Every writer knows the old saw about ‘killing your darlings’ – deleting favourite phrases, sentences, characters, scenes, etc., from a work as it evolves. I often reassure writers I work with that out-takes from one project can sometimes be used in another project down the road.
I hadn’t yet killed the ‘Hannah as a teen mom’ thread from my current novel-in-progress, when I was approached by someone looking for submissions to consider for a high school anthology of short stories or unpublished novel excerpts. But I must have known that the moment would come. I remember thinking when the excerpt from my novel was accepted, that having the story ‘out there’ in that form would soften the blow, if I did have to cut that thread from the story.
The main character in ‘Baby Love’, recently published in Reality Imagined: Stories of Identity and Change (McGraw-Hill Ryerson), is no longer Hannah. The novel-in-progress in which Hannah is still a character now ends a few years earlier than it used to, and how it ends now means that becoming a teen mom is no longer a likelihood in Hannah`s future. But it is Chelsea`s reality.
Click on the image to read an excerpt from Chelsea’s story:
As I near the completion of a draft of the original story in which Hannah appears – one that’s almost ready to submit to a publisher (she says optimistically) – I doubt that I’ll ever have what it takes to actually write Chelsea’s novel. (But of course I doubt it. I found it hard to contemplate having another baby while I was still in the delivery room, too!)
Whether I ever tell Chelsea`s full story or not, it`s nice to know that at least readers of Reality Imagined will know this “killed darling” of mine to some extent anyway.
Kathy Stinson is the author of the classic Red Is Best and the award-winning The Man with the Violin. Her wide range of titles includes picture books, non-fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, horror, biography, series books, and short stories. She has met with her readers in every province and territory of Canada, in the United States, Britain, Liberia, and Korea. She lives in a small town in Ontario.