This NaNoWriMo is going differently to the NaNos I’ve done. That’s an understatement. I remember my first NaNo being a challenge. I was not writing over a thousand words everyday. NaNo felt insurmountable at times.
My second NaNoWriMo in 2011 was 50,000 words of a first draft–in fact, the first draft of The Sailor’s Daughters. Whatever black-hearted idiot said that writing is useless is wrong. Know why? You know how I’ve written three complete drafts of Sailor’s Daughters? How I wrote, revised, edited, rewrote a 115,000-word manuscript three times since NaNo 2011? Yeah, doing that makes a huge difference when it comes to the discipline of sitting there and just typing.
I said before starting NaNo that this year’s NaNo story will not go beyond November. Which is why I really want to finish it, hit “the end” at the end of November. I’m not going to revise it. I’m not going to submit it anywhere. I’m still debating on whether I want to post it on this blog, installment-style, the way I did with Book the First.
And what’s the point of that? Well, I believe that with each project, a writer learns new tricks. With Inventing Shadows, I am learning how to write about a familiar environment (modern New York City) without inserting myself into it. It’s a problem I’ve had in the past. I’m also learning how to get along with an outline. Am I following the outline I wrote in October? Yes. Am I giving myself permission to switch a scene or a POV around when I feel like it would work better? Yes. I’m playing with a new idea after a long time. And just because I don’t intend to do anything with it after November doesn’t mean I’m not writing the best I can considering the volume of words I’m producing.
Ow. Ear infections suck, by the way.
This post is part of the AbsoluteWrite NaNo ’13 BlogChain. This is this week’s excerpt. It’s a wee bit long.
Her mind was dwelling on Grandma when she noticed the guy sitting at her counter. Time for work. As she approaches him though, the guy looks up to meet her eyes and Emma almost stops stock-still.
It’s Colin Shelton.
He’s actually, sickeningly, more handsome up close.
His light brown, almost blondish hair is flipped back over his high forehead. His face is pleasant, but expressionless, yet his mouth turns up naturally at the corners, so it looks like he’s smiling. His blue eyes are, frankly, gorgeous, framed with long lashes that are utterly wasted on a guy.
“Hi,” she says. “Welcome to Henry’s. I’m Emma. Here’s our menu.” She hands it to him. He has big hands with long fingers. “Can I get you started with a coffee?”
He has little blue smudges and bags under his eyes and laugh lines running from the bottom corners of his nose down. That’s what it is. That’s what’s different in his headshot.
“Do you have tea?” He asks with a little grin and a flash of bright white teeth.
“Sure,” she replies. “I’ll go put that in for you.” She steps away to the back, where there’s a window to the kitchen and punches in the code for tea on the POS system on the back counter. Not two minutes later, a piping hot mug of tea is waiting for her. She places it down carefully before Colin and then retrieves the milk, creamers, and then slides the thing of sweetners nearby.
“Thank you,” he says.
“Are you ready to order or do you need a few minutes?”
“Um,” he starts, biting his lip. “I’ll have the BLT.”
“Sure. That comes with fries—regular, cheese fries, Italian seasoning.”
“Italian seasoning.” Good choice. It’s her preferred choice for fries these days. He hands her the menu and she puts the order in at the POS. She hears Henry in the kitchen calling to Miguel.
Rosita saunters back from her break. She clocks back in on the POS. Rosita is in her middle thirties, five feet two to Emma’s five feet four, with a thick booty that she claims is her pride and joy.
Rosita looks over her shoulder toward the tables. “He move?” She asks, referring to Augustus, who came in every afternoon to write. Or to play CandyCrush or to Facebook people. Whatever.
“No,” Emma replies. “But he’ll want a refill soon, I think.”
“Mmm,” Rosita says. “I guess that’s the good thing about writers. They always pay for a lot of beverages.” She snaps her nametag back in place and leaves the counter area, tying her half-apron with her pen and pad in the pockets. Emma hears Rosita ask Augustus in her brusque New York voice if he wants anything else.
Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Colin looking at his phone. Maybe she should tell him she saw the show last night. They were still early in previews; there couldn’t have been that many people who saw it yet.
Or maybe she won’t tell him that. Lots of Broadway folk came in to Henry’s. Many of them liked hearing compliments on their shows or hearing that somebody had gone to see it, but some didn’t. Her waitress training had impressed on her not impose on the customers. And though she was fine speaking to customers as part of her job, just striking up a conversation was not her forte.
Emma had gone to a college with a large theater program. God, what were all of them doing these days? Summer stock. Regional theater. Tours. Off-off-off-Broadway. Waitressing.
She makes herself look busy at the back counter, checking the coffee pots and the water carafes to see if they need refilling yet. There’s a small dessert case on one end of the counter and she even looks in there to see if she can fill in any empty spaces with cookies baked this morning. She ate two of the white chocolate chip cookies upon coming in this morning, with Henry scolding her for bothering to come to work.
But anyway, actors were actors. And musical theater actors, while ridiculously talented, were simply loud, randomly singing, always the first to dance on a table at a party, yet neurotic actors. Big deal.
Henry rang the bell for her to pick up the order.
Just because Colin Shelton was cute—and straight, if her Spidey-sensitive Gaydar was any indication—didn’t mean he was any different from any of the actors she’d gone to college with. Besides, she remembered what the one straight male musical theater major at her college had been like. He would have slept with any female available.
“Here you go,” she says, holding the plate. He makes to take it from her but she places it down before he can.
“Thanks,” he says, sliding his phone to the side. He’s taken his coat off. He’s wearing a flannel button-down over a t-shirt.
“Hey, you’re in Storm, right?” Emma asks in a rush before the words get stuck in her throat and she’s just sort of hovering around while he eats. So awkward.
“Yeah,” he says, biting into a fry.
“I saw it last night.”
His face brightened. “Oh! Thanks for coming!” She takes a step back while he swallows, but then Colin says, “I’m Colin, by the way.”
“Hi,” she breathes.
“So what’d you think of the show?”
“I loved it,” she says it. “I like Tim Minchin, so…”
He grins, his smile just a touch lopsided. “Tim’s amazing. He’s so quick and his grasp on these arguments for religion and rationalism…it’s mind-boggling. Have you seen Matilda?”
Emma nods. “I kind of listen to Matilda‘s soundtrack everyday.”
“‘Naughty’ or ‘Loud’?”
She blinks, unsure how to answer the question.
Colin chuckles. “Two of my co-stars tell me that they listen to those songs in the mornings to get pumped for the day. One of them likes ‘Naughty’ and the other’s favorite is ‘Loud.'”
Emma is definitely a “Naughty” girl. If you always take it on the chin and wear it/ Might as well as be saying you think that it’s okay/ And that’s not right/ And if it’s not right/ You have to put it right.
“‘Naughty’,” she answers. Another customer approaches the counter. She leaves Colin to his food with a smile.
Nobody else is gonna put it right for me/ Nobody but me is gonna change my story/ Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty.
Colin leaves after thirty minutes or so. He pays in cash. She clears the plate and mug away, then takes the check and money to the register.
She counts the cash, calculating her tip out of it. Then she counts it again.
Oh, my God. Instead of the standard 15% or the even better 20%, he left her a 27% tip.
Emma feels her jaw drop. What kind of insane person leaves a waitress a twenty-seven percent tip? In this place?
She rings the cash up.