To move my second novel along, I’m waking up 30 minutes early to immediately write whatever stories come to mind about Emerson Page. That means 1/2 an hour into my day, I already feel like I’ve gotten good work done. Here’s what happened Monday morning, in its completely raw, completely unedited form. It needs a lot of work; and that work begins by getting it down.
I think it’s important to show our work as writers, rough as it may be, so that we can understand and learn from each other’s process. It is a slog, but how lucky I am to be able to write freely. There are so many people in this world who live in places where that’s not possible.
Emerson was frantically digging in the rich, deep dirt. As luxurious as it felt in her hands, her heart was racing. They didn’t have much time. She could hear the group approaching from behind—snapping twigs underfoot, the brushing aside of the thick brush. The jungle was a frightening but beautiful place. The darkness often hid danger but it could also provide a place of protection for those who needed to be hidden. Their voices were growing louder and spoke in a language not her own but one she clearly understood.
“Get the girl and then find what she’s looking for.”
A shockwave of pain radiated through Emerson’s right pinky finger. She had jammed it on something hard in the ground where she was digging. Moving her hands so quickly they were nothing but a blur to her sore, tired eyes, a shiny gold surface caught what little light there was filtering through the tangle of vines.
“Here it is, here it is, here it is,” she thought, her mind reeling.
Quickly making her way around the small box, she could see it measured no more than the size of a loaf of bread. Made of a dark wood with a sheen and brass handles on each side, there was a metal plate neatly tacked to the top of it with one word etched on it in curly script: Erato.
Knowing she had very little time left, Emerson grabbed both of the brass handles and pulled as hard as she could. Heaving herself backward into a giant [name of species of tree in the jungle], her head knocked right into the trunk of the tree. Rubbing the back of her head, the box now squarely in her lap, she looked up to see a team of men looming over her, their smiles wicked and filled with broken, dirty teeth.
“So this is the girl, the girl we are supposed to fear so much? How pathetic she is.” The group sneered and laughed as if they had just corned a prize they hunted. Emerson’s eyes and belly burned.
“And look,” another one said. “She’s shaking.” The crowd of men roared with laughter again.
Emerson smiled. Slowly she let her grin expand across her lips. She felt wild and free, as if she knew a secret that none of them knew and were about to learn in a way that they would never forget. She let her body shake and her light flood into every part of her. It grew brighter with every second, making her glow with such force that the men had to shield their eyes with their arms. Like the blazing, burning sun, they could barely stand to look at her but they were so fascinated and stunned by her that they couldn’t look away either.
The light soothed the pain in the back of her head. Firmly holding the box handles in her two hands, she rose to her feet in one swift action. Standing at her full, though petite, height she walked toward the men. Now that they shook with fear, some falling to the ground, some hiding and cowering behind one another, the group parted neatly down the middle and Emerson walked straight threw the clearing the men had made with their machetes just moments before.
You see the jungle is a dark and dangerous place. It’s stuffed with mystery. It’s laced with fear for those who don’t understand it. But for those who realize and cherish its magic, the jungle possesses a wisdom that speaks directly to our souls. It holds treasures richer than we have ever dared to dream. As Emerson walked out into what was left of the light from the setting sun, she knew what she had, she understood the power of the treasure she now held in her hands.