While working on my first novel- which had a very meticulous, beat-by-beat outline in the form of a screenplay- I was driving to my paying job one morning, and I saw a girl walking along 6th by Fairfax.
She was young, I think, maybe in her mid-teens, but possibly younger or older. She had pale blond hair that had been dyed pink in the not-so-distant past, the two colors were fading together nicely. She was wearing an oversized grey hooded sweatshirt, ripped pale-blue or black jeans (isn’t it strange I can’t remember which?) and too-big combat boots.
I can remember her chin (pointish). Her nose, not so much. Or her lips. But I remember her eyes as having that “had makeup on and have slept/spent a day or so since applying” look- which might be a false memory. She had a pale complexion, of that I am sure.
Something about the way her neck, thin and pale, rose out of the huge sweatshirt, or her feet clomping along in the boots- it just stuck with me. Pink cheeks. And as I rode to work, I thought on her and, as I sometimes do, came up with her story…
When I got to work, I very impulsively ignored the scene I was supposed to be working on (I write while working my day job- it’s fucking great) and wrote a long, purely instinctive sequence that introduced this character, a sort of sad, lonely, lost street kid named Darcy into the world of my novel.
After I finished the sequence- a scant 4 pages, 2,196 words- I emailed it to my wife, a little nervous. Tonally, it was world’s apart from what I envisioned the novel as. The novel, all testosterone and tactical reloads, cynical gunmen and unheralded heroic sacrifices. The vignette w/ Darcy, sort of a sad, sweet, melencholic look at two teenagers fumbling through the physical and hormonal baggage to make a brief, real, connection prior to one of them essentially shipping off to war.
My wife said it was the best thing I’d written, or at least one of them- and I think she might be right. About the vignette, not the novel. The Novel is ok; it’s pulpy sci-fi action. But that sequence was what convinced me I could write my second novel, the one that is pretty much entirely about teenagers dealing with very strange things in an emotionally real manner.
So, yay for “Darcy”, that strange lost little girl I saw walking along 3rd in the first week of November, over a year ago.