“TOSS OUT SACRED COWS.” William Faulkner said this. His point was that if a piece distracts or does not really advance the plot and characters, then out it goes. I have followed Mr. Faulkner’s advice.
I tossed out the Prologue to THE ROMANTIC IMPERATIVE. I love the piece, and sharing it with you here brings me some comfort. (It will be of particular interest to my testimonial gang.) Of course, I saved the last four lines and they became the first line of the novel.
She knew that presidents of countries kept diaries. For posterity. Vida Cleary was not interested in posterity. She knew that common people relied on diaries to escape their painful real world. Vida’s real world was not painful, and she was not common. Diarists confided their loneliness. Vida was not lonely. She would not use her diary for the typical melancholy reasons of other romantics, because Vida was not a typical young romantic. The mundane was not for her, such as “It rained today and that depressed me,” or “My soul is in a state of yearning.” Instead, she would document her revelations as a female of the species. Besides, it was writerly to keep a diary.
Like many other precocious children, by the age of three she could read. By four, she was reading books. Soon enough she thought of herself as exceptional, and that was the thinking that careened her toward her romantic elitist ways. By thirteen, she was fully engaged with the great romantic novelists of literature. Her first revelation quivered under its own weight, ready to burst out of her mind. It was the reason she thought about having a diary at all.
Vida’s purchase was bound in synthetic green leather. It carried three locks, enigmatic in aspect, yet unlike the sinister-looking diary next to it with leather straps. And it was cheaper. No matter that the key didn’t work. The locks made a lovely click.
She brought the diary home, into her large spare bedroom, and closed the door. She pulled her chair close up to her desk, sat down, and switched on a pool of light from the desk lamp. Afternoon shadows hung heavily in the surrounding air. She turned the diary cover with its three locks to the left and listened to its faint flapping sound against the desktop. Aware of the solemnity of the moment, even its piety, she brought her fountain pen gorged with black ink to meet the first silky page. She wrote slowly, carefully.
“Every woman believes in the possibility of the Great Romance. It is her birthright.”
— Vida Cleary, 1953
She fell back on her bed, satisfied. She was fourteen years old. She would not write another entry for thirty years.
So now I wonder if my testimonial gang on the novel will tear into me for omitting the Prologue. I hope to hear from them about it. I will report to you their cuss words.
In the meantime, we’re waiting for the formatter to do her work on THE ROMANTIC IMPERATIVE and then put it up on Amazon-Kindle.
Very soon, I will send you another blog, a short one.