“Never Give Yourself Away”: WIPpet Wednesday

C’mon….you know you wanna share! =)

Welcome to WIPpet Wednesday, a weekly blog hop which encourages writers to move WIPs (works-in-progress) to publication by posting excerpts related to the date. It’s hosted by the lovely K.L. Schwengel, maven of bad boys, stock dogs, and flying monkeys! She may be less physically present for a bit, but she’s still our fearless shepherd…or something like that, anyway.

Today’s WIPpet is brought to you by CampNaNoWriMo

I’m sharing from Generations; the second novel in my Kifo Island Chronicles series-in-the-making. The Kifo Island stories takes place at a resort that’s a little like hospice meets Fantasy Island

Generations Premise:

Can Kifo Island help three generations of a wounded makeshift family coexist despite the forces and secrets that tear them apart, or will time run out for the dying grandmother, the abusive stepfather, and the brilliant, traumatized little girl caught in the middle?

WIPpet Math:

  • Today is April 29, 2015.
  • I was born on the 29th day of another month, and I’m 45 years old.
  • I subtracted the date from my age, and so we have 16 mostly short sentences today.

Last week, we meet Gladys, an elderly woman with Parkinson’s Disease; Howard, her grandson; and Iris, Howard’s young stepdaughter. Today, we skip forward a scene. Howard has left in a snit, because his grandmother is kind to the child he sees as insolent, leaving Iris alone with the aged woman. Now we begin to see into the silent little girl, as she contemplates what’s next…

Disclaimer for possible triggers…I want this story to offer a positive message; but not to shy away from the topic of abuse and its impacts. This scene involves a child who knows more than most about the workings of the adult world.   Therefore, it may not be suitable for all audiences…

Siberian Irises. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton, 2013.

She would have let herself feel relief that he was gone –

But sometimes johns came back. That was always worse.

And she would not forget – no, not ever! – that that is what he was. Not Howard George, as Grandermother called him. Not Father Howie.

Never that. It was a mantra she sang, in those moments when his cruelty broke over her. Never, never, never.

He was a john.

Well, little one, it’s just us, now. What will we -?”

Iris had been watching the door, in case the john returned, but the broken sentence dangling in the clean air made her look at Grandermother instead –

She was frozen where she stood, her hands gripping the walking frame, her mouth still open on the last word.

Iris looked at the door again – what if he came back now, when Grandermother wasn’t able to protect her? – and took three long soft breaths, the way Hahaoya had shown her, for when she was frightened by what the john was doing.

You must never give yourself away, Airisu.”

Will Iris try to help Grandermother? Will Howard come back? What was this child’s life like, before Howard came into it, and how did that happen?

I’m going to keep you guessing…in part because this is, so far, the most difficult novel I’ve embarked upon. So many triggers…

Also, the kids and I were out of state from Thursday-Sunday, and I used most of the writing time I had to move my A-Z posts along. I’m behind on getting around to visit other WIPpeteers, but hope to remedy that, at least in part, today. If I don’t get to you, I apologize – I expect to do much better at that this week!

Need more WIPpet Snippets? Something a little less angsty, perhaps? Well, hop onto the little blue froggy; assorted genres, styles, and lengths of WIPpet lily-pads to choose from! =D



  1. I’ll be honest – skipping reading this one cause I remembered last week >.< But I totally support you tackling this topic and hope it goes well. And I hope there's at least a happy-ish/hopeful ending!

    • This one is actually a little mellower, but I understand your aversion. I’m not exactly sure why it evolved this way, and why now, but I’m going to see it through, and maybe, at some point, I’ll know…

      On the other hand, I’ll be sharing something different next week, because I need to shift my focus and not let this story eat me alive. I’m aiming for a scene a week, with more upbeat stuff in the forefront.

  2. I loved the way you introduced the topic. Sometimes trigger warnings are just harsh spoilers, but this was very gentle. Kudos to you for tackling this topic. Is it a hard one for you to write about or is it going ok?

    • Thanks for the positive feedback on the disclaimer, Alana. I’ve struggled with this; I don’t want people falling blind into something that might be deeply troubling to them. It’s happened to me, and it can be traumatic.

      Like this story. To answer your question – yes, and yes. Some of this is personal; some is more connected to the story of someone close to me. It’s hard to write for so many reasons…but it’s also going OK, if that makes sense.

      I’m taking it slow – if I lived alone, I might immerse myself, but I live with people, and they don’t need me flooded with angst…so I’m taking it slow, in small doses, and interspersing it with other, more upbeat, things, like revising and planning TnT stories.

      I have had a few revelations, and Iris has shown me that she’s got a strong core, which makes me feel better about her chances of coming out of childhood without being utterly shattered by it…

      I’m taking a little break, until Sunday, so that I can focus on my Story a Day prep for the next few, and get that off to a good start…but, for May, I’ll be doing a scene a week – enough to keep my momentum, but not get sucked into the ugly…

      And then, in June, I plan to be ready to finish it…I hope.

  3. I had a similar problem writing some of the earlier chapters of Release… so many triggers. And they’re even harder to work on now that I am a mother with a wonderful sweet Boodle here…. But the voice is so important in scenes like these. And to do justice to these characters and not diminish the suffering they’ve endured seems vital, at least to me. That said, your connection to Iris is strong mostly. I wonder about the word “john”. It’s an easily recognizable term, but is that really what she would call these men? I don’t know why, but it kept standing out and drawing me out of the narrative.

    • I remember reading those chapters…and I can see why they’d be difficult. At that time, I wasn’t ready to delve those arenas…but like you observed, parenthood changes things. Not just how the house is arranged, or the money allocated, or the amount of silliness and affection in the day to day…but inside, too.

      I wholly agree with the doing justice (Iris certainly hasn’t had that so far in her life) to the character and what she’s endured – which, of course, is a huge component in who anyone becomes…

      As for the ‘johning’….it isn’t what she calls them (as to what she does, I’m still not sure. This was her first scene, and she and her voice are still new to me…I think it’ll sort itself out by the end of the first revision…and I do have some ideas.

      I wasn’t liking the term, either, so I’m very happy for the feedback that lets me know it’s not just me.

  4. I think we all have “that one story,” the one that breaks us to write. It’s worth it though. Already I can feel the emotional tension. I like what ReGi said above about her seeing him as a thing instead of a person. It’s difficult for kids to be observers because they can’t yet understand all the facets of a situation. That’s what makes childhood trauma like hers so devastating. How heartbreaking for her.

    • Amy, you’ve got Iris right. She only knows one side of things – maybe even more so than most children, because her world has been so limited.

      She’s devastated, but she’s not shattered yet…maybe there’s hope, still, for healing for her.

      And this might very well be my “that one story” for me. I didn’t plan for it to be, but I’m not exactly in charge here…

  5. 😦 I find it interesting that she separates Howard from his real name and just gives him a label. It’s like she’s not even recognizing him as human. He’s just a thing. One of those things that she wish would go away, like creepy spiders or whatever her particular squeamishness despises.

    • She particularly despises johns. And she’s got good reason.

      She also particularly despises this man – and, the fact that he has already hit her because she wouldn’t call him “Father Howie” pretty much guarantees she won’t…she’s much tougher than he gives her credit for..

      To her, he’s just another john. That’s it. Not family, and not really human. She’s only seen one side of johns, and it’s more than enough for her.

    • Mine is, too – Iris might emerge unbroken – but she shouldn’t have to live the life she’s lived…

      I’ll be doing this one in bits, for the time being – it helps not to sink into it too far, and to have other, more fun projects to focus on…

      Because I live with people, and they don’t need me angst-riddled…

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