The first week of NaNoWriMo is coming to an end and at the moment of writing this post, I’m a little less than a day behind on my 100k objectives, due to the cold that kept me in bed for the better part of the first three days. 5k to write today to catch up on yesterday’s and today’s objective. Doable.
But that’s not the week’s hurdle.
The hurdle arrived when I reached the post-it of my outline that says “Tyrese takes the job & meets the team”. See, I didn’t have a team to meet, and my brains, stuck in mucus as it was, produced a solution that had more NaNoism than plot and led me head first into a creative wall. I needed the dynamics of this team to come together for the rest of the novel to happen. Getting my word count would have been like pulling teeth for at least a week before the writing course-corrected itself into something I could work with.
So I stopped. Yes. NaNoWriMo is about forward momentum and sometimes, it makes us feel like we have to push even if we’re not feeling it. It doesn’t make sense to keep writing the chapter that leads nowhere or a story you’re not feeling. It doesn’t make sense to keep pushing if your head and heart aren’t in it and you’re going to burn yourself for the next three days.
Sometimes, the best move for forward momentum is to take a deep breath.
I created a new document and spend a few word sprints crafting my black ops team –it’s word count too. High-level physical description, special skills, personality, speech qualifiers and their names and nicknames. I have six of them so spending a little bit of time exploring how that would play off of each other mattered. And it paid off.
Here’s the new version of the “team meeting” scene. At this point, the reader knows Tyrese/the body jumper and Phil, the commanding officer. It’s NaNo so don’t look at the typos, repetitive word uses and less than desirable sentence structures. 😉
The one that stood out the most what the 6 foot 6 guy with about half that size in shoulder breadth. He had clear blue eyes and blond wispy hair that would have made him Hitler’s favorite pet if the American flag tattooed on his left bulging biceps didn’t scream ‘don’t mess with me, you sadistic bastard.’ I certainly wouldn’t risk petting that guy. Not that I could reach.
“That the new guy?” The tower said.
“I sure am.” I extended my hand to shake. He looked at it suspiciously, a mean slant to his eyebrow. “I see you’ve been briefed.”
“We got the TL;DR,” said a petite blond woman. A smile flashed across her face, almost too fast for the eye to see, and she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and averted her eyes. Nothing about her scream ‘deadly commando’ and, if anything, that scared me the most.
A slinky mixed heritage woman looked me up and down. I couldn’t tell if she was latina, arabic or Greek. With her tanned skin, dark shoulder-lenght hair and clear gray eyes, she could possibly pass for all three with the right contact lenses and make-up. “Shouldn’t he be getting some sort of basic training before being pushed on us?”
That woman certainly had had training, but somehow the muscle mass didn’t make her look less feminine. Somehow, she made her baggy camo pants look like something she borrowed from her boyfriend’s closet, which made them kind of sexy, especially when paired with her form fitting black t-shirt.
“He’s an ex-SEAL,” Phil commented. I would have liked a bit more support, but I wasn’t about to ask for it.
“Besides, most advance fighting techniques are more muscle memory than brains.”
“Got that right,” Tower interrupted me.
I decided it was better to resume without being ruffled by both his yet-to-come handshake and his interruption. “I’ll lose that as soon as I switch body, or at the very least, trade them for whatever memories my new muscles have.”
Tower shrugged and finally took my still-extended hand, lifting some of the awkwardness of the moment. He squeezed a little too tightly, as if he were trying to pop me out of my Tyrese shell.
“Tobias. They call me Hammerhead.”
“Because his left hook is like a hammer to the head,” the tiny blond woman was standing so close I almost jumped when she talked. I hadn’t register her approach at all, as if her subdued demeanor had made her utterly forgettable. Her eyes were steady now, sharp with intelligence. When I shifted on my feet, her lips stretched in a crooked smile. She straightened, almost haugthy now, and offered me a very decided hand to shake. So I shook. “I’m Trish. They call me Twister.”
“And why is that?”
“There ain’t a tongue I can’t twist.” She winked. “It’s funny to have the consciousness of someone who hates confrontations in the body of a soldier. Very peculiar.”
I felt myself pale and only now pieced together why her actions had seemed disjointed. “You tested my reaction to different personality types and situations.”
She chuckled. “Nicely done. Though, to be fair, I usually run it as a long con. We don’t have time for that since we’re leaving in two.”
“Hey Phil! Did you forget to brief the new guy?” the latina-ish said.
Phil lifted his eyes from his inventory of firearms on one of the tables. “It’s a waste of time.” He crossed something off his notepad. “He’s ridding in me so he’ll get the downlow then.”
“That may be efficient, but it doesn’t seem very civilised. I’m Kayla,” she added, walking up to me to shake my hand.
“And what do they call you?” I asked, though I was quite intrigued by that plan that included me ‘ridding in’ Phil. Was he expecting that a longer exposure to his feelings toward his sister may help me during the mission? He may not be entirely wrong.
“Fatalis. Three guesses as to why.” She had altered her tone to a silky, sensual smoothness that left no doubt she got her nickname from the femme fatale stereotype. It was hard to imagine her as such in the middle of a warehouse in her camo slacks, but why not? “What do they call you?”
“Nah, I mean when you’re not Tyrese.”
I shrugged. “Whoever I am at the time.”
Kayla cocked her head to the side and her eyebrows, to the sky. “You don’t have a name?”
I shrugged again. “What’s a name? Just a label for a physical representation. I don’t have an independant physical representation, hence I have no name.”
“Deep, man,” Hammerhead commented.
“A name is part of your identity!” Kayla was getting excited and it brought the most charming red glow to her cheeks.
“Yours, may be.” Sure, I remembered getting anxious over my lack of a name for sometime while I was a philosopher, but then I jumped in someone else and I was fine.
“He’s a rose by any other name.” Twister chuckled.
“No,” Phil said, not pulling his attention from the armement he was cataloguing with the guy who hadn’t introduced himself to me. “He’s a cherry.”
While everyone turned to look at Phil with questions in their eyes, I couldn’t help but roll mine. “I used the metaphor one time. Once.”
“What metaphor?” Twister fluttered her lashes, all creepy doll-like.
“He’s Tyrese with a cherry on top. Or whoever he jumps into with a cherry on top. That makes him Cherry.” Phil listed the whole damning thing with clinical detachment. Like the executioner pressing the button on the set of syringes. And just like death, this nickname was going to stick. I could tell by the smile on my now-teammates faces.