Moving on

Sunday, June 6, 2010

It's All About Layers

I have a work-in-progress about one teenage girl’s view of craziness. It’s been my WIP for longer than I’m willing to admit so you have to know I am living it and breathing it at this point. In fact, I am so sick of it I am ready to upchuck it and quickly clean up the mess before anybody comes along to ask questions. But I think the reason it is taking me so long is that it has been sort of like putting an onion together layer by layer (just picture peeling in reverse.)

I started with a core of the raw truth, where the layers were thin, slippery, slimy and enough to make my nose run. I knew I wanted to mine my own crazy past, but I was unable to let myself stray too far from the facts. I had to leave off many of the factual layers and replace them with fiction. I was surprised at how fun this became, and soon my garbage can was full of discarded family secrets. Don’t worry. There were plenty left.

Then an astute critiquer said the protagonist of this would-be YA saga was way over the top in adult ways, so I had to pile on YA voice, action, drama, and melo-drama. I’m really starting to tear up now but I keep going. The next very wise piece of advice suggested that this story written in verse was lacking narrative cohesiveness. Basically, the story got lost in the verse. These last layers were hardest. The pieces were larger and thicker, and the closer I got to the outer layer, the more fragile they became. They crumbled under my touch if I wasn’t careful. Well, by now I am awash in tears but the onion is done, I think.

Now, to market, to market, with one raw onion.