Thanks, Mom

The project I’m working on for this year’s NaNoWriMo is based on a Friday Fictioneers, 100-word story from several months ago. This was the photo prompt:

And here is the story:

Amontillado

“That wallpaper’s stuck to the wood,” the contractor said. “If you want it gone, you’re gonna have to take the wood down then drywall.”

We’d hoped to save the old walls. They lent such a rustic feel to the place, but the ancient wallpaper wouldn’t budge. Drywall wouldn’t be the same, but what can you do?

To save money we did the demolition ourselves. With pry-bars we had fun, imagining we ripped away annoying people.

It was all great fun until the last corner, when the boards came away and we saw the tiny bones wrapped in a baby blanket.

I had a lot of positive comments on the piece (and, yes, someone did mention I used the word “fun” twice within a couple of lines), and several people suggested I expand it into a longer story or even a novel. I appreciated the confidence in me, but I put it out of mind until I was on a train trip to New York. The story kept coming back to me, and I started jotting notes. It wasn’t long before I had four pages of them, some snippets of dialogue, and a concept for what was obviously a novel.

However, I had a couple of writing/editing/revising projects I was deep into and didn’t want to start anything new back in the spring, but I kept the notes close by, added to them over the months, did a little research (part of the story takes place during World War II), and decided this was perfect for NaNoWriMo. So, I’m off and running–just over 12,000 words in four days.

As an historian, I love researching other times, but this project has another significance for me. Many who know me well know my relationship with my mother was problematic at best, traumatic at worst. She was a teenager to young adult during World War II, worked in a uniform factory, and wrote to a lot of soldiers whose convoys passed through her home town. She would talk about the homefront of World War II as if it were her personal playground, and she often referred to it as the best time of her life. (Yep, Mom wasn’t particularly thoughtful of others; it was always about her.) Her stories, though, have given me a lot of background detail that I can include in this project. So, in a big way she can contribute to my writing other than as a model for a nutcase character.

It’s probably good that she’s gone, though, because she’d be pissed as hell to recognize any of her life stories in anything I wrote. You see, no one was allowed to talk about her except her, but thanks anyway, Mom.

And something a little off-topic here: Tomorrow is Election Day, and it is the civic duty of every eligible voter to vote. Find a way to do it. It’s important to our democracy.

4 thoughts on “Thanks, Mom

  1. Provocative beginning to a terrific-sounding story–the teasers: tiny bones in the wall and your mother’s tales, will have us all coming back for updates. Twelve-thousand words in four days–you’re almost a quarter of the way through the 50,000 goal. At this rate, you might have time for a first round of editing. Good luck!

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