Cara Sue Achterberg: Sneaking in Some Serious Summer Writing

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Summer is here and writing time is at a premium. Even so, I’m diving into a new story and loving every moment of it. I restarted/rewrote the first few chapters five times in different point of views and tenses trying to figure out which one was best and finally landed on the winner yesterday. Now, I can just write, write, write if I can find the time, time, time.

Girls’ Weekend is off and running and while I should be doing the real work of promoting the novel, I’m distracted by the new story. It’s like this illicit affair I’m carrying on that’s keeping me from paying attention to my spouse.

The gardens are overrun with weeds after the monsoon, I mean May, but even as I yank and toss weeds, snatches of dialogue float through my mind.

Dylan said, “Can I ask you something?”

“That depends.”

“On what?”

“On whether it’s a good question.”

“How would you know unless I asked it?”

“I wouldn’t, but you would.”

He looked confused. She got that a lot. She stopped wiping the table, put her hands on her hips and peered over at him.

“Do you think it’s a good question?” she asked.

He was quiet for a moment, but he looked at her intently, as if he was trying to see if he recognized her or maybe, she thought, he was checking to see if she was crazy.

He nodded. “I think it might be a little borderline crazy, but you seem like the kind of person who could handle that.”

“Okay, shoot,” she said.

My current foster dog requires a minimum of 4 miles walk/run every day and as we truck down the road, twists and turns of my plot keep my mind so busy, neighbors pass by and I forget to wave or Gingersnap stops to pee and I drag her for a few feet before realizing why she isn’t following me.

The kids are all home now, so there is a daily negotiation over car rights, snack food, and the Netflix password that was mysteriously changed. I try to be present with them, even as my mind is drifting to the Cayman Islands where my characters have now landed.

The plane rolled to a bumpy, tilted landing. Kat watched the palm trees and ragged shacks rush past her window. If you’re going to be poor, living on the edge of a runway in paradise was probably a great place to do it.

As the plane taxied to its gate, she watched a dog running along the other side of the fence that separated a sad little neighborhood from the runway. He was sandy colored, with pointy ears. He barked and lunged at the plane, then sat down and wagged his tail as the plane passed – his job done. A heavyset woman in a tank top, kicked at him and then turned to wave at the plane before going back to hanging up laundry on a line. Kat lifted her hand to wave back and pressed her fingers against the cool glass. The woman scowled. Surely she couldn’t see Kat. The sun was so bright – a few shades brighter than back in Campbell. What am I doing here?

The planed slowed as it approached the terminal. Two men in tattered cargo shorts wearing bright orange gloves leaned against a fence smoking cigarettes and watched the plane maneuver itself into its parking spot. A little boy clung to the other side of the fence behind them about halfway up. One of the men banged the fence and he tumbled back to the ground. They laughed and ground out their cigarettes before ambling towards the plane.

Dylan was still sleeping, so Kat waited until everyone else was off the plane before nudging him awake.

“Huh?” said Dylan. He looked at her, surprised for a moment, but then she saw reality wash over him. “Shit,” he said.

“Precisely,” said Kat. “Now get your ass up. Everyone else is off the plane.”

My summer goal is to finish the first draft of this story – following it where it takes me. And while I’m excited about the strawberries that are nearly ripe, the beach vacation at the end of June, and the warmer weather for riding, I’m even more excited to see what happens on my laptop.

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On June 1, 2016
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