November! Writing season! I write every day, of course, but November is reserved for novel writing. Though I skipped two years of NaNoWriMo novel writing, this year I’m heading straight on in a dead heat to write the novel I’ve been planning since 2004.
The protagonist is Elena Vienta, a downtrodden, distressed woman who was born in Santa Cruz, CA at the Santa Cruz Mission in 1828 to an Ohlone mother (Native American) and a Californio (California Mexican) father. As the story begins she’s being exiled from her home of the last twelve years.
The villain: Ramon Emmanuel, the owner of the property she lived on. He is angry with her because she spoke out against him.
Maribel, Ramon Emmanuel’s sister, who lives in San Francisco and owns a restaurant and rooming house she calls the Crystal Ball. She’s a fortune teller when not cooking and cleaning… but Elena will help her with the more mundane chores. At least it isn’t a brothel… we’re not going there with this novel. Or… maybe. We’ll see how bored I get with my writing this NaNoWriMo. Sometimes weird things happen as I have to do crazy writing to perk up my imagination at times.
I do have a lot of plans for this novel and I’ve done extensive research in books and libraries to better understand the historical records of the 1850s in San Francisco and Santa Cruz. There were lots of brothels there at the time. This was near the Barbary Coast. Not a happy neighborhood! Still, I’m hoping to protect Elena while she’s trying to get her head together in SF.
This is the first time I’ve attempted a historical novel during NaNoWriMo. I wouldn’t do it before because of the amount of research needed. But this time I did the research and hopefully did a thorough enough job that I can breeze through this novel writing. If not, I’ll fake it by just writing around or over missing details. I can fill those in later when I edit. After writing and publishing River Girl (also a historical novel) I know enough about how this is done to be able to continue writing even if I’m unsure of a history element.
Writing is for letting the imagination run wild, for knowing your characters, for finding out how those people react to stresses in their lives.
Editing is for fixing things up and making the manuscript publishable.
Last night after midnight I propped myself up in bed and wrote the first 1700 words of Perfection. I intend to do that every night for the next thirty days. No rushing it this time. No days off. Just steady and reliable progress.
I’m hoping this novel will take me out of the children/teen genre and into the world of novels written for adults. I keep trying. I have a few other novels (edit phase) that might qualify but they edge on YA (young adult) fiction. C’mon… I have to grow up sometime! That’s why this novel is so important to me.
Another reason why I’m driven to write Perfection is that I’m writing about California history. I love the history of this state where I’ve lived my entire life. I want people to know about the Californios, and the Ohlones, and the early days of the city we now know as San Francisco. I was born on the other side of the San Francisco Bay, in Oakland. The San Francisco Bay Area is what feels like home.