Until a few years ago, I had never heard of National Novel Writing Month, and when I did hear about it, I thought it sounded a bit like Chess Club in high school used to be, or a sort of niche activity for people who were almost too interested in one thing.
Turns out I’m also almost too interested in one thing.
The online community around National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or NaNo for short) is all about writing a bazillion words in one month, just cranking out an absurd word count each day and not laboring over every single syllable. There are virtual write-ins, real life write-ins, challenges to write in shorter chunks of time, and just general word generation support.
It’s really helpful.
Writing is such a solitary thing in so many ways; it’s great to be working towards a big goal while knowing others understand and are working towards a similar goal of their own.
In the spirit of being brave and since ultimately the goal of writing a novel is to *ahem* get it published, I’m going to try and share excerpts from the novel I’m working on. I’ve been working on this for a couple years, pecking away at it bit by bit. I really like it, so I really want to finish it this month, like reallllly want to finish it.
You’ll have to tell me how it works to put the excerpt in italics. I’m not sure if that will make it harder to read or set it off from the rest of the post (as intended). There may be a couple typos so be gentle in your critique okay?
In this scene, we get to see our main character pull a prank with his best friend. Their target? The camp kitchen staff, and especially Pearl, the head cook.
Pearl was the target of Jay and Marshall’s most disruptive plan, and also the one that cemented their position in camp folklore.
On the morning they were to leave camp Pearl always scheduled a breakfast that had most of the prep work done the day before. Huge cinnamon rolls, orange slices, scrambled eggs and Malt-o-Meal. The rest of her day didn’t include the usual two additional meals, since staff would be released to have some time off before the next wave of campers arrived. She planned a lunch then, that didn’t need constant supervision, since she knew her kitchen crew would be itching to start their time off as quickly as possible. She covered their work with a large sheet dedicated to this one purpose, the protector of the advanced work.
Pearl arrived at the door to the kitchen just as her sleepwalking staff did. Most mornings, she watched them shuffle across the courtyard from her post inside. She was glad she didn’t usually arrive with them; she like having time to get things moving in the kitchen before the comatose staff got there.
They all walked through the door together and immediately a sheet fell on them from the ceiling, and tiny bits of paper fluttered all around them.
Pearl yanked the sheet off them as the girls behind her gave out gasps of surprise followed by giggles and laughter. She stormed forward through the hallway and shoved open the swinging door that led into the kitchen. The girls followed through the doors but bumped into Pearl, who had come to an abrupt stop. Before them lay a terrible mess of happy birthday balloons covering every square inch of the entire kitchen floor. There was a disco ball strung in the center of the room. Pearl flicked on all the lights and the disco ball came to life. It had been positioned just right to catch the light from a repositioned spotlight over the serving line. The girls twittered and speculated who had done it, who it was for, and quickly started running through their prospective crushes to see which one was serious enough to merit this kind of attention.
Pearl stormed across the room, balloons flying everywhere. She kicked the balloons, tried to stomp a red one, only to have it squirt out from under her foot.
“When I get my hands on whoever did this…” she said to herself.
To the girls she barked, “Turn off those light – I can’t stand that blasted sequin ball. You’re just going to have to start working and push them aside as you go. We don’t have time to clean them up.”
The girls hopped to. One hit the switches until the disco ball stopped rotating. One slide her feet along as she went to the pantry, creating a fountain of balloons as she went. The others set about their work getting dishes set up, and cereal refilled. They continued to quietly giggle about the prank and smiled as they did their work.
Pearl took a broom from its resting place on the wall and tried to sweep a path to the back hall. She kept trying to stomp balloons on her way, the end was a comical goosestepping marching band leader.
From their positions in the front of the kitchen, the crew heard a sudden, “Auggg!”
They all looked up from their jobs and as part of a mindmeld that happens when people work in the same space for long enough, they all left their posts and dashed to the back hall.
They were greeted by the sight of Pearl’s tight perm covered in glitter and confetti. She had arrived at her destination, the walk-in refrigerator, and when she opened the door, the pouch of glitter from the craft hall had stretched open and dumped its contents on Pearl’s unlucky head.
“Bring me Jay and Marshall NOW!” she bellowed.
The rest of breakfast prep was used in trying to corral the balloons out of the kitchen, but the only place for them to go that wouldn’t cause trouble was down the stairs to the Bee Hive, basically the staff’s locker room area. When all the balloons were kicked, swept and blown down the stairs they covered the smaller area of the Bee Hive floor knee high.
Needless to say, Jay and Marshall were firmly established as camp legends.
That’s it. I should mention that I have worked at multiple camps for multiple years and any similarities to any persons purely coincidental. I never want people to worry that they’re going to end up in a novel because really the way it works for me is that I might get a grain of an idea from real life but then that is expanded upon so much that it doesn’t represent anything more than just that one grain by the time I get done with it. That may mean that you recognize something familiar as you read this but it’s familiar – with a twist.
So now back to you with a question: would you ever pick up a novel set at a camp? What that appeal to you? Am I surveying a potential market? Yes, yes I am.
Thanks for sharing your perspective.