I didn’t expect to like writing challenges, but ever since I gave NaNoWriMo a try back in 2004, I’ve been hooked. The rules of NaNoWriMo and of Story-a-Day May free my imagination, which might sound contradictory, but it works for me. I’m less of a perfectionist with these challenges. They give me a goal, and I’m happy if I meet the goal. The other months of the year are for rewrites anyway.
The main thing is what gets you to write. There are as many ways to be a writer as there are writers. Only one thing applies–you have to write. If challenges freeze up your imagination, don’t do them. If they help you come up with ideas, fantastic! I don’t need the challenges for ideas. I need for the discipline and for the freedom they give me to write what I want instead of worrying about a hundred things that get in the way of the page (for better or for worse).
Also, writing challenges have helped me meet other writers and other cool people. Like you!
In any event, here’s something for the 4th day of Story-a-Day May. (And for my fellow Star Wars fans–May the Fourth be with you!)
Oh, I’ve decided to write about a character in my novel-in-progress, Drowning Karma. This bit of backstory sets the plot in motion.
Sarah Hunter believed herself to be the direct descendant of a Salem witch. No documents existed to prove her ancestry, but she believed it nonetheless. And her power came from belief.
Sarah raised her three daughters to believe the blood of witches flowed in their veins, and as with any good descendent, each had to find a way honor the family heritage and to remind the world that witches would never be silenced again. Except sometimes a daughter has a way of laying waste to the path set before her, and her middle child was just such a daughter.
Maryl rejected her mother’s stories from the start. She questioned. She argued. And when she hit her teens, she mocked. Her mother was strange and suspicious. Her mother did nothing to fit in. The latest fashions were unknown and school functions held no interest. Maryl hated the clutter, the potions, and the claims her mother made. When her mother refused to take her disdain seriously, Maryl rushed to the local Catholic church and converted.
Waving her rosary at her stunned and confused widowed mother, Maryl demanded, “What good did a witch ever do?”
“I’ve told you a thousand times,” her mother replied.
“You’re a liar,” Maryl said. “Look around and tell me who it’s better to be. The excited or the executioner?”
A rage possessed Sarah like never before, and when the screaming and tears came to an end, Maryl packed her things. She didn’t say goodbye or look back.
Sarah stormed through the house as her other daughters silently watched from the shadows. The youngest daughter finally came forward. Their mother, muttering and swearing, had gone to the room where she kept potions, Tarot cards, and all the odd, lost things that helped focus her mind and channel her power.
“Mother,” the youngest said. “Wait until morning. The sunlight will clear all this away.”
Sarah shook her head vigorously. “She will learn her lesson,” she said, “if it’s the last thing I ever do. I promise you that. I promise with all the beats left in my heart.”
The youngest stepped back, at a loss for what to do. She knew they would all suffer if their mother kept her promise.