We met at Lisa’s house this week, Pam’s off on a trip, Alaskan Cruise. Lisa extended an invitation to Carolyn Rose, our professor from Novel Writing Boot Camp. Carolyn made us shake in our boots as she showed us all up, deftly handling gut wrenching critiques of our work, far deeper than we’d been venturing, and made us wonder if we’d been too easy on each other.
White wave ruffles floated on top of spinning water, came in close, collapsed, receded, repeated. We trudged through the dry sand, and as we got close to the waves I slipped off my sandals. “Please don’t buy me gifts,” I started, sentences coming out ruptured, held together with sighs. “I don’t like them. I know that sounds dumb, but they have never meant good things to me.” I realized that explanation would not be enough, and I didn’t want to be badgered. “Give me a minute,” I whispered, and shivered even though the sun was hot. I gathered my thoughts as waves tumbled.
(A Single Pearl, Chapter Four).
Scene: Lee’s first attempt to buy Kerri Ann a gift, her violent reaction, introduces their polar experiences: family life, finances. His persistence to know about her prior relationship, and the reveal of how things ended with Gary.
Lisa: I feel she should suggest going to the beach. I like the gift explanation. I like that she was industrious/independent when young. I like the sunglasses (protection). The intro of the Gary story was awkward. I’m not sure ‘sounds like you’re falling in love’ fits. I like gift to herself.
Melanie: + She didn’t let him buy gift, but I wanted to know why earlier. ++Back story of work she did. I’m confused as to when she found out about Gary. + ‘Accept a gift to me from me.’
Sallee: + ‘artificial apologies’ good sentence; + ‘no gifts…friends are important to me;’ interesting story about Gary, ‘filter from the scrutiny’ (good),. -Need more sexual tension description, -more emotion, feelings, reaction, -need deeper descriptions.
Carolyn: What are Kerri Ann’s thoughts and visceral reaction about the pearl? – ‘water cylinders,’ sounds like tanks of water. +Great backstory about father’s drinking. More reaction, given what he asks about gifts (he’s so weird), does she think he can understand? What’s her reaction when he says, ‘you need to accept a gift’? Reaction to his talk of finance. What are his inane questions, give us some conflict. Do the girls know the truth about Gary? Give us more of the basis of Lee’s and Kerri Ann’s attraction beyond the physical, make us see and feel the chemistry. Why is Chloe adamant Kerri Ann not be with Lee, what’s Kerri’s reaction, what’s Chloe’s objection, dialogue? Explore giving herself a gift, what about this trip! Other gifts. Are you spending too much time in Hawaii? Can you shorten it, it could outweigh the rest of the book.
EDITS: Almost too many to mention after Carolyn’s dogged pursuit of perfecting writing among her students. Oh, and it stings she thought Lee was weird, but of course she’s coming in mid-stream, we’re already on chapter five for heaven’s sake, and she’s missed the best, near perfect portion of my writing, this was just a minor hiccup. And not to add insult to injury, but Carolyn organized a seminar with Elizabeth Lyon immediately following our meeting. Okay, enough of that rant, at least she doesn’t think we’re hopeless, obviously believes were trainable, and yes, I’ll admit it, I reaped the benefit of her advice, Lee actually asks his questions that had earlier only been dimly referenced:
“Were you very close?” Lee asked.
“We knew each other about a year, we were good friends.”
“You were more than acquaintances, then.”
“I just said we were friends.”
“Close enough to be…at risk?”
“What do you mean?”
He stared at me.
“Do you mean intimate?” I asked.
The thought process Carolyn started sent me back to Kerri Ann, and got me in her head. She now reflects why she finds Lee attractive, dependable-reliable, which gave me references to draw on for other head-discussions she has further on in the book, and of course his reliable-routine will unsettle her in the future, nothing unexpected, then naturally he’ll do things very unexpected.
REFLECTION: At each turn, the writer decides what they will alter to please others weighed against what they believe, know and what no one else sees coming–dang it all, sometimes you just have to let go of some of the feedback. The reviewer comes with their prejudices and shouldn’t sway the author when their course encourages a slide down a muddy hill. I slipped a bit. You’ll just have to crawl back up, put on clean clothes and a clean tableau on the laptop. Doesn’t this picture look like a water cylinder? “White wave ruffles floated on top of cylinders of water….” Tanks of water?’ I mean really, grumble, grumble. How would you explain it? No really, I’m asking, describe it.