Years ago, when I began a serious push to get published, I heard a long-time writer say “Revisions are where the real work begins.” Brother, was he right.
Anybody can write a story. Just ask those who’ve gone through NaNoWriMo. Getting a story idea down in in loose form is easy. It’s the reconstruction that comes later that proves the writer.
Even after weeks of revision work, the writer—depending on her level of perfectionism—may sit back and say that more work needs doing. That’s common. Perfectionism is a bear of a problem.
The inner critic never sleeps, never takes a vacation. It’s always there to rap you on the knuckles and sneer at you while pointing out something else that could be made better. It can’t help it. Deep inside that drive for the perfect sentence, the perfect paragraph, the perfect twist, lies the heart of the tyrant—the dictator.
Yep, I’ve lived with that beast all my life, and it’s taken this long to get a handle on it.
Wisher’s World has floated around inside my brain for a few years now. The concept came long before. Now, I’m into my final revision of the first volume. In all, there will be more than ten volumes. That’s why it’s taken so long to put together the components of the story. It’s huge and covers a whole world.
Oddly enough, it didn’t begin that way. It began as a short story and went into algae bloom mode.
I have a few more weeks worth of work to do on it before it goes to the formatter. And I did promise you all a taste of the story with an excerpt. I’m giving you the excerpt today. Here it is, from the the first third of the novella. I hope you enjoy it. I’ll be back in a week or so with something new.
Wisher’s World, Vol. 1—Composing an Apprentice (excerpt)
When their small group gathered, Reibe kept his eyes focused forward. Nine days wasn’t enough time to accustom himself with all the oddities of this incredible place and its people. This unexpected invitation might leave him more confused than ever.
They walked across the flagstone court and through the central arch to the second courtyard beyond. Cheerfully glowing lanterns cast their iron animal patterned shadows but kept the passage light enough. A pervasive, musty odor rose from the expanses of drying nuts on the courtyard’s stone floor.
“I’m happy to see so good a harvest this year, Marget. We can have nut pies for Winter Fest.” Willem put an arm around and hugged his wife’s shoulder. She only laughed and slapped the man’s arm.
Reibe smiled to himself as the last of the sun ricocheted off the huge panes of roof glass. Will I always feel like a stranger here? “Why did they move here?” Reibe asked as they entered the next pass-through.
Willem stopped and turned. “You mean the Juton?” At Reibe’s nod, the big man looked away for a moment and then back. “You must understand their situation.” The big man didn’t frown, but his eyes bored into Reibe’s, his voice solemn and barely above a whisper.
Reibe gulped. He knew he’d stepped into something he shouldn’t have. “Of course, sir.”
“Last winter one of the younger Juton came from their home in the southeast.” Willem sighed, as if in pain. “By the time he stumbled into Theusa, he was almost dead.” He stopped and signaled Marget to take the next telling.
Both Macai and Jori lowered their heads. Marget kept her voice as soft as her husband’s. “His people were dying and needed help. Then he stopped breathing. He’d run all the way, during our first severe storm of the season. He had no cloak for warmth or shoes on his feet. The Juton are built for many things. Running distances in cold and heavy snow isn’t one of them.”
They were immortal. How could they die? Reibe’s eyes filled with tears.
Willem took up the story again. “Several of us went to their quarry. Only about half of them were still alive. They’d interred many of their dead but had become too sick to care for all of them and those still alive.”
“What sickened them?”
Marget shook her head. “A disease I’ve never seen. We took what precautions we could as we cared for the survivors. We knew we could get sick.”
Willem pulled her in close. “We didn’t have time to think. There were five of us to care for sixty-two survivors.”
“Why did they come here?” Marget anticipated a repeat of Reibe’s original question. “We told them that staying there would be dangerous. The sickness could overtake them again. Their children wouldn’t be safe from it.”
“Is that true?”
Willem looked Reibe in the eyes and gave him a curt nod. “Yes. We don’t know where the disease came from. Their life is stone. Their dead are entombed in it, by custom. Those tombs are now full of the disease. If any of those tombs broke open…”
Reibe shuddered as he considered the man’s statement. Seeing the unasked question in his widening eyes, Marget said, “Yes, how to make certain that it wouldn’t follow them.”
Silence descended again. Reibe had heard legends of the giants and the magic they carried. Old tales spoke of how giants could pick up stone and mold it as a potter molded clay. “They did something to seal the tombs, didn’t they? So nothing escaped.”
Willem’s head came up slowly, eyes moist and haunted. “Yes. They performed one of their rarely used ceremonies and killed the place they’d lived in for so long.”
“Nothing will ever live there again,” Marget added.
Willem shrugged. “We don’t understand all of their ways, Reibe. Far from it. They live close to the earth. They work with its bones. They have powers that can change it. It’s never done without great purpose. They would not allow such as killed so many of them loose in the rest of the world.”
The big man’s last statement hung in the air around them. Riebe’s heart ached for them all. So much sorrow and pain. He’d lost his parents, but not the whole of Riverton. How many children survived? How many old ones?
Now, we to a meeting with these strange people, who were capable of killing the earth, to talk about trade. What could they possibly want for trade? And what about me? I am only an apprentice. What can I add to these talks?