Honing my rewriting skills

“I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” – James Michener

Now that my thesis is officially and completely done, I’ll be posting some of the short stories that were included in the collection (and will be posting about the progress of trying to get some of the others published). Actually, the name of this blog, Nightmares, Day Dreams, and Imagined Conversations, was the title I gave my thesis project.

The first story from that collection, “A Mother’s Love”, I originally wrote in high school. My friends and I wanted to spend a summer making a movie and needed a story to start the process. I wrote it with the intention of adapting it to a screenplay but we never managed to coordinate and we didn’t have the right equipment anyway (as it turns out, having a camera that works with the computer so that filming and editing can actually happen are key components to the filmmaking process). The story was written for a small cast and the descriptions of place and objects are based on the intended filming environment, my parents’ house.

I have rewritten it a few times now, most recently for the inclusion in my honors program thesis project. Because of the length of the story, I haven’t had success with it on the literary journal circuit. It was published in my high school’s literary magazine my senior year (though my position as secretary probably didn’t hurt).

Excerpt from “A Mother’s Love”:

Lavinia opened the door and got out of the car. She allowed her mother to take her arm and lead her to the house. Her father took her things out of the trunk. He opened the door with the third key on the ring and held the door open for the other two. No one said anything to the others. Lavinia’s small bag was placed beside the door as they encouraged her to look around the house and reacquaint herself with everything.

There were framed photos along the wall leading up the stairs to the second floor bedrooms. Lavinia pointed to a young girl in one of the photos. “Is that me?”

Her mother nodded and smiled broadly towards her husband. He nodded and smiled meekly back. They remained silent.

Lavinia walked closer to the photograph behind the glass, set in the gilded frame. The girl was sitting between her parents at a professional photographer‘s studio, smiling with her hair pulled away from her face. She didn’t even recognize her own picture. Did she really look like that only a few years ago? How much her face had changed during those pivitol years of adolescence. “I don’t remember,” she declared, never taking her eyes from the girl’s face. The smiles disappeared from her parents’ faces but they continued to encourage her. She gauged their reactions from what she could see reflected in the mounted photo.

“It’ll come back to you. It’ll just take some time, but it will all come back,” her father said. It was like an order for her mind. Her mother walked over and placed a hand on her shoulder. Lavinia shrank back from the woman’s touch. The mother’s face couldn’t hide the pain. She quietly excused herself and left the room with tears in her eyes.

Lavinia sighed when she realized it was her fault. “I’m… I’m sorry. I want to remember, but… I don’t know how to make it come back.” Lavinia continued to gaze at the girl.

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