Well, it’s official: I’ve “won” NaNoWriMo,” with a final word count of 51,879 words. Fewer than last year, but many more to come if I expect to finish the story itself. Still, I’m glad to be finished with this frenzied marathon, because the whole experience has, as per last year, energized my writing, and I’m eager to move onto other projects I’ve kept on hold while writing this novel.
Not to skimp on the excerpts, I’m going to include here one final piece from the novel–in fact, the last words I wrote, though not necessarily the end of the book itself–complete with the “notebook page” frame of the Writer’s Notebook entries:
Julian was no longer the penumbra of the eclipse, he was the eclipse itself. There was a dark, hollow moon between the sun and the earth, and Julian was inside of the moon. He had crawled inside of the cave without being quite aware of what he was doing. For all he knew he was dead, and he was descending into a tomb. For a while, he hoped that this was the case. And then he hoped it wasn’t, not because he didn’t want to be dead but because it felt far too appropriate: a vampire descending into a grave, something Lucius would approve of.
He wondered for a bit if he had died and this was perhaps a rebirth. He was descending not into a grave but into a womb. If it was the case, he had found himself a mother who was cold and emotionless. The placental fluids that surrounded him smelled of stone and salt. The uteral walls were hard and ungiving, and in his embryonic development his mother had never extended him an umbilical chord. He had no means of sustenance. He was drying up, withering away. His would be a stillbirth.
It went like this for weeks. But they could not have been weeks, surely. All that nonsense from the church about prolonged life and bodily immortality. There was simply no way he could survive without food or water for as long as he felt he had. But there it was.
He lay there so long his mind left him. Time itself ceased. He himself ceased. Everything drifted away. He dissolved into the darkness. He could not feel his body anymore because he did not have a body. He could not use his mind anymore because he did not have a mind. There was only darkness, and it was him.
When his mind did begin to function again, it functioned in hallucinations. He heard things he could not possibly hear: Drops of water miles away; rumbles of thunder miles above; shifts in tectonic plates from the a million years before, working their way up through the rock in tiny echoes that he alone could detect.
When time ceased to exist, it ceased to have any measure; suddenly he was eternal in the purest mathematical sense. There was no beginning to Julian, there was no end. He had been for all the time, so he was aware of all time. He could feel from the darkness around him how the earth had formed and how it would end., not as a premonition but as a mathematical certainty, built into the structure of everything around him. He thought of those perpetual motion machines on executive desktops, of steel ball striking a row, and another ball, four, maybe six balls away, jumping away from the line and swinging out. It had nothing to do with magic or predictions. The motion itself at the beginning made the motion at the end inevitable. In this way, he could feel in the stone he lay on how the formation of that stone led, inevitably, to its deformation.
Gradually, though this super-logical process, his mind returned to him in an awareness purer than any he’d ever experienced. Here was the truth: He had not died. He had not dissolved. He was not nothing. He lay on the stone floor of a cave, deep within the earth. Deprived of sight, everything else improved, so that he could feel tiny tremors, he could hear the smallest sounds, he could smell particles in the air. He still had no sense of time, but he must have been here for days, not weeks or eons. He had no t died, but he was surely dying. And as he thought about this, he felt calm. It was the right thing, the right time. Everything he had done in his life, everything that had occurred to lead to his life, his conception, his genetic condition, the fact that his parents had abandoned him, the way his adoptive parents had raised him, the way he had handled his condition, his meeting with Portia, his confrontation with the Church, all of it, led, inevitable, like balls striking balls, to his death. This was the only only outcome; it was the correct outcome. He had no only to wait.
And now, as last year, I want to thank all my friends and family who kept me going through the month, especially my NaNoWriMo buddies ladyslvr, DutchWag, BrandyAZChase, deedum, and E. L. Hostetler. (Special shout-out to DutchWag and deedum, who are winners already themselves, and to ladyslvr and BrandyAZChase, who are very close to finishing!) Also, gigantic thanks to stout_chap, our regional coordinator for the Middle East WriMos.
Also, super-special thanks to my wife, who has been extraordinarily patient with my writing regime both this year and last and is both my most enthusiastic cheerleader and my greatest resource (the books she brought me from the library were invaluable this month). Couldn’t do any of this without you, sweetheart!
And now, that’s that. On to other writing, and I’ll see everyone (I hope) in April for ScriptFrenzy!