19 September 2007

At last...

One thing I have never gotten around to writing, in my over two years of working on and off on this novel, was Sarah's childhood. I'm not good with a child's voice, and I don't know what it is like to grow up as a child in a Western cultural context.

But given that I am taking a new writing class, and that it's preferred that I submit the first 25 pages of the novel as my first excerpt for classmates' critiques, I decided to jump right in. I am in the midst of writing those first pages, even though my excerpt is not due for another two weeks.

There will be two childhood scenes: one at age 5, where little boy Sanford already feels discomfort with his gender during a London picnic, and one at age 8, where he, having freshly arrived in Paris, plays "Doctor" with an American expat girl. The "Doctor" scene will finally pound into the brain that Sanford has a boy's body, starting the confusion that will last throughout the teenage years.

Again, given how little I know about the subject matter on hand, I may have to stretch far and wide in order to fill the 25 pages with these two scenes. Depending on how things work out, I may have to write a third scene - at age 12 or so, when puberty sets in, wet dreams start, and the real confusion starts.

The key will be balancing the different stages of Sanford/Sarah's life, so that I don't waste hundreds of pages on, say, Sarah's flight attendant stint while skimming over Sanford's childhood in just a few pages.

I'll see how things work out.

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