Wednesday, December 19, 2012
A series of unfortunate lectures...
As an early Christmas present, my as-yet-unpublished favorite author in the world gave me a little... errr... lecture. You see, I have a problem. I start novels... but don't finish them. In the entire time I've done NaNo (since 2002) I have only finished TWO novels to the end.
Ms. Rebecca Blain was not happy with me. So she lectured me. And then wrote me a story about lecturing me. The words out of my mouth in this story are actual words I said while being lectured. And this is almost word-for-word how she lectured me.
The unedited end result is hilarious. ;) Although it stung. Quite a bit.
It was so cold outside that the snow refused to fall. Heather hesitated at the door to the Creative Writers’ Fiction Association – Fantasy Branch Administration offices. The dragon carved on the frame glared at her as if knowing her sin.
Her knuckles scrapped against the rough-hewn wood. A splinter stuck out from her skin. The silence that followed was long enough for her to pick the sliver out and shuffle from foot to foot.
“Enter,” a muffled voice demanded.
Heather gripped the cold, bronze knob. The dragon continued to glare at her in rebuke. The door creaked open.
The woman behind the desk didn’t look any older than fourteen – maybe fifteen. Short-cropped hair shadowed the eyes of the superintendent, and Heather couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched.
“Three minutes and forty-seven seconds,” Rebecca said, looking up from the stack of papers strewn over the large oak desk that dominated the cramped room. An expectant silence followed. When Heather said nothing, Rebecca let out a long sigh. “Late, that is.”
The woman’s sweet smile sent chills down her spine.
“That’s never good,” Heather replied, shuffling from foot to foot.
“No, ma’am, it isn’t. I’m so glad we didn’t have to talk very long about that part.” Rebecca leaned back and crossed her arms over her red sweater. “Why don’t you sit down, Heather.”
Heather hurried to obey, taking the seat that Rebecca gestured to with an expedient dip of her head. “Oh no,” she whispered.
“It has come to my attention that you haven't been finishing projects. This is very, very concerning. Would you like to talk about what has been going on?” The sweet smile didn’t fade from Rebecca’s lips, and the serene quality to it sent another shiver racing down Heather’s spine.
She shifted on the chair and stared down at the edge of the desk. Another dragon carving glared at her. “Well, it all started in 2008.” Heather’s laugh was forced from her throat. She clasped her hands on her lap to keep from shaking. “Well, 2002, technically.” She paused and glanced through her red hair hopefully. Rebecca watched and waited, as unmoveable as stone. “I begin many novels…”
The serene mask cracked in favor of an arched brow, but the woman across the desk didn’t speak.
“…but I don’t finish them. This is why I rebelled this year.”
Rebecca sighed, a long, drawn out and theatrical, and Heather trembled at the sound. “Do you understand the consequences of your behavior, Heather?”
She jerked her head in a nod and stared down at her white-knuckled hands.
“It is really important that you finish what you start,” the superintendent of the Fantasy Branch office continued. Another pause. “This is why I pulled you into my office today. How are you planning on rectifying this situation?”
Heather drew in a hissing breath between her teeth and shook her head in denial of the truth. She wouldn’t crack. She wouldn’t break beneath the pressure of that woman! The words splipped out before she could control herself. “By fucking finishing a novel. Preferably two.”
Heather risked a glance upward. Rebecca was smiling.
That was never good.
“Yes, Heather, you are going to rectify this by 'fucking finishing a novel', as you so eloquently put in.
And, to ensure that you do, in fact, finish at least one novel, we're going to have to take some steps. Some important measures.” Now Rebecca was openly grinning, with blue eyes blazing with malicious delight.
A cold sweat dripped from Heather’s brow.
Rebecca made a trilling sound that reminded Heather of a cat’s purr. “It has come to our attention that you have a little... problem... with a certain story.”
The gasp came out unbidden. Tears burned in Heather’s eyes. She knew! But how? She hadn’t told anyone – well, err, not that many people. It shouldn’t have gotten back to the superintendent. Who had betrayed her? Why? How?
The tips of Heather’s fingers tingled from the force that she clutched her hands together.
“We have spoken with the administrators that oversee this story and have made an arrangement with them to ensure that you maintain adequate productivity. In short, if you wish to continue to have access to scenes as they are completed, you will need to display evidence of forward motion on the first project that you wish to finish,” Rebecca said. Another pause, and the woman’s grin widened further. “You will be required to hand in a status sheet upon the availability of each story piece so that we can determine if you have earned your privileges.”
Heather struggled against the urge to weep. Her one weakness, and that woman had found it.
Was the dragon grinning at her?! Heather glared at it, but the carving didn’t move.
“Do you understand, Heather? We really didn't want to have to go to such lengths, but we are very concerned about your recent progress and behavior.”
“Yes, ma’am,” she whispered.
Rebecca stood. “Very good. I expect to hear good things about you from now on, Heather….”
Heather squirmed and bobbed her head.
“… or else. You may go.”
Heather fled from the office.