I'm too tired to write much more tonight so instead let me share this insight from Karen Russell which arrived in my NaNo mailbox yesterday:
When you stop demanding perfection of yourself, your writing desk will become a spacious place. You don’t have to listen to the coach when he screams at you that your novel is out of control, that your characters are misbehaving, that the plot has gotten away from you. Slipperiness is good. Sloppiness is OK. Try to cultivate a maternal patience with your own uncertainty and doubt; a tolerance for bad writing; a willingness to let a story develop embryonically.Love it!
And, in the spirit of tolerating bad writing, let me offer this snippet from Murder in Camera.
It was a clear night and the moon was just past full, so even without street lights he had no difficulty navigating the trail as it hugged the shores of a Russell Lake. It always amazed him that so few people used the trail. It tended to be busiest on early, warm spring days when Haligonians - happy to be back outside after the long, dark, damp winter months - bundled up kids and grandparents and took them for a walk around the lake to get some air. Sunday mornings were another busy time when local running groups training to run half and full marathons circled the trail as part of their longest training runs. Other than that, he mostly had it to himself as he did tonight.
And what a night it was - cool and crisp - just the way an autumn night should be. In the darkness, he couldn’t see the fallen leaves littering the path, but he could smell their sweet mustiness and hear their soft swish as they danced away from his feet. On autumn nights like this one, running felt easier than it did any other time of the year.
Reaching the far side of the lake, he turned a sharp corner in the path and, from the corner of his eye, noticed movement to his left on a path that joined the main trail and lead to a small subdivision of tidy older homes, built when a good-sized family home was still less than 2,000 square feet. A few seconds later, he could see a slight figure, dressed in dark clothes and a light-coloured cap running towards him. The figure slowed somewhat, as the runner spotted him in the moonlight and warily assessed the situation. Friend or foe?
"Evening” He called out, in what he hoped was a friendly, reassuring voice. “Nice night for a run, eh? Hope I didn’t spook you. I don’t often meet fellow runners on this trail after dark.”
“Evening. Yes, lovely night for a run. I probably shouldn’t be running ton my own, but I couldn’t resist. The night was too perfect not to. And I’ve got my gun along, just in case.”
He chuckled. I hope you’re kidding about that. The gun, I mean. I’d hate to have to arrest you for carrying a concealed weapon.”
“Who said it was concealed?”
She’s stopped now several metres away in the moonlight.
“Well, considering you’re not holding anything in your hands, I assume you must have it tucked in your clothes somewhere.”
“Busted”, she said laughing quietly.
“In all seriousness, miss, I’m a police officer so I see enough to know you really shouldn’t be running trails like this one after dark by yourself.”
“Thank you, officer, I’ll keep that in mind, but I decided a long time ago I wasn’t going to let fear keep me from running where I want to, when I want to. In any case, as I tell my friends, if I cross paths with bad guys, they’re going to have to catch me first.” He could hear the smile in her voice.
“I admire your attitude but, all the same, I still have to advise you to be careful and take precautions - like telling someone where you’re going, at least.”
“Yes, sir, officer,” she said mockingly.
“Okay, okay, I know I sound like an old lady but…”
“Seriously, officer, I appreciate it. And I promise I’m careful as I can be in the circumstances. I do make sure someone knows where I am, I don’t listen to music and - as a general rule - I don’t stop to talk to strangers.” She laughed again.
“Like you. In fact, on that note, I think perhaps it’s time to say goodnight and finish my run. Thanks for the advice, officer. And enjoy the rest of your run.” With that, she turned and ran along the trail in the direction from which he’d just come. Thoughtfully, he watched her disappear into the darkness and stood listening to the soft sound of her receding footsteps. Then, shaking his head, he resumed his run.
He meant it when he said he admired her attitude. After he'd had a daughter of his own and she'd started going out with friends, he'd become uncomfortably aware of how often women are warned to limit where they go, what they do and who they spend time with in order to protect themselves. He thought it must be depressing to go through life being told you should be scared all the time. It wasn’t that he didn’t feel fear from time to time - any sensible cop did. It was just that being a relatively big, fit guy and a cop meant he wasn’t a target the way most women were.
He hoped that she would be okay out here tonight. He’d thought about offering to run with her but knew the offer would likely be misinterpreted. Better just to keep his eyes and ears open. On a still, clear night like this one, a cry for help would carry easily across the surface of the lake.