I love NaNoWriMo.
National Novel Writing Month. Each November.
I love that I can choose to write freely, that I can create a world that did not exist before my fingers typed the words that invite others into something that did not exist before. I love that my characters surprise me by introducing me to people I didn’t know before, and who have problems I didn’t know existed until their characters encountered them.
Although I chose the name Senga [force, strength, energy], I did not know her mother or her mother’s name until the word appeared. I can’t explain how it happens, but it does. Nor did I know this memory:
Senga slowed a bit, remembering her earliest memory of her mother, Mumat, braiding Bridra’s hair, lacing in the flower or ribbon color of the season, making sure each strand was perfectly placed. She would watch her fingers weave the hair and ribbon in an even and careful rhythm, pulling each section just so — not too tight, but just enough so each weave was as even the one before. Senga waited patiently each morning for her own time, but that never came. With the last tie in place, Mumat pressed each braid into its spot on Sissie’s back, then she would turn her around and add one flower or herb sprig to the left braid, just behind the temple and above the ear. She would hold her shoulders square, and say, “Smile now.” She would move her chin up slightly and say, “Relax. Take a deep breath. Exhale. Be calm. Smile just slightly.” Sissie would obey and step back.
“Walk now,” Mumat would direct Bridra. “Practice.”
Senga would stand up for her turn, but Mumat would hug her at her side and say, “Just watch and learn. You must be sure Sissie is always poised.” They would watch Sissie float across the floor, in a regal posture as if she were a queen. She was not, of course, but she was the representative of our family, the oldest female child, destined for holding our family’s voice in council with the League. After several minutes, Mumat would pull Senga in front of her, bunch up her blonde locks into an elastic band and wrap it with a plain ribbon, no bow. Senga was the second. That’s all there was to know.
~ from The Littlest Lights by Sheri Edwards, NaNoWriMo, 2018
Though 50,683 words have explored Senga’s story, we, Senga and I, have a world yet to complete. While I have an idea of where the story will take us, the story unravels in surprising ways depending on the path Senga chooses. Senga’s story needs to take its loose threads and weave them into its tapestry so that Senga and I can move on to the next novel. For some writers, that would drive them nuts, but for me, it’s always a new imagining.
Perhaps in January…