A Writer’s Notebook: NaNoWriMo update #3

Well, it’s (un)official:  Last Saturday, after two marathon writing sessions and just one day after last week’s update, I passed the 50,000-word goal.  That’s seventeen days early, and two days earlier than I crossed the finish line last year.  It feels epic.

And it happened right on time, too, because I spent the day after I finished packing for my vacation, and I’m currently celebrating my NaNoWriMo victory on the beaches of Phuket, in Thailand.  (In fact, I’ve decided to celebrate by unplugging completely, and I didn’t even take my laptop with me.  Weird time-warp moment:  I’m actually writing this last weekend and scheduling it to post today.)

I haven’t officially “won” NaNoWriMo, of course.  For one thing, the website doesn’t open their official verification site for maybe another week.  For another, I’m not really finished with the story.  The book itself is a big ugly mess, stuff just tossed around all over the place, and while that’s not really a problem in NaNoWriMo, I would like to double check the manuscript to make sure I’m not repeating myself (I sometimes wrote in other windows and then copied the text over, and I want to make sure I didn’t copy anything twice).  And since the month isn’t over yet, I think I’ll keep plugging away at this thing, just to see what happens.  So, after my vacation, I’m going to try and clean the things up a bit and then write all the way up until November 30 before I run it through the verification process.  Which means the final count will almost certainly change.

But unofficially, I’m done!

And now, an excerpt.

Portia gave him a hard look, and then she abruptly leaned in and kissed him, hard and cold, and in that unguarded moment he felt himself flush with raw power, with dangerous energy.  When she released the kiss, he couldn’t breathe for a moment, and when he did, it came  in an animal snarl.  He grabbed her arms and pulled her into a second kiss, fast and ferocious.  His fingers dug into her arms and her skin warmed in his vicious grip.  She bit his lip, hard, and he shouted and pulled away.  He tasted his own blood, and he saw her lick his blood from her lips.  They glared at each other, both of them breathing fast, their energies locked.  She grabbed the front of his shirt in her fist.  She actually bared her teeth.  Julian grinned at her, then he bent his head back and to the side, offered her his throat.

But he felt a stronger hand on the back of his neck, and he went utterly cold, all at once as though a trap door had opened beneath him and only his soul had dropped through it.  His stomach clenched and he opened his eyes.  Portia was petrified, her pale skin making her look like cemetery statuary, but her eyes remained ablaze, not quite with lust but perhaps with awe. Julian did not turn his head, but he rolled his eyes to see Lucius standing between them, one hand on each of their necks.  He was in leering at them both.

“I, too, retain a lust for blood,” he said.  “The symbolism of it is so delicious.”

Julian felt a slight pressure on his neck and he turned to face Lucius, almost involuntarily.  But Lucius looked at Portia and, still smiling, he said, “May I?”

Portia nodded in a daze and offered her forearm, her wrist turned up to show her scars.  She closed her eyes.

But Julian felt Lucius’s grip on his neck change, and then there was a cold, sharp sting followed by a sudden hot rush, and Lucius swept over Julian, his other hand against Julian’s chest, and he sucked from Julian’s neck.

In his mind, Julian struggled, pushed away, clapped a hand to his wounded throat.  In Julian’s mind, Lucius reared back with lurid, exposed fangs, dripping Julian’s blood, his face contorted in satanic rage and his black hair loose from his half-ponytail and dancing like a nest of snakes.

But it happened like a waking dream, the way Julian sometimes dreamed he had showered and dressed for work only to wake with the alarm and find himself still in bed.  When he opened his eyes it was to a second sting on his throat, Lucius smiling gently—no fangs—and pressing an antiseptic pad against Julian’s neck.

He held his hand against Julian’s neck for a moment, until Julian understood that he needed to apply his own pressure.  Then Lucius stepped back.  His teeth were pink as he grinned.  He said, “I’m very sorry my friend, but surprise and terror improve the thrill and so improve the energy.  Yu taste delicious.  A little frightened, I think, but wonderful.”

Julian switched hands to hold the antiseptic pad on his neck, and he looked at his fingers, damp from the medicinal fluid.  He expected his hand to be covered in blood, but it wasn’t.  There were two pink spots, one of each of his first two fingers, and that was all.

He looked at Lucius, and in his head he was screaming, What the fuck?  What the hell just happened?  Who do you think you fucking are?  But out loud, he barely gasped.  His mouth simply hung open.

Lucius said, “I’m also very sorry to interrupt you two.  You looked like you were about to have a great deal of fun.  But if I remember correctly you came together, and the point of these parties is to mix, to share the energy.”

Portia stammered, “That’s what I told him.  That’s what I’ve been telling him.”

Lucius looked at her almost as through for the first time.  He stepped back a pace and appraised her.  He said, “Tell me again who you are?”  She reminded him of how they’d met in the library, but she gave him her full name anyway, Portia Lynn, and he said, “I love it.”  He looked back at Julian.  He said, “You are a very lucky person, to have come with someone so lovely.”

Julian shook his head and wanted to say, She won’t have me, but instead he said, “You drank from my fucking neck!”

Portia gasped, put one hand over her mouth and her other hand on Julian’s chest and said, “Quiet!”

But Lucius said, “No, that’s okay.  I can tell you’re a blood drinker too.  I’m sure you know how much richer the energy is when it comes from the throat.  And as I said, shocking you that way improves the taste.”

Julians said, “You fucking bit me?”

Lucius shook his head and held up his left hand, the back of it facing Julian.  Julian saw two identical silver rings, thin on Lucius’s middle two fingers, then Lucius turned his hand around, palm forward, and Julian saw two tiny prongs protruding from the other sides of the rings.  Lucius said, “It is our symbol, the sign of the Church, our Kindred.  Not everyone wears it.  Some prefer it in the form of a sigil on a chain around their neck.  Others choose tattoos.  But I have these rings made for those of us sanguinarians.  It proves a useful puncture tool.”

He turned his hand over, palm upward now, and held the rings closer to Julian’s face.  He could see that they were, in fact, one ring, the two loops fused together at their edges.  Lucius said, “you’ll see that the two small fangs aren’t much different from lancets.  They operate in the same way.  And, of you keep your hand on your neck a while longer, the wounds will close just as any lancet wound would.  There will be only a little scarring.”

Portia was breathing heavily.  She had moved the hand from Julian’s chest to cover her own heart, between her breasts, and the hand that covered her mouth she lowered.  When she spoke to Julian, her voice came in a whisper, but it was a throaty whisper, full of seriousness and awe.

She said, “You have been marked.”

Last weekend, I spent a lot of time with my digital voice recorder (which I wrote about ten days ago), talking out scenes and then transcribing them later.  So if you’re looking for an exercise, you might try that:  Dictate the story to yourself or to someone else, let the words come fast and natural, and then simply transcribe them.  In a lot of ways, it’s like the purest form of freewriting, and it can be a lot of fun.  There’s a great little write-up on dictating your fiction over at the School for Champions website, if you’re interested.

Oh, and because I don’t plan to stop writing, I’ll still post one more update and excerpt next Friday, so this is not the last of the NaNoWriMo Writer’s Notebook entries.

Published by Samuel Snoek-Brown

I write fiction and teach college writing and literature. I'm the author of the story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, the novel Hagridden, and the flash fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin.

One thought on “A Writer’s Notebook: NaNoWriMo update #3

  1. I like the description of the ring with its two prongs. And I especially enjoy the beginning of the excerpt when Portia and Julian are in animalistic throes of passion, hungering for something beyond sex–something electric.

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