Once again we are back in the story. This week we are going to work on our own revisions. So this process is the part I hate the most. I love writing the story: the research, the excitement of meeting new characters and developing their stories, setting up the world they will populate – all that is fun. It is like playing in a dollhouse and rearranging the furniture, putting pictures on the wall, blankets on the bed – setting the scene. The fun stuff.
Edits suck, I won’t lie. I HATE going back over and over a story I thought I’d finished. I want to revel in the finished product. I want the commas in the right place (yes, in my case that really would be magic because I love commas waaaay too much), and the characters to have done everything they were supposed to do to make the story click. I usually spend a lot of time staring blankly at the manuscript/story at this time. I move words around, then move them back. I spell check what is already spelled correctly. I check to make sure the names are all correct, and the story starts and ends where it is supposed to.
I purposely kept The Folly of Youth short because I did not want to impose too much on my fellow authors, CPs, and editors that are helping us with this project – but I worry it is too short. The doubts creep in – the imposter syndrome everyone talks about begins to take over. Does this story tell the story I want to tell? Are my characters real enough to be liked or hated? Are people going to be mad that it is sad? Will they get what my theme is? I don’t know.
In the end I decided to write the story that spoke to me. Here are my self-edits on The Folly of Youth. The picture is our prompt.
The Folly of Youth
What started as a dare soon became a test of courage and folly. The two are like sides of the same coin. Heads like courage and you win; tails like folly and you lose; a coin tossed in a contest to determine who throws the ball first, or… well, I know that all sounds a bit dramatic, but aren’t all those things you wish you could do over from the safety of hindsight a bit dramatic?
Looking up I was surprised to see stars. I found it hard to believe only three hours earlier we’d been laughing, daring each other to try things we’d never done before. The coin was a lure, a promise of adventure; but its truth was a greater lie than a cloudy summer day.
Sherry suggested the game. She licked her ice cream while sitting cross-legged Indian style on the rough stone wall separating the walkway into Grayson’s Cove from the beach.
“So, what’s the boat’s story anyway?” she nodded at the half-sunken ship down the beach.
I followed her slender arm; soft peach colored skin was dusted with sand from our earlier sunbathing. Sherry was a Summerling – a tourist visiting for the season who then returned to their lives in places more exciting than Grayson’s Cove. She was the cousin of my best friend Lucy.
That summer we all turned thirteen I loved her at first sight.
“Here’s your cone, Janie,” Lucy handed me my favorite – strawberry double scoop.
I smiled at Sherry’s giggle when some of the already melting ice cream landed on my shorts. Lucy snorted.
“Oh, just kiss and get it over with already,” she said, disgusted at my amateur attempts to hide my growing feelings.
“The boat?” Sherry reminded us.
“Oh, that’s nothing special.” Lucy said.
“No? Then why all the signs to stay away from it?”
“Hazard.” Lucy and I said at the same time. “Boy died last summer playing there.” I continued.
“Really? Let’s check it out.” Sherry leapt from the wall, halfway down the beach before Lucy and I realized she meant it.
“Hurry up, last one there has to jump off the roof,” she called over her shoulder laughing.
I tossed my cone. Running as fast as I could up the beach behind her I admired how her legs sparkled in the sun as she ran.
We reached the boat at the same time.
“To the roof. We’re pirates!” Sherry clambered up the wooden structure. I was steps behind her.
Standing on top of the tilted roof she crowed with glee at her triumph. Then the impossible happened. She fell.
I jumped after her, hoping somehow to stop the inevitable from happening but the coin was tossed, and it fell on tails.
She landed awkwardly, her beautiful neck broken.
I remember Lucy screaming, then sirens. I clung onto Sherry even as they tried to separate us. The stars twinkled overhead as the Summerling – my first love, left this world for another adventure.