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After helping to lead an amazing women’s meditation retreat this weekend, I turned my attention to my homework assignment for class at the Writer’s Center last night. I had the opportunity to submit a draft proposal of my book (for publishers) and sample chapters for my teacher and classmates to read and critique. Picking up where the last blog left off – at the choice for a new beginning for the book – I explored possibilities. Which story would grab the reader, whether a busy publisher or agent, or a person in the bookstore flipping through the first page of my book?

Instead of using the chapter “Journey to Loretto” as my beginning (in which I travel by train from Kansas City to Louisville, Kentucky, then by bus to the Loretto Motherhouse at age 17 to join the convent), I decided to jump ahead to the incident that stimulated my first batch of hate mail. The chapter begins with a phone call from a leader of the Black Liberators in St. Louis in 1968 asking me to find a way to free him from police headquarters before the cops killed him. I had to organize a protest of 50 nuns and the press to get the attention of the police chief. You’ll find out what happens when you read the book.

A gripping beginning. But it shortens the action of the whole story to just 17 months of my life! Is that enough? It is the most “action-packed” and public part of the story, covered in the press in Missouri, Washington, DC and eventually throughout the country and other parts of the world. But it might leave out some of you who are reading this blog!

Will I be able to weave in the “backstory” that explains “How a regular nun, high school teacher, committed to her vows and to religious life, became a revolutionary?” I will need to establish the “ordinariness” of my life, the progression of the radical changes in my thinking, awareness and behavior and also the changes that were happening in our society in the late sixties. I had established these changes in the original first five chapters of my book, so I also included some excerpts from those chapters for class critique.

Again, a waiting period until our next (delayed) class in two weeks!
What do I do while waiting? More WRITING, revising, cutting!

What are you doing this week? Any writing? Revising? Cutting of anything?

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2 Comments

  1. Oh, that waiting! Being a visual artist the waiting is different, but loud.
    I try and talk myself into changing things up. Using another medium, oil, pastel,or glass. If the piece I am waiting on was one that took a long time, I look for a quick one.
    It is a great distraction!
    Do you ever write short stories about some of the amazing experiences, funny, sad, or poignant that we had in the catholic left.

  2. What I’ve read so far has been great. True, I have a personal interest, but by no means do I believe it will bore readers to tears. With the new beginning giving readers a taste of whats to come I think should be enough to carry them through a portion of the all important backstory. How much and how it’s woven into the action packed portion is the trick. No doubt the feedback from your teacher and classmates will help you decide this but my advice is not to fear the backstory. Others ,outside the family, will enjoy it as well.


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