The Neverland is a lie and other #NaNoWriMo lessons

Posted: November 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

Last month I attended two literary festivals. This month, armed with the arrogance those festivals bestowed upon me, I took on #NaNoWriMo. Again.

I’d started this short story back in the spring about a kid who goes back to Neverland after having been on the loose in London. He’s grown up some, maybe he’s a teenager now, and the Lost Boys don’t recognize him. Peter doesn’t want him to stay. There’s some mystery around how he left in the first place. At the end of the story, Peter ejects (rejects?) Noah again.

The story had about 6000 words. I’d added a kind young candy striper at the hospital where Noah ended up. I’d let him drag his favorite Lost Boy, Hickory, out of Neverland with him. And I’d decided they had to accompany the Mulligan family to Boston and fall in with the Sons of Liberty. Call it the Hamilton (the musical) influence.

I like the dichotomy of Sons of Liberty and Lost Boys. It’s a theme that I thought I could get a lot of mileage from. I also like the possibility that the seditious writings published by John Gill and John Adams ahead of the Boston Tea Party might be satires — Neverland stories that paint Peter Pan as a tyrant, draw parallels to King George, and are being used by the author in one way and the published in a very different way.

The frenzy of #NaNoWriMo means that I have written dozens of scenes which will never make the final manuscript. I’ve been exploring the characters and their relationships and trying to see exactly how to grow my Lost Boy with experience on the streets of London into a ruffian revolutionary eventually called Hercules. There’s also a ton of research I need to do to get the names, dates, and intersections right. But the story is humming.

I’ve been working these great vignettes in that are Neverland legends about the moon and death and all the other ways the Lost Boys might have explained the world around them to one another. The legends are so whimsical and fresh that they’re currently my favorite parts of the book.

And, of course, there’s a love story. Our mysterious candy striper is Samuel Adams’s ward, a refugee from Neverland, and the key to helping Noah become the man he’s meant to be. That’s got a book jacket or query letter trio to it, doesn’t it?

The best part of #NaNoWriMo is that it’s a gluttony of creation. Just put NEW STUFF on the page. It’s invigorating and frustrating and exciting and daunting all at once. Kind of like taking on Neverland.

More on the Literary Festivals here and here.

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