On School Days, We Write

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I finished rewriting The Tiny Giant at the beginning of August. I let it sit for three weeks to redistribute the juices before I read it.  Honestly, I was scared to tears of it.  Here’s why:  I worked really hard for six months rewriting it, and maybe it wasn’t any better.

That rewrite was the most painful writing I’ve ever done.  The new book is about 10,000 words shorter, but more than that, it’s almost unrecognizable.  A different, better writer did this version.  I learned so much writing 150,000 words over the last two and a half years.  A lot of those words didn’t survive, and some of them are different stories, but they were all critical to getting here.

Two weeks ago, I finally read the new manuscript.  You know what?  It’s good.  I have a handful of things I’d like to change, but it’s nothing like that half-in, half-out thing I did right before it, the in-between the First Reader draft and here.  I’m all in, and it shows.

What did I actually DO differently?  I gave myself permission to write whatever needed to be written, even though it’s aimed at a YA audience.  I will probably go and scrub the one time I wrote “FFS” in the dialogue–that was just a placeholder–but moving the intensity up gave it higher stakes.  I practiced writing in different formats, short stories and etc…  This cut my rambling descriptions down naturally, gave me better economy and impact.  I made myself uncomfortable.  I took chances, and I wrote from a highwire instead of a comfy nursery glider.

The kids are in school now, and I have longer blocks of time to edit and fix the little things.  I need a coherent synopsis and a cover letter to send out.  End of September?  You betcha.  I’m excited to get there.  That doesn’t mean I’m not procrastinating… like writing a blog post about it…but I’ll get there.

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Sink

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               Officially notified, she sat down at her desk, staring without seeing.  There was something she had to do, but she couldn’t figure out what it was.  This was all wrong, and they were expecting some sort of response.  Her eyes roved across the items on her desk, on her shelf next to it, pens, notebooks, should she write in a notebook?  Stab into an artery with one of the pens? 

               She stopped at the little bottle of Higgins ink.  Unopened, purchased for some creative urge that was never satisfied.  She carefully tore the top of the box and pulled the bottle out by the rubber dropper.  The others shifted, uncomfortable at her silence but unwilling to break it.

               She grasped the bottle with her left hand and turned the dropper lid with her right.  Not that old, then.  It opened easily.  She squeezed hard, forcefully, then closed her eyes and released.  The full dropper was pitch black, the liquid form of a vaporous emotion.  She cupped her left hand and let the drops of darkness fall into it, splashing, filling her palm, small spraying dots marking her white desk.

               The dropper went back into the bottle.  She put her hands together, floating the ink evenly across her palms, like she did with her moisturizer every morning while Adam was in the shower.  Adam would not be in the shower tomorrow.  She pressed her hands to her face and pulled the color of hollowness across both cheeks, her forehead, her eyelids, scrubbing it in.  The outside would reflect the inside.  This was right.  This was what she was supposed to do.