Oh boy. So I finally have a finished second draft for this first draft and while there’s now a real story there, I’m still a long way from the finish line. If I weren’t on a schedule, I’d probably set this aside for a few weeks and then rewrite it again.
Yes, rewrite. I did a lot of editing and reshaping (an example of one of the edits copies is here)and such this week but ended up simply sitting down and basically rewriting it from the various scraps. It was so vague in the first draft that I didn’t want to be tied to it too much. I’m honestly not sure how it reads because I don’t have the distance from it to judge, but that’s what week 3 is about! I have a second draft, and I get to send it off to two critique partners who will go through it and give me valuable thoughts on what I could do to improve it. So without further ado, here’s draft two!
This bay wasn’t like her bay. This one was sand and seagrass all shaped into mounds like a badly stuffed mattress. Home was all rocks, black ones slick with weed that would slip you under the waves in a heartbeat and huge grey ones further back where you could sit and watch the water if there was no work to do. But home was also across the bay, a thin line on the horizon. On days when she had the time, Lil settled on a stretch of wet sand with home in front of her and the city walls at her back.
The wind picked up a little, and Lil pulled her knees up so she could wrap her arms around them to keep off the chill. The tide had come in enough that the water was nipping at her bare toes. At home there’d be hard work for that, splitting wood with Tique or pulling young lobster out of the upper cove for supper. Maybe she’d have been shaving a branch to make a staff so she could accompany Bryson on a trip to Big Bend On The Narrows. There was no work like that here. No bare feet on grey rock to watch the surge and no hard labour to sweat out any troubles.
Here there was a desk and paper and an ink bottle and a quill.
It was stupid work for stupid people who couldn’t manage to keep their stories in their head. She grabbed a stick from the ribbon of dry drift the last tide has pushed up and started scratching in the sand. It was the symbol for the sound a person made when they touched their tongue to the roof of their mouth, like in her own name, and it wasn’t half bad, which annoyed her. Their symbols shouldn’t take to her hand like that.
The water was around her feet now but not deep enough that the ilips of the waves were cold. She etched another figure in the sand. This one was a boat – long and clunky like Aven’s. She sketched in a few lines for the planks in the hull, then a low cabin on the deck. She’d wanted that boat, had begged Aven for the chance to work on it, prove herself, and earn the coin she’d need to build one like it one day and he’d humoured, her for a bit until he learned to respect her. That was a dream she’d almost managed to churn into something solid.
Then the Guild had come to the village and, with a spell no one understood had passed a hand over the head of every child and unpromised young adult, deciding who would go would return to the city with them to learn their magic. What a betrayal that her tall, strong body built for hauling nets and swinging an axe was harbouring some spark that attracted those outsiders’ attention. She’d thought she was as attached to that place, as immovable, as the boulders on the shore. I wish it weren’t so, her mom had said as she’d wiped the tears from Lil’s cheek, I wish it weren’t so.
The top edge of her letter crumbled at the touch of a wave. Another few moments and the symbol and boat both would be gone. She wondered if the magic they’d teach her, once she’s learned all their symbols, would be able to hold back the tide. Not likely.
She had an idea. At her desk behind the walls, they wouldn’t let her write her name. No paper or ink could be wasted for a fancy before she could write perfectly. But here… Lil quickly scrawled a few more of their symbols into the sand beside the first. There. She tossed the stick into the water, wishing it was her quill.
Another wave came up in a rush. It broke the edges completely and filled the trenches of her writing in before dragging the sand back over it to leave nothing but soft mounds in its wake. But it took her name with it, because that was what she’d spelled. It wasn’t real magic, but if they were going to claim her and carry her off, then she was going to claim the bay, so that when she walked back behind the city walls and sat down on her desk, she’d be able to close her eyes, remember the beat of the water on the shore, and know the same water that took her name, was touching the black rocks at home.