Monday, November 2, 2009

Wanna Read Part of My Book?

I've mentioned it before, but just in case you're new around here, I'm trying to write a book. And let me tell you a few things I've learned so far:
  1. Writing a book feels kind of like deciding you're going to go out into the backyard and count all the blades of grass and organize them according to height and girth and shade of green. And then ignoring the truth when you know that, realistically, it's probably impossible.
  2. Writing a book makes you intensely interested in other people because you're suddenly a sponge for ideas. I saw a t-shirt over the summer that said, "Careful, or you'll end up in my novel." People of the world, please consider yourself officially forewarned.
  3. I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm excited to be doing it.
  4. I have no idea where story lines are going, but I'm excited about them.
  5. The more I talk about it and share it with others, the more committed I am to moving it along. I have discovered that I am motivated by accountability and deadlines, so I'm trying to create both as I go. (I am also motivated by pasta and burritos, but I haven't figured out how to incorporate those.)
Since I announced that I was starting a book here on my blog, and because you are so kind and encouraging, I've decided to start posting excerpts here for you to read. I hope you will enjoy them and I hope that I will have many, many more to share with you as this baby of a book gestates full term. I am shutting comments off for this post because I need to practice putting this out there without knowing what people think. I promise that it's not because I'm afraid of critical feedback; I'm more afraid that in this context I would only get positive comments from really nice people and could get a false sense of how it's really being read. So, I'm offering this as a no-strings-attached slice of this book. You can love it or hate it or sort of like it or not care about it and I'll never know. So many of you wonderful souls have told me that you know I can do this, but I need to practice proving that I know I can do this. Does that make sense? (You can't answer that because I shut comments off.) You are, however, welcome to send me pasta or burritos as motivation.

So, here it goes. I don't want to give too much preface, but you should know that this story is being told from the point-of-view of a ten-year-old boy named Clooney. (And just to be safe, you should also know that this is copyrighted and if you copy it or use it in any way, you will be hunted down and prosecuted by my cousin Guido and his baseball bat. Mmmkay?)

An excerpt (isn't "excerpt" a funny word?):

Britt’s funeral was…weird.  First of all, I hated him, and I’m not sure you’re supposed to go to the funerals of your arch enemies.  He used to beat me up every day after school.  One time he kicked me in the back so hard, I peed red.  I didn’t tell my mom because that was during her depressed time, and I couldn’t see how red pee would do anything but make things worse.  I didn’t know what to do, even though I thought about it every night before I went to sleep, and every morning about two minutes after I woke up.  I finally came up with a plan to get a King Cobra snake and keep it in my backpack until after school.  I figured that I could train it to strike my enemies as soon as they began an attack.  I checked out a book on King Cobras from the library and found out within the first few pages that they are not very trainable.  Before I came up with another plan, Britt “dropped over dead.” 

Problem solved.

Our whole entire class went to the funeral together on a Friday morning when we were supposed to be in school.  We got special permission from the principal.  Some of the parents came, but my mom had to work, so I just went along, following behind the others.  My mom made me wear my darkest pair of jeans and a shirt with buttons.  She combed my hair and put gel in it that morning to keep it nice and flat the whole day.  She combed it so carefully, I remember, and then set the comb down and held my face in her hands.

“I’m really sorry about your friend Britt,” she said.  “I know it’s hard to lose somebody.  And if you need to cry or talk about it, you just come to me, okay?”

I hadn’t realized it, but tears were filling up in my eyes, because I was thinking about how I had wanted to cry and talk to her about Britt back when he was beating the crap out of me, but I hadn’t dared to tell her.

She saw my tears and hugged me and held me tight like a cast.  And the tighter she held, the more the tears fell out.  And the more the tears fell out, the more the snot started to run from my nose, but I didn’t even wipe it because I was too busy bawling and wishing I had told her about the red pee.

Finally, she released me and took me by the shoulders, crouching to look in my eyes.

“Oh, honey,” she said, “he was a good friend to you, wasn’t he?”

I looked at the floor.  Then I lied another one of my lies and said yes.
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