Sometimes when it’s 2:12 AM I go to bed. Tonight is not one of those nights. Instead I decided to skim through one of the most terrible books I have ever written. I do this on occasion because it makes me feel better about myself, weirdly enough. Like…it’s physical proof of just how much I’ve improved over time. I mean with my writing. Not like…improved as a person. Though maybe I have. I’m not one to judge.
This particular book is called All That’s Left and it was inspired by an instant message conversation I had with a friend during my freshman year of college. It went something like:
Me – I have finished editing this book. All that’s left is getting published.
Her – It is???
Me – buh?
Her – Oh…I thought All That’s Left was the title of a book.
Me – Hmmm….
[Spoiler alert: The book I thought I had “finished” editing was The Dreamcatchers. As I am now rewriting it a second time, you might be able to see how overzealous I was back in the day.]
So I wrote a book with that title. But it was during my “I need to give all my characters instant boyfriends and live vicariously though them” phase and also my “I don’t need a plot…right?” phase. It is unfortunate that those two phases coincided. Anyway, the point of the matter is that I was reading through this book and something miraculous happened: I found a passage I actually liked. It’s just a short snippet, but I thought I’d share it. Why? Because like as not this book will never see the light of day. It does not really merit rewriting, and even if it did, it still wouldn’t be high on my priority list. I’m still embarrassed beyond words that I let my friend, Micah, read it because now Micah has knowledge of just how messed up my psyche was at the time. That being said, good writing should be celebrated, no matter how insignificant or small the passage may be. And yes, I’m blowing my own horn a little bit, but I think you’ll let me get away with it.
Here it is:
Without warning, he jumped to his feet and ran to the table. A lone lump of clay sat in the middle of it, and it was this that he fell upon with deft hands. He pulled and pinched, tucked and rolled, until he had created a rhinoceros that looked amazingly lifelike. Just as I was about to congratulate him on his talent, he cursed and crushed the creation until the clay seeped out from between his fingers.
“Why did you do that?” I asked.
To my surprise, he answered, though it seemed he was talking more to himself than to us.
“It wasn’t right,” he mumbled. “It wasn’t what I wanted. Why can’t I get it right?”
“Looked good to me,” Craig said.
He stopped then and glared at us, acknowledging our presence for the first time.
“It looked good for a rhinoceros,” he sneered.
“Yeah? What’s wrong with that?” Craig asked.
“You are assuming that I was attempting to make a rhinoceros,” he snapped.
Then he went back to the floor and began scribbling on his paper again.
It doesn’t really need context and I’m not sure I’m prepared to provide it anyway. There would probably be more words in the explanation of the passage than there are in the passage itself. Suffice it to say that the perfectly sculpted clay rhinoceros is a metaphor.
Hopefully you agree with me that the passage is fun or interesting. If not…um…keep it to yourself I guess? My ego is ever so fragile.
That’s all for now!