July 19, 2010

SSFD ~ Week 7

It’s the seventh week of my challenge, the Summer of Shitty First Drafts. I accomplished the goal this week, but I have to admit that I cheated a bit. All’s fair in love and war and writing, right? Kidding!

Instead of starting from scratch this week, I took previous material and added to it. In addition to (struggling to) accomplish the SSFD challenge, I’m working on revising my first novel ~ not the one out to agents right now but the first one I wrote. So, instead of starting from scratch for SSFD, I took a particularly exciting chapter from the novel ~ one that I thought I might cut out completely but I loved too much to let go but have since changed my mind and it’s still in. I’ve been revising it for a short story. I haven’t got it final yet, but I’ve been revising and adding to.

The story is called “The Kaw,” and its first sentence is “It rained and rained.” It’s set in 1885 and is the story of an itinerate carpenter named Ed who is helping his sister and brother-in-law build a house in Kansas City. The walls are up, but because of a cold and wet winter and spring, a huge flood builds upriver and crashes down the Missouri River and the Kansas River, or the Kaw, and comes together right there in Kansas City where the two rivers converge.

It’s pulled from the novel Earth’s Imagined Corners, which is women’s fiction set in 1885. The novel is about twenty-two-year-old Sara, who is a naïve but dutiful daughter and a competent hostess, but when her father tries to force her to marry his younger partner, she must choose between the partner, a man who treats her like property, and James, a kind man she hardly knows who has a troubled past. She and James elope to Kansas City and try to make a life.

I’m deep in revising the novel right now. I was all set: I had decided what I was going to do. I would cut a bunch of it, including Ed’s point of view completely. Get rid of the mom dying and the twin brothers and drastically cut and revise the first quarter of it. I got Ed and mom all cut out and started rearranging the beginning and then I had a crisis. Wait! What in the heck am I doing?

I had to stand back and think about what the story is really about. Is it merely about the relationship between the two main characters, Sara and James? Or is about more than that. It’s definitely about more than that. Then my friend Nina gave me the advice, trust your instincts, and my instincts were screaming, don’t cut it! So, though I’m still not totally sure, I’m going with it and keeping a lot of it.

So, juggling!

What I’m Reading Today: Manuscripts.

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