Monday, March 25, 2013

[possibly] a new beginning for my "White Tiger"

For a number of reasons, and I'm sure I'm not the only writer who has thought/said this, I am hesitant to share what I write. Blogging is one thing where I can just go on and on about a topic. So what? It's a blog. I have very few friends and know few people, so few individuals I know will see what I write. Little risk is involved.
But it's an entirely different story (literally, cuz we're talking about lit, opposed to something that would be contrused as a memoir/journal). Maybe I'm worried that people won't "get" where I'm coming from. This sounds totally silly, considering how sensitive I can be of people's opinions of me, but I feel protective of my characters. I'm afraid others won't see them the way I do, so as much as I want to get out there, I shield them from prying eyes.

And naturally I'm hesitant to share this because this particular story/project was stolen once before. I could say, the more time goes by, the more I can believe that this person isn't a convincing identity thief type that would stop at nothing to have my work for themselves. 

I wrote the following over yesterday, between the morning and night hours... with the time in between being devoted to being at a family function. And so far, I have good feeling about this:

“What are you all doing in here?” The barrage of whispered confusion surrounding me immediately stopped. Their attention shifted to the new arrival, giving him away as their leader. His footsteps pounded into the cave, easily breaking through its renewed silence. Meanwhile, I fought to stave off unconsciousness and opened my eyes. Something about his voice was familiar somehow, but I couldn’t remember where I’d heard it.
Despite my instincts demanding I change my mind, I locked eyes with him. The highly decorated tiger gasped, but unlike so many others I had met these past several months, he seemed taken aback. I struggled to breathe, but even that proved to be too much. I coughed, gasping for air.
“Let me through!” The clan made way for him as he knelt beside me. His eyes never left mine as his hands examined me. The bruises on my arms and legs protested his touch, however gentle it was. He cupped my cheek after I managed a more substantial breath.
As if afraid to break his concentration, a voice within the clan hesitatingly asked. “Kohaku, do you know her?”
Kohaku kissed my forehead, staying in place for several moments. When he broke contact, he answered with a question he posed to me. “Chihiro…” My ears fluttered at the sound of my name. Nobody had called me by it in a very long time. Kohaku delicately took me into his arms. His body rose and fell with a sigh of unimaginable relief. “She is my goddaughter, the heir to my sister’s clan.”
Unintelligible conversation erupted once again. The same tiger responded on behalf of the rest of the group. “Kirakotsu had a daughter?”
He turned his head to face her. “After observing her countenance, do you understand why I kept her existence a secret?” Although he continued to address his followers, his focus was entirely on me as he cradled my head. “White tigers are extremely rare as are such individuals in other races. No one quite knows why this inflection occurs, but it is almost always seen in a negative light. No matter what the motives may be, that prejudice is why Chihiro likely spent months fighting for her life.” Kohaku traced the side of my neck in search of a pulse. When he found it, he nodded and dropped his voice to a whisper, “Chihiro, I need you to stay with me, all right? Everything is going to be fine from now on. I promise.” Whether it was relief or weakness, I couldn’t be sure. But at that precise moment, my consciousness slipped away.

However foolish it seemed, given my recent history, I believed him. Conflict rushed through his veins, pangs of anger and sadness—all for my benefit. Meanwhile, his calm gaze never wavered, as if to say he wanted his strength to become my strength. Little by little, Kohaku nursed me back to health. Fish stew came three times a day and he always made sure I had more than he did. At night, he kept me warm with several blankets. More were added as the winter months grew harsher.
But getting me to speak again proved to be his most difficult task. Not a day went by without him asking me once to tell him what I went through to get there. He did everything to reason with me. He assured me repeatedly that nobody in his clan, him included, would dream of hurting me. Likewise, nobody would track me down to retaliate for my confessions.
Then over three months later, Kohaku gave me a piece of advice that changed my mind: “It will help to talk about it with someone because it will give you closure. Having closure will give you the chance to move on from the pain and the hurt you went through.” 
I couldn’t help but agree, but one thing still troubled me. I swallowed, clearing my throat. “When I got here… what you said about me… the fact I am so rare…Have you ever come across anyone else like me? Not just our kind?”
“No, I haven’t, Chihiro.” Clearly, he was still getting over the fact I finally spoke. He managed to contain his joy and his composure relaxed. “Why do you ask?”
At this point, there was no going back. I had to tell him. I had to tell him about the white wolf. Even a year later, I still believed my encounter with him saved my life—despite the fact I saved his that very same night.

I don't know how much feedback I'm going to get, but this is here in case anyone is interested. 

I want to maintain first person POV, seeing as this is Chihiro's tale to tell. Part of me is worried that I didn't show enough or tell enough from her POV. Most of what I have is dialogue, which often saves me the trouble of having to go into great detail about stuff. 
I'd written a couple versions of this premise already with her being in various conditions. Here in particular, it isn't necessarily as dire as it had been in the past. She's on the brink of starvation, battered and still carries the bruises inflicted by her own kind... some simply because her appearance marks her as an outcast. Maintaining a little mystery is good, but hopefully this isn't so sparse that anyone who reads feels like they need more detail. 

But I will be going into plenty detail later, so it's not like there will be millions of unanswered questions... if anything, there should be less than 10. That's most desireable in this case. 

It's strange. I'd written a number of scenarios, what feels like, millions of times over. I know my characters extremely well... ok, maybe just Chihiro and Kohaku, who dominate my experimental files. But it's a matter of figuring out the choice of words I want to use to describe the situation. The one in particular I wish I could develop more is why exactly she can't speak... I barely even highlighted that fact in my passage. I just wrote in passing that she hadn't spoken since she arrived and perhaps hasn't in several months.
If I were to guess, it would be at least three months before finding Kohaku, right after this growth spurt occurs. The idea is put into her head that simply speaking results in unnecessary violence and quite simply, she's experienced substantial drama. Heck, I could have made the argument that finding her mother's dead body after the massacre was such a shock, it robbed her of speech, perhaps forever. But I think the story would be severly lacking in some spots early on if she didn't speak at all.

One thing I'd kinda noticed about my writing as of late is how I'd been keeping things neat and orderly. I'd tried to use different types of sentence structures and a fresh set of vocubulary so I don't repeat all the same words and phrases all the time.
And I think one of my other projects, which happens to be grounded in non-fiction, is where it all began. I want it to have a sense of professionalism, so I'm upholding off all these standards.
Now I can't seem to turn it off despite the fact I hadn't worked on it in months :-P

I'm also guessing part of me is keeping a lot in mind because I don't want my weekly email subscriptions to writer's digest to go to waste. 

As for where I'm planning to go after this:
Chihiro will tell Kohaku about when she first learned about the war, one last conversation she had with Kirakotsu before she went into battle. And of course the encounter with Lucas... the all important scene that gives her motivation to succeed in her goal: to find a new home where she can serve the purpose she was groomed for by her mother. 

Without that encounter, she would have given up right then and there. Either she'd have died of starvation or would have fallen victim to the first enemy she met. 

All the while, I'd like to keep the following in mind: Lucas is the spark that drives Chihiro forward, but I don't want this part of the story to be oversaturated with the mention of his name. Would it be possible to do that without making it seem like it comes out of nowhere in her next dire moment of need? He can't be the one thing propelling her forward. I also don't want anyone who reads to see his name pop up 20-30 pages later and wondering a) who was he again? and/or b) where did he come from? 
Then again his name will be mentioned in the synopsis, so I don't think that'll be a huge issue. 

Man, rejection has me feel annoyed with myself when it comes to making sure everything hits their mark just right.

Anyway, anyone who reads, feel free to leave feedback and I'll see what more I can come up with in the meantime. 

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