Thursday, February 27, 2014

In Case You Wondered: A Conversation between Vivian and Meaghan

A final published work is rarely more than similar to its first draft. Throughout the editing process, words get trimmed, conversations change, entire scenes are deleted---all for the sake of smoother prose and a better storytelling experience. 

One such scene that met the edge of my axe came from the beginning of The Child Returns. Although many of my earliest beta readers enjoyed it (it didn't make the official beta round), the decision to cut it came out of a lengthy discussion with my editor regarding improving flow. Ultimately, we felt it slowed the pace down enough that the conversation became a footnote mention by Meaghan when she visits Nick's apartment after their fight. 
Meaghan cleared her throat. “Mom and I had a long discussion. It, um,” she dropped her eyes to the plate in her hands. “It seems I was being childish.”
Very little I delete from the final version is lost forever. I admit it. I'm a virtual pack rat. And because of that, I'm happy to share the first draft of Vivian's deleted conversation with you below. Enjoy!


p.s. please keep in mind, this is a rough draft, as evidenced by the POV shifts; it hasn't been edited in any way, so tell your inner proofreader "hush"


HE’S A jackass.”

Vivian finished sliding her muffin tins into the oven and set the timer before she turned around. Anger filled Meaghan’s face, but pain filled her eyes. Rather than respond, Vivian went to her and held her. After a few minutes, she picked up a dish towel and handed it to her daughter to dry her eyes.

“I wanted this to work out between the two of you, but I think Nick has a lot of things to sort out. I promise you, he’s not doing this because he doesn’t care about you.” Taking Meaghan’s chin in her hand, she tilted it up so that she could look directly into her daughter’s eyes. So beautiful and so headstrong, she thought. “He’s been a good friend, hasn’t he?” Meaghan nodded. “Hold onto that then. Don’t lose your friendship because you’re hurt. And know that this is as hard on him as it is on you.”

“I don’t see how it could be,” Meaghan scoffed. “If he really wanted –”

“Sometimes people have to give up what they want to do what they feel is right,” Vivian interrupted. “Think, Meg. Think about your conversation in the living room. You have a gift for reading emotions. Are you going to stand here and tell me you didn’t sense his pain too?”

“I wasn’t paying attention,” Meaghan lied, then reconsidered when her mother raised an eyebrow in reproach. “He didn’t seem to want to leave,” she confessed. “But this is his choice, Mom. If he didn’t want to go, then he wouldn’t.”

“Do you really believe that?” Vivian asked. “Or are you taking that stance because it makes it easier for you to stay angry, and to let him go?” Meaghan’s eyes filled with tears and she looked away. Vivian took her back into an embrace. “I know this isn’t easy, and it’s harder on you because he won’t tell you why he’s leaving. But don’t let that ruin your relationship with him. I promise that you’ll see him again someday and when you do, you’ll regret not having him as a friend. Do you want that?”

“No.” Meaghan stepped back. “I just wish he trusted me enough to tell me what’s going on with him. I might be able to help him.”

“Maybe and maybe not,” Vivian responded. “It’s impossible for you to know. But Meg, this isn’t about trust. He just doesn’t feel he can talk about what’s going on. Let that be and do what you can by being there for him while he’s still here.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean let him know that you’re still his friend and that you’re available to him when he’s ready to talk.”
Meaghan nodded. “I will. I guess I owe him an apology.”

Vivian smiled and chucked her daughter’s chin. “That’s a good start. Wait a bit, though. The muffins will be out of the oven and you can bring them over to him.”

“A peace token?” Meaghan quipped.

“It wouldn’t be the first time muffins were used in that way,” Vivian chuckled. “I’ve certainly used them to bribe your father’s forgiveness in the past.” She turned toward the oven to check the timer. “Twenty minutes left, then they have to cool for a few minutes.” Turning back around, she kissed her daughter on the cheek then laid her palm there. “I’m proud of you, Meg. You’re a wonderful woman. I love you. Always remember that.”

“Of course, Mom. I love you too.” Meaghan returned her kiss. “Besides, I don’t know how I could ever forget. You’re always so wonderful to me.”

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