Nightlands: (Belated) April Status Check

Fuuuuuuuuuuuu—You know what? Writing is hard.

Sometimes, no matter how passionate you are about writing, it starts to feel like a chore, especially during a NaNo event. Oh, I’ve still got to churn out 1677 words today? But I’ve also got to go to work. Do laundry. Cuddle the kitties. Pet the husband. Talk to people so I don’t collapse into a black hole of solipsism. Read this new book, because I HAVE to read this new book. Also I’m tired and words don’t have meaning anymore and where was I going with this and why do I do this to myself?

But if you think this is where I make an excuse for not getting the work done, go ahead and feel ashamed of yourself, because you’re wrong.

Camp-2018-Winner-Profile-Photo

I actually exceeded my NaNo-typical goal of 50,000 words for a total of 60,000. Of course, I’ve still got a good bit of writing ahead of me, and I admittedly took a bit of a break after Camp to, you know… live. So even though this update is a couple of weeks late, I’m not in a drastically different place now than I was at the end of April (when I actually started writing this update).

So now that I’ve done all this suffering for YOU (the one or two of you checking out this blog), where does that put me?

Word Count: ~85,000 (out of a targeted 150,000 total).

“But wait!” you (probably aren’t) screaming at your phone/laptop. “You were at ~40,000 in March and you just claimed that you did 60,000 words in April!”

I promise I’m not that bad at math. It’s just that a lot of that work… well, it went in the trash.

Technically, it went into a sub-file in my Scriviner project titled “Scraps.” There’s always a “scraps” file for everything I write because drafting is a messy process and I’m a swirling maelstrom of mental chaos. Striving to hit a specific word count everyday doesn’t always help that issue because I end up prioritizing quantity over quality and don’t always have enough time to consider where the scene is taking me and if it’ll really work before I dig into it. As a result, sometimes I have to learn lessons the hard way. In one case, a chapter that sounded great in summary on my plot map wasn’t working as well in execution, but if I had stopped to re-think and re-plot it, I would’ve missed my word goals, so I finished out the chapter, then promptly scrapped it. Luckily, by the end of that doomed chapter, I knew exactly how to start over and fix it. 

Chapters: 8

I’ve hit what I feel is the mid-point of the story when the plot begins to pivot in a new direction. I’ll have some exciting new locations, characters, and plot elements to explore.

Finally, the reason this update really took as long as it did…

Another barely edited, out-of-context sample!

And as if the mere thought of those past transgressions could summon them like due punishment to his side, he felt their energy needle at him from afar like blade tips probing at the base of his spine and the back of his neck before lancing through him, the distance closed in a blink. Electricity crackled along every nerve and fire writhed across his brain.

The cresting fever of them reached down even into Senora’s dreamless faint and drew her jolting from unconsciousness with a gasp gathered in her throat. He pressed his hand over her mouth and waited, waited for the wide flare of her gaze to ease with recognition.

When it did, he leaned to her ear. “Pretend to sleep.”

At first, she resisted when he tried to gather her to him. Her bloodshot stare flickered toward the heavy slumber sounds of the strangers mere feet away, then tried to crawl the faint lines of their unfamiliar surroundings through the muted near-morning light, but when she looked at him again and saw the silent pleading, the edge of panic he was sure lurked in his eyes, the resistance bled from her. His arm wreathed around her, and he tucked her head against his shoulder.

The gray light, already a mere gasp against the dimness, shivered in a way he could feel across every inch of his skin, and he knew one of them had come to being within that very room. Senora’s whole body twitched against him. He supposed the curse of his blood had stripped the shield of dullness from her human senses.

He didn’t look, couldn’t dare, but he knew what he’d see if he did: a column of absolute darkness like a hole in the world towering over them, spindly and narrow with the creeping grace of a spider and—if the light managed to carve enough territory around the being by which to see—the cutting angles of a nearly skeletal face sheathed in flesh like purest ice, smooth and white and nearly translucent. Its body might be the broad but spiny shoulders of one of the men, or the jutting hip bones and pinched waist of the woman. He’d seen the woman before in a stolen glimpse and knew that even if daylight found no purchase in this small sliver of space, her green eyes would shimmer through the dark like witch’s fire, like a night-cat’s gaze glinting through the brush.

He had only ever seen the Eldest in these nightmare shapes, and he wondered, in the brief snatches of lucid thought in which he could wonder, if they were too ancient to recall the shape of human skin or simply too primal to be bound in it.

Though he held himself in mortal guise with every spare inch of his control, his own Otherness lashed inside him, screaming to answer the threat of that crushing presence with a violence so strong it pounded at his temples and in his teeth and eroded his thoughts to stuttering fragments. Even with his eyes closed, even in the silence stifling all noise in the Thing’s wake, he could sense It drifting closer and felt his muscles strain to react.

This was the game, he tried to tell himself as it lingered, drawn by his quickening pulse. He’d survived their blind baiting a dozen times before without revealing himself. He simply had to wait.

Yet, a single thought kept looping among the clamor in his head and made his nerves rattle like broken glass beneath his skin: he was not alone this time. If It discovered him, if It grew suspicious… If it laid a bony talon to her flesh or bared Its fangs to her in threat, he would—

He swallowed the thought just before his body could lurch to action and considered vanishing. The Eldest would know him then, and all three would follow him until he came back to his vulnerable skin and bones, but he could at least lead them away from her. His throat worked against the heat of a rising growl and flames flickered and stretched across his thoughts, and he knew his time to decide would soon be lost.

A gasp fluttered against the suffocating quiet. The haze retreated from his thoughts just enough for a cold wave of shock to roll through him, but the noise hadn’t come from Senora. Across the room, the woman shifted in her bedroll. Then the Other was gone. The pressure abated. The violence inside him eased but kept thrumming like a sore wound.

He looked as much as he dared and found the woman blinking toward the space the Other had occupied. Somehow, she didn’t see him and Senora huddled in the floor of her home, too transfixed on the unseeable ghost of the Eldest’s presence. When the man beside her uttered some question in accented, sleep-slurred speech, the tension finally faded from her. The woman answered with words that sounded like dismissal and sank back to the warmth of her blankets and her family.

Still, he didn’t move. Not until he felt the burning energies of all three hunters cut away to the south and the west and the north and daylight washed unfettered through the window like air gulped into starving lungs. Only then did he lean back to look at Senora. The morning revealed her eyes glassy-wide and face colorless with lingering chill and terror.

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