… who could you have met who spoke your language?”
“A toymaker, from a place called Prussia,” he said. “A Mr. Drosselmeyer. And his daughter, Miss Elizabeth. They were there on business. Apparently, his work is so well-renowned that he’d been commissioned by a nobleman there. He said they travel a lot for work. I even know where they’re heading next.”
“Well!” she said. “Then you had quite the adventure, didn’t you? Well, I’m glad. But I’m afraid I’ve already risked too much sending you there once. It would be tempting fate to send you back. I’m sorry, Your Majesty.”
“Name your price,” he said before he could help it. “Surely there’s something you want. I’ll make you Royal Clockworker. You can live at the palace. Why, you’d practically be nobility.”
“I—” She looked away, as if someone were telling her what to say. “I couldn’t, Your Highness. It’s not right. It’s not my station.”
“Well, then there must be something you want. I know clockworkers don’t live in squalor, yet you dress like a common hermit. And surely, the Guild would never allow you to just share their most powerful magic with anyone, even their king. You could have lied about it, but you didn’t. Are you part of the Guild, or are you a rogue?”
“Well, aren’t you clever,” she said. “I am a rogue, it’s true. I’m the only one who knows how to travel to the Continents; they banned me after I discovered it, said it was unnatural. I don’t believe that, but if the Guild finds out I’ve used it on our king… they’ll drown me, I’m sure of it.”
He couldn’t believe his luck. She was desperate. “If you allow me to protect you, I’ll give you a space to conduct your experiments. Somewhere private and Guild-free. I’ll bring you in under some kind of disguise… your bird form, perhaps? Is that a comfortable arrangement?”
“I—” He knew he had her; he could see it in her look of relief. “This is dangerous, Your Majesty. I hope you know that.”
“Of course I do. If anyone finds out, well, clockwork can erase memories, can’t it?”
“We’ll make a plan. We’ll think of scenarios. You need the security; I need… the time. I need the time to get away. Please. I haven’t felt more like myself in weeks.”
She stared at him, thinking, and for a brief moment he thought she was going to say no. “Alright,” she said. “It’s a deal.”
He’d never made a more satisfying agreement. After he got his bearings, Miss Owl transported them both back into his quarters, where he then gave her the lounge as her temporary resting place while he collapsed into his own bed for the first time in weeks. He could feel himself healing, and knew that the worst was over. Tomorrow was a new day. Tomorrow, he woke up as himself.
Well, that’s something, I guess. Still a work in progress, but what isn’t? I’m just excited I finished it after years of floundering around. And just in time for the holiday season!
If you did NaNoWriMo, how did it go for you? Or if you had other goals this month that you met, I’d be excited to hear them!
I have big plans for 2020, by the way, starting with getting back on a regular twice-a-week blogging schedule. So stay tuned for updates, mildly amusing blog posts, and definitely something on The Mandalorian because yes, I’m on that bandwagon. Disney’s got us all by the kahones, man. Straight facts.
Until next time!