I don’t think I’ve ever had a story receive quite as much contradictory feedback as my “Julie” has—and this after the 5 distinct drafts I put it through, changing elements of the plot, trying on endings like hats. To have so many people each like a different part of it, each have their own take on what should be cut and what actually works, has been intriguing but also exhausting, and this story has already exhausted me.
This weekend I was so frustrated by Talassio that rewriting “Julie” seemed the lesser of two evils, so I went back to it this week. And instantly condemned myself to one of the more exhausting stretches of time I have known. Contemplating wholesale revisions, trying to feel my way through a dozen or so critiques, many from people I know, people whose opinions have served me well in the past . . . and all the while aware that as per usual that first finished draft (number 5) was long, far longer than any market I could envision for it, much less the one that had kickstarted the idea in the first place.
(Yes, that scene. That scene.)
The end result of it all?
There are now two “Julie”s, in addition to her namesake, in addition to the Joan from the Confessions. In one “Julie,” the story continues on after her first transformation; in the other everything is compressed, kept tight, though it too ends in that bookseller’s.
And, unfortunately, I like them both. They make the same choice, they reach the same end, but they travel slightly different paths which puts a different spin on their choice. They say different things, but everything they say feels important. Would that I could send them out into the world, side-by-side! They’re like fraternal (sororial?) twins. My two Julies, my two angry girls. I cannot chose between them; therefore they’ll both have to find a way out there, somehow.