Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Third Book

I filled in the blocks last night on my chart, and I only have like five days of this left in which there is any way to track myself writing and posting and stuff. I think maybe I should make a similar chart for planning my wedding and workouts. I like feeling accomplished each day that I write something, so I'll probably keep this up.

It's a dim and dreary Saturday, perfect for a cup of coffee and a nice thick book about dragons or vampires or magic schools. I love days like this. It was a cloudy, gloomy day one January when I finished the second draft of my second book. I didn't start typing it yet. In fact, that one was never typed. I do still have the notebook with the second draft in it, as well as the notebooks, tied together with yarn so I could easily reference, that contained the first draft.

I'm not sure when I started work on the third book. It was sometime my senior year of high school, I'm sure. What I'm not so sure about is what happened between my perky, cheerful, cliche-ridden second book and the beginning of the third one. I can specify one point where the story turned. A character died. Not a main character at that point, but the man died of cardiac arrest after running into the throne room and declaring that war had begun. Sometime after that, I decided, while a classical station was playing in my room, that a central character, a blind girl who was an archer, would die in the third book.

That was before any of the third book was even written.

The story took a darker turn. Not in a bad way, of despair and hopelessness, but I definitely reached back to my roots with it. I was raised on spooky stories and legends. I liked to be spooked. Not terrified out of my mind, but I appreciated a good chill now and then. Note that I didn't like horror movies, and didn't watch them. My first experience with the genre was Jeepers Creepers, which was disappointing. That whole movie was based on a Batman arc where Batman mutated into a bat thing. Seriously. It was bad. Give me zombies any day.

While the book didn't turn suddenly scary, my mind held on to the ghost stories and legends and pictures of spooky houses. It was random as far as the stories go. There had been no foreshadowing of this part, no mention of it in passing, no gun on the table when one went off. Suddenly, my two main characters were exploring this creepy old house in the countryside, because they'd heard rumors, and there had been disappearances.

I didn't hold back. Dust, dirt, freaky graffiti on the wall, broken old toys arranged meticulously on shelves, and an old doll that stared. I still think it was a legitimately creepy scene, like a good H.P. Lovecraft story.

And it was nothing like the original. At all. Somehow, between finishing the second book and starting the third, it all changed. The story, the tone, the scale of the story. Suddenly it was dark and intense and urgent. The main character questioned at all why she did anything that happened in the first book, and whether it was pointless.

I never finished that book. By that time, the work had changed so much that I simply decided to start over in college. I remember passing the time at the bookstore job I had, writing down book stuff when I wasn't outlining reports for my correspondence class, sometimes on paper circles in the cafe, when I didn't have my little notebook on me.

Thing is, I know exactly where the book was headed. I knew that a lot had to be done to get there, and that a lot had to be rewritten to provide the characters a way to arrive there.

So I started over.

At some point, I think I let my writing grow up with me. When I started, I was the same age as the main character. I think the story wasn't ready then, just as the rewrite isn't quite finished, though for different reasons regarding both.

I'm glad I didn't finish the third book, but I sure am glad I started it.

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