Good News! Another First Draft Finished
I have just finished the first draft on a new novella. It is titled, “Holly’s First Love.” A novella is a story that is not long enough for a book-length novel. This story came in at a little over 32,000 words. I would not have written the story in the past. There would be no place to publish it. Since I have gone to my new marketing system, which is no marketing, I am free to write what I wish.
Finishing the first draft is just the start of the work. Now comes the part I do not enjoy. Now comes the tedious work of cleaning it up and putting on the polish. Once that is done, I will put it up on the web page with my other work.
This story is a radical change from what I usually write. When I was about half-way through the draft, I realized that there had been no gunfights, no sword fights, no mayhem or violence. My wife, keeper, and editor was also surprised. I kept telling her that I was writing a romantic comedy. She expressed doubts clear up to the end.
The story is set in rural Central Illinois. The time is 1920, a time when people are coping with great changes. The lead character is a 17-year-old girl who is graduating from Seneca Hill Township High School. Holly’s parents own and farm 240 acres about five miles east of the town. They are part of the East Thrashing Circle, a group of farms whose owners and hired hands work together during the oats thrashing time. There is also a West Thrashing Circle. At the end of the thrashing season, both circles hold a joint picnic in the town park to celebrate. After the eating, there is a baseball game, the East versus the West. The rules of the contest allow for the use of hired hands in the game.
Hiram Benson is the leading farmer in the West circle. He farms over 400 acres. He owns a big Auburn, the finest car in the area. He also has a tractor. He has two sons, Grant and Sherman. Grant is two years older than Holly. He is a fine young man. He is being groomed to take over the Benson farm enterprise. He has been proposing to Holly since she was a sophomore. All of Hiram’s hired hands have one common attribute. They were uncommonly good at playing baseball.
John Hawkins, Holly’s father, calls them “ringers.” He decides to have a hired hand. He hires a young man from Indianapolis, Tom Murphy, to work on the farm. Tom also happens to be talking to the Chicago Cubs. At the present, he is out of a job, and comes to work on the farm. He is a city boy who is scared of horses. He has a fierce look out of his eyes, but is well-mannered. Holly’s mother is horrified at the idea of a strange man from the city coming to live on the farm, even if it is only for a couple of months. Grant doesn’t think much of the idea, either.
Holly is one of eighteen students who are graduating in the Seneca Hill Township High School Class of 1920. Sherman is also a member of the class. There is another girl named Mary Lou whose parents own a farm supply store. The family sometimes goes to Chicago for a weekend. Mary Lou has blonde curls and delicate hands. There was a problem concerning graduation. With a week to go before graduation, the principal caught Sherman and Mary Lou out behind the old buggy shed. They were smoking cigarettes. Mary Lou had lipstick on her lips, and some of the lipstick was on Sherman. The principal declared that they would not be allowed to graduate. Hiram, who just happened to be president of the school board, had a talk with the principal, and so the graduation would include the two miscreants.
Holly was always embarrassed about her hands. She thought they were overly large. Mary Lou had such dainty hands, but then she did not milk cows, either. Hands were not Holly’s real problem. She was at a cross-road in her life. She was uncertain about everything. She knew that in some ways, her life was already mapped out for her. There would be a graduation in May and a wedding in June. She would be passed from her father to Grant. It was simple enough. She had no dream. She was smart, and she loved books. From the time she started in the first grade to her final classroom day in high school, she had never gotten any other grade than an A.
Then came the young stranger from Indianapolis.