Well, the flu is almost gone and I’ve made it over the 50,000 word hurdle!
I’m still completely out of routine and exhausted from coughing so I’ll keep this brief.
Thank you to those who commented last week with updates on their work. It was so lovely to hear from you.
We really do care about how your work is progressing so please take a moment to comment below and let us know how your week went. We’re all in this together and love cheering our fellow writers on.
Yesterday, as I passed 49,000 words, I suddenly came up with a novel-changing idea which means I’ve basically got to scrap everything and start back at square one…and I’m so excited! The new idea requires a completely different format, and my snippet today is a sneak peak at that format.
So, here goes. Please remember this is a rough draft.
For all those who remember Edward’s previous run in with the gas stove, here is his tried and true method for turning the gas on.
1. Roll up sleeves. This prevents the likelihood of your clothes catching fire.
2. Position yourself far enough away from the stove so that your hand can reach the knob but you’re still at a distance which protects your eyebrows and various other singe-able parts of your person.
3. Hold down the knob. When you hear the clicking sound, turn the knob. The flames will gush out with force. Hold your nerve and proceed to step four.
4. Depress the knob several times in quick succession. This is to ensure the flames ‘catch’ and don’t go out the second you take your hand off the knob.
5. Once you have a good blaze going, keep holding the knob down and turn it until you’re happy with the size of flames. (You’re never going to get perfectly obedient flames so just resolve yourself to fast cooking and pick a reasonable flame height. Suggestion: 2cm is probably the smallest you’re going to get.)
6. Gently and slowly release the knob. Hopefully your flames will remain. If not, repeat steps 3 to 6.
NOTE: If you do at some point need to open the cupboard under the stove, do so slowly and carefully. If opened too quickly, the suction of air will blow gas flames out and you will need to start at step 1 again.
Now, please share with us a snippet from your writing this week. It doesn’t have to be polished, just something you liked.
Remember, everyone is welcome to join in. You don’t have to be doing NaNo WriMo, and you don’t have to be writing a first draft. Share a snippet and feel proud of it.
November 30, 2011 at 9:21 am
You are such a star, i am definitely doing this next year and it must have been a fantastic moment when you got your breakthrough.. well done jessica, you must be so proud of yourself!!
November 30, 2011 at 9:51 am
It was a fantastic moment as I was feeling quite disappointed about how things had gone in the story up until that point. It was a great reminder to keep plugging away at your novel until you find the answer. 🙂
Looking forward to next year. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!
December 2, 2011 at 6:49 am
Hooray for you for finishing, flu and all!
December 5, 2011 at 9:32 am
Thanks, Charlotte! 🙂
January 23, 2012 at 10:03 am
I’m really curious to see how your new idea will affect your story, how the directions for ‘correctly’ turning on the stove will fit into this new idea, and…could I maybe read the 50,000+ words you’re intending to scrap? I loved the few hundred or so at a time that I got to see.
See…that’s sort of what I’m doing as well…dabbling around with fanfiction, playing with the story and pounding out the rough ideas while planning out my publishable story. I declared my novel in the appropriate section, and it included my major I’ve-got-to-scrap-everything-I’ve-written-so-far-and-start-over idea…which, is the fact that his little girl is deaf – in THIS version of the story – which will definitely change the WHOLE story. The fanfiction version of the story that I’ve been writing is about a young man who unexpectedly finds out he has a (hearing) daughter, and what it’s like to plunge into fatherhood in these rather unusual circumstances (as well as lots and lots of short stories about the main character’s background, as well as one that journeys into the future, showing the kind of man and father he later became). Um…I had a point. I lost it. Anyhow, I understand how it is to write thousands and thousands of words and then realize…”I’ve got to change everything.” It’s an exhilarating rush of hyper-inspiration that causes an incredible euphoria…which is good, because, if it wasn’t, it would be very easy to become completely depressed and daunted at the prospect of starting all over. But, I suppose, in my case, it’s helpful that I’d already PLANNED on starting all over…adapting from fan-based characters and situations, to one *I’ve* made up. It’s still terrifying…but, I’m making a valiant, nail-biting attempt at psyching myself up.
Anyhow…got another snippet for you: 😀
She’d seen him standing there. He came in often, and she’d seen some of the librarians telling him sternly to go home, though she couldn’t fathom why. Such a small boy…a tiny boy with hungry…starving, soul-deep eyes. She didn’t know his story, but just at the sight of him, something ached. She’d seen him standing there, watching her. Shelving books wasn’t a terribly interesting thing to watch, particularly for a small child…and these weren’t children’s books. He wouldn’t damage books, would he? That would be one reason for the other librarians to send him on his way – if he wouldn’t listen when told how to treat the books properly, that is. But, somehow, though she knew nothing about him, she couldn’t visualize him being cruel to the pages of her books. The library’s books, she corrected herself. Three times, she almost turned to speak to him. But, in the end, it was he who spoke first.
“Can I help?” Tiny. Tentative. Almost eager, but a little afraid. She stopped stock still and looked at him, taking stock. She’d tried to guess his age before, but it baffled her. From his size, he could have been as young as three…though four or five would be more likely. This was the first time she’d heard him speak, so she’d had no opportunity to analyze his level of word pronunciation or sentence forming. Heartbreakingly, something about him seemed hardened, in a way that made her think sixteen and forty simultaneously. But, there was a tiredness too. In this tiny, little boy, there was a tiredness that was older than the trees which had been felled and milled to print the oldest book in the library.
“What’s your name?” she asked, curiosity coloring her own inflection, for she was so curious about this little oddity of a boy.
“Jess Mariano.” He said the syllables very distinctly, as if they’d been practiced carefully, perhaps to recite to teachers in school. She blinked at him, a hint of a smile flickering in her eyes.
“Where is your mother?” This question caused the child to stiffen, eyes dropping to the floor and little brow creasing in trepidation, feet shuffling and thumbs squirming around, sticking just outside his pockets. On a child that small, thumbs ought to be chubby. Her eyes returned to his face as he struggled with the question. It wasn’t a question a child should have to struggle with.
“She said I could come in here,” he volunteered at last, as if he’d hit upon something he could say that might be helpful, his face brightening with mild hopefulness.
“Yes, but where is she?” the young librarian reiterated. His face fell. He looked woefully at the shelves of books, scanning their covers, as if he knew he would be banished from their presence once again at any moment, and he almost couldn’t bear the separation. Finally, he shrugged, shoulders high with the completeness of his ignorance about his mother’s whereabouts. The young woman felt a pang, worrying that such a little mite had no clue where his mother might be. Maybe there was some other explanation. Maybe he lived with his father…or grandparents…maybe… She decided not to press the matter, since it seemed to cause him distress.
“She did say I could come in here,” he repeated, less hopefully, but nonetheless insistently. “Can I help?” he asked again. He watched her as she considered this, eyes on the precious volumes, some of which were so old as to be worn and fragile. “I can be careful. I can be very careful!” he assured her. A smile broke out over her lovely face.
After a moment’s further consideration, she conceded. “You can hand them to me from the box,” she told him, thinking this would satisfy the little one…let him feel helpful. The twist of his mouth gave away the fact that he would do this, if it was all he were allowed to do; but, that it wouldn’t satisfy whatever craving drove him to this helpful impulse.
“Can I put them on the shelves?” he suggested in an almost mournful tone, plainly certain in a sort-of time-tested way that she would tell him no.
“Well, you see,” she explained, “they have to be put on the shelves in a particular order, and lined up in a certain way. So, I’m afraid, I’ll have to do it, but if you’ll hand them to me, I can work faster.” His shoulders didn’t seem to find this satisfactory and shifted themselves this way and that along with his worried eyebrows.
“I know it’s the last name is important,” he volunteered, eyes large and determined. He didn’t seem to like talking, but obviously, proving himself on this point was so vital that he overcame this aversion. She stared at him. “And, sometimes it comes first, but not on the…” He seemed to be searching for a word. “Skeleton,” he said decidedly. Her lips threatened to smile, though she knew that amusement at a mistake was unkind, so she softened the smile, and her eyes were gentle.
“Do you mean the spine?” she offered. He nodded.
“Sometimes it comes first on the plastic on the…spine…but, not… But, not on the front, or the spine with the name of the book.” Very intent to get the words right, so that he might be allowed to help in the way he wanted to help, he plead his case eloquently. “And I know to make them very straight. I think the spine should touch the front of the shelf…but, Addison says she likes them backed-up so there’s a space…like this.“ He held his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart to show the distance. “But, I like them like here.” He pointed to the books lined up so that the spines were flush with the shelf’s edge, but not touching them with his pointed finger, in case that might be considered an affront. The young librarian’s eyes were opened wide, in pleased wonder.
“How old are you, Jess?” she smiled, realizing that it was probably as simple as asking. After a moment’s deliberation, which seemed to be a debate whether this was something he should tell her, boy held up four lean fingers. It was hardly believable. Four years old? Couldn’t be. Just couldn’t be. She laughed quietly, surprised that it came out sounding more like a sob. She wanted to bring this child home. She wanted to keep him. She wanted to make his thumbs chubby and make sure he never again shrugged with his shoulders nearly up to his ears when somebody asked him where his mother was. She wanted to give him rest and play and happiness so he could never hold up four fingers, but look older than trees.
Suddenly she realized that there were tears trickling down her face, and the little boy with the soul-deep eyes was looking at her as if he was scared he put them there. She smiled deliberately, very broadly and very bright, giving again the laugh-sob.
“You can help me, Jess,” she assured him, brightly but with a breaking, thin voice. “You can help me any time you want.”
January 23, 2012 at 10:25 am
Aww! A little Jess. That is so cute! And wonderful descriptions. I especially loved how she felt he was older than trees. So well put! A moving insight into both characters.
I’m glad you found a way to take this story and make it your own, especially with a theme of getting to know and understand a deaf child – perfect for you and your writing style. I look forward to hearing more about it as you continue writing.
Regarding my draft, unfortunately the other 50,000 words are woeful. The only way I could get through them was by convincing myself that I’d never have to show them to anyone else. I’m much happier with what’s coming out in the reimaginined version.
Once it’s at a stage where I’m happy for some feedback, I’ll send it through to you. 😉
March 14, 2012 at 4:08 pm
Oh, thank you! I saw these lovely words of response quite some time ago, and somehow never responded to them. Sorry.
I hope I can someday get my Creativities to turn toward my actual, all-mine story. They tend to get a bit snippy when I try to convince them that what they’ve been cherishing so deeply is anything less than completely theirs. They’ve adopted the characters, and so don’t think that it should matter one iota that someone else gave birth to them. “They’re mine because I love them!” I patiently try to explain things about copyright and lawsuits, etc. etc. ad nauseum, but they don’t like to listen. I coax them telling them that they’ve got perfectly lovely, completely original ideas all fresh and waiting for them, but they testily inform me that they’re “not finished!” with the ones they’re working on. *sigh*
As soon as you’re ready for feedback, let me know. 🙂
March 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm
It sounds like you have a lot of words in your head that have to come out before the other original ideas can get their own air time. My suggestion is: If there are words willing to come out, run with it! You can always play around with them, edit them or add them to another project somewhere down the track. 😉
January 23, 2012 at 9:46 pm
Aw nuts… I was tearing up! That’s beautiful! Just beautiful!
Now I’m going to have to find your Novel Declaration…
Wow… I’m so glad that you are working on something to be able to tell this story … or at least the distant cousin of this story. If there were a whole version of your excepts available in published form, I would have already whipped the credit card and ordered it express post! 😀
March 14, 2012 at 4:39 pm
What a beautiful compliment, Melissa! You make me feel like a fully published author! You make me believe that someday someone will be able to whip out their credit card and order my book/s express post…*ecstatic twirl*!
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March 14, 2012 at 5:17 pm
*Cool* wouldn’t have been the descriptor Jess would have chosen for Stacy Bromowitz. Not unless it was followed by the qualifiers *calm* and *collected.* She had dark hair and dark eyes, a lean face and an eerie, silent, unflappable demeanor. He would have guessed her age at about forty…a well-kept forty, but forty nonetheless. At a glance, Jess took her for a woman who had always wanted children, but had been too busy with her education and career to bother with a man, and so the time for children had come and gone…or so nearly so that it didn’t make much difference. Like a lot of therapists, he would have guessed that she helped other people with their problems in order to convince herself that she didn’t have any of her own…particularly that helping people filled up a void that she couldn’t acknowledge without great pain.
His mouth twitched and he glanced at the floor, amused that he was analyzing the analyst. It was a distraction to allay his own nerves as he stood there watching her on the phone. She was already in mid-conversation when he walked in the door and a tiny, electronic bell announced his presence to her. She’d looked up, half-smiled a *please be patient with me–I’ve gotta take this* kind of smile, and gestured to the same effect…that hopefully she would just be a few moments. She spoke very little, but was actively *mmm-hmmming* every few seconds into the telephone.
The *wants children* part came more from a perusal of the office…an open space with bright, natural murals all over the walls–he had to assume this was Sasha’s work; and it was *very* impressive. As he looked around, lips bitten to the side, taking this in, he couldn’t help but wonder how she could possibly paint any *more* “pictures” for the office. The walls were full. He wondered if this was any reflection on Sasha’s mental health, and what sort of rate-of-exchange they had going. The mural was mostly landscape, a gradually changing panorama that spanned the ocean and beaches, deserts, prairies and glens melting into pine forests and redwoods, redwoods changing to skyscrapers and then suburban sprawl. Through it all were the playful, mostly laughing figures of children, faces bright – some peeking out from behind trees, others swimming, a couple were turning cartwheels, others somersaults, jumping rope, drawing, watching animals, reading… His eyes lingered on the figure of the girl sitting on a bridge with a fishing pole and a book. His chest tightened. It was her who’d finally gotten him to come here. He’d finally taken the post-it note from the fridge with shaking hands, a pulsing headache pounding in his brain, and made himself take the phone from the wall and dial the number. He’d taken deep breaths to try to calm the shaking and the hammering of his heartbeat as he clutched the phone to his chest and closed his eyes. He couldn’t focus on anything, and the breathing wasn’t helping. He couldn’t sleep at night, so he’d slept well into the morning, only waking with the blast of a gun ringing in his ears, tremors taking his whole body.
Looking at the serene brown haired girl, dangling her feet into the ripples of the stream, the dream flashed vividly before his eyes. He was standing in the middle of the gazebo…but it was in New York, the roar of the traffic and the billion shops. She was standing there in front of them with eyes of ice. He opened his mouth to talk to her…to explain, but he had no tongue. An old woman had cut out his tongue. *Too many lies. Better that you don’t speak.* And, now he couldn’t. His throat couldn’t utter a sound. She stared at him, mouth set in a hard line, determined that he should speak first. Finally she burst forth, voice shuddering with anger, “*Talk, Jess!*” His eyes grew wild as his mouth gasped and struggled to try to form words. He was a goldfish. His mouth would only open and close. “*Talk!*” His eyes plead with her. “*I said, TALK!!!*” He looked at her helplessly. “Fine,” she said with quiet, determination, opening her backpack and pulling out a revolver. He stood frozen in place by her cold, cold eyes. She shot him point-blank in the face.
He had to make the call. A woman’s voice answered…pleasant voice. “Yes?”
“Um…” His tongue worked now, even if it was choking a little and swallowing back the hitching and shaking as best it could. “Is this Stacy?”
“Yes,” she replied calmly, “Yes it is.” No more words came for the moment. Couldn’t even open his mouth. “Is there something I can help you with?”
“Um…” He bit his lips together and the choking at the back of his throat was *not* helping matters. He tried to clear his throat, but his voice came out raspy…still sleep-ridden…among other things. “Sasha…” shallow breaths, “Sasha said I should call…uh…” He tried to breathe slower. “She s…sss…” This was really bad.
“I’ve had a couple of last-minute cancellations this afternoon. Would you like to come in and see me in a couple of hours?” A lightheadedness struck him, and he reached out to the handle of the refrigerator door to steady himself.
“Yes.” It was the surest he’d heard a word from his own mouth in weeks, despite the swirling trepidation behind it.
She set the phone into it’s cradle and he looked up suddenly at the *click.* She took a deep breath and smiled. “Sorry about that,” she began. “Occupational hazard.” He nodded with an almost-smile. “My name is Stacy Bromowitz,” she said with a bright though reserved openness, extending her hand which he shook, finding it soft, though bony with a firm grip, “what’s yours?”
“Jess Mariano.” Her eyebrows raised a little at this.
“Any relation to Jimmy?” He could tell that the question wasn’t so much to confirm the obvious, but rather to determine what sort of relation. Between the name and the face, blood relation was no question.
Jess’ head dipped and he scraped his teeth along his lower lip, nodding. “His son.” He could see that she tried not to let her eyebrows raise in surprise at this, but couldn’t prevent the quick blinking as she took it in. She didn’t compromise her professionalism, but behind the carefully monitored unchanging expression, Jess could see the concern as Sasha’s friend.
“I didn’t know Jimmy had any kids. Are you his only child?” She had a detached way of asking questions that would have put a less perceptive person completely at their ease. It would have been easier if Jess didn’t see the casual inquiry as a subtle *let the session begin.*
He shrugged lightly with a casual nod. “That I know of.” He watched her eyes drawing conclusions even as her features remained unmoved, as if this was all merely an exchange of pleasantries.
“So, have you come for a visit…to see your father?” she prompted, a bit more slowly than the other questions had been posed. Jess tipped a noncommittal, uninformative nod. Her expression gave away even less. “Well, it’s wonderful that you can come and spend some time with him. Has it been a long time?…I mean, since you’ve seen him last?”
Jess’ lips turned up slightly as if subtly amused. “You could say that.” Jess knew that if any of this was going to benefit him, he would have to be more forthcoming at some point, but, for now, he was getting a feel for her. Besides, if she couldn’t draw him out, then this whole endeavor was likely a waste of time.
“Where are you from?” Somehow this felt a little less like your usual, first acquaintance type question. Sure, it was completely normal to ask someone where they lived or where they grew up…just… She was a professional. She wasn’t someone he had just met and was somehow actually talking to. She was a shrink. It was her job to pry him open like an oyster. He knew that if she got inside, she would find plenty of irritation, but no pearl. Jess could sense his mental heels digging in and his mouth tightened, the spark in his eye suddenly losing its luster.
“New York.” He felt his jaws tighten. Somehow just the vocalization of the place did it…or rather, the non-vocalization of the specifics…the kinds of places he’d lived in New York, and where he’d lived since. All his muscles constricted a hair’s breadth, as if on-the-ready for some threat and ready to be blamed for all his shortcomings.
“So…you live with your mother?” she inquired, her manner as if she was holding a clip-board and checking boxes yes or no. She held no clipboard. Her well manicured hands seemed perfectly capable of ease and unfettered smooth motion without any excuses…nothing to hold, no need to be folded together or loosely clasped in front or behind. Serene in a way that Jess could not understand.
“Lived,” he corrected succinctly.
“You mean, you don’t live there any more? You’re moving here permanently?” Stacy asked.
Jess looked off into the distance, over her shoulder, almost shaking his head, as if this were part of his reply. One shoulder raised in a portion of a shrug. “Not permanent. Haven’t really settled on a destination. Haven’t lived with my mom in over a year, though.”
She nodded slowly, taking in the implications of his terse statements. “Where have you lived for the past year?”
He swallowed. “Mostly with my uncle in Connecticut.” He could see her store the “mostly” for later.
“What made you decide to come here?” It seemed like such an innocuous question, not like something he’d been asking himself once or twice or three times in every mile, over the course of 2,994 miles.
March 14, 2012 at 8:23 pm
I love your descriptions of hands, especially how her hands are at rest and Jess can’t understand them. Fascinating character insights. 🙂
Yes, you’ve definitely got interesting words which have to come out!
March 15, 2012 at 5:13 pm
Why, thank you, m’dear! 😀 I’ve got to move down to the hands every so often. There’s only so much I can describe in the motions of eyebrows, lips and shoulders. That’s where most of my descriptions seem to center…with occasional mentions of jaws tightening, something about the eyes themselves, or somebody scratching their chin, eyebrow or the back of their neck. I keep trying to broaden my description horizons. Perhaps, eventually I’ll be adventurous enough to regularly describe conversations that take place while people are actually *doing something*! *cue dramatic music* LOL
Thank you very much for the compliment. Not meaning to belittle it at all. I’m just ever-so-slowly moving away from the “talking heads” as Amber calls them. And, in writing what I did about the therapist’s hands, I realize how impossible I find it to have my hands at rest, and how I marvel at people who are able to manage it. So, it wasn’t too difficult to put that thought process into the main character’s head. 🙂
And, I’m quite sure you’re right. I’ve got to keep bleeding the words out and figure out what to do with them all at some point. *shrug*
Thank you for all the wonderful inspiration you give me with your blog!
March 15, 2012 at 4:35 pm
That’s tremendous!! I can’t understand how adeptly you flow: from last night’s dream, in the office, making the phone call, back to the office. Not once did I need more than a moment to work out which timeline had been snuck back to. That’s very skilful. I salute thee!!
And again, the emotion is strong, pulsating, but never once dissolves into saccharine. How do you do it???
Your No. 1 Fan,
March 15, 2012 at 5:21 pm
What is below this was meant to be a reply to you…I just typed it in the wrong box. *silly me*
I meant to ask…maybe it’s really obvious…but did you understand the dream? Where it came from, I mean? Probably so obvious (given the background you know) that it’s silly of me to ask. *shrinks back feeling a little foolish*
March 15, 2012 at 5:43 pm
don’t shrink!!!!!! It’s a natural concern for the creator to need confirmation that we have understand all the nuances!!
I do believe I got it. The backpack, the book, the eyes… Rory, right?
Actually, I was thinking how well that dream fits in with the episode where Jess returns for his car, and keeps running into Rory but leaving without talking. Then, after an entire day of this, they meet once more and this time Rory insists on being the one to run away, resulting in and very funny chase and one of the cutest, most serious, shortest conversations in the history of the entire series!!! (and one that does not involve shooting… just to clarify for any concerned readers of these comments…)
March 15, 2012 at 6:01 pm
ROFL!! No, no literal shooting…definitely not. Right character, but the incident you’re referring to hasn’t happened yet (and, the dream isn’t meant to predict the future either, lol) It was actually meant to represent the one-sided conversation he heard from the phone booth in California. So…not so obvious, I guess. Which is kind of a good thing. Though you probably would have guessed it if I gave more clues as to when and where this scene took place.
March 15, 2012 at 6:09 pm
oopsie, sorry, no, I wasn’t thinking it fitted in with the scene in terms of order-of-events. Just that his dream reminded me of the scene…
I had the actually timing correct, but I have to admit that I had forgotten the phone call… or should I say multitude of phone calls… from which Jess’ tongue was noticeably absent. That’s very clever of you, fitting that into the storyline as a dream. A nightmare literally of his own creation.
Another facet of your gem nicely polished! 🙂
March 15, 2012 at 6:35 pm
Though, you’re right. All of the elements fit the in-the-middle-of-the-street conversation. Her eyes of ice, his wild-eyed, mute begging, her insistence that he talk. Everything but the fact that he does finally speak, and there’s no gun…just a speeding car. In fact, he might himself find his dream somewhat prophetic…interesting concept.
It’s an interesting concept in general, how a recurring life theme that may be a pattern we haven’t yet detected could be one of the reasons for the dreams that seem to fit future events uncannily well… There’s some writing fodder… *musing*
March 16, 2012 at 9:22 am
I forgot to mention that I was amazed at how well you wrote that dream.
Dreams seem to be so random that, while you can often trace them back to what prompted them, it’s really difficult to make one up.
That one had all the hallmarks of a surreal nightmare while still making enough sense to contribute to the story.
I was most impressed. 😉
March 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm
How? How? How? I dunno. I just sit in the character’s mind as it takes me on a roller coaster ride, I guess, and write what I see. I write the way I think (or at least I’m learning to), which is rarely linear. I still try to write linearly sometimes, and it causes me no end of trouble. I think that’s what bogs me down in my main story. It’s much too linear. But, I’m not sure how to change that. *sigh* It’s much easier to be non-linear and more interesting, and keep the flow going with short stories than with chapters. I’ve got to find a way to keep my chapters in somewhat short-story form. I’ve got one chapter-story I’m working on that flows more that way. I’ll share it with you at some point. I think that one of the reasons sharing my story with you in pieces in email works so well for me, is that it allows me to tell it to you in scattered pieces, and play with where the pieces go. Random experimentation. Speaking of which, I’ve got to get back to that, haven’t I? I mean you’ve got one chapter to work with, but where’s the fun in that? 😉
Your Very Grateful Scribbler,