Once again, I find myself in the middle of NaNoWriMo, and was keeping up with writing every day when real life intruded. I got my start writing creative nonfiction trying to make sense of and add perspective to my real life experiences. But it got so hard to keep running into walls, and writing speculative fiction lets me walk through them, which is a lot less painful.
I begin weekdays with a five thirty am alarm, a hellish commute, and days full of heartbreaking tales of neglect, poverty, trauma and the aftermath. I love my work, but after eight to twelve hours, five days a week, doing anything but collapsing when I get home is usually impossible. NaNoWriMo has always been helpful to make progress on stalled projects. And this one, a gritty urban fantasy set in the South Bronx with Puerto Rican characters, fell way behind schedule while I worked to get all three books in the Unfinished Business series finished and published this year.
The last two weeks of real life have been particularly bad, topped off by the end of Daylight Savings Time. Plus, I am preparing for deployment to Puerto Rico to assist on a medical recovery mission.
I may be four days behind in NaNo, but the inevitable intersection between real life and fiction might work to my advantage. I visited Puerto Rico not long ago, for pleasure and for research for this series. El Yunque and the more rugged, remote Torre Negro rain forests that house my fairies and harbor my heroine have been decimated by Hurricane Maria.
This time, I’ll be going with a group sponsored by a coalition of labor unions in New York City, including the New York State Nurses’ Association. I’ve been warned about the mosquitos, and the long days in very difficult conditions. In addition to updating my vaccines, I’ll pull out the equipment I used on my Peruvian adventure including a sturdy flashlight, a paper and pen diary and a battery operated voice recorder.
I doubt I will be visiting El Yunque or Torre Negro this time, but the memories I’ve recorded from the last trip have served me well. Weather magic and mayhem figure heavily in this novel series, and the first book contains both an earthquake and a hurricane. I’m sure there will be plenty of inspiration, for plot twists I haven’t imagined yet.
I’m no stranger to real life and death drama, and my training has prepared me well for this assignment. This material may be the most dramatic yet for my memoir, and I expect for Book Two of the Boulevard of Bad Spells and Broken dreams as well.
From NaNo Day # 8
Cassandra interrupted and picked up a large basket. “Taina, we must go to the village for our daily supplies. I’m sure you and Arnaldo have much to speak about.”
“Can I give you money? I brought some to buy things for Taina and the baby.” Arnaldo let go of her and struggled to get his wallet out of the back pocket of his too tight jeans.
“We barter and trade here. Save that for when you reenter the mundane world.” Serena winked, and the two older women left him and Taina to get reacquainted. Five months was a long time, and it suddenly seemed much longer.
Taina wore her power well. “So, you’re finally in PR. I’d hoped to be able to show you the Island.
He glanced around to see if there were any fairies on watch. “Yeah, but I’m sure there are no tourists around here.”
“No, this is the ether between the real world and the Fae lands. It’s cloaked and soaked with magick. It drips from the trees, you drink it, walk on it. Wash with it. Breathe it and live it. I’m not sure I want to go back to The Bronx.”