I sometimes joke that I’m a bad writer but a good editor. And my first drafts tend to bear that out. I look in mingled awe and horror at writers who can put up daily excerpts from works in progress – I’m no more likely to do that than I am to post a photo of what I look like first thing in the morning (why does my hair always do that thing, by the way?). My first drafts, even when they’re pretty good first drafts, are so very much not for public consumption.
I’m now on the third version of the opening of Linked, my telepathic-twins-in-space story, and I’m finally starting to think, okay, that’s not too bad. It’s not the final edited and re-edited, critted, beta-read and polished-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life version that will go out to publishers later on, of course, but it’s at least got its face washed, teeth brushed and its hair tortured into submission (is that metaphor working?).
In the half-hour since Lissa and her mother had entered the waiting-room, the sky above Canyon City had changed. At first blue, the colour deep enough to drown in, in the last ten minutes it had thinned to twilight green, a little hazy where it curved down behind the far side of the canyon, where the spaceport stood.
As Lissa watched, trying to ignore the tightness in her chest and that her palms were damp enough to leave handprints on the polished wooden windowsill, far below, the city lights began to blink awake, lines and scatters of light pricking up through the darkening air.
Then, as the waiting-room lights came on, too, everything—sky, spaceport, city—all vanished behind a reflection of the room where she stood.
At the far side of the room, Lissa’s mother, Elaine Ivory, sat, straight-backed and exquisitely thin, a book in her hands. In the adjacent corner, by the side of the chocolate brown couch, amber lights glowed behind a tiny waterfall that ran over a tumble of pebbles into a small pool. A slim silver drinks machine stood in the other corner, discreetly lit buttons indicating the range of drinks: cappuccino, herb tea, sparkling peach juice, white wine. Quiet in the background, music—chimes and harpstrings—trickled from invisible speakers.
Lissa had thought she was quite an expert on doctors’ waiting-rooms—God knows, she’d sat in enough of them—but this one was very different from the others. This one has money.
Well, he would, wouldn’t he?
Her hands were sweaty again. She eased them off the shiny windowsill and wiped them surreptitiously on her neatly creased trousers, flicking a glance to where her mother sat.
Money. And status, enough to keep us waiting and know we won’t walk out. Of course we won’t walk out—where else am I going to go?