I continue to try and find some time every day to work on my Camp NaNoWriMo project. It is a rough go at times, because I have had to contend with hot summer days with no air conditioning, a family member who has been getting regular appointments for treatment, and a lot of thinking, remembering and soul searching.
This last is because I am working on writing my memoirs. There is a lot to remember, and of course, a lot that I would prefer to forget, but is going to be written, no matter how painful or difficult it may be.
Here is the essence of my project:
“Does a friendship have to be earned, or does it just happen? Once friends, is it for life, or only until a friendship is weakened and destroyed somehow?
Can true friends hurt one another and remain friends?
Does anyone really love? Is it possible to find one person who completes another? Or is it all a wispy dream, created by romantics who never succeed but who are too dishonest to share their sad discoveries?
I was once a romantic. I gave up on that dream. I fought to hold on but it nearly caused my death. I am here. I survived. I am a cynic. I will tell you how it happened.”
The picture of the road at the top of this piece? That’s because the memoir focuses on the early 1970’s when hitch hiking was only dangerous and not deadly. Oh, how I traveled! It was an adventure.
I began to work on this project by creating a short narrative with the most important points I wished to include. That in turn, led to more detailed paragraphs, which I am now writing.
I am using Scrivener this time around. I am not familiar with all it can do, but so far the basics are working fine.
I drove into town to have a talk with Harry. I knew he had a hard time coping with life, but I didn’t think it was an excuse to mistreat his daughter.
I pulled up and parked in the driveway, behind Harry’s beat up old Chrysler. As I approached the front door, I saw that it was ajar. Strange.
I pushed the door open all the way and called out for Harry and for Lainie. I listened. There was a sound, but I couldn’t quite place it. I stepped inside and called again.
This time, there was a nearly inaudible reply. I followed the sound, and walked into the kitchen.
Martin sat on the floor, his arms around Lainie. When she looked up I saw that she had a black eye. Martin was covered in blood.
“What the -? What’s happened here? Where’s your dad, Lainie?”
Lainie raised one arm and pointed towards the cookstove, which was half hidden by the breakfast bar. I stepped around Martin and Lainie, and saw Harry.
He was lying on his back, eyes staring sightlessly up at the ceiling. His face and chest were covered in blood. There was a butcher knife sticking out of his belly.
I reached into my shirt pocket and dialed emergency.
After I made the call, I walked back to Martin and Lainie.
“It’ll be okay. The police are on the way. Don’t worry.” I wanted to reassure them both, although I knew that nothing would be okay for them.
Martin said, “Lainie was gettin’ beat up by her dad again. I walked in on it and lost my temper. I didn’t mean to kill him. I just wanted him to stop hurting her.”
I heard sirens in the distance.
I said, “Martin, nobody in this town will blame you for what happened.”
The police arrived and burst into the house. Over the next hour or more, Lainie and Martin were led away, and Harry’s body was examined as was the crime scene. I had to explain what I’d seen and heard and then I too was escorted to the police station.
It was several hours before I was released. The officers told me that Martin would be held in jail, and that Lainie was free to go. I offered to take her home to my place. She agreed. I had to make a stop at the house, and a police officer escorted Lainie inside so that she could get some clothes and other things. When she came out, she climbed into my truck.
“All ready to go?” I asked.
Lainie nodded. She stared straight ahead as I drove off. We arrived at my cabin and we went inside. I cooked up a meal and Lainie ate. By this time, she seemed to be coming out of the daze she’d been in.
She turned to me as she buttered a slice of bread and said, “Thank you, Bert, for helping me and Martin. I was so scared.”
“It’s okay, Lainie. Of course you were scared, but you’ll be safe now. You’re welcome to stay here as long as you need to.”
Lainie thanked me and then she volunteered that she had her job at Jensen’s and had to be at work the next day. I told her to call Mrs. Jensen and tell her what had happened. I was sure she wouldn’t expect Lainie to work.
Mrs. Jensen was more than sympathetic to the situation. She had, as the whole town had, already heard about the killing. She told Lainie to take the rest of the week off, and come in for work the following Monday.
Lainie asked me if I’d drive her to Mayer’s so she could talk to Kate. I thought it might be good for Lainie to see her friend.
Kate and I and Lainie had a discussion about Lainie’s future. We agreed that Lainie should move into Kate’s place and try to continue with her life without her father.
Next, I drove over to the precinct and talked to the desk sergeant. She said that Martin was charged, but not with first degree murder, since he’d been trying to protect Lainie.
Martin’s trial was a few months later. Both Kate and Lainie sat with me as the case proceeded. Martin’s parents both testified to Martin’s kindness and gentleness and that seemed to affect the jury. At the end, Martin was given a short sentence, due to the circumstances of Harry’s death. I think that when Lainie testified about her dad’s cruelty to her, the jury felt sorry for her and even looked on Martin as a hero.
When Martin was released from prison and came back to town, he didn’t stay around very long. His parents sent him off to college. I heard that he did well there, and found that he had a gift for computer science.
I ran into Lainie and Kate one Saturday morning, when I went into town. They were walking down the street, hand in hand, and I looked askance at them, as we stopped to chat.
Lainie giggled and Kate smiled at me.
“We’re a couple, Bert. First we were roommates but then things progressed.”
“Well, good for you both. I hope life is treating you both good?”
Lainie nodded and said, “Bert, if it hadn’t been for your help that awful day, I don’t know what I would have done. I thank you.”
“And so do I,” said Kate. The girls departed, walking on down the street.
I sighed. Martin was in college, the girls were together. Maybe it was time I found someone who would want to share my cabin. There must be some woman out there who’d like living in the country. Maybe I’d sign up on one of those dating services.
I walked into Mayer’s later that morning, shopping done, and had coffee. Mrs. Mayer convinced me to have a slice of lemon pie, and I ate, while I registered on a dating service with my cell phone.
Who knew what tomorrow might bring? Even for an old guy like me. I rubbed my chin and thought maybe I’d shave off my beard. It was time I started looking a little less like a mountain man.
Okay, so I admit I rushed through the story this week. All for a good cause though.
I wanted to have it finished up before Camp NaNoWriMo which starts again July first.
The story was created as I went along, not planned out, and the chapters show that unfortunately. But, there is something to be said for just writing without too much of a plan. Sometimes the characters take over and do what they wish to do, unruly people.
Hope that you enjoyed what was written. If I do this again, I will plan somewhat better so that the story is chronological and more time is devoted to development.
I tried. I really did. After completing so many November NaNoWriMos one would think the freedom of Camp NaNoWriMo would be exhilarating. Not so. Not for me.
I powered out after about a week. So here I am, cheering on any of you who continue with Camp, but sitting back on the sidelines.
I have started a brand new story and will post it on this blog once it is done. In the meantime, keep writing!
The ability to clearly draw a character in words is a true gift. Once the character is put into a scene, that new person needs to be real to the reader. How to do that?
How to Craft Compelling Characters from Writer’s Digest
That is all for now. Back to the story I am working on….
My topic today, as I prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo is how to write in active voice and avoid passive voice.
I still find myself puzzled by active vs passive voice, so these sites are as much for my reference as for yours.
I have two links for you. Both are very good at explaining the difference.
“… active (The executive committee approved the new policy) or
passive (The new policy was approved by the executive committee)”
Active: “[Thing doing action] + [verb] + [thing receiving action]”
Passive: “[Thing receiving action] + [be] + [past participle of verb] + [by] + [thing doing action]”
This is active voice: The swimmer reached the end of the pool.
This is passive voice: The end of the pool was reached by the swimmer.
If you are thinking of participating in Camp NaNoWriMo best of luck to you! I am ready to begin tomorrow, although I may start a few hours early.
Camp NaNoWriMo starts in just four days! I am going to try and meet my goals this time. While I’ve had success doing November’s NaNo every year beginning in 2012, I have failed miserably at meeting any goals I’ve set for Camp.
The nice thing about Camp is that you set your own goals, whether it be a word count, or finishing a draft or what have you.
My goal is to complete an autobiography. While I’ve worked out a rough copy, I intend to ignore it and start at the beginning of my life.
Camp is free, as are all the other Camps and November’s NaNoWriMo. Strictly run on donations. If you sign up, look for the Forum and also the option to join a cabin of fellow writers. Additionally, there are some nice products available for sale. The money supports NaNo.