Editing: Killing the Sexy Bits

You have to be in the right mindset to edit. A cruel focus is needed. No matter how great the scene, image or dialogue, if it’s not completely on point, it must go. They call it “killing the babies”, and I suppose it is something like that, even if that’s as self-centered as all hell.

Dee’s sexuality is key to her character, but it is a subtle thing in Anori, unlike My Bad Side, because it is more speculative fiction than psychological, and as much as sex might sell, her tryst with the Oregon Park Ranger is done, only to appear here.

The waves rolled up on the beach in a long rattling rush. She thought she could see someone in the distance and waited and then walked back along the path to the ranger’s cabin. There was a light. She went around the side and tried to look through the little window and then ducked through the underbrush, getting stuck for a minute and stood there stupidly like she had to go to the bathroom, and came around the corner.

The room was empty, just a brown fabric couch and a television left on. She waited. A truck came down the road and pulled up to the house. And then he was there, the Oregon Parks Ranger, his shirt undone. “You look lost. Can I get you a drink? I’ve got beer.

There was a bedroom at the end of the hall, strewn and cluttered, piles of books leaning against the walls, heaps of clothing in the middle. The bed had an old lacquered headboard and long faded wood down the sides. She took off his shirt and then his pants. She had a desperate burning inside, along her stomach and thighs and into her groin.

She wanted him to go faster but he pushed her hands back. He was naked, his penis at her breasts and held her shoulders. She looked up at his face and chest and the wooden beams and white ceiling above. She was rigid, arching her back, grabbing his legs. He moved in a long cycling motion, pushing up high, going too fast and then slow. She wanted that back and grabbed at him. He pressed down onto her stomach and held her neck. She pushed into him faster.

“Holy fuck.” It was more of a wheezing, not words, and she started laughing as she crawled over the books, and he pulled her back and there was only a tightness, her skin blood-rich, trying to make it more, keep it like that, harder, everything stretching out, her head tilting back, peering into the chasm, ready to fall, and then nothing.

First Page Hell: Writing “Anori”

It’s one thing to face the blank page. It’s totally another to face a page that has been edited for ten years. A conservative estimate would be thirty versions, with hundreds of edits and switches. And so, yes, the blank page is nothing compared to that.

I began Anori in 2009. It was my leap into the world of speculative fiction, a challenge to myself. The initial first scene – which lasted over the first few drafts – was of a rocket ship launch, establishing theme, tone and perspective. I mean, the story was headed into outer space. So here we go. But it didn’t work. There was no hook. And so I moved that scene into a snippet on the television in Dee Sinclair’s living room. The book now begins like this…

The perspective remains distant but it is now Dee’s point of view, revealing an deserted world, a place from which she is clearly removed.

The prose are terse. Hopefully ominous too.

Dee, akin to the police car, is isolated and alone.

Immediately upon entering her world, her pet serval Apollo appears, who is the key to the story. Servals are felines from the African savannah. They are meant to be wild but have been domesticated as exotic pets. Apollo is a rescue animal who Dee spends much of her life with alone.

The story carries on: Dee takes Apollo out before the worst of the storm and meets the mysterious Och. It’s how it all begins. I’m just trying to get past all of this and continue on to page three. Fingers crossed.

Sanibel Writing Conference Exercises

The Writing Conference on Sanibel Island, Florida is underway.IMAG3657I have begun the day with some writing exercises, led by John Dufresne:

1. Write what you are feeling right now:

Still the pain in my back, the lower blade, dull, deep. Don’t want to move my arm the wrong way. It’s an odd big room with glass doors bringing clanging light in.IMAG3673

2. Expectations for the conference:

Above all, get someone interested in “my bad side”, any thoughts, any moment that will lead to that. Meeting people seems to be the key, getting anyone to know who I am so that the next email isn’t trashed without a decent look. I am always very happy to be given the time, space and freedom to write in any way, for “Anori”, anything else, and revising “bad side”IMAG3669

3. Reflections on childhood, remembering/imagining a moment before going to school, even your first memory:

The water was far away, everything was, through the fence, looking below, imagining what it would be like to be on that floating log, or was that even remembered? The monorail turning high in the sky, metal and glass and movies on the curving wall, the sun coming in the outlet.IMAG3670

4. Who was your first friend?

Ronald was a bear with a big face, flatter than he should have been, little chubby arms and a long hanging belly, tiny legs. I stuffed my things in his back. Charlie was there too, a sad little monkey puppet with a hard bobbling head and cheap brown cloth for a puppet body. They were always together, Charlie inside Ronald, always there on my bed, beside my pillow and then in my closet. I don’t remember not having them, getting rid of them. I wish I did. I probably forced myself not to remember that, growing up and throwing them away.IMAG3680