Fiction Friday: Out-takes

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By Leslie Lindsay

[image source: lighthouseblog.org retreived 9.20.13]"To be myself or to not be myself, that is the question."
If you’ve been following along for any length of time, then you know I am working like mad to revise my manuscript so it’s in tip-top shape for [agent] submission.  The process is akin to preparing a house for sale.  You clean, declutter, repair; you do everything you can to make sure that house is ready for the market.  A manuscript is no different.  The goal: a quick sale at top dollar.  Sure, the process is excruciating, but the pay-off should be worth it. 

In working through this process, I’ve learned much.  Too much to go into here.  But one thing I can honestly say is that I know when a good, well-written piece needs to go.  Here are a couple of examples.  While I love these sections, I just don’t know if they fit into the larger whole.  For files like these, I save in an “out-takes” folder.  Maybe they will make an appearance again in another book with another premise.  I think this is what they mean by “killing your darlings.”

EXAMPLE #!: ANNIE–AP Psychology/Senior Year 

       Have you ever really looked at a Fed Ex Truck?  You know the ones I am talking about—white with purple and orange lettering.  Have you ever noticed the arrow?  That’s right—the arrow on the side of the truck.  If you look closely, you will see one.  Kids can see it clear as day, adults not-so-much. 

       This is an example of amodal completion—good continuation—the process by which your brain makes up things that are not there.  Or, more accurately put—the process by which your brain makes things seem whole based on sparse information. 

        The Fed Ex arrow may have something to do with Gestalt psychology, too.  The theory maintains that the human eye sees objects in their entirety before perceiving their individual parts, suggesting the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Gestalt psychology tries to understand the laws of our ability to see and understand smaller pieces of input in a busy world.

EXAMPLE #2: ANNIE–AP PSYCH LAB/ SENIOR YEAR

       “As a follow up to last session, we are going to do a little experiement,”  Dr. Mihevic stroked his white Santa Clause-like beard.  I scoot forward. “Let’s see how clever your brain is at filling things in.  Today, we are going to try the Ganzfeld procedure.” 

         Ganzfeld is German for “the entire field.”  More German word trivia—Mittelschmerz  means “middle of the month.”  I shift uncomfortably in my chair.  Good thing Steve’s away at college.  Now would not be the time to get frisky.  But I digress. 

         Mihevic hands out Ping-Pong balls and an Exact-o knife to each of us.   “Cut your ball in half very carefully.”  We do as he says, a few of the guys commenting on vulgar ball slicing.  Next, Mihevic dials his desk radio to static.  “Get in partners and lie down, you may have to push your things aside.”  We do as we’re told, a rumble of bodies and desks.  “Now, I want you to tape the half ball over each eye and wait.  Within minutes, you will experience a flood of bizzare sensations.  Your cat may jump over the moon, your long-deceased grandmother may play the piano.  Whatever.  Your brain cannot deal with zero sensory input, so it makes it up.  It creates its own reality.” 

           I see rainbows and unicorns.  I feel like I am floating.  Even though the feeling is uncomfortable, I kind of like it. 

           “The point of all of this is, your brain is constantly making up its out reality, whether it receives actual reality-driven input from your senses, or not.  When you have no sensory input, your brain makes it up.”

About leslie1218

Author of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012) frantically working on a novel that should be ready for submission this fall. Mom of two spritely redheads & one chubby basset hound whose stories & images appear in my writing from time-to-time.

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