Meat & Potatoes

One of my favorite words is ampersand. It’s one of these ‘&.’The word ampersand comes from a contraction of the phrase ‘and per se and’ and the symbol used to be the 27th letter of the English alphabet taught to schoolchildren; the symbol is itself a contraction of the letters e and t, from ‘et,’ the Latin word for and (more on this fascinating story from the OED).

Anyway, the phrase ‘meat and potatoes’ refers to the main part of something, the unadulterated sustenance. For this blog, the meat and potatoes is me going through the editing and publishing process. This is going to be tough. I haven’t gone back to the book since the last time I sent out queries in the fall of 2016. Now is the time to get back though, to take all of the criticism, constructive and otherwise, and look at what I can do to make every word and every page count. Vonnegut was said to have obsessed for days on individual sentences, just to get his signature cadence just right. Fitzgerald worked and reworked his novels with trusted editor Maxwell Perkins for months until they reached perfection. And then there’s me looking up to those giants. But hey, if you look up to giants, you’ll always feel short.

“I remember when I used to think people our age were adults. I remember when I used to look up to my father. Now I’m taller than him.

When I was at the start of my junior year of high school, I really had no idea how much would change over the course of the next two years, I could never have imagined how Ken, Lila, the road trip, or any of it would change my life, but I’ll get to that and all that Holden Caulfield kind of crap about my younger and more vulnerable years later.

In short, I am a millennial. More specifically, I’m a 90’s kid. I am a member of the New Lost Generation, Generation Apathy, Generation Why; the kids that were around for Web 1.0 but were raised on 2. The generation that saw the technology around them grow faster than they did, born in a period of Unraveling and growing up in a time of Crisis. The last group of human beings to remember 9/11 as an event in their lives rather than a history lesson. The sons and daughters of the Baby-Boomers who stayed together for the kids. We are not just the outsiders or the inbetweeners, we are the lost.

But that’s just Juvenoia at work.”

This is the opener of my novel; four paragraphs that I’ve spent many many hours working and reworking to get just right, because first impressions are important, and opening lines are even more important. Let me know what you think of this beginning, as I begin again my journey into more editing. And yes, it’s a YA novel as I’ve said, and I’m not trying to write literature, but I am trying to write well.

-T

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3 thoughts on “Meat & Potatoes”

  1. The excerpt from your book was fascinating, and I’d definitely like to know more about the road trip and how it influenced who you are and how big a part it played in developing your personality. I’d never heard the phrase meat and potatoes before, and it seems fitting. Going back to old work and reviewing it is such a nostalgic yet self criticizing exercise, good luck!

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  2. SO EXCITING getting to read a small chunk of your novel!!!!! Its definitely intimidating stepping back into a critical mindset and reworking something you care about and spent so much time on. BUT it is always nice when you put something away for a little bit and go back and reevaluate with a fresh perspective. It may be a more insightful editing process since you haven’t gone back over the book since the fall. Good luck!!

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