Sunday, June 14, 2009

The beginning of a story

All my life, I have been a writer. Apart from keeping a journal, which has nearly always been a part of my day and now takes a form of blogging, I have written stories, sketches of novels and hundreds of poems. I have never tried to publish anything in print, but perhaps, with my husband's blessing, someday I will. In the meantime, in this delightfully busy season of my life, I just enjoy having plots ripen in my head and writing them down from time to time.

And so, one day I thought...

What would happen if a typical, modern, urban teenage girl unexpectedly found herself living right in the middle of nowhere, on a homestead with a traditional, homeschooling family? Wouldn't that be an interesting cultural clash?

It led me to writing the story of Rebecca, a 15-year-old who is bored at school, loves being a slave of fashion, and just started seeing her first "real" boyfriend when all of this suddenly comes to an end.

I thought it could be nice to share snippets of this story here, now and then. Here is the beginning.

~*~*~*~

Hi, my name is Becky, I'm 15 years old, and my parents died in a car accident a year ago. I know it sounds horrible, and it is, but I really would rather not talk too much right now about that last part, because it's all still too painful and confusing. I simply wanted to write a journal of my normal life - or whatever passes for normal these days, anyway.

After Mom and Dad died, I moved in with my grandmother who lives two blocks from our old apartment. I knew I wouldn't be able to stay with her too long, though. Grandma is very old and keeps talking about going to live in a nursing home. Poor Grandma! She seems a decade older ever since Mom and Dad...

Apart from Grandma's, I had nowhere to go. I'm only 15, you see. I'd love to drop out of school and start working, but I know social workers would be right on spot - ah, the poor neglected child!

And then, imagine this, we got a letter from Aunt Anne, telling that they would love to have me come and live with them.

Our family rarely saw Aunt Anne ever since she married Uncle Ben and moved far away many years ago - that was before I was even born. I knew they had five children, but that's about all. Aunt Anne is not a very close relative - my father's cousin. But since both my parents were only children, I suppose this counts for something.

Anyway, as soon as Aunt Anne got a letter from Grandma about our situation, she wrote back and offered to take me in. The letter was hard to read because it was blotched with tears in several places, but Aunt Anne wanted me to come - that was certain.

I began to think. It sounded much nicer than any other alternative we could think of, but it's so far! What about my friends? My boyfriend?..

But in the end, after Grandma and I thought it all over, it turned out that I really don't have much choice. Grandma, sobbing, packed my suitcases. Of course, she left half my stuff out. How can I leave without taking my high-heeled boots, my white leather jacket, my tops and miniskirts and all my make-up? Anyway, I packed another suitcase, kissed Grandma goodbye and boarded the plane. Goodbye, friends! Goodbye, my first real boyfriend Ted! I already began to lose interest in you, but I will still miss you!

To entertain myself during the flight, I decided to start writing a diary. But now I will try to sleep. There are still many hours until we land...

24 comments:

Mrs W said...

This is good! I wanna read some more.

Rose said...

OK, You got my attention. Now I want to know what happens to her, so you have to keep writing, and putting up snippets.

Jana said...

This sounds like is going to be very fun to read. I giggle in glee at the culture shock she's going to have to surmount. Will you continue to post on this or just keep it to yourself until something is published. I love all your writings.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Jana,

I intend to continue posting a slightly abridged version.

inkelywinkely said...

I like it! I hope you add more!

Alycia said...

I love the plot idea! Good for you, Anna, and I look forward to reading more.

Sharon said...

Mrs. T,
I just love your story! As a fiction writer myself, you have no idea how many hundreds of stories I've started...and never finished! Congratulations on a beautifully done, FINISHED story!!!
I'm looking forward to seeing what happens to Becky. Can't wait 'till you post more!
Miss Sharon

Hearth said...

More please? :)

E. L. Fay said...

You write beautifully and I always thought you'd be able to compose lovely lyrical prose. Plus, the culture-clash premise sounds very intriguing. The YA (Young Adult) market is very hot right now (I've read in several places that we're in a "golden age" of teen books) so I'm sure publishers will be interested as well, if you ever decide to go that route.

Now that being said, I think you're off to a great start, but it feels very rushed. You're throwing a lot of information at the reader in only a few opening paragraphs. I would build up Becky's backstory over a chapter or two before moving onto the main plot, especially to heighten the sense of disparity between her old life and her new life with the homeschoolers. And also: I know you're very passionate about faith and traditional values. But when writing a book, you should try to be subtle about the development of your themes. The moral argument you're making (here, I'm guessing it's the joy of traditional living versus the secular feminist ideal) should feel secondary to the plot – like the protagonist has naturally evolved these new feelings and ideas as the story progressed. And try to evoke setting! A feeling of time and place is very important in a novel.

I'm wondering: does this story take place in Israel and/or feature observant Jewish characters? As an American from a Christian background, I think it would be neat to read about a different culture and religion.

Pom Pom said...

Anna, I like this story VERY MUCH! Keep writing! I am a eighth grade English teacher in Colorado and I am always looking for good novels for my students to read. So many of the young adult authors make big moral sacrifices in their work, just to follow the formula and get readers. You are on your way (I learned that part of the YA formula is getting rid of the parents in the beginning) and your story has a lovely voice. I am a Christian wife, mother and granny and I love hearing how Jewish women live their lives. I love your blog!

Jessie-Bessie said...

I really like it :)

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of this. Is Aunt Anne going to be modeled after you? That will be interesting to see. I've often wondered if I could write some fiction. I have lots of "points" I want to prove and sometimes my first person reflections can be somewhat tiring and can lack the umph they need to really make a good argument. Hmmm...you've got my creative juices flowing. Now I just have to think of a situation to set my "points" to and give it a go!

Don't you just love the "bloggy" world!

H

Undersharing said...

I don't know if you're finished yet or not, but the moment I saw Aunt Anne mentioned she seemed like a great way to introduce a lot of practical knowledge to the reader. Laura Ingalls Wilder had a real knack for using Pa and Ma in this regard, even as they were rich characters who weren't always right and who disagreed with each other every so often.

When I was growing up, I was just getting started in amateur radio and was shocked to see some obscure teen novels in the library from the 1970's on the adventures of a teen amateur radio fanatic. The books were incredibly corny but the stories were engaging enough to a nerd like me and they included bits of useful knowledge. I can try to make something up that's like the books:

Elmer wiped his brow after letting go of the crank. The tower was now in place to have the antenna put on top, and Benny had never been more impatient in his life.

"You got that ground pole hooked up, boy? It would be just my luck to have lightning strike right now and destroy my new tower", Elmer grumbled.

Benny snapped out of his daydream of getting a QSL card all the way from Korea and ran over to check the pole he hammered deep into the ground earlier. He saw the cables locked into place and yelled, "Looks good, sir! Can we hook up the antenna yet?"


Keep posting it! This is in the style of the books I loved reading as a kid.

Rose said...

I'm interested to know what becomes of Becky. Great job Anna.

Mrs. Parunak said...

This looks like fun! I'm very interested to know what's going to happen next.

Donalacasa said...

Wow. We are in a similar situation right now. My sister abandoned her firstborn son many years ago and my mother took custody of him. Because of a history of domestic violence, we got custody of her second son. Recently, my mother's health began to deteriorate so we now have the older son living with us too. We could use some prayer because my sister is brilliant, but mentally ill. She is taking us back to court, but I believe the Almighty has a plan for these boys and that they will prosper here.

Blessings!

Thursday's Child said...

Well, you've already got me sucked in so you'd better finish it!

Tereza said...

I love the story!

Anonymous said...

Lovely writing, but if you'll allow me just a few pointers from one writer to another.
I must agree that theme should be more subtle - felt and not said. That way it really gets under the skin.
And, as mentioned above, setting is so important. I have to wonder, what country is Becky from? What religion? To develop a character realistically, his/her background needs to be known. I'm not saying we need a long exposition here, but just a word or two to let us know where Becky is coming from. To make it authentic.

I would have assumed this text was written from a Christian WASP perspective if I didn't know better.
(Of course, place and time setting is less important in genres such as magical realism or fantasy or allegory...but I can see you're aiming for a more realistic narrative).

Best of luck. I think you have a lot of potential here if you're thinking of being published one day. As this blog attests, lots of people admire the way you write and are attracted to your subject matter.

Lydia said...

Oh Anna,

I know it is bad of me to ask this. But I wish you would publish it. I would buy it in a heart beat. You write so beautifully. You have a great gift. And you are so kind in your writing. I go to many similar blogs or used to. Lurked a lot, never posted. But you are someone who stand out to me. Because you are so kind. And you don't judge the choices other people make. You have a point of view, but you've never made someone like me who has made totally different choices from you uncomfortable. And I cannot say that about many other blogs if any. So I come here, every day. Because of you Anna. And your kindness. And I learn a lot. Thank you Anna for being so kind even as you put forth your views eloquently.

God bless you.

Susan B said...

Wonderful story...I hope you share more.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see how all this plays out for Becky. I'm going to have my second daughter read this....she loves writing stories, & it will make her happy knowing that one of her Mom's "blog friends" enjoys the same hobby. :o)

Brenda

Mrs. Anna T said...

Just wanted to clarify that the lack of background, for now, is intentional. This is a sketch which I'm "furnishing" with details while I write, and there are many things I haven't decided yet.

Jen said...

I smiled because this is much like a real life story I've experienced when my city cousin came to live in our rural, homeschooled family. I'd be interested to keep reading... :)

I enjoy your insights and writing and appreciate your perspective! :)