October is going to be a big month for writers everywhere. Nanowrimo isn’t until November but all of those who intend smashing out a few thousand words a day will have to be ready to hit the ground running if we’re going to make our target word count. I started getting ready at the beginning of September. If you remember back a few weeks I wrote a very earnest if slightly manic post about #last90days. The fact that I was a month early only dawned on me a few days into the month. D’uh.
Embarrassment aside, it actually ended up okay, because I then got the flu. This put writing on the backburner for a few weeks but gave me the opportunity to continue de-cluttering and unpacking. I have finally got the house in a livable state and then the wind kind of went out of my writing sails.
I’ve been researching my memoir and sorting through old photos. That third week in September is always a little icky for me because of some anniversaries, but it was helpful to contemplate how I am going to approach those memories in my writing. The writing fiction started to feel a little pointless until I a) Gave myself an uppercut and b) started writing!
NOTHING CURES FEAR LIKE ACTION
My action this week took the form of logging into the Nanowrimo page and starting a goal tracker for some warm-up writing. I have set myself a pretty big goal for November. I want to finish the first drafts of 2 novellas and work on my memoir. My first Novella was 60 pages long or 15,000 words, so I am aiming for first drafts of 20,000 each and then whatever time I have left I will devote to the memoir.
All my writing peeps! Join me doing Nanowrimo. When you hit that word count goal and give yourself a little cheer you will be so proud of yourself it will fuel your writing for weeks.
Here’s a little sneak peak of what I have been writing. I’ve opted to do a goal setting tracker for seven days. I’ve opted to write for an hour each day. I’m now 2 for 2.
Paris in a Day – The Paris Souvenir
The story so far is a really sad one. Like most stories, it didn’t start out sad. Quite the contrary. It started on a steaming hot day in August in the hot summer of 1994. Do you remember that summer? It was a summer of Ibiza and sunburn for Paul and Mary because they were backpacking across Europe, separately, but they spent a happy 10 minutes talking about how many times they nearly met when they actually did. That conversation came not long after the sex that happened a few hours after they met.
That summer was also a time of fires and pollution and the elderly dying in their homes from heat exhaustion. There was alcohol poisoning. Mary’s bus had left one of the James’s at the hospital in Pamplona, throwing up blood. The other James seemed lost without his namesake. There was always at least two James’ on every bus tour. Mary still remembered the surnames of the nineteen James’ that had attended her junior school. The teaching staff called the boys by their surname to save confusion. It is a very English thing to do.
Paul and Mary’s paths crossed as luck would have it, in Paris, on a stormy Monday afternoon. A mixed group of travellers from various bus tours left the campsite on the outskirts of the city and stumbled and fumbled their way to the Metro with the aim of seeing the Eiffel Tower, finding booze and being free from the tour leaders. As cool as they tried to be, the tour leaders may as well have been their parents for all the freedom they allowed. No food on the bus, no drinking on the bus, no sex on the bus, no loud music and one passenger reported that their history obsessed, teetotaller tour leader said oopsie daisy when anyone swore. He must have been saying oopsie daisy a lot.
Anyone watching them from a discreet distance could have made the mistake that they weren’t travelling together. He walked four or five paces behind her, looking at his phone. She set a cracking pace; dragging that rolling bag behind her like a disobedient child (‘Just you wait ‘til your father hears about this’.) Its wheels, unable to keep up, kept rocking and kicking.
She had said that she had no intention of spending the weekend with him, that she would swap her ticket and go right back to London. She reminded him that they weren’t a couple and he had no right to presume that she would throw her legs open for him just because he’d bought her a train ticket. This was said loud enough for the business suits at the head of the carriage to hear. Paul knew three of those business suits and the news would be across the best offices in London before he was off the train.
Trying too hard. That was his downfall, she’d said. It wasn’t the first time he had heard her say it, and she certainly wasn’t the only woman who had said it to him. He’d tried honesty and that had well and truly backfired. He’d give up everything he had for her but she’d only looked at him over her glasses when he’d said that. Yes, that did sound like he was trying too hard and a little bit insane.
He had a lot to give up.
The driver, complete with cap and a jacket, stood, as always, just outside the Business Class Lounge. They exchanged greetings and the driver took his suit bag. Mary was nowhere to be seen. He didn’t have to wonder where he’d gone wrong. That was painfully obvious. Turning up at St Pancras that morning was his first mistake and it had only gone downhill from there. He asked the driver to wait while he gave the arrivals halls the once over. She couldn’t have gone far, he thought, but Gare du Nord on a Friday afternoon was like, well any big city train station. He was never one for metaphors, he was a banker.
On the mezzanine, he swept his eyes over the crowded terminal, spotting her standing hunched over her phone just inside the doors. It was pouring rain outside, a lucky break for him, because if it had been sunny she might have decided to take a taxi somewhere while she waited for the return train. As far as he knew, she hadn’t been back to Paris since 1994 so it might have held some attraction for her.
He waved to his driver and signalled that he should follow. Keeping his eyes on her, silhouetted in front of the plate glass doors, he wove his way down the stairs, dodging the families stopping to snap photos and the business people barking into their phones. Once he reached the bottom of the stairs he couldn’t see her and felt the panic rising in his belly. He would find her, he knew in his very soul, that they would work things out and she sees that he was right about them. They were meant to be together.
Worried he was beginning to sound like a stalker, he stopped in the middle of the crowd. Maybe he should just let her go, he thought. It was the first time the idea had occurred to him over the 25 years they’d known each other. She had always been very honest about her feelings for him; bordering on non-existent, happy to have him around as long as he paid child support.
His mother agreed with the shrink who said he only wanted Mary because he couldn’t have her but he knew that was completely off the mark. He’d wanted Mary from the very first moment he’d laid eyes on her and she had seemed quite interested too, although that may have been the cheap red wine talking. She had been a very willing participant in that lost weekend in Paris all those years before. It was what came after that had made her shut him out.
Paul dodged and weaved the last few steps to the exit door, her last known whereabouts. In his rush, and doubtful she would still be there, he bumped into her as she stood staring at the now torrential rain. Paul was speechless, his heart still pounding. He could only nod in the direction of the driver, now standing a few feet away. Mary sighed and grabbed the handle of her rolling bag. The driver took it and started through the crowd again, Mary following and Paul falling in behind trying to breathe.
As they settled into the car he decided to be quiet. For the first time in their long and complicated history, he decided to let her think, to let her speak first if that’s what she wanted to do. Obviously, the hours he was spending at the psychiatrist’s office were paying off. At the very least he wouldn’t make things worse by keeping quiet. Things between them had been strained before, but after his gaffe in the train, he wondered if she would ever speak to him again.
“You know this is not going to happen, right?”
She waved her hand between them, she was sitting a close to the window as she could as though the leather of the seat between them was toxic. Paul nodded and cleared his throat. He wanted to speak softly. He didn’t want to startle her and he didn’t want the driver to hear.
“Yes, of course. We have separate rooms. You don’t have to worry.”
“This is irretrievable. You see that, don’t you?”
He nodded and tried to look harmless. He was unsure of exactly how that should look so he hunched a little, made his six-foot frame sink into the car seat.
Paris, soaking wet and now glistening in the morning sun that had just made its first appearance of the day sped by outside the car. He watched her, watching Paris, her back turned to him, her fingers gripped the window sill as though holding on for dear life. Irretrievable. He rolled the word around in his mouth. He wasn’t sure how he felt about that word. He took a moment to adjust his tie and imagined himself hanging by it. Now that’s irretrievable, he thought. If he truly thought his death would make her happy again he would do it.
Shocked by the thought, he turned his face to the window as a tear rolled down his cheek. He hadn’t cried since…was it…Tuesday…but this tear didn’t count because it was a tear for himself not for his daughter. Their daughter. He pushed the idea from his mind. Unless there was some way to make a pact with the devil, killing himself wouldn’t bring her back.
The car stopped in front of the tiny boutique hotel his secretary had booked. It was stylish and discreet as requested. Due to business connections, he would normally stay at the Shangri-La, but this was not business. He had wanted her to feel comfortable and the Shangri-La could be a little intimidating.
Worried he would break down crying, he took a couple of deep breaths and opened the car door. The driver nodded at him and lifted his gloved hand. He was a little surprised Paul hadn’t waited for the door to be opened. He took their bags into the foyer where Mary was already waiting, her hands clasped violently. Paul was waiting on the pavement facing the car. He shook the driver’s hand as he always did, handing him a small white envelope containing a generous tip.
“Rendez-vous demain,” Paul said.
“Merci Mr. Weiss. A demain.”
Paul enjoyed his status and after years of hard work and long hours, he enjoyed the prestige his money afforded. Having enough money to be generous was one of those rewards. The fact that Mary loved that about him was a bonus.