I’m coming up for air! Last Sunday I told myself there would be NO blog posting, NO email answering, NO browsing, NO chatting, NO Skype… NO anything … until I had finished the fourth (P-l-e-a-s-e God, let it be the last) revision of my novel.
Now when I use the word revision, I am not including the honing of general outlines, character sheets, synopses, intros, epilogues, indexes, the table of contents, query letters, proposals, or other drafts … all that is separate from the actual writing.
I have (just about) finished the fourth version of the story. With the brave click of my delete key, I restructure Enemy Numero Uno (all sentences written in passive voice) I include plenty of literary goodies (metaphors, similes, alliteration, etc.) and sparingly use adjectives, adverbs and qualifiers. “Consistent” is my P.O.V.’s middle name. Fat sentences, full of vivid imagery pepper all my paragraphs. Oh-oh-oh-oh, I wish!
When I finished the other three times, I got very excited. I (naively) believed that my editor would be absolutely ga-ga over the whole thing! She would not want to change a single word. But, no-o-o-o-o-o. Very nicely, she’d inform me that I’d have to make changes if I wanted my novel to be as good as it deserves to be.
To be fair, she asked me from the start, “Are you willing to do whatever it takes to transform this perfectly lovely writing of yours into a real novel? Oh yes, yes, yes! I would do that and more, more, more.
And you know what? I WILL do all that and more, more, more. In fact I have to leave you now and get back into “Word”…
This is the (current) first page of If Only You Knew, a historical romance about post-Tlatelolco Mexico City and Merida.
La Noche Triste
Mexico City, October 2, 1968
Once the Aztec sun dropped below the mountains, darkness spread over Mexico City like a black velvet sarape embroidered with seed pearl stars.
Below my third floor walk-up, gas grills hissed and fired up. Quick moving hands chopped green chilies, white onions and red tomatoes while strips of seasoned pork and plump chorizo spit and sizzled. By 7:30, eager patrons began queuing up, but the first tacos always went to the local cop who stood to one side, well out of the wind. Passing tourists inhaled hungrily, but fearing Monctezuma’s Revenge, they moved on to dinner at a guide book approved eatery. Then, on the dot of 8:00, strutting mariachis in wide brimmed sombreros made their appearance. They tucked their violins, trumpets and guitars under their arms, and primed their falsetto throats with the spicy snacks. Soon, their melodious music would dance downwind from Garibaldi Plaza.
During the seven years I lived in the Santa Maria La Ribera neighborhood, this nocturnal drama played out exactly the same way, every single night. Yet at 8:30 on October 2, 1968, no one had arrived. I heard no song in the empty streets, and I wanted to know who had broken all the rules. But I couldn’t stay warm. I’d gone out on the balcony without slipping a woolen poncho over my nightdress. Although I rubbed my bare upper arms, my teeth chattered and my body shook with the cold. I gave up, turned around, and headed inside.
When I look back on that decision, I often wonder… had I remained out there just a little longer, would I have even heard the disturbance in my building’s hallway?