Would You Listen?
A lot of my favourite scenes from the first draft of Apart at the Seams ended up on the cutting room floor. I mean, whole characters ended up on the cutting room floor, so it’s no surprise that scenes ended up there too. I know Arthur Quiller-Couch gave the oft-quoted writing advice to kill your darlings, and I certainly follow it in my own work. I killed those scenes and characters for the greater good of the book.
But Quiller-Couch said nothing about digging up their corpses and throwing them up as a blog post from time to time. So… welcome to the skeletal remains of my darlings.
[Edited down a bit to take out the incredibly witty and astute tangential ideas that this… darling… contained. Opinions may entirely be my own.]
“Telling the truth doesn’t take balls. Hearing the truth takes balls,” Paul tells me. “So the situation we were debating was that you were alone in the house of someone you love deeply. It could be your house or your friend’s house or your parent’s house; your choice. You’re looking for something like a roll of Scotch tape, and you find a disc marked ‘Thoughts about…’ What is your name again?”
“Arianna,” I offer, taking the beer from Noah as he returns to his spot slightly behind me. I arrange my fingers on the label where his have recently been.
“So the disc says ‘Thoughts about Arianna.’ It’s clear from the way the disc is hidden that the person who made this disc – your loved one – never intended you to find this disc. So would you take it if you knew that it wouldn’t be missed? And moreover, would you listen to it?”
Before he’s finished the question, I am picturing Ethan’s handwriting scrawled across the disc. His messy lettering, the soft tip of his A, the excess of humps constructing the double Ns. What could he possibly say about me that could be more hurtful than describing me as an island with my arms figuratively rigid to keep everyone at bay? Or would he just harp on why he thinks I’m too scared to get married? Maybe it wouldn’t even be bad; it could be love poetry that he’s written about me, too shy to share it.
The conversation comes as a continuation of the truth serum dinner conversation that remained in the book. If you’ve read the scene with Gwen, this comes later at the party when Arianna is speaking with Paul. Who had a different job in the first version of this book. Just in case you’re a little confused.
I love this idea (and that’s why it hurt so much to kill it, and why I need to dig up its rotting corpse and prop it up here): would you listen to a CD marked “Thoughts about [Fill-in-your-name-here]?” Would you take it from the drawer if you knew you could get away with it? Would you leave it behind since the person clearly doesn’t intend for you to listen to it by the way the disc is hidden? Would you really want to know their honest, un-edited thoughts about you? Remember, this is someone you love deeply: your parents, your sibling, your partner.
Well, would you?
By the way, Apart at the Seams continues to roll out in more places. It’s in bookstores. It’s online at Amazon in e-book and paperback. It’s at Barnes and Noble in paperback, though not in Nook yet. Still waiting for iBooks and Kobo. But it is up on Goodreads if you want to mark it as being read… hint hint?