I honestly didn’t think day five of this thirty days in a row writing thing would be harder than day four, but here we are.**
Which got me thinking back to the many reasons, most of them probably invisible to a hypothetical future reader of the novel currently known as Johnny’s Girls, which keep me pounding through said novel, 600 words per hour, day after day after day. (At least that what my NaNo stats say.)
This novel, as with many of my NaNo novels so far, is a labor of pure, undiluted love. At least where the plot’s concerned—not sure about the actual writing it down part, especially wheter it would all end up in tears, or we’re bound to have a long, well-deserved honeymoon phase starting on December 1st.
This one, even more so than the other novels I’ve written during Novembers Past, has so many tiny, seemingly insignificant details which make my heart pound a little harder—including random things like Art Deco architecture, women in suits, balroom dancing, topographic maps and defunct cinema halls—all of which, combined, play the siren song which keeps me getting back into it even when there are other things I’d rather be doing, like, you know, giving my poor typing fingers a break. Or reading romantic suspense novels. (It’s a ‘no’ to the dog walking today, though, because it’s raining as hard as I’ve ever seen it, even for Rijeka.)
Some of the elements which got interlaced to create such a personally irresistible writing endeavour have come out of the blue, during the few years I’ve spent forgetting about this setting, even though I already have some stories published in it. Some of the details are the result of things which, for me, are certain—like spending six years studying architecture history, falling in love with it, for life, and letting it suffuse your plotting.
But, for all the rest of it, I just had to let go, and let it come.
In the first few thousand words – the first few days of NaNo 2019 – I’ve struggled against succumbing to blatant self-indulgence, so, so hard, but then I realized that, if I wanted to keep up the pace I’ve set at the beginning (which, at the moment of writing, is about double the minimum daily NaNo suggested quota, which is not that little, for me=i. e., it translates in quite a few hours of sitting down and typing), I’m going to just have to write with it. Yes, one of the characters set their hair in pincurls. Yes, two of the characters wear gender non conforming clothes. Yes, there will be dancing, even if I have to stab someone onscreen to make it work. (You never know what plot might unfold after that!)
Oh, and yes, I’ve already used so many scenes and tropes from so many movies and novels and all that jazz—e. g., my main perpetrator is, weirdly enough, inspired by a random, misremembered scene from Inception, which my mind helpfully supplied while I was taking a five minute break with a crime novel I’m reading this morning—and I didn’t even stop myself from building upon that.
That’s writing, at least for me—a little bit of inspo, a little bit of research, and a whole lot of not giving a fuck.
But there’s another why, a why I’ve tried jotting down sometime last year in one of those misguided “mission and vision statements”. (I’m not that type of person, at least not one who would publish such a thing, but it was a nice exercise in introspection.) And that why is, ultimately, even more important.
It’s the “Why are there no queer historicals set in Croatia?” (To my knowledge, to this day). It’s the “Why are there so few non-political-propaganda related historicals set in Croatia at all?”* It is, also, the “Why do I know so much about Podunk, US, and need to read freaking Wikipedia articles to discover that the Allied forces (!) bombed my hometown for twenty full months?” (We were something of a border issue, right up until 1947. or so. At least if you ask the winners’ side.)
It is, ultimately, the “Why are there no murder mystery dieselpunk trilogies with hot queer ladies set in Rijeka for me to read?” Because I would give serious, no nonsense, honest money to read that.
Oh, well, since there are none, I just have to write it.
So that’s what I’ll be doing for the next 25 days in November, thank you very much. And I’ll try to remember the whys—up to, and including, the “because I have a fondness for pinstriped suits and because I never got to see one of the prettiest clubs in my hometown ever because it closed down before I was born, and now, at the very least, I have the privilege of making my characters meet each other there for the very first time in their lives.”
*Bless Marija Jurić Zagorka, whose (possible) political propaganda at the surface level at least agrees with my digestion. (And she was an awesome writer who could do a ship so well, so yeah.)
**Oh, and, in case you didn’t already, go out and burn something, at least in the novel. It is The Fifth of November, after all.
Photo by Robert Arno.