Writing Wrongs

May 19, 2004

Itís strange what declaring to the world, or at least the Internet, that youíre stuck can do for you. Yesterday I hit upon the opening for that fourth-to-the-last scene and I was off and running. The text is still in my MobilePro, so I donít have a word count, but Iím pleased. Sometimes I can start a scene without a great hook--I simply start writing, knowing that during revision, Iíll fix the front end. And sometimes, I need that hook into a scene.

And, seemingly from the blue, I hit upon another idea for a YA novel. A friend of mine will be pitching her own YA novel at an upcoming conference. The catch? Itís a two-minute pitch, and it could be in front of the entire room. This has me thinking how much I loath public speaking.

Back in high school, I decided one couldnít go through life terrified of speaking in front of a group. So I joined the declamation team, category, prose interpretation. In other words, reading a short story or novel excerpt with feeling, but not acting. Acting was strictly verboten, and those who did flirt with the line between acting and interpretation were disdained by the other participants.

During the winter and spring, at least twice a month, and generally more often, I headed to declamation tournaments with the rest of the team. There were usually two to three preliminary rounds and then the finals. You went up against five other students and a judge ranked each participant on a 1-5 scale, 1 being the best.

Think geeky, literary American Idol. Think William Hung without the fifteen minutes of fame. If I managed a score better than a 5 that first year, it was because there were only four students in a particular round.

In retrospect, it probably prepared me for the publishing industry.

Then something weird and wonderful happened that second year. I started scoring better. Then I made the finals and even came in third in the ďBig NineĒ tournament.

I still hate speaking in public. In some ways, I think that sixteen-year-old version of myself was braver than I am now. What a thing to do! And thereís a goldmine of drama, conflict, backstabbing, and oh-so-cute guys from other schools on the declam tourney circuit. At least there was. Iíll have to look into that.

Basement update: Not that much better, but making progress.

What Iím reading: Iím not! The past two nights, Andrew has insisted on reading to me before bedtime. And he reads with feeling. One might say heís dangerously close to acting.

Charity Tahmaseb wrote at 10:36 a.m.