Ever wondered what a writer goes through when editing a work-in-progress? Here’s your chance to find out. Take a look at some of the conversations I’ve had with my characters while editing my current novel.
There they sat – waiting for me. I stood behind the two-way mirror watching as my characters walked into the conference room, each taking a seat at the oak table with a glossy finish. The finish was so shiny, that the sun shining in through the windows along the opposite side of the room, cast a flare-like glare.
“What do you think she wants?” Amethyst asked as she tamed her unruly curls with a black hair tie.
Celeste sat down next to her. The bells on her belt jingled every time she shifted, trying to get comfortable in the leather seats. “The good Lord only knows.”
“Yeah,” Amethyst began, “I don’t believe in him.”
“What else is new?” Celeste rolled her eyes and crossed her legs.
“Maybe she’s changing the name of the book again,” Daniel said as he walked into the room.
Amethyst took a longing look at her fictional boyfriend. The more she told herself this relationship probably wouldn’t last more than a chapter, the more she wanted him.
“I hope not.” Celeste muttered. “If she spends all her time perfecting the title, we’ll be stuck in the first draft forever.”
The door to the conference room opened and a tiny old woman, dragging an empty red leash behind her, lumbered inside.
“Mrs. Simmons.” Celeste stood up with her arms outstretched. She bounced over to Mrs. Simmons, placing a helpful arm around the old woman’s shoulders. “How are you doing today?”
“I’m fine. I’m fine,” Mrs. Simmons said. “But…uh…I’m not so sure about Victoria. She doesn’t seem to be herself today.”
“Yes, well.” Celeste paused, glancing at the empty leash. “She’s an old dog, that Victoria. She’ll have her good days and her bad days.”
Mrs. Simmons smiled, patting Celeste’s hand as she walked toward an empty seat. Amethyst cringed as Mrs. Simmons took her seat. The painful expression on her face made me wonder if she could hear Mrs. Simmons’ bones creaking.
“Excuse me,” Dr. Palmer pleaded from the floor of the conference room. Placed in the corner of the room where everyone could keep their eye on him, his legs were outstretched in front of him and his entire upper body was covered in a white straight jacket. You couldn’t tell from looking at him but he was wearing a white prison-like jumper with the words “St. Mary’s Psychiatric Hospital,” embroidered on the left side of his shirt. His unkempt hair reminded Amethyst of that fateful night – near the end of the first draft.
“No!” The other characters yelled in unison.
“No. Way. In Hell!” Amethyst declared. “The last time you were left to your own devices there was an explosion.”
“That wasn’t me,” Dr. Palmer begged. “It was them!”
“Them who?” Amethyst asked.
“The poltergeists,” Celeste said, nudging Amethyst in the side with her elbow. “Remember? Your friends from another dimension.”
Amethyst sighed, clearly frustrated that this topic once again reared its ugly head. “They’re not ghosts; they’re delusions. I’m not psychic; I’m crazy. I have a brain tumor or an aneurysm, or head trauma. I have whatever can be explained by science and medicine.”
Mrs. Simmons stroked the back of Amethyst’s hand. “Poor dear. Looks like I’m not the only one having a bad day.”
Enough was enough. I couldn’t hide behind the two-way mirror forever. Sooner or later I had to deliver the bad news. I opened the door, emerging with caution. Clearing my throat, I scurried over to the seat at the head of the table, clenching the first draft with all of my notes in my hand.
“So what’s it gonna be?” Amethyst asked. “Another two years in the shower? Ooh! I know! You’re gonna sign me up for Weight Watchers again.”
Amethyst is many things – but not forgiving. The last scene I wrote before giving birth to my first child had Amethyst taking a shower. I’m not sure why she was taking a shower. But then, this was before I started reading books on how to plot. Eleven months after giving birth to my first child, I became pregnant with my second child. Needless to say, nothing much was done on the novel while I was recovering from sleep deprivation and round-the-clock feedings. I knew she wasn’t happy about being a size 16, so, in an effort to make up for the great shower debacle, I enrolled her in a weight loss program. Apparently that wasn’t what she had in mind. Alas, that’s what happens when you’re sleep deprived. You enroll your characters for weight loss programs when all they want is for you to hit the backspace key a few times.
I flipped through the first draft, trying to find the notes I made. Once the book was opened to that page, I cleared my throat again. “The good news is the book isn’t anywhere near as awful as I thought it was when I first finished it.” I glanced up and found all of them staring at me like I was sitting center stage with a major wardrobe malfunction I wasn’t aware of. I could tell by their looks they knew what was coming next. It was now or never. “The bad news is there are too many story lines. One of you isn’t going to make the final cut.”
Amethyst and Celeste exchanged a quick glance.
Mrs. Simmons grabbed her chest and bent down to pet the empty leash.
“Well,” Celeste began. “Don’t keep us in suspense. Who is it?”
I took a deep breath. “It’s–”
****To Be Continued***