Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Let's Go Back

I started reading/revising Untouched today. I have the next two days off of work, I plan to drown myself in this manuscript. The thing is, I'm a better writer now than I was six months ago, when I started Untouched. So the manuscript does need quite a bit of work. The first chapters more so than the last, but by the time I make it through the whole ms, the cycle will have reversed itself.

As writers we are constantly growing, learning, honing our skill. I'm sure it's a large factor in the whole "never completely satisfied with your work" thing. Sure, we think it's good, but it could be great.

No matter how polished your ms is, you still see little things you could tweak, tiny word changes that probably don't matter, but to you make all the difference. I've heard that many authors flip through their published bestseller novels and cringe at certain passages or clunky words, wishing they could nitpick and correct and make it perfect.

Because that's what we want, ultimately. Perfection. We want to read something we've written and we want to be completely and totally satisfied- no, more than just "satisfied". WE WANT PERFECTION.

Will we ever get it?

Ha. Probably not.

But like that's gonna stop me from trying?

* * * * * * *

Here's the first page or so of Untouched. I've re-written my opening paragraph, oh, about twenty times. I still don't think it's perfect. But I'm still working on it.


I had no idea who she was when she walked into my room. I had no idea she brought death in with her, either. Not at first. All I knew was that she was interrupting my quiet escape from this life that held me captive. I was staring at the ceiling, cursing the life that had cursed me in return, when I heard an unusual sound. Footsteps.

Soft, clicking footsteps. The kind that clattered against the hard linoleum floor and echoed off the walls in an otherwise silent hallway. Not typically unusual, but amongst the hum of the medical equipment I was so used to, it stood out. Someone was walking toward my isolated room in my nearly forgotten corner.

I tilted my head slightly so I could see the display of the clock beside me. I strained my eyes against the darkness, the glaring red numbers bled through the night and revealed that it was just past three. I couldn't imagine why anyone would come to my room at this hour. There wasn't a reason to. The doctors had made it perfectly clear that there was nothing more they could do for me.

For a moment I let my hopes get the best of me, and whispered into the darkness. “Momma?”

With my last bit of reason I knew it couldn't be my mother. She had left my side two hours ago, retiring home to get five hours of sleep before coming back to the hospital at dawn break. For nearly a decade she'd spent the majority of her time at my side, talking me through my sickness. Comforting me, despite the fact that my death was nearly killing her.

She didn't want to leave my side. She was prepared to sleep in the chair beside my bed, propped up at an awkward angle just in case I awoke in the middle of the night, scared, and needed my mother. I was scared. But my death would do more than enough damage to her heart, she didn't need to watch it too. I was strong, and I would do this alone, for her.

Before she left I promised her I would be okay without her; promised her I would live through the night. I lied.

But now, alone and terrified, a moment of weakness overtook me, and the only thing I wanted in the whole wide world was for my mother to hold my hand and tell me beautiful lies about how everything would be all right.

The footsteps became louder, closer, then stopped outside my room. I kept my eyes on the door as it swung open.


What do you guys think? Hooked? Or not?

How do you refrain from nitpicking every little detail whenever you open up your ms?

Do you think perfection is possible after all?


  1. To answer your questions:

    1)Yes, I am hooked! I remember your original opening from the Miss Snark's contest, and this is MUCH heavier. I really like this version!

    2) I don't think you're supposed to not nitpick. That's what editing is. You see all the errors (big and little) and you tweak them until they're dead. Yay, editing!

    3) Perfection is NOT possible, and you shouldn't strive for perfection. Strive for good. Even great. But perfection? Don't even try, because you'll set yourself up for failure.

  2. This is indeed very gripping, and I find the character sympathetic. Your writing flows very gracefully, Kat. Great job.

  3. Thanks for your encouraging words guys! They're really, um, encouraging! :P

  4. Kat, I remember reading an earlier version of this... it's definitely stronger. As I said (I think I said it) before I really think that you have strong voice in your writing. Bravo.

  5. Hooked? Yes! Very gripping. I would not put this down until I reached the end (unless it gets dull in the middle). LOL

    Nitpicking is a part of us as writers.

    Perfection? That depends on who determines perfect. This is perfection, in my untrained opinion.