NaNoWriMo : The One Where, Against All Odds, I Haven’t Given Up Yet.

Today’s suggested genre is Western.
Western western western.
I’m just letting that sink in, because I hate westerns. Western books , western films, western tv series. Urgh. Though if it’s any help at all I really like horses. Not riding them, mind, cos those beasts are way too big for my liking. I refuse to mount anything larger than a sofa cushion. ( And cos I’m a nice girl I resisted the temptation to type “my Husband” in that last sentence ). However, I love the look of horses. I just don’t like the idea of the dirty, testosterone-pumped chaps-wearing cattle-hasslers that ride them. No offense to my probably non-existent cowboy readership… I’m sure you’re very nice and don’t have a spittoon full of sludge in your living room at all.
At a push I’d have to say that any interest I may have in the genre would purely be in the indigenous people, who …in the biggest instance of “surely you’ve got to be taking the piss” irony of all time… were often referred to as “savages”.
Yeah, I’m not touching that one with a 10 foot pole, thanks.
However, “Western” is my submitted suggestion, and writers don’t always get to write about what they want to. For some it’s a job rather than a calling from your deity of choice, so you just have to suck it up and put on your big girl panties.
Western.
Western western western.

Hold on one second…. is “Western” a genre at all? I’m not just saying that because I’d really like to sashay my way out of this one, it’s a genuine question. A western where the handsome hero saves the farm-owning widow from the dastardly black-suited property tycoon is a romance, surely? The western where the mistrustful cowpoke is nursed back to health after his horse bolts and proceeds to slam him face first into a suspiciously large but well hidden boulder by the tribe of exotic loincloth-wearing natives and he becomes one of their clan is a drama, isn’t it? The western with a lot of Jewish people in it? A Mel Brooks screenplay.

So, for the sake of argument I’ll make mine a western in the style of fiction. That’s nice and non-specific.

Day 2 : Western

It would start with a glorious introduction to the beauty of the Wild and Almost-Entirely-Not-Screwed-Up West. There would be grandiose descriptions of sweeping plains, leisurely sauntering wildebeest casually chewing as tumbleweed do what tumbleweed do best ie: exit stage left. As a side note, did you know that “tumbleweed” isn’t one particular plant, but in fact it could be any number of plants that have dried up and taken to tumbling around in a random fashion? I didn’t. I feel like my IQ has gone up 3 points just for knowing that fact, and for extra have-a-cookieness I get a shiny sticker for having done research! Writers do a lot of research, and as such I feel I am one step closer to my goal now. Hurrah!

Enter our plucky heroine, who isn’t seeking to avenge the murder of her parents on the ol’ homestead, and neither is she part of a travelling caravan of settlers looking for the right patch of green to settle down and raise some young’uns. She’s a regular gal with a regular life in a regular dusty town who just happens to be trotting around her neighbourhood on her below-average height horse.

She meets a native man who, amazingly, doesn’t even attempt to take the top of her head off, and in return she doesn’t run screaming to the local posse and end up being responsible for the deaths of his entire village. There’s possibly some light flirtation but it never goes anywhere. I’ve read Romeo and Juliet, and seen West Side Story, and In-Laws are a tricky enough thing to manage at the best of time, let alone when firearms are involved.

They meet up, purely by chance, now and then over the years, each learning to speak a bit of the other’s language. She meets a nice farmer-type and settles down. He finds his partner and they raise a family. It’s all good, everyone’s happy.
Alas, sadness attack! Plucky Heroine become Sickly Heroine and croaks. There are tears. And more tumbleweed, cos I’m really diggin’ that stuff now.
Native man attends funeral, weapon-carrying townsfolk act in typical weapon-carrying fashion. Husband steps in front of him, acting as a shield, and it becomes apparent that Recently Deceased Heroine told Nice Farmer Husband all about her friend and Native Man finally realises how much their friendship was worth. Warm fuzzy feelings abound.

The End.

I’m feeling good about this and I feel that I’ve learned a few valuable lessons, and not just about flora and fauna.
I’ve learned that it really does help if you write about what you love, cos otherwise it’s like being constipated and trying to pass a cantaloupe. Having enthusiasm and being able to genuinely transmit that to the reader really makes all the difference.
It’s so hard to write something that hasn’t been written a hundred times before, and with that in mind the vision you have in your head is *everything*.
I’ve also learned the importance of research. Can you imagine the shame of writing my novel only to be globally scorned by tumbleweed experts for my ignorance of all things dry weed related? It would make a mockery of everything! And folks really do focus on those sort of details, cos nothing makes a smartypants happier that being able to ridicule text that is out there for all to see. It’s part of the reason why the internet is so popular and swarming with folk that really could do with a good hard clip around the ear.

And on to Day 3. Are we having fun yet?

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