Revisions

I’m in the middle of working with my editor on the current work in progress. I’ve posted here before about what that revision process is like, but here’s a quick synopsis before I get the meat of this post. The process goes something like this:

‘This is the best thing I’ve ever written!”

“This is the worst thing I’ve ever written!”

And so on. You get the idea. But today, I was focused in particular on four chapters that were so bad they even had the editor confused. She had to resort to a spread sheet to figure out what was going on. All four chapters lacked a reaction to previous action, a goal, and a new scene. The problem was the linear way I wrote individual stories and stitched them together, and was actually fixed (I hope) by the end of the day.

But here’s something I noticed, that all writers will recognize.

I was so deeply immersed in the story today, that it became more real to me than what was going on around me.

My husband would come in for something, like starting to cook dinner, and apologize for distracting me. Of course it was no distraction, but each time something like that happened there was this weird disconnect where, for a moment, I wasn’t sure what was going on.

Have you ever been deeply asleep and in the middle of a dream, when the alarm goes off or the phone rings, or something jolts you awake? There’s that moment of feeling like the world just tilted, where you don’t know where you are, or which is the true reality.

That’s the way it’s been today. My focus has been so zeroed in on the characters, that I could hear them talking, that I was right there with them, and that my husband became, for a brief moment in time, the imaginary character in a story. I may have to go pinch him to make sure he’s real.

There’s always a similar sensation when writing, of course, when the words are flowing perfectly and the outside world disappears. But today there was a different intensity to that and I think it was because the focus was on editing rather than creating.

I’ve spent three years with these characters, shaping the story around them. So it’s not like they’re strangers. But today it was like they were lost and I had to work hard to walk the trail with them.

Even now, while taking a break, my mind is only partway paying attention here. I’m still back there in the story. More than likely, knowing me, I’ll dream about it tonight.

It’s getting late. But I think I can spend one more hour in their world. On to the next chapter.

A Compliment…And A Secret

Some of you know that my current work in progress is in the hands of my editor. Today she sent an email with this:

“This is really clever. Seriously clever. You’ve got 2 sequels — chapters 2 and 3 — to chapter 1, that lead seamlessly as a pair to chapter 4. Really really really well done, and something you should use at some time in the future when you give a class on how to break rules to benefit the story.”

Do you think I should tell her it was a fluke, or let her continue thinking I’m brilliant?

 

Beginnings

For the past three years I’ve been writing a new story. I’ve mentioned it here a few times, but only briefly because I’m superstitious that if I talk about an infant story too much, it dies and I never finish it.

Three years. Granted, I’m a slow writer in the best of times. But this has been hard because I’m trying to stretch my wings as a writer and am not sure if I’m succeeding. This one has multiple perspectives and story lines. It’s darker than I’ve written before, and it’s scary. Well, my goal is to make it scary. I’m not sure it’s scary enough.

My editor has her fingers in the story now, and she’s challenging me to delete chapters, strengthen motivations, and work on the scene/sequel process. It became obvious the beginning was very rough and needed a lot of work. No surprise there because beginnings can be the hardest thing to write as they have so much to accomplish.

The idea for the story came from a news event, but I don’t think I could have written it without being in a darker place myself. Without saying, ‘these are the things I’m afraid of in this world’ and then trying to place those fears on paper.

Anyway, I am hoping to have the book available by the end of summer. Cover art is in the process and I’ll share versions here to get opinions. But in the meantime, below is the beginning. The prologue. It’s still in edit but I’ll share anyway. Comments, first impressions, and opinions are appreciated.

And of course it’s copyrighted.

Prologue

The Hole in the Wall wasn’t really a hole but a dead-end shaft with a steel door that could be barricaded from within and locked from without. And the Wall wasn’t really a wall, but a granite mountain deeply fissured and hung with a dark and shadowed forest curtain. One that went straight up, creating a sense of severe vertigo overwhelming anyone leaning back, and back, and back, to see the top. Here and there, stunted fir and cedar and hemlock twisted and bent waiting to fall.

Occasionally the Wall would free boulders to plummet down and leave deep impact craters in the forest floor.

Few rock climbers, hanging with harnesses and bandaged knuckles, knew the door was there, far below them where the forest washed up at the base of the Wall.

Curtis Jonason locked himself in the Hole five days a week. Some days he imagined himself a climber suspended in the heights, able to see for miles, see the rushing white water of the Skykomish River, speckled with daredevil kayakers. Or to gaze down on the tiny, tiny town of Index, Washington nestled a mile off Highway 2 in the Cascade Mountains. But he wasn’t an adventurer. And he had long ago come to terms with the reality that his adventures were only found in imagination and books.

Instead, each day, in cold weather gear, he unlocked the Hole with his smooth scientist’s hands, slipped into the dark, and bolted the door behind him. There, he would spend fourteen hours alone burrowed into the granite, a small stream rushing under his workstation, a flashlight his only illumination.

Alone with his machines.

morning star 09 006

Morningstar climbing route on a small portion of the Wall