The First 250 Words (and how I said goodbye to Lake Michigan)

This is the first thing I ever wrote for The Children of the Fianna:

“Staring at a withering illuminated manuscript and conjugating ancient Irish verbs for hours on end was certainly not the way I wanted to spend this glorious autumn afternoon in Milwaukee.  Raising my gaze from the swirling script below me to the large window on my left, I could not help but linger a bit on the incredible view from the seventh floor of Wilde Hall where acres of parkland woods in vivid shades of red, orange, and yellow decorated the shores of Lake Michigan stretching like a great grey-blue band into the horizon.  From this height, I always felt a strange pull to the expanse of water in the distance, kind of like falling when one does so in a dream.  But dreaming would not help me translate this poem any quicker as I scrutinized the line of poetry I was butchering.”

Isn’t it precious?  I love the description of Lake Michigan, personally.  I rarely had an opportunity to go to the seventh floor of Curtin Hall when I studied at UW-Milwaukee, but when I did, I was blown away by the penthouse view.  From there I could see the US Bank building all the way downtown, and I could see the weather gather over the face of the lake spread out like a placid sea.  As much as I love this and descriptions about autumn time in Milwaukee, this little missive was the first to go.  Then there were long descriptions about Elizabeth Tanner’s lonely childhood.  I cut that and dropped that about 100 pages in. Do you care about someone’s bad childhood in the first two minutes you meet them?  Yeah, neither do I.  The hardest thing to cut, though, were descriptions of Elizabeth’s experiences with Moire and Kevin Forrester.  In many ways, these descriptions depicted my own entry into my Master’s program, the excitement of meeting people who love books.  And not just love books, but love books.  It was other things, too, though.  I loved the culture of intellectual life–the wine, the music, the conversation.  Someone randomly picking up a volume of Pablo Neruda or W.B. Yeats and reading poems in the corner, gesticulating wildly while whiskey drizzled over the carpet.  I remember the first time I met my cohort out for drinks and we spent the entire evening discussing Derrida.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  Maybe someday I’ll write that story, but a tall handsome stranger just arrived and he wants, no, demands, a book from my main character.  He’s hot.  There’s tension.  Terrible things are going to happen.  Let’s just cut to the chase, people…

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