Thursday, January 22, 2009

What to Wear

Oh, the bliss of creation. Every word is a freshwater pearl--a bit lumpy but gorgeous because it comes from my clammy little brain. Oh, the agony of revision. My words aren't pearls. They're lumps of coal that need the pressure of revision to transform them into crummy diamonds worthy of a cheap tennis bracelet. That sounds jaded. It isn’t meant to. Well, maybe it is meant to sound jaded. If you’re not a tad jaded, you’ve been hiding your pearls under the mattress.

Certainly, there are rare miracles of talent whose first works are perfect, cultivated pearls from the get-go. The rest of us start with lumps and bumps. As we learn more, we realize how little we know. We open to revising more than funky punctuation. Sometimes we have to re-vision. We might sigh as we tap the delete key, but we tap away. The love of the pearls is still there, but we want them crafted into something more enduring.

Here’s the opening from The Saintmaker, a romantic fantasy I’m revising. My first draft began with a leisurely bit of world building. It suffered from point-of-view issues and a heroine with no clear interior plight. In the revision, I begin with the heroine’s interior goal, motivation and conflict, while doing a little world and suspense building.

I am so looking forward to wearing that diamond tennis bracelet for an evening. Then, the creative side of me needs to set it aside and start stringing a new strand of pearls.

The Saintmaker

Was this to be a confession or not? Goosebumps sprang up on Arvana’s arms as she clutched her journal of self-examination to her chest. The Superior never summoned her for any other reason. But Madre Cassiendra’s chamber had always been bright and cheerful, full of forsythia in spring. Instead, heavy drapery blocked all but slivers of morning light. Stranger still, a black cloth shrouded the ancient icon of the Balthasean order’s founder.

Madre Cassiendra did not smile her usual wise, serene smile. In the light of the single candle, the lines around the Superior’s mouth were grim, as cut and channeled as weathered fencepost wood. Did the Superior somehow know that this time Arvana had no easy-to-admit faults? There were no outward breaches of her vows. She hoarded no books under her cot. She ate no more than her fill. When meeting with the brothers from the other side of the mountain valley, she kept her gaze steadfastly on her shoes. She was good. But, being good wasn’t enough. A good girl’s prayers hadn’t restored her father’s sight or saved his life. She had to be a shacra, a saint. After fourteen years as a Balthasean she was no closer to shacrahood. In her journal, she had asked a terrible question. When had eagerly offered prayers and daily chores become obligations? Had she wanted to be a shacra so much that the unfulfilled longing wore a hole in her spirit?


Cyrano said...

I loved your symbolism. The lumpy, bumpy, freshwater pearls as a metaphor for a beloved but yet unedited novel, great! And the word, re-vision had so much meaning for me.
I really enjoyed your excerpt too.
Can't wait to see you showing off that diamond tennis bracelet one day soon.
Keep writing,
Tamara DeStefano

Tammy Schubert said...

I enjoyed your excerpt. My favorite part started with "After fourteen years..." and continued on to "...unfulfilled longing wore a hole in her spirit". I really love that last line.

Thank you for sharing your work with us.

CiCi Barnes said...

I'm with Tammy. That last line is a doozy. You could substitute so many different words in place of "shacra" and it would apply to so many things.

Good job, Anna.


Tami Brothers said...

Very tantalizing!!! It is so interesting to read the works posted here on Thursdays. I’ve known some of you for years and it isn’t until we sneak a peak at those written words that we finally see what that person has been hiding inside. (in a good way….honest…) It’s kind of fun…

Anna, this is definitely something that would grab my interest. I’m wondering what happened and what will happen. I would continue reading to find those answers… Great job.

Debbie Kaufman said...

I want to keep reading to know why the room is dark, what has happened, and why her life is probably about to change!

Sandy Elzie said...

Okay, I hope you're planning to participate in the Group Write in the future. Your story is starting out a little "dark", but, like Debbie, I want to know what's wrong (what did she do...or not do?) and what will happen as a result.

Good job. Sandy

Susan said...

I'm not sure why I'm a member of this group because ya'll are all so good at writing. Thanks for letting me tag along.

Nice job Anna.

Linsey Lanier said...

Strong description. Good writing.

Like the others have said, this piece piques my curiosity.

When she saw the black drapery, I thought Arvana might find the Superior had died. Since the woman is alive, I want to know what's going on! I was a little confused about the heroine's age. She seems young, maybe in her early twenties, but the phrase "After fourteen years as a Balthasean" made me think she had chosen this path as a young adult, so that would make her much older.

I agree with Tammy B. I love that we're finally getting a glimpse of what some of our fellow writers are writing.

Good excerpt.


Ana Aragón said...

Hi, Anna,

Very interesting and well-written piece. Thank you for sharing...and keep us posted on how you progress with this piece.

Happy writing!