Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Manuscript (04/29/10)
TITLE: First Draft
By Maria Kana Santos
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Miriam stifled a half-smile, didn’t answer, and then went back to her reverie.
“You’re extremes. It’s either you’re out here tiring yourself, or lulling half asleep with a book.”
“I wasn’t asleep,” Miriam said and pulled a blade of grass. “I was watching the lake.” A giggle escaped, she knew Grampa was only teasing.
“Look there! The blue wrens took flight, then back with their morsels and fed them to their baby starlings.” Then Miriam pointed to the mountain, “I’m waiting for the sun to brush its last ray on that ridge.”
“What’s on your mind, Miriam?”
“I’m satisfied, Gram. My final manuscript’s ready for publication.”
“Your first non-fiction, “The Daughters’ Return” will be out soon. I believe in you, Miriam.”
“Thanks, Gram. But, I’m not sure how the mainstream churches will accept it,” she sighed, “because, I’m only eighteen.”
“I’d care more what parents would think and do about the obvious modern-day issues.” He stared at the visionary young author, “You poured out your heart and life on your first book.”
“I wish I’d become a pilot, and ventriloquist, instead.”
“How d’you think author Miriam’s gonna do that?” Grampa said, chuckling.
“Gram?” Silence pervaded.
“A-huh?” Miriam watched him gaze at the distance, Grampa always knew how she felt.
She sucked in breath of the late afternoon mist.
“If only Mom were alive.”
“Yeah. I miss her too”
“Hey, Gram,” she wiped away tears, “you haven’t written for a year since Mom died. Why not dig up those manuscripts and have them published?”
Turning back to the house, they passed the sloping banks inlaid with blooms and thickets of wild daisies and lavender. The evening walk was pleasant under a full moon. They could see the lights from the house uphill.
“Gram? Can you make me your apprentice?” Miriam spoke under her breath. “And while I’m at it, the first draft of my next book might have a head start.”
Grampa jested, “Apprentice with me, heh?”
“How ‘bout it, Gram?”
“Best-selling author— my grandad! Me, apprentice. Isn’t that how I’m supposed to be-- to set out for the second book I’m writing?”
Miriam teased, “Disciplined under the tyranny of a master teacher of writing. I think, I can learn to cope with that,” she chortled, a gleeful laugh felt nice.
“Hold your horses, child,” he said. “So now I’m the expert at cutting writers to the quick with my criticisms, heh?”
“Dyo’ think you haven’t done that for forty years as editor, Gram?”
Grampa thought a while.
“I was once a young writer brimming with hope. I learned to endure, to perfect, and to challenge my pain-makers-- my writing teachers.”
Practise. More, more, practise. Miriam’s writing-craft perfected and became enjoyable. She remembered her first bicycle ride. Without thinking of the techniques, now became natural to her.
Grampa continued, “Variety. Clarity. Precision. These enlisted for my watchwords since.”
“Clichés clutter,” Miriam mimicked, “watch out for those awry lines and words.”
“See here,” Grampa showed Miriam’s latest manuscript. “You did well with your catchy, inviting words in every page.”
“I... I wanted to impact my readers. Otherwise I didn’t do my job well.”
With “The Daughters’ Return”, would her readers have profound experiences with her live, moving characters? Miriam hoped. She wanted the best of her readers’ time, what they were willing to heed and be challenged by --was important.
She was young. Did Miriam have a real understanding of human nature?
“My book might be a failure, Gram.”
“Study. Experience. Vision. These are what makes you a skilful young writer, Miriam.”
Her heart leaped with joy.
“It was a pleasure knowing my characters. It was not easy. Sometimes I thought, “’Did my characters say this? Or was it me?’”
“You’ve seen the otherness in so many people around you. You had a teacher--your mother.”
Miriam’s experiences with wiser women helped make her book become a reality.
But it left her a vast terrain of sorrow and pain in the middle of success and loneliness for her best friend-mother.
“Beyond that horizon of grief, rejoicing places higher into which your mother has been the heart of your writing tapestry.”
“O, Grampa, I wish Mom were here -- to pray with me.”
“With your writing-gift, God, our Master-Teacher equips. And He hears, Miriam.”
Miriam fought back the tears. Grampa’s words delved into her heart.
“Now, Miriam, let’s get started with your first draft.”
“How does the title, “Journey into God’s Will” sound, Gram?”
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