January 4, 2015 | 5 Comments | Betsy Woodman
This morning I found the original outline (55 pages worth) of Emeralds Included.
My first concept was unrecognizable from the finished book—different characters, different subplots, different everything. There was stuff about an accident in a roller-skating competition and about a retired judge suffering from memory problems. All pretty groan-inducing.
My editor, Marjorie Braman, had entered comments. On page 15, she said, “So far, you don’t have a lot of plot.” And later, “Not sure if this is going anywhere.” Yet further on, she simply asked, “Necessary?”
Even the titles I was considering I now think are awful:
Blues and Greens
Memories are Made of This
A Matter of Judgment
The thing is, drafts two–three-four–five–still looked a lot different from the final version.
Writing a novel is like a hike through different landscapes. It reminds me of my one notable athletic exploit, climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. (I had to be pushed the last 500 feet.)
The rain forest at the start of the climb gives you no idea of the alpine meadows coming up, let alone of the steep slope with the loose stones near the summit. To get to your destination, you just have to say goodbye to one zone and keep on going into the next.
People too are unrecognizable from one stage to the next. Here’s my granddad James B. Woodman at one, sixteen, and seventy-five years of age.
Photo credit: Woodman family collection
So. Happy New Year, all, and good luck on the project you have going, whatever stage it’s at–or whatever stage you’re at.