|Hello, brick wall, my old nemesis. . .|
Friends, campers, writermen, lend me your ears,
I come to burrow in words, not to flail in the haze of them. . .
Hmmm. Yeah, no. Sorry about that. Don't mind me.
Hey, so long time no see!
But I know that for many of you, it's Nanowrimo month and you're nearly half way through...
I have been, uh, writing, if not exactly Nano'ing...
I wrote a mess of a 3,500+ word short story (adult, not YA) which was a huge accomplishment for me as I am terrified of them (been reading some Cheever and Carver and trying to unravel the mystery of what a short story is -- and is not). It was a cool exercise. The opening looks like this:
I hope to go back to it one day soon and reorganize, revise and flesh out. There were things I really liked about it.
Then, I started a new YA novel. . . the opening few paragraphs/pages were sheer writerly glory - writing with abandon, lost in the moment of a mood and image I wanted to convey . . and then I hit the brick wall. Way sooner than I had hoped. The brick wall that looks sort of like this:
WHAT AM I WRITING AND WHY DID I EVER THINK I COULD WRITE ANOTHER BOOK EVER AGAIN????
It's a wall of shrieking loud words and self-doubt and confusion and frustration that I'm all too familiar with, and yet it shakes me to my knees every time.
How about you? You been Nano'ing? How's it going? Are you happy or pulling out your hair?
At any rate, it's a bonus off-the-cuff Friday Feedback (and if you're a teacher with students who are Nano'ing, I invite them -- and you -- to post in the comments both this Friday and NEXT Friday (November 21st). I will be away both Saturdays following this post, but will be back on each Sunday (plus throughout the day Friday) to comment.
You know THE RULES:
What works for you?
What doesn't? (and why...?)
If it's an opening, does it hook your or compel you to keep reading?
And, remember: Regardless of how much *I* post (it's my blog, you know?) please do not post more than THREE paragraphs if long, and FIVE if short. If lots of dialogue, use your discretion. And, if you're here from a particular teacher's class, please say so!
|Meep sticker designed by David Lanham.|
Oh, and one more thing (as much a reminder to me as to you...): don't waste too much time editing or making beginnings of vomit drafts pretty. More often than not, they're not really you're beginning anyway, which means editing or revising them is only wasting time and stopping you from forward momentum.
So, without further ado, here's the ridiculously rough vomited opening to a thingy I am working on that will most definitely change over time:
The girl arrived in the middle of the night, and for days no one even knew she existed here.
The house where she was brought was three doors down from ours on the cul de sac, high up on a hill, and belonged to Dr. Betsy Mikkleson. It used to belong to Dr. Mikkleson and her husband, also a doctor, but the male Dr. Mikkelson had left in a great public flourish of animosity the winter before.
The Mickkelson property was pristine, the house itself a brick colonial with white, ionic columns offsetting an ornate, mahogany front door, the upper floor bedroom windows replete with added faux balconies, not that you could tell that much from the street.
The house was set far back on the hillside and a long circular driveway led up to it. Back in the days when old Mr. Andersen lived there with his emphysemic wife, Joan, all us neighborhood kids used to go up there, or at the very least, used to ride our bikes around and around that driveway, huffing and puffing at the top before flying precariously down and around again, using the pendulum momentum to get us back up the first half of the incline.
The Andersens were a warm and friendly couple who would invite you in for tea with honey and Social Tea Biscuits, which, of course, no kid in their right mind actually enjoyed. The house was cluttered and dark, full of chintz curtains, old shag rugs, and broken and reglued tchotchkes on every counter and shelf. I remember when old Mrs. Andersen died in the middle of the night – and I was only about ten back then – how the sirens woke us and brought us all out to our lawns, but you couldn’t see the ambulance up there at the top of their hill, only watch its glowing red lights bouncing through the tree leaves like spooky red specters in dark.
She had lived there all my life, and then she was gone. Old Mr. Andersen went soon after, and the house stood empty for a year or two (infighting among their grown children, I think) before the property was sold to the Mikkelsons.
See you all in the comments!
See you all in the comments!
p.s. for those of you who are new to this blog, my first novel for young adults, THE PULL OF GRAVITY, was a PSLA Top 40, a Bank Street College Best of 2012 and a Nerdy Book Club Winner for YA, and my second novel THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO has received glowing reviews from VOYA, SLJ and Kirkus as well as The New York Times, and is a Scholastic Book Order selection for teens. It is also available in audiobook. If you like what you see here, please check out my books, and, when possible, notwithstanding the Amazon links, buy from independent booksellers. If you carry a select number of copies of my book(s) in your classroom or school library, I will Skype visit for free, and if you use my book(s) in your bookclub of five or more members, I will also Skype for free. Please feel free to email me for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org