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Monday, March 31, 2008

Nano Insanity

I'm editing the first draft of a novel that I wrote during National Novel Month in 2003. It's the second book in my trilogy. Anyway, with a Nanonovel, always expect the unexpected. But this surprised me more than any of the lapses in logic, consistency and good taste:

James pulled up into a gas station. His tires crossed the air hose, and a bong sound alerted the attendant of his presence. Dressed in a coat, a muffler, and leather gloves, the attendant opened the station door and walked up to James' car. James rolled down his window part way and shivered in the cold damp air.

“Help you?” the attendant said, puffs of white condensation enveloped his words.

“Fill her up,” James said, then rolled up his window. The attendant pushed the nozzle in the tank and walked around to the front of the car. He lightly thumped the hood, motioning for James to pop the hood. James did and the attendant raised the hood. The attendant was busy for a few moments, hidden by the hood. Then he walked back to the side of the car and removed the nozzle, then walked back to James' open window.

$8, plus you’re down a quart. I can take care of it now if you want, but it’s not a big deal. How far you going?

“Sandusky, Ohio,” James said.

“Sandusky. Well, shouldn’t be a problem. But if you want to be on the safe side, I can take care of it for you.”

“No thanks. I take care of it when I get to where I’m going.” He handed a ten dollar bill through the window. “Keep the change, okay?”

The attendant pocketed the ten dollar bill and tapped the hood. “Careful man,” he said, a worried look on his face.

“What?” James asked.

The attendant took a couple steps backwards, the wind picked up and made his scarf float up about his face. Snowflakes began to collect on his eyelashes and in his hair. He turned into the wind and walked back into the station.

James turned the key and pulled away from the station. The snowfall was harder now, so James adjusted the wipers again and turned on the radio. A sixties soul station filled the car with Detroit ditties. James didn’t hear them.

Wow. On the surface, with a few edits, it seems serviceable, until your realize this isn't taking place in the 70s! I wrote this, probably at break-neck pace, but still, how did I slip so far back into the past without realizing what I was doing,


UPDATE: Even stranger... I love this simple scene and don't want to cut it, but cut it I must):


Charles Gramlich said...

Plus, his cell phone isn't ringing and is IPOD isn't playing.

Charles Gramlich said...

Nice scene though.

Clifford said...

Yeah, always have to think about cell phones and iPods! When things go bad for my character, I have to make sure to metion his cell phone...I'm pretty aware of them wheh I read other people's fiction, but don't always think of them with mine...

Thanks for the kind words, too. I want the image of the guy in the snow...then turning away...as it's slightly onminous and full of portent...maybe, in a way, that scene out of time is kind of portentous...per my schedule, I won't get back to it until Wednesday, so I have a day to ruminate...

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This is me and one of my two cats. His name is Cougar, and he’s an F1 Chausie. A chausie is a new breed of cat under development. Chausies are the result of a cross between a domestic cat (in Cougar’s case, a Bengal) and a jungle cat (Felis Chaus). Cougar’s mom is 8 pounds and his father is a 30-pound jungle cat. He’s about 16 pounds, super intelligent, spirited, and toilet trained. A writer without a cat (or two) is not to be trusted.