Last week I began a series about the year I participated in NaNoWrimo. I posted a short excerpt from my blog and the novel I began. I hope that participating writers find inspiration in my brief commentary, and that readers enjoy a peek at the lump of clay before it’s thrown into a beautiful vase. Again, the work is unproofed and unedited. This week, meet Claire, who shares main character duties with Jason.
from “NaNo Update 01”, November 5, 2007
Word count: 2877
mood: committed, slightly tense
Dialog time… not a happy fun time exactly, but necessary. Had a nasty but urgent matter to deal with Friday, and I had to work Saturday. Falling of pace is no fun, but the good news is the story feels like a story and I talk with my characters all day. That is good news, right?
from Chapter III
Claire turned the classical station down until the string section blended with the hushed exhaust of her BMW. Tympani softly pounded through the subwoofer. She hummed, tapping her slender fingers against the steering wheel. If it were Saturday she would roll the windows down to feel the still crisp March air. But today, her curly red locks needed to remain in place. Today was her first meeting with Ted Jannock. Jannock was a Republican running for Senator in a tightly contested race. Several years of public relations work and much networking had netted Claire the job of managing Jannock’s campaign. A left leaning moderate, Claire was initially ambivalent about accepting the job. It wasn’t that Jannock was the sort of Bible thumping, rabid conservative she saw swarming the country like locusts. In fact, his stated positions on many hot-button issues illustrated nuances that eluded many of his peers. He was the only Republican candidate who publicly vowed not to vote for any Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. And his time spent lobbying for stricter environmental controls gave him enough buy-in from the emerging earth-friendly crowd to make other candidates more than nervous. But Claire understood that no matter how middle-of-the-road Jannock tried to appear, he would ultimately need the support of many people whose views she personally abhorred.
The swelling crescendo of violins helped still her ragged nerves. She finally accepted the many tense moments to come: meetings with leaders of the state’s prominent religious denominations, pacifying the anti-abortionists, confronting the pro-death penalty crowd. She was outlining her talking points list when she heard a cacaphony she didn’t remember in the concerto. She looked in her mirror and was greeted by four round headlights and a chrome grille. The loud red car swooped in behind her, cutting off a Porsche driver that didn’t want to give way. Claire was accustomed to the city’s occasional muscle car owners who continued to live in the 60’s and 70’s. Despite outrageous gas prices, they continued to blast the streets in their gas-guzzling, hyper-carbon emitting dinosaurs. She considered most of them to be rednecks. They often had a Confederate flag license plate attached to the front of their time machines. The ubiquitous concert tee seemed to be their official attire. They were part of the constituency that she dreaded having to negotiate with to ensure Jannock’s election to the Senate. But to her surprise, the driver of the car now filling her rear-view mirror was black… and in business casual clothing. The apparent contradiction between her expectations and reality unsettled her. Also unsettling was the exhaust note from his car. Shaking her head, she turned her attention back to the road just in time to see a Golden Lab dart in front of her car. She slammed on the brakes and gripped the wheel tighter. Not expecting the brief slide as the anti-lock brakes regained control, she looked in her mirror. The front end of the gleaming red car dipped sharply, and she saw the rear end begin to come around. It was still gaining on her. In that instant, time slowed down another notch, and she instinctively lifted her foot from the brake. Before her foot lost contact with the brake pedal, the jolting thump of her car slamming into the dog made her stomach roll. The lab was knocked clear of her car and onto the shoulder of the road. With some distance between her car and the old automobile behind her, she slowed and pulled off the road.
She exited her car and walked nervously toward the twitching gold and red form. The red classic began to slow down as if its driver intended to stop. Claire watched, getting a better look at the nicely dressed owner. Pecan brown, short hair, mid-30s. Those were the only details she had a chance to take in as the driver downshifted and punched the accelerator. She watched the receding tail lights fade into the bluish grey haze of the highway. Watching the dog die had nearly erased the calm the concerto had filled her with. Shaking, she muttered “I’m sorry” before turning and walking back to her car. Safely back on the road, and with the unxepected carnage behind her, Claire turned the radio off and drove the rest of the way in silence.