The issue haunted me all of yesterday. I walked into town but it was windy, raining and chilly and the pretty girls had stayed away. Those that remained were windswept and damp hair clung to determined faces in a way that did not get the writer in me tingling.
It is not their fault and I do not blame them – the fault is totally mine and the problem that I raised yesterday was just another lesson learnt on this journey: the lesson being that I cannot make assumptions about what the reader will accept. No earnest reader wants to pick up a story and invest their precious time simply to read someone else’s clichés; some other, better writer who did the work on the words years ago.
What the reader wants is to know what this new writer sees when he or she imagines the world that is being laid out on the page. I learnt that it is so very important to know what I am trying to say and why I am trying to say it before I say it. Sounds simple but the concept is completely new to me. I am happy to have uncovered it myself, for myself. I t has made me a little bit braver.
Walking home from town in the rain I saw by closing my eyes and opening my mind. I saw deeper than what I want my protagonist to see but what he is actually looking for. He likes the hair when it’s tied back because it’s more honest; it means that she’s not washed it yet, so it still smells of her night and of her dreams; when she pulls it up into a ponytail he can see her neck; the skin on her neck is a lighter shade of flesh than her face, her arms, because it’s less exposed: it’s a secret part of her that doesn’t often see the light and now he knows the colour of her thighs and the small of her back and he wonders what it would like to run his fingers over the exposed skin beneath the ponytail. It would taste of the fears of her dreams and it would tell a truth that she usually hides beneath a mask of cosmetics and hairspray. The blonde falls of her hair will cover parts of her face and suggest coyness, but he knows that this is contrived and will taste bitter; would sting his nose if he ever got close enough.
And if she smiles; if she smiles her clean smile it will be an honest one and it will welcome him in to her secrets; the smile will smooth the lines beneath her eyes and allow the sunlight to lighten the darkness there. A smile means that he’s not rejected.
So my new line will be:
“He wonders how she’ll be wearing her hair; if she’ll smile.”
It is enough to open up the theories that I have just discussed – but they can come later in the story. I am pleased but the redraft will take forever if it all goes like this.