Waiting for Lightning

The last two days were ‘reworking a trunked story’ days. I’d submitted it several times to various magazines last year, and had recieved several rejections in return. A few editors commented that they liked the story, but “the writing was too distancing”.


Trunking the story was the right thing to do. While I love the plot and characters, overall the story is just… meh.  There’s nothing to connect to. It’s cold.

So I’m rewriting it from the ground up. It’s the difference between:

Tarry found the baby the same night Ilsa disappeared: a knobby bundle of twigs and bleached bone that unexpectedly opened its mouth and wailed at her through the rain. It was left behind a barrel that was rapidly overflowing, and was wrapped in a filmy rag that caught against the rough calluses of Tarry’s hands. The baby stopped crying the moment Tarry plucked it from the mud, and it never cried again.


Tarry stared at the baby behind the rain barrel, a knobby bundle of twigs and bleached bone that should be in it’s mother’s arms on a howling night like this. Wind stalked through the trees and rain fell in sheets that stung her old eyes turned the courtyard to mud.

And there was a baby behind the rain barrel. The wrong baby.

It wriggled its thin arms and shivered in a rag as filmy as a spider web. Strange, brassy eyes stared at nothing and flinched at the falling rain. Something in Tarry’s heart contracted, a thump-thump of recognition that echoed in her barren womb, up through her breasts and emerged as a tut-tut as she bent to pluck the child from the earth. Its skin was thin as an old woman’s.

Keep in mind that this is a WIP. Names, word choice, sentences and plot are liable to change. It’s also completely unedited and crappy in parts.

The difficulty is that the story takes place over a span of 15 years, and I don’t really want to turn this thing into an Epic Novel. One of my goals for this year is to sell another short story, and if I’m to finish my current cyberpunk WIP I can’t budget time to write a gothic horror steampunk mashup novel, which, now that I write it out, sounds pretty cool.

Anyway, I’m not sure how to do this in an interesting-yet-concise manner yet. Lightning will strike soon. I’m sure of it.


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