Well. It’s official. My novel is just shy of 60,000 words, and validated. 4 years, 4 wins. Embarrassingly I think it took me longer to remember where to validate than it did to write the damned thing.
So what now?
History suggests I’ll put this novel down on December 1 and go back to last year’s project awhile. If this one’s characters are still gnawing on my brain by mid-January I’ll return to it, take a careful read through my November efforts, keep the workable stuff and ruthlessly scrap the garbage. I expect this will leave me close to starting fresh, as I’ve mastered the quantity-not-quality method this year (I’ll find a way to keep this: he had the conversational acuity of a bit of moss). I’ve also been writing out of order, so I’ll spend hours in Scrivener making chronological sense of what I keep.
I’ll go running and do yoga and eat food that takes more than five minutes to prepare and not drink tea that’s gone cold. I’ll work on my house and make holiday gifts. I’ll shun the couch awhile. I’ll read, research, make notes. I’ve acquired 5 books on the Civil War, taken one spontaneous road trip to the Museum of the Confederacy, and retained more about American history than 16 years of school managed to instill, but there’s more work to be done.
Godspeed, fellow NaNoers.
Another little rough excerpt below.
Evie was ushered into a sweeping open parlor to await attention, left with nothing to do but glance around at the whitewashed walls. A few paintings framed in gold gilt and depicted sweeping nature scenes of unsurpassed beauty. The weather greeting her in Richmond had been dreary; if these images were any indication of Virginia’s majestic beauty, she could hardly imagine the real thing.
A creak signaled the parlor door opening and she looked up with a polite smile. The expression fled her face, replaced by one of amazed disbelief.
The man in the doorway was tall, built strong, with muscular shoulders and a sturdy jaw. He face was bare of beard or mustache and he kept his hair short and tidy. As he straightened his shoulders a little hint of a smile twitched to his mouth at Evie’s shocked exclamation.
She stood in an inelegant rush and flew to him, enveloped in a tight hug. “Mercier! What on earth are you doing in Richmond?”
“I could ask you the same, dear sister. Shouldn’t you be home, and married by now?” Her expression was rueful as he held her at arms’ length for evaluation. “You’re looking well, regardless. How is everyone at home? I’ve been worried, with Butler’s occupation.”
“Mostly they’re fine. Maman has been ill but it’s not serious. I’ve been sent away. Monsieur Detwiler has rejected me besides, so I’m not to be married after all.”
“How terrible for you.”
She shrugged. “Tell me what has brought you to Richmond!”
“I’ve been promoted to Major.”
Though his features remained somber she knew he was proud, and she hugged him again, overwhelmed with affection. “You’re very deserving.”
“We’re in a meeting right now, and when one of the aides announced a Miss Latendresse here I had to come and see. They assumed you were my wife.”
“Have you taken one?” Her eyebrows arched, surprised, and for the first time in her recollection Mercier’s unflappable demeanor shifted to one of bashful awkwardness for the briefest moment.
“I was stationed in Virginia awhile at the start of the war. I met a lady named Jenna, niece of Varina Davis, at a social occasion when President Davis was elected to his office. We had a short, pleasant courtship and were wed soon after. We have been married about a year now.”
“Why didn’t you write to mother and tell her this? She’ll be simply beside herself! You ought to write her more. She’s suffering so over everything with Remy, and with me being away as well now…”
“What’s happened with Remy?”
“Papa disowned him in a fit. When Papa recanted Remy was too headstrong to forgive, refusing to speak to any of us. We only know how he fares because Claude Bertonneau is kind enough to write and let us know Remy is safe. You really ought to do the same. Or if you can’t spare the time, have Jenna write her. I’m sure Maman would be eager to get to know her.”
Mercier gave the idea some thought, his forehead wrinkling with frowning lines. Taking his sister by the arm he moved further from the doorway, leaning in to speak so there was no way they’d be overheard. “Evie, are you in some kind of trouble?”
She chewed her lip. “I killed one of Butler’s Yankee soldiers.”
“Eveline.” He palmed his head in a boyish gesture of exasperation, sounding weary.
“He laid his hands on me and asked if I was a whore!”
“Evie!” But his shock at her language wore off in a rush as she continued with more decorum.
“I didn’t mean to kill him; it happened in the struggle.” She muttered apologetically. “Still, Papa didn’t wait to see if Butler would be forgiving just because I’m a woman. Maman intends for me to go to Paris, but I simply had to come here first.”
“Right.” He nodded with a furrowed brow. “And why is that?”
“He had dispatches, Mercier. Federal dispatches. And letters from Union Generals.”
Her brother looked as though he wondered how she came to be searching the corpse of a man she accidentally killed in order to find these dispatches, but was too engaged in marveling at their luck. “You’ve read these documents? What manner of information do they contain?”
“See for yourself.” She stuffed the leather pouch into his hands and Mercier stared with wonder. When he had read the first of many pages, he looked at his sister with bright eyes. Evie was unaccustomed to seeing enthusiasm on Mercier’s typically stoic features, and for a moment he resembled Remy. With this rush of happiness Mercier looked years younger, and alarmingly like he might embrace her and swing her about.
“Evie… Do you know what this means?”
DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?