Aside

Enslavement’s Cutting Room Floor

Enslavement (3)
I wrote Enslavement, my first novel, many moons ago. In April, it will be seven years since I completed it.

It was a very different story back then. It was 60 pages long and contained more characters and far fewer subplots. As I learned more about writing, I made large changes to the manuscript. I cut three of my first four chapters, I cut characters, but added scenes which fleshed out the subplots. With this post, I wanted to share some of what ended up on the cutting room floor, that is if authors had such a thing.

Avery: Originally, Rielle had twin sisters. In the opening scene, she held Avery and Alyssa on her lap as her parents were arrested. I cut Avery because twins just weren’t necessary. The story was just as well told with only one sister, so one had to go.

Kenzie: She was another slave in the Banker’s house. She shared a room with Lydia and Rielle. She was very weepy, and again, didn’t add anything to the story. To be honest, after the 20th reading, her weepiness got annoying. I didn’t feel one bit bad about cutting her.

Chapter one, the school scene: In its early stages, Enslavement’s opening chapter took place at Rielle’s high school. Her frhill-country5iends were making plans to see a movie, but of course, Rielle couldn’t go. She was feeling left out and angry with her parents, but her friends decided to have a stay-in movie night so that she could join them, though one of her friends’ parents didn’t want her hanging out with  a Resistor.

Chapter two, the walk home: This chapter ended with her stopping a half a block from home when she saw the Bank Security cruisers parked in front of her house. She had to make a decision–run away and save herself or go home and try to help her family. She was about to run, but she heard her sister cry out and her decision was made and her fate was sealed.

The title: I called the first draft Silence. I felt that was too vague, so I renamed it The Fear of Drowning. After a couple years, I decided that that title was too figurative, and it became The Enslavement of Rielle James, which was the  the working title until it was about to be published. When my publisher suggested shortening it to Enslavement, I agreed. I like the simplicity.

While sometimes it’s difficult to delete scenes or characters I like, it was necessary to give readers the best experience possible. I believe the story is better for these cuts, but I do hold those pieces dear. They are something I get to keep for myself. I still think about Rielle as the cold Minnesota wind whipped passed her and she tried to make that decision to go home or run away. How difficult it was for her! I love how, even early on, she was brave and she didn’t even know it.

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A Word from the Emotionally Constipated

I was lying on the hospital bed exhausted, feeling disembowelled. I felt like I was three stories off the ground. As the doctor suctioned the baby he said, “She’s biting me,” and in my Demerol induced stupor I imagined my baby with razor-sharp little teeth. What did I give birth to? And then the doctor asked me joyfully, “Do you want to hold your baby.”

I said, “No.”

That wasn’t the way I’d imagined reacting to the birth of my first child. In movies women always cried with joy. Not me. I watched my husband walk the floor with her and name her when the doctor asked.

I’ve learned that I don’t usually react the way I think I should, or the way others think I should to exciting situations. I think of it as emotional constipation.

So when I got the call that the proof for my book was in, I excitedly drove over to see it. In the spring of 2015, it will have been five years since I wrote it. The subsequent years were spent revising and then giving up on it for a period of time and hiding it in folder called, “Completed Manuscripts.” It hid there with the others.

So how did I react upon seeing the product of five years of work? I was reluctant to hold it, but took it anyway. I turned it over in my hands, read a few words. Yep, my words. Weird. So weird. I’m still feeling weird about the whole thing. Am I so used to striving after something and not getting it, that I don’t know what to do when I get it?  I mean, five years of critique and rejection and work, work, work. I can’t process that it’s over (for that manuscript at least). I want to be jumping up and down with excitement. I don’t want to think about how the dream looked when I first formed it in my mind because logically I know those were pie in the sky dreams, but I’m also having to get over a sense of failure that I didn’t achieve that old vision.

A week after my daughter was born, I caught sight of myself in a mirror, holding my little girl. It finally hit me–this is my baby.  So I’m waiting for this to hit me too–to finally get to take some joy in my first  published novel.

That I’m-Going-To-Throw-Up Feeling

Okay, so I’m the worst blogger in the world. But, this time I have a really good excuse for not blogging. Really, I do.

You know that I’m-going-to-throw-up feeling you get when it finally occurs to you that something big is happening. I’m a master of denial, so there’s always this huge gap between when I find out something is happening and when it actually hits me that it’s happening.

So, I finally have a publisher for my book and I’ve spent my summer slogging through edits with Rebelight Publishing. It’s been an amazing experience. It’s been hard and rewarding and exhausting and exhilarating.

But, I had serious doubts as to whether they were actually going to go through with it. I really thought they’d get to a point and say to themselves, “She’s hopeless. We can’t possibly publish this.” I maintained this doubt until last Thursday.

Then, as I’m driving down the road, it suddenly hits me. Oh. My. Gosh. My book is getting published. After years of rejections and disappointment, it’s actually getting published. Cue the I’m-going-to-throw-up feeling. I considered pulling over and making use of the Plessis road ditch several times.

I managed to keep my dinner down, but I’m still in this panic laced euphoria. This is actually happening.