Novel Thaws as Crabtree Falls Settles Into Deep Freeze

Local readers: I’ll be presenting in downtown Spruce Pine today at the Episcopal Church at 12noon to the Rotary Club. Come on out!
Two days of deep freeze here, meaning subzero temperatures and wind chill in the double digits. I had to “abandon ship” in the Airstream and seek warmer temperatures up the mountain at my folks’ house. I’ve moved around from place to place enough to know that a change in plans like that isn’t enough of an excuse to miss out on valuable writing routines…though the excuse was certainly there if I had wanted to use it. I’m happy to report it’s been a strong week of revisions as I’ve kept up with my 6am wake up (lovely to see the alpenglow creep across the high peaks so early in the morning), avoiding email and phone until 11am.
I’ve been focusing on Aaseya’s first appearance in the novel. She is my female, Afghan protagonist whose narrative begins 3 weeks before Nathan’s. She lives in the fictional village of Imar, placed between the real (and hopefully accurately described) cities of Kandahar and Tarin Kowt (also spelled Tirin Kot, for those of you who are particular about your Afghanistan geography). I began be reading and re-reading her sections without marking the printed page much, if at all. At first I felt hesitant–I couldn’t find much that seemed to need revising. Suspicious, I slept on it. I read novels by others and contemplated their tricks (currently reading: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards). Then, I returned to Aaseya’s section once more.
Finally, I was able to see how Aaseya’s husband Rahim’s narrative butts into hers in a less than graceful way. I cut scenes that read more like “his,” and this freed me up to expand existing ones featuring Aaseya, sometimes by just a line or two–in other cases by adding one or two full paragraphs. I honed the language a bit more so that it “referred back” to previously mentioned points (Kim Edwards does this a lot) or planted seeds for the future (a la rockstar editor and teacher Susan DeFreitas). I also read the work out loud several times to myself, from the printed page and the screen. I’ve got two more mornings of revisions left this week and I don’t know if I can complete the entire section (including both Aaseya and Rahim’s parts), but I bet I can settle on the pages that feature Aaseya. That will bring me to about page 70 in the drafted novel. About a third of the way, though I can’t tell wether that’s good or bad, since the novel should probably be about 20,000 more words. In any case…onward it goes, and delightfully so.

Meantime, one morning this week some friends invited me to hike to the deeply frozen Crabtree Falls, a 70-foot waterfall off the Blue Ridge Parkway not far from where I live. I worked late the night before to make up for taking “time off” the next morning, rose at 6, put in 3 hours, then hit the trails. It’s important to keep a schedule, but just as important to know when flexibility is in order. Boy am I glad I didn’t miss this:

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