A good start but will it grow to be a novel?

Photography by Karen Wyld 2011 – taken near Roxby Downs, South Australia

Extract from draft novel Where the Fruit Falls (April 2013)

The April Camp NaNoWriMo has just started and my goal this time around is somewhat complex. I aim to complete a first draft of the novel that I worked on in November 2012: by adding 20,000 words to what I have already written of Where the Fruit Falls plus edit for 25 hours. Also, because I like a challenge, I will write and post 5,000 words on my blog during April.
This target will need to be completed despite frequent interstate trips for work, and without a laptop. 

Tonight, I am being extremely brave by sharing an extract of my very rough, incomplete first draft. Below is the opening scene of Chapter Two, it takes place in a small town in remote South Australia. The time is early 1960’s, just after the British tested the last nuclear bomb in Maralinga, South Australia.

Chapter Two

As the last plutonium-loaded cloud settled over the red sands to the west, three strangers emerged from a sister-desert; seeking rest from a road seldom traveled   Even though they entered town cloaked in dawn’s light, news of their arrival spread before the last rooster had finished crowing.  This flurry of curiosity was not because it was unusual for people to suddenly emerge from out of nowhere; for out on the gibber plains others have arrived in such a manner.  Nor was it unusual to see strangers, even in the centre of nowhere, for passing trains often spewed out dusty adventurers, black-coated officials, wayfarers, those of a missionary-bend and other lost souls.  And it was not the shock of seeing a young woman unaccompanied by a man, for strong women were a familiar sight in the desert terrain.  No, the inquisitive stares from behind curtains and the gossip that raced at the speed of wild-fire were fueled by the peculiar guise of the two girls that walked alongside the woman.  For even in this era of fast-tracked change, it was still unheard of for one of her kind, for the woman’s bloodline was unmistakable, to be travelling unaccompanied with a daughter of the empire.

And such a pretty little girl, a precious rose; many would add to their recounting of the tale.  Obviously cared for, loved dearly, despite the marks of a long trek clinging to her clothes; others would remark to their neighbours later that day.  Such flawless, milky skin; came the sighs behind sun-withered hands.  What eyes, they pronounced, like precious opals; said those of a poetic bend.  Even though, in all reality, her eyes were more akin to a less precious but equally enchanting gemstone: malachite.

Once they could tear their attentions from this child, they took in the other girl; reluctantly at first.  They openly appraised this child, and not with kindness in their eyes or truth in their hearts.  This other one, wearing the trials of the road so well, brazenly strode into town; or so they thought.  With the steadied gaze of a sun-browned cameleer from days long gone, this girl kept her bright blue eyes focused on the road; ignoring the crescendo of disapproval.  Clearly she hasn’t been taught her place in the world; some muttered.  She needs to be knocked down a peg or two; grumbled others.  Such arrogance, but what can one expect from the likes of them; uttered a few.  Giving them the vote will ruin this country, mark my words; others predicted.

That last comment drifted down the street, carried by the wind, towards the town’s edge, where it floated over the unseen boundaries and fluttered around a gathering of makeshift homes.  Those still trying to catch a few moments more of sleep tried to shoo the words away with the flick of a hand, not at all concerned about being bitten in exposed places.  Others took a branch to the nonsensical declaration, sweeping the air until that unsolicited opinion was encouraged to move on.  As smiles of redemption began to brighten sun-toughened faces, they soon sensed an unpleasant smell in the air, creeping over the town.  One by one, the fringe dwellers gathered under the sun, trying to locate the source of such a rank odour.  An old man caught the eye of another, and then another, and another; and soon they were walking away from the town, carrying only the essentials.  They hadn’t needed a second whiff, for they had experienced this unpleasant odour many times before.  Younger kin, refusing to listen to wisdom, not knowing when its best to follow, moved closer to the main part of town; allowing curiosity to be their guide.

Standing unseen, in the shadows cast by the rising sun, they saw the town-dwellers staring at a trio of travelers.  The new spectators were also taken by what they saw, even if their comments were vastly different than the words that lay dying in the dust.  For rather than seeing what was different, they had immediately noticed the similarities.  Eventually everyone began to see.  It’s something in the bone structure, some thought; such high cheeks.  No, it was the way they both moved, the way they stood, a certain aura; mused one or two.  Those girls have shared secrets, the type known only by those who had shared a womb; thought others.  The girls were the mirror images of polar opposites.  Never before had the townsfolk seen such identical twins: one white and the other brown.  Only the fringe dwellers could see the truth of the matter, for it was so very obvious: both girls were in fact black.

While all this was unfolding, the woman kept moving, oblivious and quite accustomed to the astonished stares and whispers.  As she walked down the main street, such as it was, the woman took no notice of fingers clasping at almost-closed curtains, nor did she acknowledge the slack-jawed affliction that her progenies left in their wake.  Steadfastly, she walked up to the veranda of the general store, such as it was, dropped her bags and shook the red dirt from her skirt.  Leaving the uncanny twins sitting on the pile of road-worn bags, she walked into the store; with her head held high enough for trouble to find her.

A short time later, the three of them turned a rusty key in a dusty lock, entered a pre-loved shack and set to turning it into a home; such as it was.

Copyright 2012 by Karen Wyld
All rights reserved. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review, no part may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means without written permission of the author.

 

7 thoughts on “A good start but will it grow to be a novel?

    • I don’t feel brave, which is why I am blogging: I can either toughen up and put my work out there, or continue to write for my eyes only. Thanks for the support. Which reminds me, I should pop over to your blog and read some of your recent work.

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      • Please do. Also, keep in mind that most writers will admit that writing is an exercise in narcissism. We all need to just get over our hang ups and put it all out there, right?
        You are doing fantastic, BTW. Keep it up!

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    • Thanks for the encouraging words. I have many works in progress, from ‘rough’ drafts to 5th (or more) draft, but none that I feel able to say ‘enough, its done’. The fear of letting go, admitting my work is ready to fly into the world alone, is one of my biggest stumbling blocks. So you words are very welcomed. I hope that I can one day return the favor.

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      • I know all about not wanting to let go. But I’ll let you into a little secret. When you do finally let go and give your book to beta readers and/or an editor, that is when your writing will go up a notch. From that feedback. That’s why you must let go, when you’re ready.

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