Something happened this week that hasn’t happened in a long time. Before I met Tony, before we started writing screenplays together, I was working on a novel. I wrote short stories. I always knew I had a story that needed to be told when I could hear the characters, clear as day, talking to me.
About sixteen years ago, I wrote a couple of short pieces on Halloween. Both were for a Yahoo group I belonged to, a group of people who were Northern Exposure fans and had met on a separate group. Shortly after forming that group, we decided to have an Halloween party, a sort of online costume party where the costumes were words. I thought about it and got an idea – heard a voice, really – and wrote, lickety-split, this one page monologue. The character was a 12 year old boy named Charlie, talking a mile a minute about what some friends of his had seen at the cemetery. His words said he didn’t believe in ghosts, but I think it was clear that he did.
That’s the only thing I ever wrote about that character. Sixteen years have passed. And yet last Saturday, on the way home from the Out of the Darkness walk, he nudged me and started talking again. This time he’s got a longer story to tell. A story about loss and love and cemeteries and ghosts and bravery and yes, suicide.
So. It’s been almost a year since I’ve written fiction. Over a decade since I’ve written fiction that wasn’t a screenplay. But the other day I signed up for NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don’t know, it’s short for National Novel Writing Month, and it happens every November. Participants join for free, and agree that they’re going to write a 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November. That’s 1,667 words a day.
I’m telling you, my blog readers, because it’s important to me and because I want you to keep me honest. I’ll report here about my progress, and maybe post an excerpt. It’s going to be a YA novel, in the form of Charlie’s journal (he fancies himself a reporter) and I am determined to do it. My working title is The Unraveling of Gracie Stone. Not only is this a return to a kind of writing that I love and have missed, but it’s also a way of raising awareness about something that is so important to me, but in a way that will be, I hope, entertaining and funny and thought-provoking.