I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo right now. The goal is to write 50,000 words in the month of July. Due to the physical limitations with my neck, I already know that I will not make that goal, but that’s okay. As long as I’m writing as much as I can, when I can, I feel like I’m accomplishing something. I AM accomplishing something.
My current WIP word count is around the 20,000 mark. I feel good about it, but I’ve hit a little speed bump. (I refuse to call it “writer’s block” because that sounds and feels debilitating.) In an effort to poke my creative muse into action, I decided to do a little flash fiction (around 100 words) with my characters. This has opened me up to new ideas and character traits in the past, so I figured it can’t hurt, right?
I wrote seven different pieces and discovered a lot about my characters. Some of these things were already incorporated into my manuscript. Some of them though, I’m going to go back and put in because they will deepen the characters, give them back story, and help define who they are.
My muse is alive and awake and singing in my ear.
If you’re a writer in need of some help in getting to know your characters? Do what I did and ask them to tell you their favorite article of clothing. Here’s what mine had to say.
(Character names and plot undisclosed at this time.)
My cowboy boots are unconventional, sure, but I feel most like myself when I wear them. They’re soft and broken-in on the inside so they feel like extensions of my own legs. When I wear them I feel cradled, safe, steady. Like some precious breakable thing carefully cocooned in bubble wrap. On the outside, though, they’re tough and rigid, like they can take anyone or anything on without caving. In my boots I’m a warrior. I am strong. I am sure. When you hear the sound of my boots clicking down the hall way, you should watch out. I’m coming.
When I want people to leave me alone, I wear my Starfleet Academy t-shirt. I discovered early in life that when people think you’re a geek, they tend to give you a wide berth. They aren’t wrong. I am a geek. I’m not ashamed that I’d rather be at Comic Con than the Friday night football game. At Comic Con I’d be with people like me. At football games, I feel conspicuous, like everyone there is comparing me against invisible parameters that I can’t define. Besides, my Starfleet Academy shirt connects me to her–it’s our thing–and it’s the most important thing I have.
Could Picasso pick which painting he loved most? Could Stephen King designate his best work of fiction? Would you ask Bill Gates which one of his dollars is most important to him? No. My collection of t-shirts as a whole is important to me. Each and every one of them hand-picked for a specific reason, to elicit a specific response in others. Some may call my shirts snarky, some witty, some provocative. All of those are true. But my collection is more than that—it’s an expression of who I am at any given time right there on my chest for anyone who cares to know.
My band uniform is ugly. It’s hot and it chafes in all the wrong places. I wear it anyway. Not because I’m required to do so, but because it connects me to a group. It gives me identity and purpose. When I put it on I’m transformed from one into one in the tribe of hundreds. When I stand on the field amongst the sea of blue coats and stiff tasseled hats, I lose individuality and gain corporation. For the fifteen minutes I stand on the field at halftime, the pressure to “Be the Best” is replaced by the relief of “Being Like Everyone Else.”
The handkerchief I wear tucked into my breast pocket every day is monogrammed with my initials, HLW. By handkerchief standards is mostly unremarkable—white, cotton, silk stitching around the edge—but it bears a remarkable purpose in my mind. The handkerchief was a gift from a woman whom I thought I could trust. I was wrong. She betrayed me in the worst sort of way, not as one lover betrays another, but as one soul betrays her equal. I kept it to remind me that trust is mist on the wind. Fleeting, delicate, and easily blown away.
My letter jacket has patches on it that date back to 7th grade. I’m leaving one spot open where the State Championship patch should go. Will go. I have one more year to make that happen and I’ll make that happen no matter what it takes. Excelling at football has been expected of me since I first played in the Pee Wee League. Once the coach noticed my talent, I became Mr. Football. Anything else I did, I do, is second to that. Who cares that I made a 2600 on the SAT, as long as I make the touchdown that wins us the game? I will, by the way.
Most dudes my age would rather run naked through acid rain than wear a friendship bracelet. I wear the one I have with pride, like it’s a badge of honor instead of pink, purple, and black stringed embarrassment. My little sister made it for me. The nurse at the cancer treatment center taught her how. She told me she used the pink thread because it’s her favorite color, the black because it reminds her of me, and the purple stands for courage we both need while she’s doing chemo. She is so strong. Like the bracelet. I won’t take it off until she’s cancer free.