I’ve put Coal Dusters, my NaNo novel, to rest till the new year. I know there are those who think December should be NaNoEdMo but the festive season takes over too much in my household to make the same time commitment to writing as I do in November – because, trust me, editing takes twice as long as writing that rough draft.
I know I’ll have my work cut out for me stitching together NaNo 12 and 13 to form a complete novel. I have over 100,000 words to work with – that’ll reduce to 90,000, I hope, but longer is fine by me. With self-pub there is no worry about length. With ebooks its often hard to know what page you are at anyway – is 10% 100 pages or 10 pages?
Boats Down Under
There are some minor issues for me to work out with the plot structure. One being the passage of time, which is some parts means I’ll need an hour by hour breakdown of a day to see if everything I have going on can happen in one day. In working on 13 some of 12 will be rewritten – that’s the sweetest part of discovery writing – things can change.
Caution: Sad plant in the rain
After his sister Sal’s passing Birk’s life fell into a new routine. With Clancy returned they spent more time foraging, as Clancy called it. Checking the rabbit traps more frequently and looking for bigger wild game. “What we need is a trap for some of them deer over by Blue Lake.” Clancy said.
“Not a shotgun?” Birk knew Clancy’s dislike of firearms.
“You’re just trying to get me going. We could dig a pit.”
“With a sign to warn off any one else out in forest.”
“You have any better ideas? Rabbit is fine when we can get a couple.’
“How we goin’ to catch them? Lasso? Sticks and stones as they fly over head?” They been over these ways of getting game many times.
“You votin’ for Steven O’Dowell’s running for election.” Clancy said. “For a mick he talks some sense. After all it is time for a change. A big change. Armstrong’ll never talk back to Coal Co. We need someone who will.”
“Going to his rally tonight?”
“I hear there’ll be lots of food.“ Birk said.
“Best way to a voters heart, right.”
“All the candidates have been doing that but …”
“The O’Dowell’s have better biscuits, right?”
The rally was at the New Waterford Arena. The place was three-quarters full when Birk and Clancy arrived.
“Guess not many going to show up for the other rallies tonight.”
They got some sandwiches and tea and sat as close as they could to the raised stage area in the middle of the arena. The near by church tower rang the hour and at the last of the seven peals Steve O’Dowell came out from beneath the stands to rousing applause. He was followed by Gus McLelland, his campaign manager, his sister Clara and Lillian McTavish. As they walked through the crowd Steve or Lillian stopped to shake hands with various people. When he got to the stage the audience stood and continued to applaud. Gus went to the microphone.
“Thank you all for coming out. It’s been a short but hard fought campaign and from the turn out here tonight I’d say we’ve already elected our new MLA. Steven O’Dowell.”
Another roar of approval came from the crowd.
Steve stepped up to the microphone and motioned for the silence. “I don’t want to count my votes before they are cast. All I want to say is that we can stand the gaff. Once the Tories are in power we’ll see if Coal Co. can stand the gaff when we force them to listen to us, to listen to the people who live and die here, and not to their board members in Montreal and Toronto and Great Britain.”
The audience was back on its feet, stomping on the floor boards, whistling and yelling their approval. Steve signalled for silence again. “I have to thank Gus for all he’s done, for my sister, Clara, whose faith in me has kept me going and my fiancee, Lillian McTavish, whose promise of marriage as given me anther goal to aim for.”
“When’s the date?” someone called from the audience.
“A week after the mine’s open again and you take home your first pay packs. Only then. Once you’ve had your just reward then I’ll deserve mine.”
“She sure looks fine up there.” Clancy said to Birk. “More than she ever did before.”
Birk hardly recognized the Lillian on the stage. He was used to seeing her in her plain shifts, her hair tucked away under a hat. Here she wore a form fitting dark dress, a hat that allowed her hair to fall to her shoulders.
“Sorry you didn’t fall for her.”
“No. Likes of me could never give her the things she deserves.”
“When Coal Co. said let ’em starve we won’t negotiate because the workers can’t stand the gaff. We proved them wrong. We’re going to take the gaff and shove into their faces. I’ve learned from the mistakes of my my worthy opponent. I’ve seen where he’s refused to change, to really listen to the people and do what has to be done.
“He’s done a valiant job but he’s trapped in a party that won’t listen. The Tories have listened and have already promised you to put an end to this strike. That is their first matter of business once they are elected. And mark my words we will be elected.”
Birk and Clancy sat on the railing on the ferry back to New Castleton.
“He sounds like he’ll get things done.” Birk said lightly tapping the deck with the heel of his boot.
“He has to m’son. He has to.” Clancy said. “If I could cast my ballot here I would vote for him.”
“I’ll cast one for you.” Birk laughed.
“Here take a tug of this.” Clancy pulled a flask out of his back pocket.
“Where you come by that?”
“While you was taking the piss behind the arena.” Clancy unscrewed the top and took a swing before passing it to Birk.
“Not sure if I ought to.” Birk took a small sip. It had a sour apple taste that burned as it went down. He shuddered and passed it back to Clancy.
“A bit strong for ya?” Clancy took another swallow and put back in his pocket. The ferry docked and the passengers exited.
“Warming up.” Birk said as they walked up the short rise that lead to the main street.
“That happens in June.” Clancy said. He took another swing of his flask and passed it to Birk. Birk glanced around to see if anyone was paying them any attention.
“Go on! No one cares. Birk, it’s as if your ma was always hovering around you somewhere.”
Birk moved into a shadow between two buildings and took a bigger swig. He coughed, choked as it went down. He took another one before handing it back to Clancy.
“You’re getting the hang of it.”
“Old enough to vote old enough to drink.”
“Old enough to fight and die for your country too, if you had to.”
“Dodging that machine gun fire was enough war for me.” Birk said. The moonshine made his head spin a little.
“Wish I was there for that.”
“Don’t wish that for yerself. I was never so scared in m’life.”
“Not even when the little nun first smiled on you.”
“Not even then.” He swung his fist playful at Clancy. “She got what she wanted and it sure weren’t me.”
“Sure weren’t me either.” He grabbed Birk in a headlock. Birk slipped out of it and darted up the lane that lead to his house. Clancy followed. The street light didn’t go as far as Birk’s house at the end of the lane. (scene finish in Friday’s blog)