I am using National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) as an incentive to get out of the planning stage and into the writing stage for Sarabande, the sequel to my novel The Sun Singer. Every year, NaNoWriMo participants attempt to write a 50,000-word rough draft of a new novel between November 1 and November 30.
To accomplish this goal, writers must average 1,667 words per day. At 1,938 words written so far, I am 1,396 words behind schedule. I have an excuse. The opening action scene of Sarabande must synchronize perfectly with a battle scene near the end of The Sun Singer. So, I’m having to refer to The Sun Singer a lot, and that’s slowing me down.
Prior to Sarabande’s first action scene, I began the novel with a paragraph that–like an overture for a musical composition–sets the stage for the book. Since the young woman, Sarabande, is going on a “lunar journey,” the introductory paragraph is exactly the opposite of the first words of The Sun Singer. In The Sun Singer, my protagonist was going on a “solar journey.”
Sarabande, Opening Paragraph
Fiery order of day and exuberant sun, young primroses drenched in the light of a long afternoon await like phantoms seeking night, any shade. She traverses a limestone ledge, hears marmots whistle, smells ferns, close, supported into the sky by rock, feels blue bird’s chatter—sweet and dear up from the green mountain valley. Whispers scrape her aura overhead. Scoop throw: like a Judo master, dulled light flings her away. She fights for Mother Earth, would sell her heart for her, and hears, is hearing, “There are numerous ways to live, little girl.” Warm blooded, that voice is the sister of chaos.
The Sun Singer, Opening Paragraph
Cold chaos of night and strangled moon, the great old trees drenched in sap’s perfume rise up like gaunt fingers out of the valley gloom seeking stars, any light. He shoves through tangled vines, hears small creatures running away in the dark, smells bones, close, crushed beneath the weight of eyes, feels owl’s call—sharp and true down off the black mountain’s ridge—hoooo hoo-oooo, hoo hoo, tear through his veins as mocking ice. A twig snaps beneath his boot. Choke hold. Shadows drag him down. He fights for breath, would sell his soul for it, and hears, is hearing, “There are numerous ways to die, little boy.” Cold blooded, that voice is mother of snakes.
Now, Back to Work!
As you can see from these openings, these are very different books. Solar and lunar journeys, in the sense used here, refer to what’s happening within the mind and body of an individual while on an adventure of some kind.
For more information about solar journeys, take a look at Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, where he describes the “hero’s journey” structure found in many myths as well as movies and novels.
For more information about lunar journeys, refer to Maureen Murdock’s The Heroine’s Journey, Sylvia Brinton Perera’s Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women, and Demetra George’s Mysteries of the Dark Moon.
Now that I’ve procrastinated for a few more minutes by writing this post, it’s time to get back to chapter one of Sarabande.
Novel excerpts Copyright (c) 2004 and 2010 by Malcolm R. Campbell. Moon artwork Copyright (c) 2010 by Jupiter Images.