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NaNoWriMo, day eight

Wednesday November 8th, 2017, and day eight of NaNoWriMo. Having not managed to pen any words towards my novel yesterday, I sat for three hours typing this morning and have gained over three thousand words, taking me to 16,032 words, almost three thousand above par.

Is the story any good? I hope so, but it’s too early and I’m too close to it to tell. I seem to have internalised “Crime and Punishment” and I’m writing pages of my main character struggling with thoughts of guilt and persecution. However, I know from previous years, that it doesn’t matter at this stage how much I will need to cut out at editing. This is the time I spend bringing my characters to life until their hopes, dreams and fears become mine. Getting deep into their psyches is part of my process, and with Cerys I am very deep, almost to the point of drowning.

Am I enjoying it? Fuck yes! Due to all sorts of family issues, which I do not intend to explain, I haven’t been writing for the past four months. To know what that means you would have to be an artist of some kind, but I’ll try to explain. It felt as though a part of me was gagged or missing. The relief at getting past this dry spell is exhilarating and I don’t plan to stop writing again if I can help it.

So how did I break my dry spell? I’m not sure. It almost feels like magic. An external switch was thrown on November 1st and I started thinking creatively again, imagining another world and people. Day one wasn’t easy, but today, day eight, was. I guess it’s like charging a battery and the more hours you put in, the more you get out.

I’m not someone who usually shares unedited work, but for some reason I feel compelled to share more of this story “The Venus Virus” with you today. I shared around 1000 words last week and I’ll do the same today. As before I would love to hear your feedback if you have any. Especially if that feedback is positive. Positive words at this stage will add some more volts.

Excerpt from first draft of The Venus Virus.

“I’ll go back for her,” Cerys said.

“I don’t know.” Mica frowned. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“It’s safer than getting caught gathering outside. You head off. I’ll meet you later.”

“Cerys …” Anna started.


“Be careful, okay.”

“I will. Now go.”

Cerys watched for a moment as the eight women hurried away, looking left and right and trying not to appear like a group.

“Come on Lou,” she whispered, anxiously.

She walked slowly towards the stadium. What had happened?

Two security guards stood either side of the opening. “What’s your business here?” The voice was sharp, accusing.

Cerys grabbed her license from her pocket. Her hand trembled. “I’m sorry. I was here earlier, but I’ve lost my scarf. I think it must be on the aisle. Can I go back in and check?”

The men looked at each other and grinned.

“The game’s started. We can’t let you disrupt the entertainment now, can we?”

“I’m sorry. Please.”

One looked kinder than the other. She focused on him. “I borrowed it from my father. I can’t lose it.”

He glanced at his colleague then looked back at Cerys. “Okay, but be quick. If you aren’t back in five minutes I’ll have to come after you.”

She nodded. “Thank you.”

“Softy,” the other grumbled as she passed. “Well it’s your ass if it goes tits up.”

“It’s her dad’s scarf,” the other said. “Her dad.”

She got to the end of the tunnel and scanned the crowd. Lou was to her right. She seemed to be hobbling. Had she fallen?

Cerys walked quickly towards her. “Are you okay?” she whispered.

“Shut the fuck up,” a nearby man hollered in her ear. “We paid to watch a game not listen to women moaning.”

Lou nodded as Cerys grabbed her arm. Before they reached the tunnel, Cerys took a Chelsea scarf from her duffel bag and wrapped it around her throat. She supported her friend as they made their way to the exit.

“Found it then,” the guard said. “Be more fucking careful next time you ungrateful slag.”

“I will,” Cerys replied and pulled Lou away.

They stopped at the gate to grab their breath.

“What happened?” Cerys asked.

“Some idiot tripped me. Oh it was a fine laugh, apparently. Especially when he grabbed my bottom as I tried to stand up again. They all deserve this. They deserve it and worse. No regrets?”

Cerys shook her head. “No regrets.”

“It smelled though. Did you notice?”

“I was out before they started using them. Mica told me though. Everyone else is already heading back. Are you okay to walk?”

“Just give me a minute, okay?”

“Sure. At least we’re the regulation number now.”

Lou hissed. “They deserve it.”

“Yes, they do,” Cerys agreed.

The sun was veiled behind pale clouds and the air was chill. Few people passed them as they moved through city streets, checking behind regularly. It wasn’t paranoia if you were actually in danger. Cafés and restaurant windows sent warm amber light onto the pavement. Cerys glanced in and saw the men around tables, chatting animatedly while women in white aprons took their orders. Some men sat alone in front of laptops. Working even on the weekend and feeling important because of it. This in spite of the fact that women were cleaning, cooking and serving all around them. Of course there could be no comparison between such labour. Even to suggest that was dangerous.

Eventually they reached the meeting point. Lou allowed herself a quiet groan of relief as they knocked on the door that made Cerys wonder how much pain her comrade was in. She felt guilty for rushing her along. Fear made people selfish and she just wanted to get far away from the stadium. She should have been more thoughtful.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“What for?” Lou asked.

“Your ankle. Is it very painful?”

“I’ll live.” Lou smiled. “Don’t worry about it. But it will be good to sit down and rest it.”

The wooden door opened inwards. “Thank God. We were starting to worry,” Amy said as she steered them into the hallway and glanced into the street outside. “Were you followed?”

“No,” Cerys said. “We kept checking.”

“Good. Everyone will be so relieved. They’re in the dining room. Lou, are you hurt?”

“I’ll be okay.”

“We’ll get you a chair and foot stall. I just made a pot of tea. Come in. Tell us what happened.”

Cerys led the way to the dining room where a hushed but enthusiastic cheer greeted them.

Mica rushed across and hugged Lou.

“I have to sit down,” Lou said, accepting the hug.

“What happened to you?” Anna asked.

Lou sat on an armchair and Amy slid a stool under her already swollen ankle. “I got tripped up. Thankfully I got rid of most of the cans first.”

“We’ve had reports back from U team and they’ve released the substance into the air flow at Piccadilly and Westminster stations. We’re still waiting to hear from R team.”

“That’s great,” Cerys said. “Anyone caught?”

“No. Everything went smoothly.”

“So now what?” Lou asked, grimacing as she turned her ankle.

“Now we wait.”

Day 2

In spite of the painful buzzing lights, the supermarket was at least a place where Cerys could linger without feeling that every moment she was being watched, judged. Men didn’t come here often. It wasn’t that they couldn’t. Just that they rarely needed to. Few men had to do their own grocery shopping these days. The vast majority of adults milling around the aisles, pushing metal trollies with wobbly wheels were female and many of those had at least one child in tow.

However it was well known that the supermarkets were bugged, just in case some discontents decided it was a good place to organise. If that happened presumably, as Cerys had never witnessed such an event, men in uniform with plastic shields and rubber batons would descend and escort the offending voices away for interrogation. Cerys had never seen this, because everyone she knew was too paranoid to test the theory. It wasn’t always true that the best place to talk openly was in public and the shops were certainly a case in point.

What Cerys loved about the place was the fusion of scents. The fragrance of apples and oranges drew her attention. Her grandmother said that in her time food was packaged for convenience. No one knew what an apple smelled like or felt like until they got it home and even then the pervasive scent and taste of plastic lingered. Everyone was too busy earning a living, competing with one another, to spend hours each day shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables or to prepare a meal from scratch. Even now her grandmother joked that she struggled to bake a cake. Why learn when it was easy and cheaper to buy something pre-made?

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