Betsy Whitt

I read. I write. I think. I live.

Category: excerpt

Looking Back

Every so often I force myself to clean out, whether it’s the closet or the file cabinet or my desk or the boxes of history I lug around the country whenever we move. This last move prompted me to go through one of those boxes of history, and I came across some writing from my late high school and early college years.

Most of this writing is. . . existential, shall we say. Even in the pieces in which there is a character doing something, the plot isn’t the point. It was a rough time for me, in a lot of ways, trying to figure out how to be myself and interact with the world, and most of the time I felt wildly unequipped and out of place. Not that it was all terrible, because it wasn’t, just very confusing.

Based on the date, I wrote this about three weeks after arriving in Hungary–foreign place, strange situation, no return home for another three months, and I was trying to make a decision about where to go to college. And so, on February 15, 2000, I wrote this:

I float from place to place, attached and not attached, flying free and bound with chains. The blowing wind forces me forward as the pounding waves crash over me, throwing me flat on my back and rendering me unable to proceed. The sky is under my feet, the earth spreads across the expanse above me, and I tumble through space. I smell the darkness, feel the sunset, and see the song of birds. All is nothing, but nothing is everything and more.

I scare myself but still am happy, content to rise and struggle against the tide once more. Sometimes I retreat and spend my time building sandcastles that I know will be overwhelmed when the waves come again. And still I walk on the sky, my toes whispering through the clouds as I breathe the dirt of the earth above me.

Nothing is as it should be and yet everything is right. The paradoxes blend and mesh until they no longer contradict, but rather complement each other. And still I float.

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Non-Writing Things

It’s cold outside today. No, not just “I might wear capris instead of shorts” cold, 53 degrees cold. That’s like. . . 30 degrees colder than yesterday. And I have to say, I love Colorado. You just never know what you’re going to get.

Also, the jeans I was so happy about last week? They’re still fantastic, thanks.

Shiloh has turned into velcro-dog this week. She’s been extra-cuddley, extra interested in being nearby, to the point of settling down next to the Wii Balance Board for her morning chew while I exercised this morning. She’s currently leaning against my desk stool.

Mom and I were talking this morning, and realized that there might be a connection between my recent discipline in exercising every day (okay, 8 out of the last 9 days) and my positive outlook on the manuscript work. It certainly isn’t hurting, at any rate. And I’m still having a good time with it. I’m less of a push up weenie already.

Pretty much everything else proceeds as usual. I’ve got one scene that needs a bit more emotion, and then I’ll be reading the latest chunk of manuscript out loud before I send it along to critique partners and mentor. And then I’ll be jumping right in with revisions on the tail end of the book.

And since I haven’t posted an excerpt in a while, here’s a bit of Kerris’s-rusty-horsemanship-meets-headstrong-horse for you:

I lost my stirrups and hung on somewhere halfway down Zayiit’s shoulder. Beating hooves drilled out any thoughts except trying to haul myself back into the saddle with the untrustworthy fist full of mane I’d managed to hold onto.

Barak appeared on foot up ahead, though I had no idea how he got there. He shouted commands and set himself to block the horse’s path with his considerable bulk. For a moment I almost believed if he could get a hand on the reins Barak could haul the horse to a stop, but in the end it didn’t matter. The last tendrils of Zayiit’s sparse mane slipped through my fingers.

Good times, good times.

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The Rewards of Diligence

I started off the day getting an oil change and all the other check the car stuff that seems wise before a cross-country driving escapade. Then I proceeded to the coffee house, where I occupied their lovely leather couch (very comfy), ate a piece of blueberry coffee cake about half the size of my head, and drank my bottomless cup of coffee. Adrianne and Allison showed up while I was there, so on one of my breaks I got to spend some time with them, which was nice. I like having friends to bump into at the coffee shop.

Then I came home with fantastic intentions of doing all the laundry, which didn’t happen. And after some reading, I came back to work on the novel. It’s been a good day. Low stress, fair to high productivity, and generally a good vibe. I’ve hit 40% on the revisions, though I do have to go back and finish a scene in chapter 11. It seems to be flowing better when I bounce back and forth to it rather than pounding on it, trying to make things happen. One more scene to tweak in chapter 13, and then I’m on to chapter 14 for tomorrow. Still a touch behind, technically, but I’ll be ahead by close of day tomorrow.

Here’s another bit of teaser from the novel:

Hoshea’s body twisted in another violent convulsion and then lay still. Lemuel knelt to comfort him, but I could only stare in rapt horror at the spot just above the priest and the boy. Dark as fresh ink and swirled with sick yellow tendrils, the shadow writhed in the air. A heartbeat later, it dissipated. A wave of hate and black rage rolled over me and a shiver ran through the crowd, and then everything lay calm.

Cool, eh?

Finally, this might be one of my favorite signs ever. I took this picture myself. The sign really exists–it’s in the parking lot of Panera Bread on Montgomery Road just east of I-71 in Cincinnati. And I just wonder how many people backed into the pole before they put this up:

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Mmmm Excerpt

I’m writing today. Or, at least, I will be writing. Soon. Really, I promise.

And since I know you all need entertainment while I work, and since I don’t have any pictures of Shiloh handy, I give you (trumpet fanfare here) AN EXCERPT! Okay, so it’s more of a tiny sample, but you have no room to complain. I could have just not posted anything at all.

Anyway, this is from Kerris’s point of view. (She’s the heroine.) She’s snuck away from her aunt and uncle’s country manor to relax:

A ribbon of light brown road stretched before me against the patchwork of green fields. I jogged the mile or so to the southern hay field, paused for a last set of stretches, and started my first lap. Each deep breath, every firm strike of my heels and push of my toes for another stride chipped away a piece of the unseen weight I carried every day.

When Tynan and I arrived at Ashbourne after our parents’ death, Vanora took one look at me and resolved to turn my attention to ladylike pursuits. She said it was clear that my parents had let me run wild. I didn’t tell her how often my mother scolded me without effect for my behavior, but I soon found that Vanora possessed an iron will my mother had lacked.

There you go. Marginal proof that I am, in fact, writing a novel that has words and sentences and paragraphs and characters with problems to solve. I know, none of you say anything, but I know you wonder what I really do with all my time. There’s a book! I promise!

And now I must go revise it.

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