Holding a Torch (or, a Galvanick Lucipher)
I don’t like to talk about my first manuscript; or I do. It’s a struggle because I get all reminisce-y; my words time to the bittersweet heartbeats, as if remembering that first boy you ever liked and who never liked you back. A farcical one-sided romance that was never going to be, and yet has such power over you.
Alright, it’s a little more mature than that. For starters, it’s a creation of mine, not some independent mind (… but then, all those painful romances are just mind creations too). I went through new things with that manuscript, made all the mistakes with it. Fumbled and faltered and fucked up plot, character and place. I treated him bad (and yeah, I’m going to anthropomorphise, get over it); he treated me bad right back. We didn’t know what we were doing, and that was the nexus of the fun, and the frustration.
It was the first time I wrote with such abandon, such a pulse coursing through an idea that just would not manifest itself as a readable story. It was my first experience of being critiqued (savagely so); then tipping up my chin and going back, determined to make it work. It took me through two rewrites, closer, closer, but no closure. Twice to the Hachette manuscript development program, once on the longlist, once going all the way. I was advised to put it aside. And to be honest, as I sat with that manuscript, we both knew it had come to time apart. We were just hurting each other. I’ve had three other manuscripts since; long-term relationships. And a dozen flings with shorts and flash. And all benefitted from the lessons of the first time round. Less unexpected, less burred edges. Far less raw.
And yet, the lure. That first foray sits uneasily unfinished. A relationship not taken to its natural conclusion. Passion unadmitted. An adventure suspended. And I do not abide those. I tell myself that when enough time has passed; when I’ve forgotten the heat of those words, when I’ve accepted some things do not work out, when I’ve moved on … But I don’t believe those things will happen. Passion unfinished can be tamped and smothered, but the embers only slumber. This year, I suspect, I will scratch aside all that heaped ash and breathe the oxygen filled breath that will bring another round to life. And from here, we will start again:
It begins this night.
Even as she runs, Demisma twists the torn paper scrap about her fingers. As her arms pump, the sheet tears at the wind, flailing, trying to escape as she is. She is in a hallway, long and white. Her shoes squeak and scuff. She passes a vending machine, red as blood, then a plastic plant, grey with dust.
They are chasing her.
She crashes into a blind, silver end; doors close, her stomach sinks, going up; an elevator; half a moment to snatch the crumpled scrap and read. Familiar, these words; from a text, torn from within the jacket. The rules of the universe. Secrets that she knows, and the customers never see …
(from The Q Line, fifth incarnation)