Every Childlike Author needs a Playground.

The Opening Lines: An Excerpt from my Soon-to-be Finished Book

Mountain Peak

I know a lot of my friends and acquaintances have been waiting, sometimes patiently, sometimes impatiently, for me to finish my novel. I imagine this is mostly so they can “hurry up and read it already” rather than a healthy interest in paying me money (er… congratulating me) for the fruit of all my hard work. But that’s okay. I want all of you to read it, and (eventually), you’ll be able to read the whole thing. That’s right. The whole thing. I just hope that when you do, it will be in the form of a bound copy printed by a major publishing house.

That’s the dream, anyway.

It’s the dream that I’m pushing myself to realize, many times at cost to myself, my family, and sometimes my friends. I don’t apologize for it, and I will never apologize for it, because my dream is my dream and someday I’m going to reach the top of the mountain I’m trekking towards. As Neil Gaiman once put it, I am…

…imagining that where I wanted to be – an author, primarily of fiction, making good books … and supporting myself through my words – was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal.

And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain. I said no to … proper jobs that would have paid proper money because I knew that, attractive though they were, for me they would have been walking away from the mountain. And if those job offers had come along earlier I might have taken them, because they still would have been closer to the mountain than I was at the time.

I learned to write by writing. I tended to do anything as long as it felt like an adventure, and to stop when it felt like work, which meant that life did not feel like work.

Neil Gaiman said it using the past tense because he’s already gotten to the mountain and is pretty much a superstar in the fantasy fiction industry, but it’s the closest anyone else has come to describing what I’m currently doing for myself. Life should not feel like work, even though many times it really is work. I know I will be unhappy doing anything but writing or something that allows me to write, and for those of you who’ve been waiting patiently for me to finish my first novel, here is a (very) short excerpt from the first chapter. These are the opening lines, and while not set in stone or steel, they will likely remain the same. They introduce a rather dark theme, I know, but for a good reason which becomes clearer as the book progresses.

For those of you who know the title of the (I hope) soon-to-be finished book, I simply ask that you keep it to yourselves for a little while longer…

Oh, one other thing. I’ve underlined the words which I italicized for emphasis in the original document, but for some reason couldn’t de-italicize using WordPress’s blockquote formatting. I don’t know why it doesn’t let me do that exactly, but just be aware the underlined words are supposed to be italicized amid a normal font. If you’re not too lazy, you can click here for a slightly less formatted version. EDIT: My blog theme italicizes blockquotes, but the WordPress Reader does not. So if you’re viewing this on the Reader, then I apologize for the underlined and italicized words. Can you say “Ugly?”

PART ONE, of CHAPTER ONE, of the Soon-to-be Finished Book:

Sometimes Frederick could feel the earth move beneath his feet.

It wasn’t like the times when Frederick sprinted across the schoolyard in a race with his friends. That was different because he was the one moving.

And it wasn’t like the time he’d felt an earthquake, either. That was different because he’d moved with the ground, and so had everything else. He even saw a picture fall from the wall, and had watched as a glass of orange juice scooted an entire inch before he reached out to steady it.

What Frederick usually felt was different. The earth would move, like some giant rolling over in its sleep. Sometimes it would stretch and stretch and strain, and other times it would groan and stir. But Frederick himself wouldn’t be moving, and neither would anything else. The pictures stayed on the walls and Frederick stayed where he was.

It was like the time his father had come home from work with a tired, sorrowful expression on his face. He’d given Frederick a long tight hug.

“Tommy’s dead,” said his father at length, looking straight into his eyes. “I’m sorry.”

Tommy was the boy down the street, three houses down from the end of the road where the Grays lived next to the empty lot and the field of hay. Tommy was older than Frederick and the same age as James.

James took it harder than he did, of course, since Tommy was closer to James than to Frederick. Still, Frederick grieved at the loss. He’d played with Tommy almost as much as his brother. Then, because his parents’ bedroom door was open just a crack, Frederick heard a detail that made his neighbor’s death worse.

“Tommy shot himself, Emmeline,” said his father.

The words were a shock, and Frederick had such a hard time believing it that he didn’t even hear his mother’s reply. But then, his father would know, wouldn’t he? His father had probably even seen Tommy’s body. That’s what detectives dealt with, didn’t they? He would know the truth, and so Frederick believed him.

And that’s when Frederick realized the earth was groaning beneath his feet. It was different than the other times he’d felt the earth move, because this time he knew why. It was stirring because Tommy had killed himself, and that was unnatural.

Eventually the earth seemed to stop its groaning. But for the first time, Frederick wondered if the world just kept straining below him without him knowing it. He thought that maybe it did.

That conversation had been the worst Frederick had ever overheard. Until he overheard a conversation that made it the second worst. Except this time his father had been the subject instead of the speaker.

He could still hear the words replaying in his ears…


Would you like to read more? If you have thoughts or comments you can leave them below, or by clicking HERE.


2 responses

  1. Pingback: The Childlike Author Feels… Passionate | The Playground

  2. Pingback: The Childlike Author Feels… Yearning | The Playground

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