"Character consists of what you do on the third or fourth tries."
- James Michener
As I mentioned in the post “Second Chances”, on Monday I virtually dusted off a manuscript from last year The Disappearances and began editing it. I initially wrote it last winter, polished the beginning enough to have an editor critique at the NESCBWI last spring, and forgot about it. In fact, by the time I attended the conference, I’d already written the rough draft of Aura. After the conference, I’d written the second and third manuscript for Aura (I know – I’m an idiot, even if a prolific one). By summer, I wrote about half of the fourth and final manuscript of the series. Since then, I’ve edited those manuscripts, queried Aura and Indigo in the Know, read about writing, set up peer critiques, and blogged. But I haven’t written anything new since the summer.
What to do next? As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have something I’m dying to write and am sure that I’d write it with the power of what I’ve learned behind it. But all of these manuscripts languish and I don’t know if that’s a good of bad thing. The Disappearances, in particular, has nagged me because I never gave it a chance. I wrote it during the climate of changing administrations at the time of the inauguration and now I don’t know if it’s too political.
When I attended the conference, I didn’t even know how to categorize it when I spoke with the editor. He liked the initial idea, but wanted me to go in a horror direction. That isn’t me. Because I wasn’t sure what to do with it, there it sat, unedited, but loved a little.
Sometimes it’s best to keep writing and forget about the old stuff. Mary Kole from http://kidlit.com said the same thing. And I recently read a post from a young prodigy who also has abandoned old manuscripts, looking at them as learning tools that helped her grow as a writer:
Now I’m trying to decide if it's something worth saving. This is the logline:
Sixteen-year-old Eve and her best friend Adam are the sole witnesses to a life-like fog that obliterates a Walmart, which launches them on a quest to save the world, and if that weren’t enough, when Eve finds out that Adam has a thing for her, her insistence that they remain friends means that she may lose him forever.
But the saving-the-world part is where it gets murkier. I don’t know if it’s compelling or hokey or what. The premise is that if we put politics aside, what would be best for the planet? If a being/God/Mother Nature weren’t happy with the state of our planet, what changes would she demand?
The teen stuff is easier. Adam likes Eve, but she likes Brad, until Brad turns out to be a creep. Adam stops being friends with Eve until he has to work with her because of the whole saving the world thing. The relationship part is solid. I think.
I’ve exorcised “was”. I’m showing, rather than telling. My sentences vary (Well, not in this paragraph). I think Eve has a distinct voice. My grammatical mistakes may even be at a minimum. I’ve edited the beginning a gazillion times in my days off. (I’m bad at math, so I don’t know if “gazillion” a real number, but numbers are infinite, then every word has to be a number. Right?)
Here’s the beginning. I’d LOVE if you’d give me feedback on the premise, beginning, title, or anything else.
Walmart was the first to disappear. It started off as an ordinary night, but the chain of events that began with one local Walmart was something I could never have made up - I’m not that good of a writer.
I sat with my knees folded on rickety olive recliner, with Adam sprawled at the foot of it. We were supposed to be finishing a boring book by reading alternating chapters and sharing them.
Adam stared out the window, when I snapped; “It’s not fair if I’m the only one reading. The report’s due tomorrow, remember?”
“Relax, Eve. We only have a few more pages to go and I’m sure whatever we turn in will be as good anyone else’s in the class.” He turned back to the window.
“You’re not even trying to finish!” I complained.
Adam got up and peered through the glass. “It’s so weird out there. Take a look.”
“What’s weird?” I asked as I joined him, but he didn’t have to answer. There was a fog wrapping itself around everything outside - houses, trees, cars, mailboxes. It was so thick; you’d believe that it would have substance if you touched it.
“Look up,” Adam said and I did. The sky was sprinkled with stars and a moon that shone like the sun. That wasn’t the sky you’d normally get on a foggy night.
“What is it?” I felt my skin prick in the warm room.
“Let’s find out.”
I didn’t complain about not completing the book or the report, because I knew something out of the ordinary was going on and that Adam wanted to be a part of it.