The Debut of Chapter Two and 364 Other Pages PS: Don't miss the giveaway!
By Laura Spinella
Well, here we are, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER’S debut. Six weeks to write the rough draft, six years to this moment. I have the champagne; who brought the glasses? You’re right—straight from the bottle it is. During the last half-dozen years many things have changed. Two daughters graduated from high school, one ending up on the campus of the book’s setting, Athens, Georgia. I so did not see that coming. Kahlua, the golden retriever who listened dutifully to a jagged first draft is gone. Never replaced, but the void has been filled by a cockapoo and a miniature golden doodle. Excellent listeners, zero shedding… marginal critiques. And BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, what changed there? Oh, that’s right. This is a blog, not a book. In deference to the celebration, let’s make this quick and go with what didn’t change: Chapter Two.
When the finished copies arrived, it occurred to me that Chapter Two was nearly identical to the one I wrote manically on a rainy Saturday six Aprils ago. Soaked to the bone, my muse decided to come inside that day, tracking mud through the living room and an idea across my brain. Positive that my first Chapter Two and the polished print version couldn’t be the same, I scavenged basement boxes in search of an original copy. (Um, everybody has a stash of those, right?) Last week, inside a musty closet, with the world surrounded by Christmas, I sat with Easter decorations at my feet, leaning against a Hefty bag of clothes bound for Good Will. There, I compared a brave but pitiable draft to the glossy covered finished product. Pitiable with the exception of Chapter Two. I was right—if Kahlua were here, she’d back me up. The narrative and dialogue from Chapter Two read almost verbatim to the ’05 version. Clearly, from the timeline, the majority of the book took work, and lots of it. But I also recall writing that chapter, the telltale pulse that dictated the rest of the story. Today, I see the synchronicity of something I thoroughly doubted, while simultaneously understanding that it was meant to be. At the end of this blog I’ll share a snippet of Chapter Two. It’s a piece of BEAUTIFUL DISASTER that played a large role in keeping me on the path to here.
Showing off a finished copy to Auggie.
In the meantime, since this is debut day and I’m the novice, I’d like to know how you spent (or will spend) yours. Honestly, I don’t have much planned. It’s a Tuesday, which means the people I hang with are in mid-week mode, consumed by making it to Wednesday. Many friends are too many miles away to do more than offer a giant shout out via Facebook. My husband is decidedly, unavoidably, out of the country. Feel free to interpret that any way you’d like. And since Boston and balmy have nothing in common, particularly in January, any ideas about a Main Street parade are out. I’m okay with the quiet. The moment may have arrived, but I suspect this thing will continue to move at marathon pace. Still, I’d love to hear about your debut day. Did your phone ring endlessly? Did your best friend throw you a launch party? Or maybe your publisher—or maybe that only happens in the movies. Perhaps you did your first book signing that very day. Tell me about it. If you’re that all important reader, not a writer, I hope you find the muse inspired excerpt intriguing; I think it’s the bridge between there and here. A signed copy of BEAUTIFUL DISASTER will go randomly to one commenter. We’ll blindfold the cockapoo and let her pick. Don’t forget to leave your contact info so she can look you up. Thanks for reading, and thank you for sharing in BEAUTIFUL DISASTER’S debut.
Athens, Georgia, thirteen years ago
The bike rumbled up to the curb in downtown Athens, announcing his arrival like a lion advancing on new territory. Goddamn, but it was hot. He was used to hot places. Not that he had ever learned to like them. Rural Indiana, where he grew up; Parris Island; the bottom of hell—he always ended up in places where sweat was part of the dress code. The sidewalk was thick with college kids; they kept the place going, from what he had heard. College towns were a handy place to hang for a while. Nobody asked too many questions. If anything, people encouraged a come-as-you-are attitude. The casualness appealed to him. Conforming would never work out—ask any Marine.
An eternity on the bike coupled by hours in a traffic jam had left his longs legs cramped and a little wobbly. Food would be good idea. He tugged at the sweaty jeans that were seared to his skin and pulled a red bandana from his pocket, blotting his grimy brow. Stepping to the curb, he attempted to blend in with the crowds of backpacks and portable CD players. He felt staring eyes as he moved among them. Girls mostly. Girls always looked at him. He wasn’t the typical fare, with hair as long as theirs and the scruffy beard. On most days it led to the Jesus remark before lunch. He didn’t care, but sometimes he wanted to lean into their probing, dewy eyes and whisper, “Yeah, just think what your old man would do if you brought me home.” He liked college towns, but he wasn’t interested in college girls. Despite their glances, they weren’t really looking for a guy like him either.
Laura blogs at www.lauraspinella.net, catch her signing dates on the events page, join BEAUTIFUL DISASTER’S Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Beautiful-Disaster-A-Novel/161793947170701