Let me tell you a story about persistance. No, don’t leave, it’s interesting and funny even. At least, I can make it funny if you’d just stay…that’s better. So, there was this story I started earlier this year. It was a great story that I’d outlined and spent considerable time plotting and building before I even started the first sentence. This usually works for me, and things were rolling really well until oh, about June-ish. The story completely stalled. Writing a handful of words seemed excruciating and I ended up deleting more than I’d written each time. I hated this story.
So I abandoned it, but didn’t delete it. I never delete. After editing and rewriting two manuscripts, finishing another I’d been working on at the same time as my abandoned project, and essentially losing my mind with the workload I’d given myself, I took a deep breath and said, “Shit girl, get a damn schedule.” And so I did. Wait, it get’s better. I promise.
I was on a roll now, see. I’ve got a third manuscript with readers at the moment. And let me tell you how excited I am about that one…very. More than very. I LOVE that story. Okay, moving on. I was considering what to do next. I have several outlines that I could tackle. New projects. Or I could look at this stalled piece that literally ate away at my soul just thinking about it. I hated that it sat there and that it sucked so much that it caused my hard drive to smell like Walmart on a hot July afternoon. (That’s BO and farts for anyone who has never been to Walmart on such a day.)
Then I said to myself, “Self, are you a quitter?” and myself said, “Hell no!” and I opened the file that contained the sucky abandoned manuscript and I read it. Guess what…it didn’t suck. I don’t know what was wrong with my brain at the time, if I’d just been too tired to think straight, or if my judgement had been impaired by the disgusting heat earlier this summer, but this manuscript, the characters and the plot was GOOD. Damn good. It was…not stinky.
So, you want to know what I did? I can tell you’re dying to know. Look at you all, chewing your nails, holding your collective breath in anticipation. That’s why I love you. Okay, I’ll tell you. I looked at the outline, made a couple of small changes and I was back in the game. Tonight, an hour ago to be precise, I finished the rough draft. Yes. I did. And it’s good. Not only is it good, it’s a story that I think will appeal to a lot of readers. Not just men. Not just women. Both. Holy shit, I’m awesome. Okay, maybe I’m a bit delusional in my happy-happy-joy-joy state of mind, but I’m pretty damn proud of myself for digging this old thing up and taking another look. Until I dive into rewriting anyway. You’ll know when that happens because the blog posts get snarkier, heads get ripped off, bodies get hidden…
What’s that? Rewriting, yes. Next phase. Not to readers, although the temptation to share when you finish a story is almost irresistable, it’s a mistake. Never ever share the first draft. Why? It’s like this; you want the best possible draft going to beta readers. The more that is NOT wrong with it makes it easier for them to pick out what IS wrong with it. Clear as mud, eh? I will share an excerpt with you though, to satisfy my urge to send this to everyone in my email list. Then no more until I’m finished rewriting. So, this is the scene where Ryan meets Larry:
Seated in his grandmother’s kitchen, with the sounds of the ‘Great Canadian North’ filtering through the windows, Ryan waited for Audrey to speak. She sat silent for a moment, ear cocked to the howls of wolves somewhere outside, or at least they sounded like wolves to Ryan. He opened his mouth to wonder at the proximity of the howls, but a low wail stopped him. A sound he could only compare to a dying cow, bawling in agony. He looked to Audrey for an explanation.
“Larry?” he hoped Larry wasn’t a man.
“There was no mention of him in the will?”
“No, should there have been? I don’t think I’m going to stay long if Larry is a stipulation of my inheritance. He sounds…sick.”
Audrey laughed, her green eyes tearing up and shook her head. “Larry is a moose. He’s been hanging around for the past couple of years. Melvin feeds him and he stays in the barn when it suits him. No one gets real close to him, but sometimes if he sees the lights on he’ll peek in the windows.”
Ryan turned to look at the large window that occupied the far corner of the room. Darkness reflected back. No moose. His heart skipped a beat as he thought of Larry tapping on the thin glass with his antlers, shattering it, and then he’d have a wild animal in the house. “As long as he doesn’t knock, I guess I’m okay with that.”
“You’re perfectly safe. He’s never broken a window. The closest he’s come is to stand outside or walk on the deck. He’s harmless.” Audrey sighed, smiling at him.
“Sorry, I’m from the city. Our wildlife is pretty limited. I might be lucky to see ducks at the park, a stray cat or two in the parking garage, never a moose. Isn’t he scared of the wolves?”
“No, the wolves are way out in the back forty. They don’t approach the house. Well, not that we know of. I know they sound close, but I think I’ve seen a wolf in town twice in my whole life.”
“Only twice? That’s a relief.” He wasn’t sure what a ‘back forty’ was and he didn’t ponder it too much. The idea of wolves in town—ever—made Ryan nervous enough to move away from the window.
Larry made another guttural wail and Ryan turned back to Audrey and raised his cup to his lips, sipping before eyeing her expectantly.
“Right, I was going to fill you in before Larry interrupted.”
“You were. Although I don’t think anything you tell me at this point could be more fascinating than a moose at my door or wolves in my back forty. But you can try.”
“I’ll do my best. First, don’t cross Carroll Albert unless you have a very well thought out and bullet proof back up plan. Carroll is dangerous, and not just because he has money, he’s unscrupulous and evil. I’m not exaggerating for effect either.”
“I assumed that already. My grandparents left me some letters. So, the Reeve is a crook and a liar. That’s a surprising thing to know about a politician.”
And that’s all. It’s rusty, yes. Which is a perfect example of why you never share before editing. In case you’re wondering, Ryan is a city boy. He’s come to a town north of Timmins, Ontario called Albertsville. His grandparents, who he didn’t know, left him a large inheritance. Of course, there’s a catch. But you’ll find that out some day. Audrey is a friend, a pretty young friend of his grandparents who is the executor of their estate. Ryan has the hots for her. She’s cute. Petite. Blonde. She owns a hardware store and a truck. She’s hot for him too. But that will come later. (yeah, I caught the pun. Totally unintended.) Anyway, something stinks in Albertsville and it isn’t Larry. But Ryan has to stay alive long enough to clear the air.
On to rewriting and the next project. What’s your vote: Vampires or bikers?