I made a useful discovery last week, useful to me, maybe to others. I had just finished draft 16 of my WIP and loaded chapter one to start draft 17. I couldn’t face it. I kept asking myself how many more of these things will it take? Jeffery Archer does 18 handwritten drafts of each book. Ten drafts ago I had been thinking along similar lines, although I’m working on a laptop. I left it for the night and the following day reduced the workload to a paragraph. It’s so much better, the writing has become more fluid and I’m finding questions that need to be answered. The thing is, that’s how I used to write before I decided to be a writer. I’m still working on that first chapter, and still doubtful that the book will sell, but my characters are speaking to me again, so who knows, maybe in six months I’ll be able to volunteer at my job and write full time.
An here’s the text again!
A nine-year-old boy stands outside the front door of a seven-floor walk-up. He begins to breathe deeply, filling and emptying his lungs with each breath; fighting the stink that has already started to rise in his mind. He takes a final look around to make sure there is no one he recognizes. People with nothing to do are sitting on stoops, sweltering in the New York summer. From somewhere farther down the block comes the sound of what, in a few years time, will be called Rap. The boy can see no sign of anyone who might report him and deprive him of one of the few pleasures of his life. When he satisfies himself that the coast is clear, he takes a final breath, then, covering his mouth with the palm of his hand, he pinches his nose against the stink, pushes the door open and enters the building.
“You know me,” a voice erupts from a pile of blankets in the hallway. The blankets begin to move and from beneath, yellow eyes with pinprick pupils bore into the boy, looking through him and past him. Broken lips part but now the voice is so devoid of hope that the boy almost starts crying. “You know me.” The face retreats beneath the blankets, but the voice continues, “You know me. You know me. You know me.”
With his lungs burning, the boy steps as quietly as he can past the blankets. Once he is clear, he begins to run, charging the stairs two steps at a time. Walking along the landing, the smell overpowers him. The building always smells like a sewer, but this is worse. It is unlike anything he has ever smelled before. He gags and almost throws up. Somewhere in his mind, he wonders how they can live like this; animals would have more sense.
He pushes open the door to his father’s room and stops. His father’s face is frozen in a look of pained ecstasy; thin lips stretched to the limit; cloudy eyes look directly at the boy and hold him. He feels a trickle of piss run down his leg. His eyes wander to the holes in his father’s body, from where maggots seem to ooze like puss from a boil. In the dead man’s left arm, a half-depressed syringe stands upright, casting a shadow, marking the time at 4p.m.
I joined Librarything, they give you the option of describing your book with a haiku. Here’s what I wrote for Online Cupid:
She is the woman Of his dreams. He is the man Of her worst nightmares.
Granted, it’s not a real haiku, but it does, somewhat, sum up their relationship.
You can find it here.
Clarence has a dream: to escape the world of contract killing and start a little musical theatre, for kids, so they can make something of themselves. Every job he does is money in the bank, food on the table. If he had to, Clarence could lay his hands on two million dollars, all earned.
ebook available here.
I recently finished the sixth draft of my next book Forty Shades of Green, and when I went to save it, I got a message saying, basically, that it couldn’t be saved because it was infected. Be fore I lost the entire document, I managed to copy it and paste it into notebook, so at least I saved the raw text.
I’ve started on the seventh draft, and I’m doing it longhand, and I’d forgotten how enjoyable that it – no flickering screen, no tapping keys, just the flow of a hand across the page.
Anyway, here’s the new beginning for Forty Shades of Green.
Frank Moran stood 6’2’’ in the mirror; his hair reflected the same Elvis-black it had since he was seventeen. With one eye on the gallery of bald ancestors on the wall behind, Frank checked his own hairline, and then he stood back. He quickly turned and turned again to check his clothes. Did they pass the JBT? The James Bond Test – when in doubt, always ask yourself, ‘What would James Bond Do?’ They did; now he was ready; that readiness gave weight to his mussels. He trembled like a first night actor in a play. He always did. But this wasn’t a play, or a movie, he wanted to be in, at least not in this place – never in this place. He had been there three days now, and had yet to go into town. All necessary arrangements having been made over the phone, he went straight from the airport to the house. The taxi journey became an education in the brilliance of Steven Seagal movies. Frank made appropriate noises at appropriate moments. An hour later he arrived at his childhood home with a new appreciation for both Steven Seagal and the world he had left behind. He found a key to the backdoor under a flowerpot, and let himself into the house.
At the sound of a car outside, Frank turned his face to the window, but the curtains were drawn; not that it mattered, his father had recently covered the glass with tin foil so he could sleep in a more complete darkness. Frank listened as the car stopped. It was time. He closed his eyes and took a breath – in through the nose, out through the mouth – to centre himself. And again. He checked his reflection one last time.
‘Looking good,’ he said. ‘You can do this.’ He nodded his head.