For some reason, it is easier for me to edit on my novel on my blog than anywhere else! Is this because I know I have an audience and so toss out boring, redundant words out of consideration for the readers? I hope so! Does anyone else find that they write differently on their blog? Anyway, I’m posting another snippet from The Rain Catcher… feel free to comment if you want to!
Recap: Katy’s staying in Scotland with her estranged mother for the summer, but she’s starting to notice some flaws in the woman she only knows through letters…
After dinner (or “tea” as they call it in Scotland), Mom and I walked to her apartment, about a block from Aunt Claire’s. Mom also stayed in a tall stone building, pressed right up to the busy street, but she lived on the ground floor.
“I have my own garden!”
“Wow!” I tried to sound impressed at the square of land the size of our dining room table, surrounded by black iron railings. Mom looked so proud of the gravel and lone rosebush, withered and crooked from the sharp wind. But all I could think was, “This is it?”
Mom’s flat was even smaller than Aunt Claire’s. Her bedroom contained one twin bed and a rickety bookshelf filled with pottery jugs and vases full of dried flowers. The bathroom had a shower but no bath. On top of every surface in the living room sat tiny brown bottles and glass jars of what looked like sea salt. Bunches of herbs hung drying upside down on the walls. The place smelled like an explosion of Yankee Candle.
“What is all this stuff?”
“My aromatherapy business.” Mom threw her yoga bag onto the couch. “I make bath salts and lotions, that sort of thing, and sell them at car boot sales and at the chemist’s on the corner.”
“What’s a car boot sale?” And what was a “chemist”?
But Mom was already on her way out the room. “I could murder a cup of tea,” she called over her shoulder. I dashed after her.
Mom’s kitchen was the size of my closet. She’d stacked boxes of cereal and pasta on top of the short refrigerator. A loaf of bread and jars of jam and peanut butter balanced on the windowsill above the sink, and pots hung from a contraption on the ceiling light. Mom ducked her head to avoid a frying pan as she filled an electric kettle with water. How did she live like this?
“Didn’t you get enough tea at Aunt Claire’s place?”
“If there’s one thing you should know about the Scots, Katy, it’s that there is no such thing as too much tea.”
Back in the living room with our tea, Mom laid her head against the couch and closed her eyes. I looked around for a TV but couldn’t see one. Come to think of it, where was my 7th-grade school photo? I’d been proud of that one – caught off guard by a joke the photographer had cracked, I’d smiled with my mouth open, instead of clamped shut, and had actually looked pretty.
“Um… So, what will we do this summer?”
“What’s on the agenda, as Dad would say.”
“Och, we’ll decide that another day, Katy.”
“Dad said you wanted to show me around Edinburgh. Can we visit the castle? And where you guys used to live? And can we have fish ‘n’ chips in newspaper and eat them on the street?” Dad had told me about waiting for buses in the rain with Mom, their hands warm and tummies happy from the greasy fish and chips. I’d always wanted to try it.
“Yes, yes. We’ll do all that, Katy.” Mom sounded impatient.
My stomach began to ache. It didn’t feel right; Mom had invited me to stay with her for the summer. Didn’t she have an idea of what we were going to do for the next four weeks?
“Dad didn’t give you an itinerary?” I fake-laughed.
Mom sighed. “I suppose we could visit Chamber Street Museum. That’s got a nice tea room. And the Botanics are always nice…”
I had no idea what she was talking about but nodded keenly. “I’m happy with anything,” I said. “It’s fun just to be with you.”
Mom blushed and took a gulp of her tea.
“Did you get those photos I sent you?”
“Em… Oh, right! Yes, they’re lovely! I’ve put them up at work.”
We sat for a few moments, and I tried to think of what to say. On the plane, I’d had tons of questions to ask Mom, but now we were together, my mind was blank. All I could think of was that she hadn’t been at the airport. It wasn’t that big of a deal, I told myself. Work was work, that’s what Dad always said. But when I tried to imagine Dad not meeting me at the airport, I couldn’t.
At 2:15 a.m. I woke up dying of thirst. I got up from the couch and tiptoed into the kitchen to get a cup of water. As I was gulping it down, I heard the front door close. I froze. Floorboards creaked in the hallway.
Suddenly, I imagined Ewan creeping toward the kitchen, an empty beer bottle raised above his head like a caveman’s club. I swallowed and tried to breathe, looking around for a possible weapon. I could block the door with the burlap sack of flour or crash the plant pot by the sink over his head…
But then a door creaked; it had to be Mom’s bedroom because I could see the bathroom from where I stood. I waited a few seconds and, not hearing any other noises, crept toward Mom’s room. Her door stood halfway open. From the dim light of the clock radio, I saw Mom huddled under her blankets.
I hurried back to the couch, my feet freezing cold. Why had Mom gone out at this time of night? Had she stepped outside to get a breath of fresh air? Or had she gone somewhere and left me all alone in the apartment? My stomach churned.
I really enjoyed your snippet four … I thought you did a great job in making the reader want to know why her mom hadn’t planned anything for her stay, it kinda made me question whether her mom wanted her there or not?
I loved the part where she was getting her drink and someone opened that door.. It’s chilling when you hear the door open and don’t know who it’s. great stuff I can’t wait to read the next one….
I did wonder though if she would of wondered where her mom was sooner? As they were both in the same place when she fell asleep. Even if it was a sleepy musing when she woke. It’s only a suggestion.
I hope you’re having a fantastic week..
Hi Katie! Thanks for pointing that out — I have edited it on my computer so that it’s clear Katy has the couch, and her mum is sleeping in her bed. It was clear in my head, just not on paper! 🙂 Thanks again for reading and commenting — I’m glad you like it. I’m also wanting to read your book, just catching up on all my reading… but I am determined to get to it soon! I’ve been enjoying reading all your character interviews on your blog!
I’ve really enjoyed reading your snippets of your novel… You are doing a fantastic job with them… 🙂 That happens to me too sometimes sounds right in my mind then on paper needs a tiny tweak,…
Thanks Hun.. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying my blog too, that means a lot..
I’m really enjoying this, Louisa. As for editing via a blog you’re letting others see your (excellent) work, which must be a good motivation for writing well. I’ve known a few authors write their novels with each blog, and then the final few chapters, you have to buy the book to find out what happens. I’m not sure I could do that – not yet, anyway!
Thanks for stopping by, Ruth! It’s good to know others are trying out this approach, too. I think that’s a great idea to save the final few chapters for the actual copy. Not sure if I’ll take it that far, but I’m enjoying posting little bits right now!
Hi Louisa, I loved this. Thank you for sharing it. I remember feeling the same when I moved to London from California. Why is everything so small?! And how do people live like this? I really enjoyed getting to know more about Katy and her mom. I think you do a good job of capturing the uncertainty of a child about their parent, in a subtle, intriguing and nuanced way. Well done! As to editing on a blog, it takes courage but I can see how it would make you see your writing differently. I’ll have to think about this one. 🙂 Thanks so much!
Thanks for the feedback, Kendra! It’s good to know that this resonates with you — I’m trying to switch between “Scottish” mode and “American” mode to remember how I felt when I first came over to the States and how I feel today when I visit Scotland! 🙂 I’m finally getting caught up on my reading and am looking forward to reading your book.
Hi Louisa, It is difficult to switch between cultural mindsets, even more so in writing I think. You’re doing a great job with it and I look forward to reading more of the novel. 🙂 Thanks, and I hope you enjoy The Forest King’s Daughter too :-).
I’m really enjoying these snippets Louisa and all the rich details. Bring it on! 🙂
Thanks, Marianne! I appreciate you stopping by!