30 Days of NaNoWriMo – Day 17: Dirty Carpet and Gemstones

LS-NaNoWriMoProgress-11.17.14Where I Wrote: The Guggenheim Hall of Minerals in the Museum of Natural History.

How I Feel About What I Wrote: Really good. After reorganizing what I wrote yesterday, the rest of the scene I’d been struggling with came with relatively little trouble. There were a few hurdles to get over (it was an active parlor scene, so writing it was a new experience for me), but I think I hit every beat that I needed to (and every one that I could hit without making the dialogue incredibly artificial and overly convenient).

The Mood I Brought to the Table: Ready. After yesterday’s post, I was so ready to accept the balance challenge for this week and kick its ass. This was rounded out by excitement for returning to the Hall of Minerals, my favorite exhibit in the Museum of Natural history since my days as a littlen.

The Experience: Today was a really strong, straight forward bout of writing–a fantastic first step for this week of schedule-honing. I had to be up early today if I was going to get to the museum. And I was. I had to be out of the house quickly, so no Rebirth. Thus, I didn’t play it.

The reward for those small sacrifices was experiencing none of the vague bullshit that will often rise up to oppose plans. I wasn’t rushing, so there was no, “Shit! I forgot to go to the bank!” There was no frantic packing and hustling out the door late, so I didn’t forget to visit the museum’s site and make sure donation rules for admission hadn’t changed. At worst, there was the moment when I got lost in the museum and thought they’d gotten rid of the Hall of Minerals. But then I just took out my map and realized/remembered that the Roosevelt entrance off of Central Park West leaves you on the 2nd floor, not the 1st.

And then I got there. The Hall of Minerals in all of its old, dark, strangely dirty glory.


I don’t know why I love it so much. There is, of course, my general affection for Earth Science; in an alternate reality, there is absolutely the version of me who studies minerals–who’s extremely happy with and vocal about his totally lame love of all rocks.

There is also my fascination with worlds we don’t see–chemical reactions and ancient processes in places we’ll never know. Atoms forming into unit cells. It’s terrifying and beautiful to think that something like rutilated quartz just… happens. A slow, deliberate, silent process.

… But there’s a really good chance I just love it because it’s the least popular part of the Museum of Natural History with the most seating. It’s dark. It’s really plain. The floor is rugs; in fact, nearly everything, with the exception of the minerals and their cases, is rugs. The (poorly depicted above) amphitheater where I set up shop? Also rugs. Rugs that are as strangely dirty as the display cases featuring softer minerals–the ones wilting into powder and wafting down into unseemly deposits.

I love it. It’s so dysfunctional. How could I not love it?

I entered, took in the nostalgia, sat down to write but found myself distracted by the extremely nerdy audio prompts explaining the displays in the amphitheater, and wound up taking some time to view the rest of the exhibit and read. It did not come close to the near-total failure of Day 12 in the Botanical Gardens, but that’s probably because–again–I wasn’t pressed for time. I believe I had four guaranteed hours of freedom and relative quiet in the Hall of Minerals.

And there I worked on the scene I’ve been struggling with… and managed to work it out–managed to tame it into a full, provocative gateway to the novel’s endgame. The beginning of its Conclusion. It took a few hours, but with water fountains and restrooms just a short walk away, I could’ve pressed myself to write more. I didn’t, however, having just fixed the total mess that came from forcing yesterday’s session.

Instead, I packed up, decided against viewing the rest of the museum in favor of coming home, brainstorming (successfully) on the train, writing this post, and getting to work. I still had a bit of time before the museum closed, but today, like the rest of the month, was not about idle browsing. It wasn’t about taking time for simple entertainment.

Today was the start of the end. The acceptance of the schedule and the wherewithal to handle its many conflicting parts. Today was the beginning of making this writing thing work. The beginning of a slow, deliberate, silent process.

Published by

Louis Santiago

I'm a fantasy writer based in New York. One of my short stories, "Aixa the Hexcaster," was published at Mirror Dance Fantasy. You can read it here: http://www.mirrordancefantasy.com/2016/09/aixa-hexcaster.html.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s