Here in Florida, we have a cold front hovering to the north and Hurricane Rina whirling in the south. By week's end, one of them will claim the state. It's late September in my book and my protaganist is riding through North Florida. I had hoped to match her journey to real time so I could write the weather as I felt it. But last week, I accomplished exactly one paragraph and October is several pages away.
Truth is, Caroline Leavitt's review of my book's beginning affected me more than I thought it would. I had hoped her wisdom and insight would help me see the story clearer. It did. I hoped it would eliminate piles of rewrites that gradually address issues. I think it will. I anticipated a new font of writer's zeal, powering the story to its conclusion. That didn't happen.
I tried to keep writing the last few weeks, actually managed Chapters Eleven and Twelve while the first ninety pages lay in a mangled heap, moaning. I gritted my teeth and outlined Chapter Thirteen. The whimpering pages wiggled past my wimpy emotional barrier. They needed more than a bandaid. They needed surgery and they weren't willing to wait. My fingers stopped typing and my mind returned to Page One. Three days ago, I ran an idea for a new beginning past my husband and he proclaimed it brilliant. Yeah, he would say that but truth is, my ego really needed to hear it. It was the first step in healing the story.
Critiques are a critical part of creating our best work and I'm grateful for what I learned from Caroline's review. But I don't think I'll ever do another professional critique without a polished first draft. I've heard it over and over: Write the book first. That's a lesson, I'm slow to learn.
My photo this week is a small grove of young orange trees, covered in fruit ripening from green to yellow. In another couple months, they'll be lucious orange and juicy. Many of Florida's citrus trees were wiped out by pests and suburbia. As a teen, I rode through the groves of Central Florida. Orange blossoms used to sweeten the air in springtime. Now, it's hard to find that scent. That little grove gives me hope and symbolizes renewal. Orange trees survive despite insects and bulldozers, and so will my story.
I write middle grade and young adult books with a magical twist. And creatures, always creatures. I'm represented by the fabulous Leslie Zampetti of Dunham Lit.
Baggott, Asher & Bode
Rear in Gear
Kate DiCamillo on Writing