OK, I'm going to post an excerpt of the novel I've been writing for NaNoWriMo. (I'm up to about 8,000 words as of this morning.) I posted it on my author profile page, too. But before you read it, there's something very important that I have to say.

It's utter crap.

I did a weekend writing retreat once, where we wrote and shared our work in small groups and then at the end of the weekend, everyone came together (about 40 people) and each person read a short excerpt of something they'd written over the past two days. But because the retreat was only a weekend long, and because we needed to keep things moving, the organizers and participants developed what we called THE STANDARD DISCLAIMER. It goes something like this:

"I don't know why I'm reading this. It's not very good. It's not really done. I didn't even edit it. It's just a rough draft. Everyone else's writing was so good. Mine is utter crap. But I'm going to fix it. Because I don't know if I said this already, but this is just a rough draft."

You can see how if 40 people said something along those lines before reading (and they would have, because it was just a weekend, and the idea was to WRITE, not to edit) we would have spent ages on apologies and disclaimers. Instead, before reading, each person would stand up and say "The standard disclaimer," and everyone would chuckle and the reading would commence. And most of the time the writing was fine and sometimes it was kind of crappy. But you could always see the potential. And who can criticize that?

So anyway, this is a long way of saying that the excerpt I'm about to post is a rough draft. I can see all sorts of things wrong with it and I will fix them, eventually. But not this month. This month is about writing, writing, writing. Next month I'll edit. Promise.

Meanwhile, here's the excerpt. Insert the standard disclaimer here.

Working Title: DREAM COME TRUE

Susan was walking along the beach with her dog, Daisy, when she saw the snake. It was dark and thin and it was curled into a perfect figure eight. From the side, it looked like infinity. Susan frowned. She wasn't afraid of snakes, but there was something odd about this one. For one thing, she'd never seen a snake at the beach before. And she'd been walking this beach ever since she could walk, some 38 years now. Among the dune grasses? Possibly. In the scrubby brush surrounding the marshes, certainly. And she’d come across snakes dozens of times in the woods at the center of the island. She knew that a few of them lived in the stone wall behind her house, the house her grandfather built, the house she would always think of as her grandmother's house, even though Susan owned it and lived there now. But right out here on the sand, just a few feet away from the incoming tide? And another thing—the snake was laying so still. Perhaps it was dead. Or sick.

Even though she wasn't afraid of snakes, Susan didn’t know if she wanted to rescue one. She vaguely remembered something about snake skin being contaminated with salmonella. Or was that frogs? Regardless, she had no place to put the snake, no way to carry it. She was wearing jeans, a little on the tight side since she'd gained another five pounds, and a bulky cardigan sweater without pockets. No jacket—it was unusually mild for a late October day in Maine. And she carried no bag, no backpack. She supposed she could carry the snake in her hands, back down the beach, up the path through the dunes, and down the dirt road to her house. But then what? She knew nothing about snakes. What if it bit her?

Susan had rescued birds before. Stray cats. Baby rabbits. She rescued Daisy, a black lab, who had been left behind by a vacationing family. Susan had found her two years ago, at the end of the summer season, huddled beneath one of the cottages along the beach. She had tracked down the owners and placed a long-distance phone call to let them know she had the dog and that she was all right, but they said retrieving her wasn’t worth the expense and effort. It had taken pretty much every ounce of control Susan could muster not to tell them just exactly what she thought of that.

Susan glanced over at Daisy, who was eating a piece of seaweed and showing no interest in the dead or dying snake laying in the sand at Susan’s feet. The fact that Daisy had never shown a lack of interest in anything that might be edible, be it animal, vegetable, or mineral, gently nudged Susan awake. She bent down and poked the snake with a finger. Rubber. The snake wasn't real.

It wasn't until later that she remembered her dream.

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