Given this article coming out today…
I thought it was appropriate to post the final version of my #writerinmotion short story.
This past week we got feedback from our participating professional editors:
We were split randomly among them and I was super excited to have Jeni Chappelle as my editor. I actually have briefly worked with her before during #Revpit, where she gave me feedback on my submission and I bought her Query/Synopsis/First 50 page review package afterward.
I’ve really enjoyed her editing style and was interested to see how she would critique/edit my short story.
Needless to say she had some very poignant questions and suggestions – apart from some minor line and copy edits – that got me thinking about my characters more deeply.
The comment below really forced me to take another look at crafting consistency in my characterization.
I must have rewritten 5 sentences about 30 times before I felt like I got it right.
At least I think I got it write, I mean rite, I mean … right…?
I definitely got to the point at midnight after editing for 3 hrs where I was unsure what words meant anymore.
I also really appreciated how she commented on the areas she liked as well. Being compared to Terry Pratchett and Douglass Adams is my dream, so mission accomplished. 🙌
After incorporating Jeni’s edits, I had a good bit of insomnia. Then I let it sit for a day, and finally, today, just moments ago, I did my final self-editing. This consisted of throwing it into Grammarly (I highly recommend it) and going through the story with a fine-tooth comb – checking each word to make sure it was both necessary and the correct word for what I wanted to say.
Without further ado, here is my final draft of Surviving Editing…I mean Gravity…
If anything can survive an apocalypse, it is the cockroach. According to humanity, they are practically immortal. Rolf wasn’t keen on becoming the exception. Bob, on the other hand, imagined condemnation from the cosmic collective above.
The light of an individual star is swallowed by the darkness…the litany danced through his mind as he dashed from shadow to shadow along the rotting trim piece, avoiding the starlight. He whispered apologies, but they went unheard – the stars were preoccupied.
Time, it turns out, is a gravitational matter – relating to each and every thing in the universe in direct proportion to its individual gravitational pull. As such, stars have much the same self-perceived lifespan as a cockroach, and they’re too concerned with their own survival to judge anyone.
“Rolf, are you sure we should be out here alone?” Bob whispered, antennae flitting from side to side as he scurried up the dehydrated corpse slumped in the hold of the abandoned boat.
“Do you see another option?” Rolf’s voice echoed from above.
“Well, no…but, you know what they say. ‘Scavenging without a Harvesting Team is scavenging for death.'”
Rolf sped past the collarbone and up the mandible.
“That’s because they want to control us, Bob. They want to control everything, even if it kills them.”
“Oh,” said Bob, pausing his long climb up the arm. “It’s not for safety precautions? Or to help take food back to the Colony?”
Rolf scoffed. “How much food has anyone found lately? I took a Harvesting Team out here, but they blew me off! ‘Impossible retrieval potential,’ they said. This food isn’t easy to get, sure, but it’s not impossible. Besides, that bit of eyeball is the last edible thing left in this entire wreck.”
Bob shuffled up to the orbital socket and perched next to Rolf, breathing hard. His antennae quivered as he eyed the target dangling motionless from a single hair.
“You’re sure we shouldn’t get a Harvesting Team out here?” he asked, dubious.
Even if the morsel could feed the whole Colony for a week, it was well outside their reach—a quiescent pendulum of potential, tantalizing and unobtainable.
Rolf didn’t answer. He scuttled around the skull until he was upside-down near the top of the sagittal suture. “Look, Bob, if I use my head to push the hair back and forth, it might swing the food to you. You can catch it with your mouth.”
“That’s a clever idea.” Bob hesitantly surveyed his precarious position at the edge of the socket. “I guess it could work. I’ll do my best, Rolf.”
The hair swung the wrong way at first, but Rolf corrected it until the eyeball crept closer. Bob missed it the first two times it passed, but on the third, he caught it. The force of the backswing threatened to unseat him and one by one, his feet inched involuntarily into emptiness. His antennae whirled wildly, and his muffled screams of terror continued even after Rolf pulled him back to safety.
Rolf secured first the food then Bob.
“Well done, Bob. Are you ok?”
“I…I think so, Rolf.” Bob glanced into the darkness and shuttered, imagining the slow death he’d barely escaped. “I’d be flat on my back at the bottom of that skull but for you.”
They inspected the bit of eyeball. It was a sizable harvest.
“We’ll be heroes when we bring this back!” Bob exclaimed. “It’s enough to feed the whole Colony for a month.”
“Now wait a minute,” said Rolf, antennae rigid. “This food is ours. We found it; we harvested it; we keep it.”
Bob’s antennae drooped. “That’s not the Colony’s way, Rolf. You know what they say. ‘The light of an individual star is swallowed by the darkness; only shining together can they illuminate the night.’“
Rolf put his face right up against Bob’s, meeting him eye to beady eye. “Starlight be damned,” he said. “You almost died, Bob! There’s no starlight in death. Think of your family. The Colony thrived once, it’s true. The leaders act like that’s still the case, but we both know it’s a lie. We don’t have the luxury to ‘shine together.’ We’ve got to think about survival.”
Bob considered the word. It pulled at something deep within. Rolf was different—smart, curious, daring—that’s why Bob liked him. He taught Bob new ideas and never led him wrong. But with that one word, Rolf awakened in Bob an instinctual and overwhelming terror as he relived his near-death experience.
Suddenly, Bob understood.
Rolf positioned himself on the inside edge of the socket to push the food forward. “Let’s get this back to our families.”
Bob stood frozen, his revelation catching hold of him like a sticky trap.
Before Rolf knew what was happening, Bob grabbed the eyeball, and Rolf found himself another victim of gravity, tumbling through the air to land on his back at the base of the skull. His six legs kicked in frantic desperation as he tried in vain to right himself.
“Why, Bob? Why?” he cried.
Bob merely shrugged. “Survival, Rolf. This food will feed my family for generations. As you said, if we’re running out of time, I’ve got to think of them.”
They had gone alone, against Colony policy, and Rolf knew if his body was ever found it would be as shriveled as the skeleton they’d find it in. Serves him right, they’d say. Scavenging without a Harvesting Team is scavenging for death.
Bob was grateful for the well-lit path home. Cosmic condemnation never crossed his mind – moving such a substantial harvest by himself was more difficult than he’d anticipated, and he was preoccupied.
I hope you enjoyed seeing this little story go from just a blip of an idea in my mind to a fully polished story!
I really have loved being a part of #WriterInMotion, and I hope you’ve found the process both illuminating and helpful. Next week I’ll be posting a final post reflecting about the whole process, and what the future may hold.
Until then, you can check out the others writers on their websites!
KJ Harrowick | Jen Karner | JM Jinks | Melissa Bergum | Thuy Nguyen | Kristen Howe | Sean Willson | Paulette Wiles | Talynn Lynn | Ellen Mulholland | Kathryn Hewitt | Sheri MacIntyre | Jessica Lewis | Susan Burdorf | Stephanie Whitaker | Dawn Currie | Megan Van Dyke | SKaeth | Ari Augustine | Fariha Khayyam | M. Dalto | Sheryl Stein | Belinda Grant | Coffee Quills