The Lure of the Old
Or… Revising An Old Story is Way Easier Than Creating A New One, Right?
There’s something immensely comforting about having a complete manuscript on your hard drive. An early draft, maybe, but it’s complete. You’ve typed those magical words ‘The End’ and then sat back and celebrated. Whether it’s your first story or your twentieth, it still feels good to finish it.
You go on and write another, and another, honing your craft all the time. Like fine wine and good cheese, writers mature – and at different speeds too.
And then the day comes, when you think fondly back to your first manuscript, or your second, and you decide to dust it off, give it a polish, and publish it. Why not? You always loved the characters / plot / storyline / setting / twist at the end. You know it works… only it doesn’t quite. Not really. You’re looking at your old story through rose-tinted spectacles, in much the same way as you fondly remember a holiday from your childhood. You loved it, every minute of it, but if you asked your Mum / brother / cousin they’d tell you a completely different story. You’d think about endless days on the beach, while they’d shudder at the memory of jellyfish stings, sunburn, and heatstroke. See?
I loved my first story, written probably twenty years ago, and I knew I’d publish it one day. I just didn’t appreciate how much work it needed. It’s been through at least four complete rewrites, several title changes, and countless minor revisions, and the naïve part of me thought it was ready to go… nu-huh. My critique partner was very gentle with me. It didn’t just need a polish, it needed sandblasting, lumps chopping off, rough corners smoothing, and then the polishing could start. My planned two-week project turned into four months, and it still wasn’t done.
Finally… it’s almost there. It’s going through professional edits right now, with a planned release sometime in February. Here’s a little unedited snippet to whet your appetite 🙂
Jon’s glamorous life as a racecar driver is poles apart from Anita’s job in a bookshop, and he’s drawn to her in a way he never imagined. After one unfaithful, soon-to-be-ex-wife, and a revolving door of models and actresses, Jon finds Anita’s innocence and vulnerability a breath of fresh air.
Anita’s abusive ex-boyfriend left her running scared of any kind of relationship. Picking up the pieces of her life is hard, but her best friend since childhood, Danny Webster, is only too willing to help. And then she meets Jon. He completes her in a way Danny never could.
She doesn’t expect the men to hate each other on sight. Losing Anita isn’t an option for Jon or Danny, but only one man can take pole position for her heart.
“He’s my best friend. Of course I spend time with him. And how can you not trust him?” Her voice rose in pitch. “What has he done to you?”
I was astonished she could have forgotten. “Well let me see.” I was angry too. “He hung up on me several times when I phoned for you. He’s warned me to keep away from you. He’s told me to fuck off in no uncertain terms. Then he picked a fight with me. You might recall it?”
“But he apologized. Shook your hand. He told me it was all a misunderstanding.”
“Yeah, right.” I couldn’t hide my contempt.
She jerked away and stood up, shivering, before wrapping her arms over her chest. “You’re jealous.”
There. The accusation was out in the open. It lay between us, challenging me to respond.
“I trust my instincts, Anita, and they tell me to keep the hell away from him.”
She stood there completely silent, staring at me with huge eyes. I sat sullenly. I could see she was close to tears, and I suddenly regretted my words. I held out a hand to her and tried a smile, but she ignored it.
“I’ve known Danny all my life.” She spoke slowly, as though she was working out what to say. “I’ve known you for less than a month. Are you asking me to choose between you?”
I just looked at her.
“You are. Jesus Christ.” She swung away, and walked to the doorway, her arms still wrapped across her body. The rain continued to hammer down; the thunder more distant now. She stood in the doorway, silhouetted against the lighter outside. It was ages before she turned back to me.
“Danny’s always had my back. Always. He rescued me when I quit at Uni. Danny encouraged me to train as an instructor. He spent months looking at horses for me, before finding Sam. He gave me a home. Rebuilt my life.” Her voice was low, I struggled to hear her.
“Don’t make me choose, Jon.”
I hung my head and took a deep breath to control my frustration. Right now, if I forced the issue I might lose her. I couldn’t take that chance. The chasm opened up between us.
He’d won. If I pushed her to make a choice and I lost, he’d win. If she chose me, she’d hate me for that, and he’d still win. Bastard. I seethed some more and felt adrenaline flooding my body at the memory of our fight. I wished I’d hit back harder. I stood up, shook my arms and legs and tried to calm down. Anita stared at me, her face pale and drawn, her eyes gleaming with unshed tears. I’d pushed her to this. I sighed and rubbed my hands over my face. I was deathly tired. There was only one way forward.
“I’m sorry.” I forced my voice to sound normal, and not give away my frustration. “You’re right, I am jealous of him. It makes me envious to see you together.”
Her mouth opened and closed again. “I’m sorry too.” It was barely a whisper.
I smiled, relieved. She wanted to put an end to our quarrel, but she didn’t move. She just gazed at me as though she didn’t really know me. Maybe she didn’t.
And then I realized what she was apologizing for. She’d made her choice.
Coming Feb 2016 from Acelette Press