Friday, September 7, 2012

Performing Literary Surgery

I've begun to make revisions to Fire and Lightning. Normally I look forward to the first round of edits. As soon as they hit my inbox, I snatch up my scalpels (aka "delete" and "backspace") with a maniacal cackle and set to work eviscerating my baby, or at least performing some sort of linguistic plastic surgery. There's something deeply satisfying--a sort of adrenaline rush for me--in devising ways to reword a phrase, smooth out an awkward passage, or hack out something that simply doesn't need to be there.

This present job, however, is not just a nose job or a kidney transplant. Oh, those still need to be done. This is also, however, going to require something closer to a full body skin graft. The meat of the story? Still love it. The writing style? Well... it has its moments, but let's just say I whipped this manuscript out in a hot hurry to meet a deadline, so it lacks a little in eloquence in a few places. That works out in my favor, really (or so I'm telling myself), because sometimes I can get so caught up in what I want to say that I forget to pay attention to how I say it. Now I'm going to be thinking about every single word.

All of this to say I've got work to do on a story I'm really excited about. (Good thing the husband is going off to his friend's house to shoot lots of guns and work on his truck's brakes all day tomorrow, because I'm going to be busy this weekend.) Since I'm a helpless perfectionist who can't leave well enough alone, by the time I finish, I will undoubtedly go back and change half of the revisions I made, and then make several more adjustments once I next see the manuscript again. But there's nothing better than the read-through after the revisions are done when I can finally think, "That's the story I wanted to tell."

Have a little sneak preview of the opening:

Instinctively she fought up, up, up through the darkness. Warm earth yielded to heat and light just as the last of her acorn crumbled away, and she stretched taller, her radicle rooting deeper into the soil to steady her tender young body. The light made something in her soul sing, made her spread her cotyledons wide and raise her face to the sun. When she was still deep within the dirt, buried inside her seed, this brightness had called to her more powerfully than a siren's song and filled her with the joy of life.  

Drys, a voice not her own whispered deep within her consciousness.  

That is my name, she thought. Pleased, Drys whispered back to the earth her recognition:  Mother.  


The first drops of rain terrified her. Each giant sphere of water, fully the length of one cotyledon and with much larger mass, fell with nearly enough force to break her in half. Yet when the storm raged, she remained firmly rooted in the earth, as straight and tall as she was able only three days out of the acorn, and her fear abated. Although she was merely a seedling, she was strong.  

Drink, her mother's voice commanded, gentle with the love she bore for all her children, yet stern enough to be heard over the crashing fall of rain and the wild whistle of wind through branches and leaves far above. Drys stretched forth each tiny filament of root she had grown and drank deeply.  

No fear greeted the first flash of lightning. The sharp, metallic scent preceding it, the dazzling streak through the sky, the shaking of the air that followed all left her trembling. A shiver of excitement rippled down her stem, and a throbbing filled the buds that had begun to swell with her first leaves. 

Masculine laughter rolled through her mind. You enjoy the bolts of Zeus, do you? The voice was deep and dangerous, rumbling like the thunder that cracked the night open in the wake of his lightning. I knew you would, my child. You do not fear the storm. That is why you will be my mouthpiece.

Mouthpiece? she asked, quivering no longer because of the lightning.

Listen carefully for my voice while you grow, he commanded. I shall speak through you.  

Breathing deeply, she stilled her trembling cotyledons. Yes, Father.

Okay, back to work I go. ^__^  (Fire and Lightning is due for publication November 28.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Welcome, September!

September has come, and I have waved my summer vacation a fond farewell. School #1 started August 20, so I've had a few weeks to get acclimated to teaching there again, but School #2 just started. Since that's the school where I'm teaching three out of my four classes this year, and it's over half an hour from my house, I didn't really feel the end of summer until now.

A recap of the summer:

  • Releases:
    • Learning to See in Fairytales Slashed, Volume 4 (July 4)
    • Dreamer (August 1)
  • Submissions Accepted for Publication
    • Can Anybody Find Me? (Dec 2012)
    • Fire and Lightning (Nov 2012)
    • Halloween Trick (Oct 2012)
  • Recreation
    • Read more books than I can count or remember. When a friend asked for recently read recommendations, my "short list" had over twenty books on it. :)
    • Vacation with my in-laws in the lovely wilds of northern Minnesota
    • a week at a music festival in the middle of Lake Michigan
    • a great seminar on teaching AP English Lit and a boring seminar on the new writing curriculum school #2 is implementing
I also copy edited five manuscripts, made revisions to Can Anybody Find Me?, abraded a cornea, finally gave in and bought some new shorts for the first time since college, wrote some little fairy tales and other short things for fun, and many other even less interesting things. 

Evaluation: Although it was beastly hot and far too short, this summer was a very good one.

Happy September!