Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NaNoWriMo: Girl of my Dreams

Based on the feedback I received in response to the pell-mell gathering of scenes I came up with for "Summer of my Dreams" back in August, I decided to run with that story idea for the 2010 National Novel Writer's Month (NaNoWriMo [NaNo]) challenge. I am proud to declare that I am an official 2010 NaNoWriMo winner, writing 55,552 words of the novel between November 1 and today, November 30. Girl of my Dreams, if I choose to finish it, would be a youth fiction book dealing with the themes of dreams (in the metaphorical sense) and teen sexuality in modern America.

In acknowledgment of the work that I put into it this month, I wanted to post a thousand-word excerpt from the manuscript that NaNo produced. When I finished writing this scene, I knew that my protagonist would hate me forever.

~ * ~

The buzzing alarm ploughed through Mike’s sleep like a semi truck through a dense fog. Mike struggled to free his arm out from beneath his tangled sheets and blanket, finally slapping at the clock a couple times before successfully silencing it. He looked at the dial. 4:30 am. Mike turned back over and laid the same way he had been the moment before the alarm had awakened him. He tried to remember what he had been dreaming.

He sighed. He could not even remember if he had been dreaming.

The information on lucid dreaming that Mike had been reading talked so plainly about it all. It made it seem so simple and easy. But Mike was discovering that his dad’s “official response” was turning out to be the most accurate: you cannot control your dreams.

Every source Mike had found emphasized that the first step to consciously directing dreams was being able to remember the dreams in the first place. This was a problem, because Mike actually rarely, if ever, remembered his dreams. Before he had started reading up on the subject, he had been under the impression that he just rarely dreamed at all.

One trick to help start remembering dreams was to interrupt them with an early alarm. But it had not worked for Mike so far. True, he had only been at it a couple of days now, but he had thought, even if it might take him a while to learn to lucid dream, that interrupting his REM sleep would work immediately for at least remember his dreams. He had even asked his mother to get another spiral notebook (in addition to the ones she had bought a few weeks ago for the beginning of the school year), which he had laid on his dresser with a pen, ready to record his dreams.

But so far its pages remained empty.

Mike sighed and rolled over onto his back. Even if he was failing at just remembering his dreams, he saw no harm in practicing the techniques for lucid dreaming. As he lay in bed, waiting to fall back asleep, he focused on his breathing, counting each breath. In, out, one. In, out, two. In, out, three. Mike could hear the wind blowing violently outside, hissing through the tree limbs, and bringing with it the promise of a chilly fall day.

Mike was startled by his alarm buzzing again. He turned over and saw that it was already 6:30 am. He had not even realized that he had fallen asleep! He turned back onto his back and lay still for a moment and tried to remember what he had just been dreaming.

He sighed. Once again, he remembered nothing at all.

He kicked off the sheets and blankets, got out of bed, and headed to the closet. He did not even bothering to turn on the light as he grabbed some clothes from his closet and socks from his drawer. He yawned. The wind outside was practically shaking the house with its force. He imagined that he could feel its reverberations through his toes.

He trudged down the hall to the bathroom and brushed his teeth. He did not even bother to mess with his hair. The wind would muss it up just fine. He went to the kitchen, but his mother did not seem to be up yet this morning.

He went to the cupboard and got out some cereal, which he drenched with milk from the refrigerator. He poked listlessly at the cereal, still a bit disappointed at his failed attempts at dream recollection. Soon the milk had soddened the cereal into more of a sludge than anything. Mike glanced around the empty kitchen.

It was a bit unusual for his dad not to be up and in here yet. But he could smell coffee in the coffee maker, and it was not an automatic, so somebody had been up. He paused and listened. The wind wailed and stormed over the roof, but Mike could also hear the sound of his parents moving around in their bedroom and bath. They were just running behind this morning.

He dumped most of his cereal down the garbage disposal, then went over to the refrigerator and poured himself a big glass of orange juice, which he chugged in five seconds flat. Then he headed back to his room for his book bag.

But all that liquid had him really needing to go to the bathroom. He made sure to lock the door behind him, rather than have his mother try to inspect his urinary habits as well. Actually, he really, really had to go, to the extent that he fumbled with unzipping his pants in time.

Fortunately, he retrieved himself just in time, sending a strong stream of urine into the toilet bowl. The jet of liquid sent the water in the bowl spinning like a whirlpool, the front edge of which brought an expanding yellow dye. The water kept flowing and flowing and rising higher in the bowl. Suddenly Mike found himself facing a situation he had never faced before: he was in peril of overflowing the bowl.

Mike glanced frantically about the bathroom. He could try to spin around and pee in to the tub. But he would spray the wall, and probably even himself, in doing so—or practically the whole bathroom if he turned the other direction. He could try to make it into the sink. That would just pee on the waste bin and the floor between the toilet and the sink and a little of the counter. That would be much easier to clean up after.

He looked back down at the bowl. The yellow, spinning whirlpool had reached the lip of the bowl, and he did not feel any indication that his flow would be dwindling. In a split-second decision, he decided to make the jump, for better or worse. He did a little side-step spin to the sink, only mildly spraying the area between it and the toilet.

He had to stand on his tip-toes, but the sink’s drain swallowed his golden stream readily. He relaxed. He had made it.

Then to his horror, he saw that the toilet was overflowing anyway. Water was welling up over the bowl and onto the floor. Still using one hand to direct his still-flowing stream, he performed a balancing act that would make a circus performer proud in order to lean over and flush the toilet.

But—of course, he realized, as soon as he had pressed the lever—that had the immediate effect of just dumping more water into the bowl. Or, rather, out of the bowl as it welled up over the sides and traveled across the bathroom floor. Just when Mike thought it could not get any worse than it was already, the toilet then started making a ridiculously annoying noise while it continued to belch yellow water over its bowl. The toilet had apparently chosen this perfect moment to go on the fritz.

His mother banged on the door. “Mike? What’s going on in there?”

Mike looked at the door, then at his peeing in the sink, then at the overflowing toilet, and finally decided that he had no good response to that question. The toilet continued to pop and buzz and grind and pour water everywhere.

“Mike? Are you in there?” She tried the knob on the door. “What’s that noise?”

“The toilet’s busted,” Mike mumbled.

“Mike? Turn off that noise! Do you hear me?


Suddenly Mike found himself laying in his bed, his alarm clock blaring at its highest level. He blinked at the ceiling in confusion.

“Mike, I’m coming in!” his mother announced from the hall. His door opened and she flew into the room on her slippered feet. She silenced the alarm clock.

Mike was still blinking groggily. “Sorry, Mom. I was… I was having a weird dream.”

“Well, try not to let your alarm blare for so long. It seems like it’s been going off all morning. I could have sworn I heard it before five. Now hurry up and get up before you make your father late.” She turned and whisked out of the room like she was riding the wind currently roaring outside.

As Mike shifted himself to sit up, he noticed his sheets sticking wetly to him. And that’s when he realized that he had wet the bed.