November 22, 2012

finding a voice

Most epics don’t begin in the living room, but that's where mine begins. We call it our living room, but that’s not it at all. We hardly ever live there. It’s just a holding place for knickknacks and books that my mom swears she’s going to read someday when she finds the time.

Finding time.

She’s always searching for time, but time is always hiding. Always. If I could give her any present, it would be a big batch of time. All the time in the world. And she wouldn’t have to do anything with it. She could put it on a shelf next to her knickknacks or maybe put it in the kitchen and she could rest a little easier knowing that the pantry is stocked full of time. Time by the case. Just in case. And she would wrap herself up in the present and sip her tea without thinking of anything but the steam and the flavor and the vinyl voices mumbling their songs from the speakers.

My aunt walks in without knocking and instantly she takes over the house. She's a walking megaphone. It isn't on purpose, either. She can't help it. She has a voice made for the sea.

My mom is playing a record from one of those folk artists who manages to whisper and mumble simultaneously, barely moving his mouth to pronounce his words, interrupted only by a harmonica that sounds like a wheezing donkey.  After a gentle nudge from my mom, the poor record player nervously slips its needle, stuttering and scratching out a few lines before giving in to Ms. Megaphone and her steady stream of small talk.

I'm trying out a first-person fantasy story about sea-breathers. I've tried it in third-person and it feels bland. This is what I wrote in first-person but it doesn't seem to fit the genre. Any thoughts? 

November 12, 2012

random thought while writing a novel

My story started out like this:

Luke’s troubles began in the golden hour, on his way home from soccer practice, when the sun illuminated every imperfection and somehow turned the most ordinary object into something magical. Not that Luke noticed any of this. Luke loved magic. He just didn’t believe in it, that’s all. His grandmother swore that dragons once existed and all the science in the world couldn’t convince her otherwise. But Luke didn’t buy it. Now, unicorns on the other hand seemed plausible. He figured the ivory-horned creatures probably died out not long before people quit believing in magic. If they had just lasted a few more decades, people would be feeding unicorns at the local zoo. Sometimes Luke would close his eyes and picture the place and it seemed so real to him that it seemed to creep into the area of belief. But, alas, he remembered . . . .

And somewhere along the line, I cut that out. The whole paragraph. I cut out the whole chapter, actually. I re-wrote the beginning three times. 

I have two novels I'm writing. The first is for me. It has all those little details that help me know who the characters are. The second is for the boys. It tells them what the characters do. 

Sometimes I think authors don't finish projects because they aren't able to let go of those pieces of writing that have nothing to do with the story and everything to do with the character. It's painful to recognize that you wrote it for yourself. It was the first date. It was the interview. But it wasn't the story.