I haven't talked about my writing in awhile. It's been a couple of months, actually, since I'm made more than a passing remark about The Sandcastle's Way, and I haven't talked about any other sorts of writing, either! What's gotten into me?!
So I'm here to change that. First of all, I am super psyched to announce that I made it into the top twenty finalists of Stephanie Morrill's writing contest! Stephanie Morrill is a published author who runs the blog Go Teen Writers, which is full of great advice, tips and information directed at teen writers hoping to write a novel and/or get one published. Every few weeks, she hosts a writing contest where she gives a prompt, and then teens and young adults write a short entry. The idea is to use the prompt to craft a one-hundred-word beginning of a story, almost like the opening of a novel. Something to hook readers and lure them in, but that doesn't try to tell the whole story.
Often, there are as many as eighty to ninety entries, and published authors judge them. This is how Stephanie explains the scoring system:
Each judge reports to me who they felt should place first, second, and third. You receive 3 points for first, 2 for second, 1 for third, and .5 for honorable mentions. I keep a running tally of points in an Excel spreadsheet...At the end of the year, those who place first, second, and third overall will receive prizes. For first place, if that person is interested, I'll mentor them for up to a year. I'll read full manuscripts, we can talk about story ideas, the business, some next steps, etc. If you're at the place where you want to start querying agents, I'll help with a query letter and getting a proposal ready. For second and third place, I'll read and critique the first three chapters and a 2 page synopsis. (Also known as a book proposal.) There will also be free books and bragging rights.
And I made it to the top twenty! This was my blurb (the prompt is in bold):
This is not what I expected. They told me what to expect, of course; how the trees branch upwards, stretching towards the light while the air flows past like a giant’s breath across the earth. They told me about the grass, a living green carpet that softens your footsteps. But now I’m frozen with shock. I never thought the world would be so breathtaking, and as I stand here I realize why: because no matter how many adjectives you use, when you’re talking to a girl who has spent her entire life in an underground bunker, there simply no words to describe the vast, endless sky.
I'm so excited! Even though I didn't actually win, it was still super cool to see my name in the top twenty list. Yay!
But now, onto the second order of business: The Sandcastle's Way.
But now, onto the second order of business: The Sandcastle's Way.
No, I have not abandoned it, I swear! I've still been working on rewriting, and Mom's been sure to keep me at it. (It's always nice to have someone to keep you on task!) I'm working on rewriting the third chapter right now and, having gotten that far, I've decided to join in on a little blog event called Snippets of Story.
Snippets of Story is a meme for writers started by Katie S. from Whisperings of the Pen. Basically, every month she encourages writers to share bits of their writing on their blogs and then link up with her. They don't have to be lengthy excerpts or pages of manuscript; in fact, most participants only post a few paragraphs. They're just little tidbits, a few random lines from your work-in-progress so you can share some of what you've been toiling over. It sounded like a lot of fun to me, so I decided to share a few short excerpts from The Sandcastle's Way with you. (If you're unfamiliar with my novel, you can read a bit about it here.) Keep in mind that everything's unedited; you could say it's kind of a rough draft of my rewrite. But regardless, I hope you enjoy reading!
The room is a filtered grey, and I glance at the window, thinking for a moment that Mom must have pulled down the shades. But no; there are no shades to speak of. Instead, it’s as though a thick grey cloud has descended directly onto Pemberly Cottage. Looking outside, I can only see a few feet before fog swallows up everything. It’s like being stranded on an island in the middle of an ocean of mist – I feel like the only person in the world.
My mother is firmly convinced that everyone needs a creative passion, or else life loses its meaning. “Follow your passion” is her religion and her life’s philosophy, and she’s spent the last twenty years doing exactly that.
The studio looked enormous when I first walked in. It was in the converted loft, with a high ceiling criss-crossed by worn wooden beams. Every open surface seemed covered in paint, as if someone had taken a paintbrush and flung it around the room at random. Tables of all shapes and sizes were scattered throughout, paints and brushes and other supplies spread out on their surfaces. And amid the colorful confusion stood easel after easel, all of them adored with a blank white canvas.
As I paint, my view seems to narrow until I have eyes only for my work. When I’m painting, it’s as though the world simultaneously shrinks and comes into focus; all that I see is what’s right in front of me, but everything I do see is sharply defined. It puts me in a different frame of mind altogether, one where my busy thoughts withdraw and leave behind a kind of intense, meditative calm. A place where the lines of the world are clean-cut and simple rather than jagged and unsure.
“Elli?” a familiar voice calls, startling me. I glance over to see Finn, her hair dripping and her lips blue with cold. My surprise must be obvious on my face, because she hurries over, clutching a beach towel around her shoulders and kicking up sand.
“I thought it was you,” she says, grinning. “It’s Finn, remember? From the other day?”
It’s hilarious that she thinks I’ve forgotten her, and I almost laugh before stopping myself. “I-no, of course I remember you,” I say. “I just…didn’t think you’d recognize me,” I finish lamely.
Finn sits down next to me, the sand clinging to her wet legs like a second skin. “Of course I did,” she says, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world.
And hm...after reading all of those snippets, I've come to the conclusion that I'll have to do this more often! Oddly enough, reading these snippets reignites my passion for my novel. It's the exact opposite of self-doubt - reading them makes me think, hey, I'm not all that bad at writing! Which could sound just the slightest bit self-centered, but at the moment I couldn't care less. I've gone through bouts of crippling self-doubt, and I've learned that at times, confidence in your own work and writing talent can be hard to come by. So what the heck, I'm just going to say it: I'm pretty good at writing!
This month's edition of Snippets of Story is just about over, but don't worry - I expect there'll be a May edition coming out soon! I'd definitely recommend joining in - it's really refreshing to share bits of your baby with the world. I hope you liked mine, and I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments!