Monday, June 29, 2009

Guest Blogger: Christine Marciniak

Revise the Story, not the Dream

When I was twelve I planned on being the world’s youngest best-selling author. Or maybe just in the nation. (I knew how to be realistic in my goals.)

Didn’t happen.

It’s not that I didn’t write. I wrote all the time. I filled pages and pages with wonderful prose. I simply never got to the end. In most cases it seems a book has to have an ending before it will be published.

There was one story in particular I was working on. It featured a very rich, very wonderful-in-every-way high-school girl named Casey. She had adventures, she had romance. She had it all.

Well, except maybe a cohesive plot and theme. And, you know, an ending.

Ah, but revisions are a wonderful thing. With them it’s possible to take a fragmented story written in high school and turn it into an actual book.

I’ll share a secret with you: the very beginnings of the story that turned into When Mike Kissed Emma can be found in one of my old high school notebooks.

Take for example this paragraph written in high school:

But during this scene, this one scene when everyone was watching, Jim decided to not fake the kiss. He grabbed her around the waist and kissed her in a way that could be described as passionately. To Kate’s horror she found herself caught up in the moment, she was enjoying it, and kissed him back. Suddenly, with a start, she realized what she was doing and pushed him away from her.

And this scene from When Mike Kissed Emma:

And I kissed him back.

I was in his arms. His lips were on mine. The world around us disappeared. There was no one here but me. And Mike. I held him tight. Mike’s mouth was warm and soft on mine. My legs were like rubber. I held him tighter to keep from falling down.

The DJ started playing Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and the spell was broken. I backed up from Mike. What had I done? I’d been kissing Mike! He smiled at me. I just stood there. What had I done?

And it’s more than just the kiss they have in common. There’s the school play they are putting on and the love triangle and the irritating older brother.

It would be tempting to say that the story from high school finally got published. But that would be like saving a few fancy windows from an old house, knocking the house down, building a new house and putting those windows in it and saying it’s the same house. The windows may be the same but the house is very different.

When Mike Kissed Emma is not the same story I wrote in high school, but it’s a descendant of it. Which leads me to my final thought: never underestimate the power of revision.

Oh, and one more thought (this is the last one, I promise): Never give up. I may not be the world’s youngest best-selling author (that ship sailed long ago), but I am an author.

Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to be a guest blogger here.

Christine Marciniak is the author of When Mike Kissed Emma coming August 19, 2009 from Climbing Roses imprint of The Wild Rose Press.

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