Sunday, December 04, 2011

Long Way From Southern California (NaNoWriMo Vignette 1)

I made it to slightly over 30,000 words for NaNoWriMo 2011. My original story was going to be about a girl who gets kicked off the school newspaper due to what she she writes in the advice column. She begins an "underground" advice column, and things were supposed to get bizarre from there. The trouble was, I had a hard time making decisions about story specifics. I might discuss that in a  later post, but not right now. In spite of my frustration with my original story, I wanted to keep writing. I wanted to make it to 50,000 words even if I  wasn't going to work on my original story idea. After a few false starts (all of which remained in my manuscript--gotta keep the word count going, right?) I managed to come up with several vignettes, or flash fiction pieces. All of these were written with the help of a wonderful program called "Write or Die" which can be found on the Dr. Wicked website. I set the timer for 15 minutes and the word count to 500 words. For reasons that I hope I don't need to explain, these pieces might be more or less than 500 words. I plan on posting at least one piece per day for several days. I haven't decided if I will post them every day till I run out --which will be in about six or seven days--or if I will post them in between my other non-fiction posts. Some might be ever so slightly edited for easier readability --at least hopefully that will be the result. Here is my first one (after the brief introduction):

It is a Tradition during our Riverside County Wrimo's Thank God It's Over party, for everyone (or most everyone) to bring a small sample of what they wrote during NaNoWriMo and read it aloud for the group, who will then applaud, no matter what they actually think of the piece. Of course, in our group, the applause is always genuine as we only have amazing writers who only ever write amazingly each and every time we write. Stop rolling your eyes.
In preparation for the reading portion of our festivities, I printed out several little pearls (perhaps more the "freshwater" variety than the "cultured.") and had my husband help me pick three. This is one that didn't make the cut. A possible title for it could be, "A Long Way From Southern California"

I don't know what he was doing there. He just stood by the counter and smiled at me. I gave him a look of acknowledgment, but he still just stood there. I walked over to him as asked, "So, are you going to just stand there, or are you going to sit down and order something?" He appeared to be a bit startled. He looked at me for a moment as though he was trying to figure something out, then, without a word, he climbed on a bar stool and picked up a menu. I went back to my other customers. I had flapjacks to deliver. I don't know why they call them flapjacks here. I grew up saying "pancakes," but then, they have grits, hush puppies and serve waffles with their fried chicken, so who am I to ask questions? I'm a long way from Southern California.I walk over to him and ask him if he's ready to order. In a quiet voice, he answered, 'Yes. I will have the flapjacks with bacon and eggs and grits." His voice was quiet. He didn't sound like he was from around here. Not that I sound like I'm from around here either, though when I call my sister back home, she swears I've picked up a Southern drawl.

"So how do you want your eggs?"

He looked a little surprised, but it passed quickly. "I'll just have the the usual way that everyone has them."

"Everyone has them different. do you want them poached, over easy, over medium, over hard, scrambled?"

"I guess the easy one will be fine."

"Great. That's two eggs over easy, with bacon and flapjacks. Now did you want the buttermilk or the buckwheat?"

"I guess the buttermilk?"

"Okay, coming right up. Oh, and would you like some coffee too?"

"Oh, I don't think that would be a good idea."

"Would you like anything else to drink then? Orange juice? Apple Juice? Tea? Water?"

"Water will be fine."

"Okay, I'll be right up with that." I put the order in, then poured him a glass of ice water.  He thanked me, smiled a little and just stared at his glass. Now, I wouldn't say there was anything creepy about him, even if he did start off by just staring at me. He's not the only man who's come in here and tried to have a staring contest with me. I think he was from maybe the mid west? No. Not there. He sounded kind of business like and a little bit emotionless, like a scientist. Not that scientists are emotionless, but I guess more like how they are sometimes portrayed on TV.

When I go to give the guy his food, he is still staring at his water. He doesn't even move when I put his plate in front of him. "Enjoy your meal," I say. That's when he slowly looks up at me, then he looks at his water glass. He points to the ice cubes floating in the water ans says, "Ice." Then he sort of gives me a short nod like we're conspirators sharing a piece of information known only to us. I decide to humor him, "Yes, ice," and I nod my head, "I have to go tend to the other customers now. You enjoy your meal and I'll check back with you in a bit, okay?"


I went to see if any of my other orders were up yet. They weren't, so I checked my tables to make sure the natives weren't getting restless while waiting for their food. I refilled waters and coffee and made small talk with Malcolm. He hangs out here most days through breakfast and lunch and works on his laptop in between meals till dinner. "So how's your story doing?"

"Ah geez. I can't seem to focus on the story that I'm supposed to be writing. I feel like I'm just blocked."

"But I see you typing on here all day long. What're you doing, playing Farmville?"

Mal laughed. "No, I'm just typing whatever comes into my mind so I can just keep on typing.


(The beautiful drop cap was designed by Jessica Hische. I found it on her Daily Drop Cap site. I found Jessica through NaNoWriMo's blog. She was one of the artists in the 30 Covers in 30 Days entries.)

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