Sponsor me for the Clarion West Write-a-thon
Sometimes, it takes a very long time for me to figure out what a story is about.
I started writing “Ghost-Apples” last year. The first draft came out easily, which was fortunate because I needed something to take to a critique group. I usually don’t let people see my very first drafts, but I was pressed for time and let the amazing people of Horrific Miscue take a whack at it. They picked up on a couple of things and let me know where I was being super lazy.
I revised it and put it away for a few months. Then I brought it out again and did another draft, picking away at it. It wasn’t quite coming together for me, and I didn’t know why.
Originally, I had wanted this story to be a sequel of sorts to my story “Coins for Their Eyes,” featuring my doll-toting psychopomp. On the fourth draft, almost six months after the second and third drafts, I finally figured out that what wasn’t working about the story was the idea that this was going to be an extension of that story. I also realized that the protagonist’s voice was utterly wrong for her, and that somewhere in the previous drafts I’d managed to cut out the beating heart of the story.
“Ghost-Apples” is very much a story of a particular place in the upper Midwest, and about the culture and norms of that culture. When I came back to the story for the Clarion West Write-a-thon, I started a complete rewrite with a fresh protagonist and a voice that fit better with her background. The setting and the basic premise is the same: a woman finds herself in the tiny Minnesota town where she grew up. The town is completely deserted except for a girl who occasionally appears and talks to her, and she discovers that she can’t leave no matter how hard she tries.
I finished my rewrite, read over the story, and had one burning question: who is the girl?
That is the question I’m working on answering now within the story. The story itself has slid over the edge into horror; the protagonist has a terrible magical talent that she cannot control, and has been stuck in a tragedy that played out over twenty years earlier.
Also, she’s dead, so there’s that too.
So, yes, this is still draft number five, and my goal is to get that draft finished by the end of the Write-a-thon. Thanks to some stuff going on in other parts in my life, I have some writing time I didn’t expect to have, so I suspect I will make that with room to spare.
Interested in knowing more? Want to support me and support a very good cause at the same time? Sponsor me for the Clarion West Write-a-thon! If you sponsor me for $25 or more, you’ll get an 11×14 print of one of my pictures, mounted and ready to frame–and the warm fuzzies that come from supporting one of the best science fiction workshops in the known universe and the emerging writers who go through the program.