` In honor of National Novelette Writing Month — imaginary family values

Last update on .

One reason I haven’t been blogging much recently is that I’ve been trying to spend more time working on my fiction writing. I got so many helpful comments on my last submission that not only am I prepared to revise it and look for a publisher, but I wrote something else, and I am ready to share a draft of that something else with whoever is willing to send back a critique within a month or so.

This time around I actually tracked how much time I was spending, usually working in sixty-minute blocks, so I can report that the process from outline to ready-for-beta draft took just under 31 hours. Yeah, I can write forty thousand words in a month… and delete thirty-two thousand of those words.

My newest dubious creation (total length: approx. 7,600 words) begins as follows:

I promised you in the hospital that I would write you every day, and I’m sorry I missed a day, but last night I couldn’t find my computer. I guess it would serve me right if boyscript becomes meaningless to you by the time this letter reaches you. Just in case, though, I will write down as much as I can now, starting with when I arrived for my first day of high school.

Getting into the building took longer than I expected, because each doorway had a teacher in front of it with a spool of rectangular lemon-yellow stickers. Each boy got waved through the door. Each girl had to present the teacher with her sheathed knife and get a sticker joining the handle to the scabbard. I walked through, trying to pretend I had walked through lines like this for years, trying not to look at anyone’s weaponry. The scar tingled on the back of my left hand.

I followed the numbers painted on yellow wall tile until I came to 105, my homeroom, and only then did I notice the banner across the hallway. Across the left side, blue paint on white paper, it said WELCOME. Then, in red, sketched with the same width of brush, were a human figure with arms raised, a hand with two fingers making a V shape, and a round eye with the pupil looking to my left. Person, hand, and eye were all drawn at the same height.

I remembered seeing the same kind of script on Mom’s notepad this morning. A row of gesticulating body parts had been stamped into her letterhead right next to Elizabeth Yamamoto, M.D., Psy.D., and under that, she had pencilled in a dozen more, in the same style, and pinned the sheet to the fridge with a magnet.

“What’s that?” I had asked.

“Just a note to Consuela,” she had said.

“A note for what? Asking her to wash the mammoth hide after she sweeps out the cave?”

Mom had given me a suspicious look and I had resolved to try really really hard to blend in.

Please let me know if you want to read and comment on the rest. Do not fear for my artistic ego; it has been trampled by experts.

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