I’m currently editing a novel I wrote several years ago. I mean that quite literally- as I type this I am taking some much coveted time away from my family to edit. I just re-wrote the introductory chapter for about the fifth time, and I’m reading it over and over and wondering if it’s any good. I suspect it is, but I’m biased, and as much as I suspect it’s good I’m sure it’s not.
Anyone reading this who has written fiction for pleasure knows what I’m talking about. Even Stephen King was fairly sure that his success was just a fluke.
Yet… I love words, I love shaping them, I love stories about humanity, I love success and failure and literature even when it’s total tripe. And I love my brave little novel.
Here’s the new first few paragraphs:
Let me tell you a story about a girl. This girl struggled every day to think of herself as more than just a mess of flesh and emotions taking up space and time. This girl slid out of happiness and into chaos almost overnight. This girl’s life changed in just a few short hours.
One night she was laying on her back lawn imagining her life taking it’s carefully planned course through college and into a career. She pictured a handsome husband and two fat babies and an energetic dog. Not too big of a dog. Maybe a Scottish Terrier or a small Collie. And then our girl heard a noise on the periphery and turned to see a dark figure holding a knife.
At this point the details cease to matter. What matters is pain and fear and the things that pain and fear can do to a young girl. What matters is the focus of her existence shifting away from the American dream and towards survival and survival alone. What matters is the shame, the embarrassment, the feeling of having surrendered control, fear of judgment, fear of consequence, fear of death and fear of having to continue to live the rest of her life carrying the knowledge of torment always in the back of her mind.
Let me tell you about what happens when a girl is left standing at the bottom of a dry well, knowing that there is nothing there to give her comfort or nourish her. So the girl looks up at the sky, so far away, and wonders. Millions of years ago primitive man looked up in the sky and he asked the same question. Throughout the ages that question has fueled art and industry and science, it has made men feel less and more alone, it has inspired awe and despair. And for one girl with blood under her fingernails, it gave her something to live for just a little while longer.
Just long enough.
Of course it’s not meant to give you much information. It’s only supposed to tell you just enough so that when you get to the next scene you don’t put the book down and never pick it back up. It’s supposed to get the saliva flowing just a little. It’s supposed to make you care about the main character enough that you forgive her selfishness and the fact that the book literally starts out with a scene of self-mutilation. (Which I’ve been told is hard to understand if you don’t understand the back story, which goes back fairly far, far enough that I’ve never really known where the tale should begin. I just can’t begin it before the rape, because I can’t make myself write about the rape itself in any detail.)
I thought I’d share that tiny bit with you so that you can get a glimpse into my “serious” writing endeavors. That and if it’s total crap, someone can tell me. 😀