Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings. – Arthur Quiller-Couch
If you’ve taken a few writing classes, you’ve undoubtedly heard this piece of advice. I heard it many, many times, but didn’t really grasp its application until I started seriously working on novels and short stories a few years ago. I have since learned it well and have files and files of bits of writing that I am super proud of, and yet, for one reason or another, are fatally flawed and won’t ever make it into a finished piece. Continue reading →
The novel is no more. If the possible reason that first comes to your mind is that my co-author is no more either, you are correct. I ended my relationship with Ironman a little while back and with it, the collaboration on our novel. When we first starting seeing each other casually last May, I thought we would always be friends and able to collaborate on projects even if we ended our romance. But the bizarre way he admittedly led me on for months, knowing that he no longer felt the way I felt about him, and then the way he instantaneously turned into a callous and cruel person without a single indication that anything was wrong even as we were making future plans together that very morning, now makes that impossible. Continue reading →
This was not a very productive month. We only wrote about 3,000 words total.
Ironman was working full force on a side project and I, well, I have no excuse. I was in a massive slump from the time I got back from Spain until my birthday. I didn’t feel like doing anything. I didn’t work on my short stories or on this novel, or even do any journaling. I barely even read anything. I’ve been wasting time on the internet and mindless shows on Netflix and tossing and turning all night with self-loathing over said time-wasting. Continue reading →
Progress continues, full steam ahead! We have written 31 total scenes now, and we started doing some compilation and review work. I’ve also been doing some more research and thinking in general about this book.
Our book deals with some heavy themes, so I’ve been reading some of the most popular YA books from 2017 to get a feel for how certain topics are being handled. I haven’t read YA in such a long time. Honestly, I can’t say that I remember reading YA when I was in the target age. I seemed to skip from Anne of Green Gables and Trixie Belden when I was in middle school right to Stephen King and other very adult books in high school. Continue reading →
It has been one month since I posted about the New Year’s resolution that happened to me, so it seems to be a good time for a status update. Posting about the novel and talking to people about it helps keep me accountable and working on it, though my co-author is also doing a really good job of that too. If it were up to me, I probably would have quit already. That’s not to say I’m not enjoying writing this book, because I very much am. I believe the story line is engaging and relevant to teens, and I know we have the writing chops. I just have a strong history of failure at keeping myself working on any of my projects.
So far, we’ve written 16 scenes. By written, I mean we only have a very rough first draft, but we’ve got the basic conflict and tension in each scene, and know what purpose each serves in driving the plot forward. Some of the details of these scenes will undoubtedly change, but it feels good to have this amount of work laid out. We have 20 more scenes planned out, with copious notes and ideas for each, ready to be written as soon as we have the time. We spent hours each day on our Big Bend trip talking through plot points we were stuck on and characters we didn’t know that well. We had planned to write actual scenes during that time, but stepping away from the writing for a bit to talk out the story, to get inside our characters heads and be them for a little while, was extremely useful in terms of moving us forward. Continue reading →
I didn’t choose a New Year’s resolution, but a resolution chose me. I’m coauthoring a YA novel. This is an unexpected turn brought about in part by reading No Country for Old Men and by a personal and highly controversial project Ironman was working on. No, none of that is supposed to make sense to you. Perhaps I’ll explain someday if this novel is successful and I end up on a book tour.
To get in the right head space for writing for this audience, I spent some time looking back through my senior yearbook. I’m not in the yearbook as much as I was in previous years because I only went to school a half day that year. I was all about making money at my awesome Burger King job, hanging out with my college-age friends, and being done with Alden once and for all. But, I still had friends in school and they left some entertaining and often cryptic messages on the pages of that yearbook. Continue reading →
Danielle dabbed her nose with the powder puff one last time and then stared at herself in the mirror. Every stroke of cosmetic and wisp of hair was expertly applied or fixed, thanks to many hours of practice and guidance from the pleasant accent of Laurraine, the former French model turned YouTube guru. A dark brown mascara lengthened her lashes, clump free. A light pink blush gave her whole face a healthy glow. A modest shade of lipstick made her thin lips stand out just the appropriate amount for an office environment, although if she wanted them to stay that way she would have to be more attentive to her habit of licking them. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail, as it always was, except today it was higher up, on the crown of her head, and a small section was wrapped around the elastic to hide it and give the look a professional polish. She wore a sweater dress with a turtle neck, a fashion choice with a practical purpose.
That was it. She glanced at the clock. Right on time for the final preparation. She spun to the side and leaned down to take the suede heels out from beneath her vanity. They weren’t new – they were hand-me-downs from another internet mentor, Erica, who Danielle had met in a chat room and connected with immediately. Danielle had been practicing for the last few months with a pair of pumps she had bought from a thrift store, the only place she felt comfortable making such a purchase, but when the timeless soft, camel-brown heels arrived unexpectedly in the mail last week, she knew she couldn’t wear anything else for her first day. Those shoes were experienced at guiding women through this major life change. They had been a gift to Erica from her mentor, and now Erica was passing them on to her. Danielle believed that Erica had her new life all figured out. She had gone through the same fears and derision, both from those who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, understand and from self-inflicted means. She had come out on top, happy, as Danielle believed she would be from this day forward. Continue reading →
Danielle dabbed her nose with the powder puff one last time and then stared at herself in the mirror. Everything was just as she had practiced one hundred times in the safety of her own bathroom, with extensive guidance from Miss Julie Rocket on YouTube. Her mascara doubled her lashes, without clumps. Her blush and highlighter made the apples of her cheeks shiny and bright and bubbly, even when her perfectly lined and glossed lips were not stretched into a full and genuine smile, though she expected they would be this whole night, despite her nerves. Her hair rose almost a foot off the crown of her head in a beehive any 1950s housewife would be envious of, and was anchored by an entire packet’s worth of bobby pins. A scarf printed with little anchors was prettily tied around her neck, a display of false modesty with a more practical purpose.
That was it. She was ready for her moment, except for one last thing. She swiveled her knees to the side of her chair and leaned down to take the clear lucite platform heels out from beneath the vanity. They weren’t new; they were hand-me-downs from Susabelle, who had been a mentor to Danielle during these last few months. Danielle had practiced at home with a different pair, but for her debut, she needed to wear these. These heels were experienced, not only on the stage but also in guiding the wearer through such an important transformation. Susabelle was such a professional that it was impossible to believe she had ever been anyone else, but she had, just like Danielle. She had gone through the same fears and the same derision, both self-inflicted and from those who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, understand. But she had emerged from those initial dark months beautiful, successful, and happy, as Danielle believed she would be from this night forward. Continue reading →
Sun on a dirt path, rutted by large tractor wheels, bronzes our bare arms. We are the only tourists in the jitney to the waterfall at this early hour. When we arrive, our guide, Clive, greets us and we ascend to the first cascade. Under Clive’s direction, we pose beneath the plummeting water, on the slippery rocks, in the churning whirlpools, further apart, closer together, until, shivering, I hoist myself out of the cold and stand alongside him on the wooden deck in a patch of sun.
My longtime, long-distance friend is turning 40 this year and I watch her float to the far side of the pool. Away from the falls, beneath the rock overhang, white water turns clear. Through the surface, I can see the telltale signs of the age she is approaching. Her torso is rounder than when we met last, her thighs dimpled, the backs of her arms adding new heft to her upper body. Continue reading →
We are lying on the sofa in the den watching a movie. I selected the movie; he always wants me to. I sent him the trailer; he never watches it. This always works out fine because he never really watches the movie either.
He is on his phone texting Eric, browsing Facebook, texting Joel, browsing reddit, texting Johnny, browsing imgur, making memes to send to Cameron, Scottie, and Chris. The incessant clicking and the blue glow aren’t what bother me. What bothers me is that he just missed a portentous western sky, a meaningful glance between the protagonist and her sister, a book placed in a particular spot on a shelf, a close up of a dog as seen through a window. How will he understand why so-and-so does such-and-such if he didn’t see those clues? He’s mired in an artificial world constructed through images curated to reflect an ideal vision of the participants’ lives, enhanced by unnaturally witty dialogue that only be accomplished with the help of an edit button and he’s missing…
He’s missing… Continue reading →