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  • Jamie Sims Coakley

Fear of Change

I have written every single day for the last eight days straight, working on an exciting rewrite on the novel and it is perhaps the most tedious writing I have done so far. I heard recently (I think it was the documentary about Hemingway that came out this last year) something about the writer "agonizing over every word." I don't think you can start off like that. If you start off agonizing over every word, I don't think you would get very far, but I do think you have to end up there. If you truly want to make some thing great...you have to do some agonizing.


I think about it like this, writing a novel, the process of editing and rewriting is like building a human. You start with the bones, then you add muscles, then skin, and then you get to the hair and make up portion of the writing...making it "camera ready". In that last part you are aiming for perfection or as close as you can possibly get, and that is where I am at now. Working to manifest the great story I was given, in a way that does it justice. Overcoming my insecurities, my inadequacies, my impulses to rush things, my laziness...all in the hopes of doing the muse and the inspiration, justice.


To that end, I am going to spend the rest of my day today, editing rather than writing this blog AND ALSO, I did think it would be interesting/fun for you to see the first few paragraphs of the novel, and how they have changed over the writing process!


I will note that part of my process is making a duplicate copy of the previous days writing, date it with the current days date, and then start writing for the day from that draft. What that has done is to free me from a lot of fear when it came to making changes/choices as I knew I had the previous version saved and that the most damage I could do, would just be a days worth of writing. It turns out it is especially cool to have that time capsule of process now, so I can share it with you here. <3


Also I should mention I am holding my first ZOOM CHAT tonight at 7:30 where we will chat about my experience so far in writing a debut novel and where I will share some of the tricks/tips I have learned along the way. If you'd like to join me, you can go the the events page on my website and RSVP/register. You will be asked to register prior to the event (I have heard too many horror stories of people doing gross things on Zoom) so do RSVP/register so you can get all the info on how to join us!



First Draft: Dated 7/24/2019


FREEHAND 2073

Part One

Chapter One

I had always hated my name. Dorothy. So old fashioned and boring. The only Dorothys that had had any adventure at all were Dorothy from the Wizard of OZ and Dorothy Dandridge. After the twentieth century, the rest of us Dorothys were destined for boring lives as career women with little hope for much more than test-tube genetically perfect children and the end of the world.

I hadn’t been to L.A. since the 2068 Olympics. Not much had changed; well, I had. James and I had split up and I had lost ten pounds of “broken heart” weight which only existed from the five years of “being in a committed relationship.” I don’t mean to sound petty. I know in modern times women are supposed to be oblivious to things such as “how much we weigh,” but really old habits are hard to break.

Anyway, Los Angeles in 2073 was basically a shit show. I was here for work. Writing for the underground channel, IPR (International Public Radio), and covering our impending doom. It was surreal to say the least, covering the end of the world, just a few short months before it actually occurred. We had, with our science, managed to predict within a few days, the time when human life would no longer be plausible on Earth, but we had somehow managed to fail at saving ourselves. So here we were running around as if everything was normal and normalized or losing our minds. I was reporting on the famine, the tidal waves, the hurricanes and earthquakes, and the general pandemonium that comes with the end of the world and the surviving humans’ bipolar approach to life. It seems we were either fighting tooth and nail till the last minute for life or going all out on a sex-crazed, drug-fueled, literal end of the world party, a la 1987 R.E.M.



Second draft: Dated 4/26/21


FREEHAND

Chapter One

I had always hated my name—Dorothy. It’s so old fashioned and boring. The only Dorothy’s that had lived any adventure at all were Dorothy from the Wizard of OZ and Dorothy Dandridge. After the twentieth century, the rest of us Dorothy’s were destined for puppet lives as career women with little hope for much more than test-tube, genetically perfect children and the end of the world.

I hadn’t been to Los Angeles since the 2168 Olympics and nothing had changed for the better— well, I guess I had. James and I had split up and I had lost fifteen pounds of “broken heart” weight which only existed from the five years of being in a “committed” relationship. I don’t mean to sound petty. I know in modern times women are supposed to be oblivious to things such as “how much we weigh,” and honestly being fat should be the least of my worries but old habits die hard and expectations are hard to shake.

Los Angeles in 2173 was basically a shit show. I was here for work doing stories for International Public Radio (known to most as INPR) covering our impending demise. It was surreal to say the least to be covering the end of the world just a few short weeks before it was actually supposed to occur. We had with our science, managed to predict within a few minutes, the time when there would no longer be enough oxygen to sustain human life on Earth, but we had somehow managed to fail at saving ourselves, at least so far. The Great Pandemic of 2020 had bought us some time wiping out over three million people in less than a year; slowing economies, birth rates and carbon production to record lows. Then, when Ronald J. Card was reelected the President of the United States, hope for a brighter future quickly faded as he destroyed almost all of the major post World War Two organizations which had created so much prosperity, peace and collaboration among the industrialized nations of the world. It was a downward spiral from there. A free for all of sorts with every person, every nation for themselves.

So here we are, a little more than one hundred and fifty years later and I am reporting on the famine, the tidal waves, the hurricanes, the volcanos and earthquakes, the disease and the general pandemonium that comes with the end of the world and occasionally I would get an assignment to cover the small group of scientists who stubbornly refused to give up. It funny how it affects you. It seems we are either fighting tooth and nail till the last minute for life, or going all out on a sex-crazed, drug-fueled, literal “end of the world party” a la 1987 R.E.M.



Third Draft: Dated 8/20/2021


FREEHAND 2173

A novel by Jamie Sims Coakley


Chapter One

I have always hated my name—Dorothy. It’s so old fashioned and boring. The only Dorothy’s that had lived any adventure at all were Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy Dandridge. After the twentieth century, the rest of us Dorothy’s were destined for puppet lives as career women with little hope for much more than test-tube, genetically perfect children and the end of the world.

I hadn’t been to Los Angeles since the 2168 Olympics and nothing had changed for the better— well, I guess I had. James and I had split up and I had lost fifteen pounds of “broken heart” weight which only existed from the five years of being in a “committed” relationship. I don’t mean to sound petty. I know in modern times women are supposed to be oblivious to things such as “how much we weigh” and honestly being fat should be the least of my worries, but old habits die hard and expectations are hard to shake.

Los Angeles in 2173 is basically a shit show. I’m here working, writing stories for International Public Radio (known to most as IPR), covering our impending demise. It was surreal, to say the least, to be covering the end of the world just a few short weeks before our impending demise. We had, with our science, managed to predict within a precious few minutes, the time when there would no longer be enough oxygen left to sustain human life on Earth, but we had somehow managed to fail miserably at saving ourselves—at least so far.

The Great Pandemic of 2020 had bought us some time; wiping out over ten million people and slowing economies, birth rates and bringing carbon production to record lows. Then, Ronald J. Card was reelected President of the United States, and hope for a brighter future quickly faded. His presidency would destroy almost all of the major post World War II organizations which had created so much prosperity, peace and collaboration among the industrialized nations of the world. It was a downward spiral from there. A free-for-all of sorts with every person and every nation for themselves. So here I am, a little more than a hundred and fifty years later, reporting on the famines and the tidal waves, the hurricanes, the volcanos and earthquakes, the disease and the general pandemonium that comes with the end of the world.

Occasionally, I will get a science assignment and that was why I was here now, to cover a small group of experts who stubbornly refused to give up and continued working frantically to save us all. It’s funny how it affects you. It seems like there are only two choices; either fight tooth and nail until the very last moment, or go all out on a sex-crazed, drug-fueled, literal “end of the world party” a la 1987 R.E.M. My name being Dorothy, I had not yet found the will to succumb to the inevitable and throw myself into the sex-crazed, drug-fueled end of the world party, but I was getting close and now, here I was in downtown Los Angeles checking into the Freehand Hotel, wet as a drowned rat and about as crazy as a shit house rat.



Fourth Draft: Dated 12/17/2021


Chapter One

The Freehand

I hadn't been to Los Angeles since the 2168 Olympics and nothing has changed for the better. Well, in some ways I have. James and I had split up and I guess that was for the better. I’d lost fifteen pounds which really had only existed because of being in a “committed” relationship for five years. That was definitely for the better. I don’t mean to sound petty, I know modern women are supposed to be oblivious to things like “how much we weigh” and honestly, being chubby should be the least of my worries, but old habits die hard and expectations are difficult to shake.

Los Angeles in 2173 is falling apart. I’m here working, writing stories for International Public Radio and reporting on our impending demise. It’s surreal to say the least, to cover the end of the world just a few short weeks before the actual “end of the world”. We have with our science managed to predict within a precious few minutes, the time when there will no longer be enough oxygen left on Earth to sustain human life, but we have somehow managed to fail miserably at saving ourselves—at least so far.

Although the great pandemics of the early and mid twenty-first century bought us some time by limited carbon output and lowering the population, the vast social inequities unearthed by them caused nation after nation to succumb to partisan rhetoric and infighting. Nationalism and tribalism took hold of democracies everywhere and one by one, all of the major post World War II organizations that had created so much prosperity, peace and collaboration among the industrialized nations of the world, began to fail. It was a downward spiral from there. A free-for-all of sorts with every person and every nation for themselves. And now, here I am, a little more than a hundred and fifty years later, reporting on the famines, the tidal waves and flooding, the hurricanes, volcanos and earthquakes, the disease, and the general pandemonium that comes with the end of the world.

Occasionally I’ll get a science assignment and that’s why I am here now, to cover a small group of physicists who stubbornly refuse to give up and continue working frantically to save us all. It’s funny how it affects you, the end of the world. It seems like there are only two choices; either fight tooth and nail until the very last moment, or go all out on a sex-crazed, drug-fueled, literal “end of the world party” a la 1987 R.E.M. I however, have not yet found the will to succumb to the inevitable—but I’m getting close. Instead, I’m in downtown Los Angeles checking into the Freehand Hotel, half drowned and crazy as a shit house rat.








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