Writing of the Day: The MC’s Sister Writes a Letter

What self is doing, she does not know. She just keeps tossing off letter after letter. Like, not only does she accept the throwdown of writing about 18th century Philippines, she has to make the whole thing epistolary!

Anyhoo, this section’s fresh as fresh, as she made the whole thing up about an hour ago. Thoughts?

You wrote that it is useless to appeal to the Bishop in Manila, for he cares more for “musk, civet, and pearls” than for his priests, which necessitates your appealing to Spain. And the Governor General is no better, you say, for he “struts about in the richest of silks and brocades”. If this individual were to somehow present to me at this very moment, I would demand that he be strung up from the highest gibbet. For are these things you have requested not proper and necessary for any human being, never mind those who are representatives of the Church and our country?

I am inclined to write a letter to the King himself, to inform him of what is truly going on in the islands, for He may well not know. Oh, to what lengths are we driven to serve both Our God and Our Lord!

Your loving sister,

Dorotea

In so many previous drafts (maybe the 1st to the 10th draft), Dorotea was the MC’s (secret) love interest, but self was unable to keep up the tension after the MC left for his mission in the Philippines, so she decided to turn Dorotea into his sister. There was more to the letter (e.g. curses to the English etc for occupying the islands, which they did for two years, in the early 1760s. They ultimately decided that the country didn’t have enough gold or silver to justify them staying.)

Stay tuned, dear blog reader. Stay tuned.

Early Draft: Matias, 1746

Self found an old chapter of her novel-in-progress (which is right now 310 pages; it used to be 323 pages)

This chapter is titled “Education, 1746” and begins:

The Bishop schooled Matias carefully. He gave Matias instruction on the governance of the Islands, and the manner in which the archipelago had come under the tutelage of Spain.

And then the history of the Islands unfolds, from Magellan’s voyage to the succeeding century, and all is told in dialogue.

“I must rest,” the Bishop said. “We shall continue on this topic tomorrow.”

Matias returned to his room and lay, restless and wakeful, far into the night.

Self loves, loves, loves these early drafts. That is fine writing, even if it was done by herself (lol). There is almost no backstory. Matias, the young priest, is being schooled by the Bishop. And it is only the two of them, chapter after chapter. There is a garden, and an old house, and birds, and heat, and the Bishop sometimes takes middle-of-the-night walks in just his nightshirt, and Matias catches him, and there’s light from a thin moon. And then nothing.

The parts self added, she doesn’t really like that they spell out so much history. In fact, the only new parts self likes are the parts during the ship voyage from Cadiz to Manila. And the introduction of four soldiers who escort Matias to the island. But these soldiers serve absolutely no plot. They simply take Matias and leave him there, on the beach. Then an old woman emerges from the forest and dances for Matias, and leaves again. And Matias lives in a swamp with another old woman. And finally he meets a half-breed named Diego.

That’s it! There are no big, dramatic scenes. But maybe that’s the story self wanted to write. Maybe that’s the real story: colonization in a hypnotic state, with no drama.

Ugh, writing in long form is truly difficult. She has to get the words down, but those words mean nothing. It’s only after, when she has to carve them into some kind of meaning. She’s not talking about plot, she’s talking about meaning. Her kind of writing is truly writing without a safety net, for she never has a road map.

She has a friend, Caroline (a member of her writers group, and a fine, fine writer herself) who read her short story collection. Last week, Caroline and self met in a café and Caroline told her which stories in the collection could/should be expanded. Caroline is the mother of three young children (all still in grade school) and has just started a graduate program at St. Mary’s, yet she read almost 300 pages of self’s work. That kind of generosity is priceless. These stories are not new, but because of Caroline, self knows which ones she has to try and work on some more.

She hopes she can do all this work in Annaghmakerrig. If she can just. Get. There. Without. Falling. Apart.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amwriting: Novel-in-Progress, WILDERNESS, Chapter 1

  • The old servant woman placed before each of them a white plate on which were artfully arranged four thin, golden slices of ripe mango.

Novel got her into the 2015 Banff Literary Studio, where one of her mentors was so scrupulous he marked sentence by sentence. Things like: WHO IS THE SPEAKER HERE?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Writing/Revising

Self is going through a stash of papers that she’s been toting around in her suitcase, for the longest time.

Lo and behold, it’s a print-out of her story, “Ice.” The one that Bellingham Review is going to publish.

DSCN9613

Page 1 of self’s dystopian fantasy, “Ice”

Self’s writing is very, very spare.

Some have even described it as “simple” though self really takes exception to that word as her process is anything but. It is the most intricate process ever.

She cuts ruthlessly during revision.

DSCN9610

Flash Fiction Revision: every phrase that isn’t 100% necessary gets cut.

What’s left on the page is not simple.

At least, not in self’s humble opinion.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Writing: A Lot Like Sports

Why is self thinking such a thought now?

A few weeks ago, during the Stanford/USC football game,  a newscaster quoted one of the Stanford players as telling his teammates:

“You’ve got to give it all you’ve got.  Whatever you hold back is gone forever.”

Stanford won that game, barely.

Give it all you’ve got, self.  Now, now, now.

You have to revise that novel about the maid and find a better ending.

You’ve got to finish the one you started, about the War.  150 pages is not yet a book.

You’ve got to start sending out that new collection.

All tasks that have been making self so tired, just thinking of them.

Writing is a lot like sports, dear blog readers.

Stay tuned.

nancy merrill photography

capturing memories one moment at a time

Asian Cultural Experience

Preserving the history and legacy of Salinas Chinatown

Rantings Of A Third Kind

The Blog about everything and nothing and it's all done in the best possible taste!

Sauce Box

Never get lost in the Sauce

GK Dutta

Be One... Make One...

Cee's Photo Challenges

Teaching the art of composition for photography.

Fashion Not Fear

Fueling fearlessness through style and inspiration.

Wanderlust and Wonderment

My writing and photo journey of inspiration and discovery

transcribingmemory

Decades of her words.

John Oliver Mason

Observations about my life and the world around me.

Insanity at its best!

Yousuf Bawany's Blog

litadoolan

Any old world uncovered by new writing

unbolt me

the literary asylum

CSP Archives

Archive of the CSP

The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

A journey from one end of the bookshelf to the other

Random Storyteller

A crazy quilt of poems, stories, and humor

Kanlaon

Just another Wordpress.com weblog