Up front, I don’t think there’s going to be anything deep or meaningful or clever about this journal. All I feel today is raw frustration.
I chose to tell Riley’s story in the first person because she is a young adult, and They ™ always say that young readers like being inside the protag’s head. I usually like to write in third because, as an introvert, seeing so many “I”s on the screen makes me kind of cringe. But, fair enough, I’m up for a challenge… I thought.
Well, I wrote the first act. All 22,000 words of it. Yikes! But also… yay! It’s a milestone I don’t hit often, so I chose to celebrate the win for a couple of days.
I decided to take a break so I could come back with fresh eyes before editing. I stalked Twitter for a few days. Read up on the news. We made a cake for my girl’s 17th birthday. Life stuff.
I also did some betareading for some really nice authors. I don’t have their permission to write about that here, but when they have a launch date for their books I’ll be sure to trumpet for them.
One thing I really loved about betareading was that it forced me to get into someone else’s story. To read new ideas, and think a little differently. In scanning for flow and grammar, I got to flip my brain from create to edit in a fun way, and was able to help out some other writers in the process.
So tonight I pulled up my story. I started to edit, feeling so fresh so clean. What seemed natural during drafting read like … well, I’m not proud of it. It was mechanical, and I couldn’t hear my voice in it at all.
I walked there and did the thing. Then I walked somewhere else and did a different thing. Yet another different thing I did as I walked there. Step, step, step. Do a thing.
I was still just putting people on their marks and shifting the chess pieces across the board. It didn’t feel like they were alive at all. My protag was virtually nonexistent in the scenes because she, as a fellow introvert, was in reaction mode as the world happened around her.
That’s no fun to read. So, I did a little experiment on one paragraph from Riley’s fourth chapter. I rewrote it in my native third person. And sure, I rambled. It’s not good, but it was a lot less effort to get down so I just kind of kept going.
What do you think?
I pressed my earbuds in and pulled up a lecture that I’d missed while I was at Tillie’s. Finals started in a few days, and they didn’t care if my nerves were shot. I’d made the water too hot, so I took my time easing into the bathtub. When I was finally settled my toes were pink but the heat was working its magic on my muscles.
Riley pressed her earbuds in, then pulled up a lecture on her phone. Finals started on Monday, whether or not her nerves were shot. She worked a kink out of her neck, then leaned forward on her desk with her head cradled in her hands. Her professor’s voice filled her head, blocking everything else out.
… the body’s ability to manifest pain when the mind is taxed beyond its limits…
The muscles in her neck spasmed again, and she winced. She needed to study, but no one said she had to do it at her desk. Smiling to herself, she rolled backward and dragged her sore body to the bathroom.
She set the water a little hotter than usual, and soon a haze of steam filled the room. She dipped a toe into the water like a canary in a coal mine, and recoiled with a gasp. The air felt thick in her throat, and her skin protested an angry pink.
As she waited, the heat of the room seeped into her. Her eyes closed as she yawned, and it was effort to open them again. Soon enough, she slipped into the bath. The heat pulled at her muscles, forcing them to loosen up.