Happy holidays to one and all.
Here’s an Icelandic tradition I heard about many years ago.
“Jolabokaflod is one of the most unique and charming Iceland Christmas traditions. The people of Iceland celebrate it on Christmas Eve. Jolabokaflod translates into “Christmas Book Flood.” The tradition is to give or receive new books on Christmas Eve. It’s not just about the giving though—it’s also about the reading!” (from ARCTIC ADVENTURES website, HERE)
With Christmas Eve on hand, I was inspired to share a very short bit of reading fun for all of you. It’s been quite a while since I shared any “bonus” passages from “the cutting room floor” related to my Norway World War II resistance trilogy. If you have a few spare minutes during these busy days you may enjoy reading it. Here’s the first few lines of a chapter that was not revised but entirely eliminated from the final BJORN’S GIFT (Book 2 of the trilogy, the year of transition):
This is a chapter (related to several others) that never appeared in the final:
“By late summer Mari felt more confident treating simple injuries and illnesses. Most days she would get the laundry washed and hung outside, then hurry to the clinic in the doctor’s parlor. She checked and treated patients with simple complaints on her own, and made others comfortable until the doctor could see them.
One morning when things quieted down, she hurried home to fold laundry and start ironing. The soldiers hadn’t yet returned from their patrol and the sheets weren’t dry, so she went to the cellar to write to Bjorn. Her days were passing in a blur, but she’d sort out highlights to catch him up.
She opened the hidden door and pulled the string on the bulb.
A hand covered her mouth, and she felt her arm twist behind her back.
After a moment the grip on her wrist eased a bit, but she couldn’t wiggle free.
‘Don’t scream. I won’t hurt you.'”
If you find yourself intrigued, the full chapter can be downloaded Cutting Room Floor.BG.Cellar Secrets
I hope you’ll read on first as I share thoughts about WHY and HOW this chapter (and the essential aspects of of the setting) never made it into the book.
Philip Martin was an incredibly talented, kind, and supportive editor, publisher, story coach, and friend. (Read more about him HERE). He shepherd me through the publication of my debut novel, ODIN’S PROMISE. I then worked with him to research, develop, and write the two books that became the sequel to a story that was never intended to be more than the original first year of Norway occupation. By the time he had read these lines above, I had drafted a full single sequel, after which I realized (without needing his help) that the idea of depicting four years of Mari’s growth and the changes in her life in a single volume made no sense. At that point I asked Phil’s advice about a potential two-book approach. Without any promise of publication, he listened through my rough ideas and urged me to write it/them. That’s when BJORN’S GIFT emerged.
This passage landing on “the cutting room floor” did not occur until the entire second book was written and refined, was under contract, and was nearing final stages. At that time one of Phil’s concerns related to his thorough analysis of some ways in which the approach was not working well. This is an example of a hair-pulling moment in a writer’s life. Our conversation involved me supporting WHY this was the way to go, and Phil raising questions and concerns about each element of my arguments. Note, he was not demanding a change, but rather exploring other ways to write the many aspects of this character, setting, and role in the story by considering alternatives. Every thing he pointed out about the footprint of this and related scenes within the overall story made sense (dang it!). Our brainstorming and discussions led me to attempt a revision, which DID reach the published book.
This was only one (powerful) example of the many ways in which Phil provided the guidance and insights that grew me as a writer, storyteller, and analyst of my own writing. Let it be known that in several cases, such conversations and coaching did NOT lead to full revisions, but many others did. What I always felt from Phil was respect for my writing, for the integrity of the characters and story, and for potential readers. His guiding light was always focused on making the end results (my writing, the reading experience, and the book itself) their absolute best.
I have worked with other fine and inspiring editors, but Phil will set the high bar by which I say that.
I hope you’ll enjoy the not-used short segment of that “near-final” writing, and also find other reading that will fill your holidays. It is my wish for each of you that you remember and treasure those in your own lives who have supported and encouraged you, helping you become your best selves.
Readers and their feedback always do this for me, too, and I thank you all for that.