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Monday, November 7, 2016

NaNo Day 7: Words for Breakfast

Day 7 and week one is complete!

My favorite thing about NaNo is the way it forces me to set everything else aside and just write. I get up and write before first light, and like a balanced meal, a breakfast of words makes it easier to not only complete my word count goals, but power through the rest of the writing day. I'm a realist - I know I'll get tired, and it will get harder and harder to stick to the program, but for right now, it's enabling some really inspired writing, and for that I'm grateful.

With Walking Wounded, I'm employing a strategy I used to a lesser degree with Loverboy: telling a character's lengthy and varied history through a series of specific, detailed vignettes. It's always a bit of a risk because you're highlighting a character's change over time through subtle shifts of characterization across these vignettes, but as a writer I find it to be a fascinating challenge. There are two main story arcs in the book, stories that are parallel in unexpected ways. And like I said on Instagram last week, the book is truly about history of all kinds. By exploring themes of love, acceptance, betrayal, forgiveness, and grief, the book steers you toward the realization that a look back at history highlights the way all generations are similar, more than it highlights the differences.

A favorite passage from week one:

Walking Wounded
Copyright © 2016 by Lauren Gilley

            Finn let his legs give out and flopped down onto the grass, spread-eagle and staring up at the sky, chest heaving as he caught his breath.

            Will stretched out beside him, fighting his own lungs. He loved the rush of running for all he was worth, the way it tasted when he breathed through his mouth and sucked in huge gulps of air, legs and chest burning. Adrenaline, his father called it. It was sweet as candy.

            Overhead, the clouds tumbled in lazy formations, fat and white. Will thought one looked like a dragon, its jaws open, forelegs extended.

            Slowly, their breathing returned to normal. The grass tickled at Will’s skin and began to itch; he smelled earth and green things, and the faint musty inside of the barn behind them. Inside, his father had set up a tire swing, and it awaited their pleasure, whenever they felt like picking themselves up.

            Beside him, Finn took a deep breath and let it back out in a rush. “Mama’s gonna have another baby,” he said, like it was the end of the world. He already had two sisters. “It’s gonna be another girl, I know it.”

            “Maybe not,” Will said, soothingly. But a part of him hoped it was. His own brother had died three weeks before he was due; he remembered, vaguely, the tiny coffin they’d buried at the funeral, the way it was no bigger than a shoe box. And so maybe it was selfish, but he was an only child, and he lived in constant fear that the oh-so-fertile Mrs. Murdoch would pop out a little brother for Finn and that Finn would turn his back on Will. He knew that would never happen – he knew; they were best friends – but it kept him up sometimes at night.

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