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Unknown Girl

foggy bathroom mirror

Mirror Mind

Part of the trouble with writing a new book involves unlayering a new side of yourself, a thinking you’ve never tried. These characters haven’t existed before in this way, for this book, and the sole place to look them up is inside, in the foggy places.

For me, it’s like meeting an unknown version of myself and gradually becoming her. My Vault 2 people are back there in my mind. I saw their exterior actions and speeches when they showed up in the first draft, but now as I return to those pages, I find that some of their conversations are empty. They were exploratory, searching exchanges between forming people, written by a me who barely knew them. Those people were the best I could manage at the time, but they were far from real. I thought I knew what they wanted, but I only knew part of their motivations.

This must be progress, because I see clearly what my characters ought to be saying instead, or I see that the conversations need to be cut entirely. Mary Pearson (The Kiss of Deception) reminded me lately that the beauty of drafts is that we don’t have to have everything figured out all at once. How true.

This is a stage of trust and curiosity, and my goal is to work one layer closer to the truth.

2 Responses to Unknown Girl

  • I like this post a lot, Caragh, and it had a hand in surfacing the following poem. Your view of working in and through the layers is much to be preferred, and I hope to embrace it somehow.

    Appealing

    He began with the brittle tannic skin
    And just kept peeling and peeling,
    Absently or doggedly, it was hard to tell which,
    Severing layer after layer —
    Or rather, piece of layer after piece of layer —
    That stuck stubbornly to the well-cloaked cores,
    Until (and it was a long time until until)
    There was nothing left
    Save a sea of sliver boats
    Each too flimsy to float in his sea of tears.

    It was only then he implored me
    To help him make hashbrowns.
    Lying, I confided I didn’t know how.
    It wasn’t that I feared crying, or worse, not.
    I just couldn’t bear to be the one
    To chop his precious, pale and pathetic peels
    into even smaller pieces
    Or risk handing him the knife.

  • John ~ Oh, yeah. Good stuff. Love that last line. You’ve captured parenting for me. So true!
    All best,
    Caragh

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Caragh's Latest Favorite Reads

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Every Day
The Dog Stars
The Reinvention of Edison Thomas
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
The Fault in Our Stars
Two of a Kind
Until It Hurts to Stop


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