Saturday, September 21, 2013

Western novel in 30 working days -- who knows what day it is?

This is what happens, perhaps.

The life gets hectic. The pinches of time get fewer and farther in between. Where I would have written even a paragraph before, I start making excuses. Not enough time to do a thousand words. I'll do it tomorrow. I mean, it's 30 working days, right. Remember when I started this thing? Six weeks ago? Seven? 30 days? Hmph.

Still, it's not like I've been doing nothing. It's just that I'm not organized enough, not keeping an eye on what I'm doing well enough to follow Nik's 30-day plan to the bitter end. Apologies, Nik.

The suggestions for planning the novel are spot on. The logic for the process is not something I can find fault with. But with this novel, I was not able to keep to a "working day" schedule. Today, for example, I wrote 1200 words. More than I have written for a while. Guess I was getting fired up to get along with this blog, maybe.

I sent a bunch of men from Alamo looking for gold and the Dent column. They met with Stryker and his compadres in the middle of Hell's Trail somewhere. The miners from Alamo blew the face of the cliff above the cavern where the Dents and Stryker were holed up. I thought there would be a big standoff where lots of people would shot, get shot, and fall over dead. Didn't work out that way.

This could have been the cavern the Dents and Stryker were in.

Stryker awoke to pain. At first he could not pinpoint where it came from. His brain seemed jumbled up inside his head. His right hand seemed crushed, held fast between two massive pieces of sandstone. His back hurt. His ribs hurt. He could faintly hear the sound of someone groaning . . . himself.

He heard scratching through the roaring in his ears. Someone tugged at his moccasins.

“Matt. Matt. Matt.”

He heard the voice as if it were chanting his name, breathless from the effort of trying to uncover him, to pull away the remnants of the cliff face that had fallen on him. Fallen? No. Explosion. Someone had blown the cliff face above the cavern.

Hands scrabbled at the sandstone debris that covered him. Breathing hurt. Thinking hurt. Lying still hurt. He didn’t try to move.

“Willy. Willy Dent. You come help me get the stones off Matt Stryker. Please.”

“Him what was gonna kill my pa?” Wee Willy didn’t sound ready to help Stryker.

“If anyone can get us out of this predicament, it’s Matt Stryker,” Molly said.

Weights began to move, to disappear, and a tiny fraction of Stryker’s pain went with it. Light came.

John Walker, the white Pima, was backtracking the Dents. The Alamo people followed. Nate Cousins and his gunnies followed. Lige Carpenter followed.

Waterless. Waterless. Waterless.
“Goldamit, Walker. Where’s the blighted gold?”

John Walker did not deign to answer. He kept his eyes on the distinctive prints of the Dents’ pack mule. In the heat of the day, those tracks had led the treasure hunters into and out of two blind canyons, and to one old campsite. There had been no sign of anyone hiding anything at the campsite. The hoof prints of the mule were as deep going away as they had been coming. John Walker’s eyes swept the approaches to the canyon, high and low. The Apache Takishim might not be alone. There was a time when John Walker too was a scout, as he was now, but then in the pay of the cavalry. He knew the White Mountain Apaches, the only Apache tribe never to have fought the U.S. Army. Fort Apache was on their land, the White Mountains but they lived in peace with Nantan Lupan, the wolf they called George Crook. Walker had no interest in being on the wrong side of White Mountain Apaches like Takishim. But these whitemen paid him well—would pay him well—to back-track the ones they called Dent, the ones who lay dead deep in Hell’s Trail, to find the gold they had carried. John Walker read the greed in the eyes of the men who followed him, in the eyes of all men but Carpenter and Cousins. Who were these men? These men who could even be brothers of the scarfaced Stryker.

“What now?” asked Todd the bartender and sometimes prospector. “What now?”

Walker remained silent, his eyes on the tracks of Dent’s pack mule. Nowhere did they show where a significant load—250 pounds of gold—had been removed. Still, it would be proper to investigate one more blind canyon. Just one more.

“They went up this canyon,” Walker said. “We will follow their trail to see if it brings us to gold.”

But the gold is not there. Walker backtracks and backtracks, but the gold is not there. We'll see what happens in the next blog. Maybe tomorrow.

Word Count: 33,107