I do not like editing.
I have made this known many times to anyone who would listen.
And I especially don’t like editing my own stuff.
Every time I look back over a story I’ve written, I cringe a little, start changing a lot, and the next thing you know, I’m adding 40k more words to a 50k-word manuscript.
It’s not pretty.
This week for #WriterinMotion we’re to self-edit our initial draft before sending it off to our critique partners, or CPs, for their review and edits.
Initially I was just going to do them all in Google Docs before I sent them off, but I was pretty much brow-beaten to do my edits in Word with Track Changes on to highlight the process and show the messy…
It got pretty messy.
But lucky for you, you’ll get to read a clean version of this mess. Still Untitled, but at least my characters and places have names.
If she tried hard enough, Adara could see the illumination of city of Gadiel in the distance, glimmering on the desert’s horizon.
But she wasn’t trying hard enough.
She wasn’t trying at all.
Just as she knew they weren’t trying to find her.
No one survives the night in the desert, they snarled.
She’ll be dead by morning, they jeered.
But still, she ran.
She ran away from the man she thought she loved, and from the man who loved her in return.
She left behind the riches and the glamour and the easy lifestyle for the searing heat and the unforgivable landscape and the impossibility that somewhere out in the Latif Desert, she’d be free from their threatened persecution.
Out there, she could worship the stars and kiss the breeze that swept through the desert at night. When the sun set and the sands cooled, only then did she emerge from the life-saving vessel that allowed her the freedom she so desperately desired.
Adara had read about it once, during a lesson within the palace’s stuffy library that might as well have been as hot as the desert itself. As she tried to concentrate through the heat and humidity, she read about the Latif, its flora and fauna, and the belief that it had once been a vast ocean of the same name, but long since desiccated due to years of drought and famine before the Great King came into power.
Clearly it was propaganda—of that she was certain. Still, she always wondered what awaited beyond the palace’s walls its city guard so vehemently refused to open.
“We’ll leave one day,” Farren told her as they lay together on her cache of pillows, the silk cool against their heated flesh. “Together, we’ll jump over those walls and see exactly what the desert has to offer.”
When she did jump, however, he wasn’t next to her.
He wasn’t anywhere near her.
The guards took him away from her, ignoring her pleas of his innocence, shouted over his insistence that she run away.
Tears stung Adara’s eyes as she stared up at the night sky, the memories again becoming too much for her emotions to suppress.
The old metal of the abandoned boat pressed against her back remaining warm after a day in the blazing sun, but it was nonetheless appreciated as the evening cooled. What would the King have thought when he discovered the very proof of his dictatorship would be the only source of her survival?
Because she knew it was the King who caused the drought—that he purposefully made his deal with the Black Gods to dry the surrounding sea and render his people’s survival solely dependent on him.
Adara spent too many nights with the prince, too long as his preferred consort, to ignore the truth behind the stories. Jamil liked to brag, whether it was regarding his own exploits or those of his family. She was a fool to think she could play him for a greater fool than he already displayed. She should have known that her inquiries about his father’s wealth and fortune wouldn’t go unsuspected. And she should have expected him to be watching her…
Adara wrapped her arms around herself, the chill within her no longer from the desert night as she rolled onto her side, turning her back to the glistening city in the distance.
Did Farren still think of her, or was he already dead?
Or worse, was he surviving out of spite, thinking she had long-since perished?
She held herself tighter, almost protectively as she closed her eyes, willing the hypotheticals away.
Now, he would never discover the truth.
He would never know the gift they shared.
The miracle they created…
Someone was on the boat.
Adara blinked into the haze of the boat’s underbelly, her only protection from the desert’s harsh environs since she discovered the discarded vessel. Her breaths were shallow as she strained her ears, knowing something above-deck drew her from her slumber.
She heard it again.
She reached for the handmade shiv crafted from harvested metal. She had yet to defend herself against anything other than the cruel natural conditions, but she was more than ready to do so for her own survival.
For their survival.
Slowly she pushed aside the old canvas sail used for a bedspread and crawled towards the dilapidated stairs that led to the main deck. She could hear the boards creaking in time with her own beating heart as she moved closer to her target.
The boat was at least a day and a night away from the city, and unless someone knew it was there, they’d barely have a chance to happen upon it among the vast landscape. It happened only once in her time there, but it was a rogue coyote who was as scared of her as she was of him. The metal bit into her palm as she attempted to steady her nerves. The intruder was neither coyote nor any other animal for that matter. It was very much a man, standing at the stern with his back to her as he looked out over the desert as if trying to discern his position in connection to Gadiel.
He wouldn’t be able to see it until sunset, but he wasn’t going to live long enough to figure that out.
She screamed as she lunged, ready to protect herself at all costs, but he was ready, drawing how own sword without hesitation as he spun to face her attack.
Her momentum too fast, and his skills to refined.
She couldn’t stop the metal shiv from piecing his neck, and he couldn’t still his blade from slashing her across stomach.
With eyes wide she slumped to the deck, arms wrapping around herself once again, but this time in vain.
He, in turn, crashed to his knees, the blood running in spurts along his neck, his shirt.
“You’re alive,” she whispered, the pain searing from within.
“So are you,” Farren said, blood dripping down his chin.
She would have gone to him, to tell him all would be well. But the wind of the desert stole their last breaths, and they moved no more.
1,038 words remain, and I need my CPs to get rid of at least 38 of them.
Let’s see what can happen in a week!