Today I feel like the line from a Rudyard Kipling poem: When earth's last picture is painted and the tubes are twisted and dry. I've been consumed by my writing these last two weeks. I'd finished the first draft of Storm's Interlude, a contemporary romance, last Saturday. This week involved giving it a read through, making corrections, deleting sections that didn't move the story forward, erasing people who weren't essential to the storyline and rewriting a weak scene.
Tuesday evening I shared my weak scene--where the heroine finds her abusive ex-fiancee hiding in her closet--to my writers' group. In a movie, when something like this happens, a dynamic musical beat produces surprise, shock, fear. My question to them was, how do I convey this with words? Ideas were thrown out and suggestions made. Suddenly I realized that I'd been setting something up throughout the entire book. Odd that I needed them to turn on the old light bulb in the cobwebbed closet of my brain, but there you have it.
I spent the next two days rewriting that scene, pleased with it as it took shape--stronger, scarier and more realistic. As I wrote about the guy strangling my heroine, I realized I needed to know the physical effects of strangulation. Would there be bruising? A sore throat? A change in voice tone? Those questions spurned hours of online research.
When I read several articles that laws have only recently been passed listing strangulation as a violent crime, especially in relation to domestic violence, I was appalled. Medical professionals are just now learning all the signs of strangulation. Take bloodshot eyes, for example. Previously, reddened eyes were attributed to the victim's crying. Now they realize that the act of strangulation forces blood into the whites of the eyes. Pardon me while I ask, "Are we in the twenty-first century here?" (Note strong degree of sarcasm.)
One could say my research sent me to my soap box. Having been a victim of violence, I get testy in a hurry on the subject. I knew I'd have to include some of this information in my manuscript. This decision meant a total rewrite of two chapters--a worthy cause, I felt.
Last night at nine o'clock, I emailed my 83,300 word manuscript to my agent. I thought I'd feel elated. Instead I feel like Kipling's paint tubes--twisted and dry.