Hello again, Dear Reader. It’s now late afternoon here in my corner of Florida, and I have to tell you, it’s hot and muggy here. Currently, the temperature is 83˚F (28˚C) under partly sunny skies. With humidity at 73% and the wind blowing at 4 MPH (6 KM/H) from the west-northwest, the heat index is 90˚F (31˚C). The forecast for what little remains of the day still says “It’s going to rain. Bring an umbrella,” and rainy conditions are expected for the overnight hours, as well. The low for tonight will be around 60˚F (16˚C).
“After all,” the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Bill Crossley, said with a wry half-smile when Grant tried to protest what he thought was unearned special treatment, ‘you’re the nearest thing to a VIP that we have around here. And anyway, we wouldn’t want you telling the readers back home that the Old Hickory Division is stingy to members of the Fourth Estate”Prologue, The Tonic of Their Victory: A Novel of Normandy
Despite my worries about Day 1 of NaNoWriMo 2020, I have done well so far with starting The Tonic of Their Victory: A Novel of Normandy. I started later than I intended because my caregiver made a hearty breakfast – “loaded eggs” with ham, tomatoes, and onions; bagels and/or toast; and orange juice – for all of us around 11:30 AM and I couldn’t just scarf everything down – including three cups of Sello Rojo Colombian coffee with milk and sugar – just to start work on The Novel. I had, of course, already eaten a bowl of cereal and washed that down with a glass of orange juice, but after a walk to the park and a bad case of Writer’s Anxiety, I apparently was still hungry.
Maybe the food and coffee helped energize my brain, because after a worrisome 20 minutes in which I had my manuscript file open but had a “blank page” and a blinking cursor on my screen but nothing else, I finally started on the prologue for The Tonic of Their Victory.
This is how my novel starts:
Prologue: Wednesday, July 19, 1944
It was still dark over Normandy when Alan Grant woke up on his Army-issue cot inside his borrowed pup tent. Reluctantly, he opened his eyes and waited for them to get used to the dimness, then looked at his Bulova A-11 aviator’s watch – a gift from an Army Air Force pilot Grant had befriended in England when he was covering the Eighth Air Force’s bombing campaign over Germany the previous fall. His friend, a bombardier aboard a B-17F in the 91st Bombardment Group, was dead, shot down somewhere over central Germany during a harrowing mission to attack aircraft factories near Halberstadt, but the watch ticked on, the legacy of a young man’s kindness to a rookie in the war correspondent business. Grant squinted at the white indices on the watch’s black dial: 4:45 AM local time. Sunrise wasn’t too long in coming, according to the briefing he had been allowed to listen in on at Battalion HQ the previous evening. Normally, Grant would have shared the pup tent – officially called a shelter-half – with one of the soldiers in the unit he was currently assigned to, Able Company, First Battalion,117th Infantry Regiment, which was one of the three regiments in the 30th Infantry Division. But as a member of the press corps covering the Allied campaign in Normandy, Grant was accorded the courtesy of having his own accommodations in the field, however Spartan they might be. “After all,” the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Bill Crossley, said with a wry half-smile when Grant tried to protest what he thought was unearned special treatment, ‘you’re the nearest thing to a VIP that we have around here. And anyway, we wouldn’t want you telling the readers back home that the Old Hickory Division is stingy to members of the Fourth Estate”
I don’t know if this is an opening that grabs a reader’s attention, but that is what my creative brain pulled out of the ether, and because NaNoWriMo is not about writing a perfect novel that has been revised n times and proofread, edited, and rewritten x more times but rather about starting a novel and finishing it in 30 days, this is what I wrote, and this is what will stay.
I sat at my desk for nearly four hours and typed pretty much without taking too many pauses. The longest break I took before I stopped at 3:50 PM Eastern was to consult one of my two World War II atlases for information that I needed for the above paragraph, but I am happy with my first day’s results – so far. I wrote most of the prologue – I don’t think it’s quite done yet – and ended up with four pages and 1400 words’ worth of narrative.
My daily writing goal is to finish each day with a total of 1,700 words per diem, so when I stopped writing before 4 PM I ended up approximately 300 words short of that. There’s no edict from NaNoWriMo.org that this is a requirement for writers, but in order to end up with 50,000 words on November 30, I need to reach or exceed 1,600+ words each day for the next 29 days, So as soon as I post this on WordPress, I plan to take another short break, then add 300 words to my Prologue before calling it a night.
And on that note, Dear Reader, I will take my leave of you for now. Stay safe, stay healthy, be kind to others, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.