Editing: Sharing my first draft of Chapter 1 of Chasing Clarity from National Novel Month back in November 2013 and the Chapter 1 from the original Manuscript

Today I am showing all my readers the first draft that I wrote when I joined National Novel Month back in 


I wanted to show the progression I made from this first draft to what it became when I finally published on 

October 8, 2015. 

 Chasing Clarity by: Sylvia Stein 

clarity is the Clearness of thoughts.

Chapter 1 The longest day 

Mia Gerard awoke on the cold day in October struggling to get 

herself out of bed.  

She knew this moment would come but that did not mean that 

the pain would lessen. “ Come on Mia” she said to herself. “ I 

am sure that Leo would not want you to act this way! she 

exclaimed. However as she slowly got herself out of the bed she 

wondered if things would ever get back to normal without him.  

As she got herself in the shower she knew that this was going to 

be one of the longest days of her life. “ Dammit Leo!”she cried.  

“ I am not sure I am going to be able to stand it all!”  

Then as she layed crying out in her shower she began to look at 

the room all around her and everything in the apartment was a 

constant reminder of Leo who was now gone. 

Leo Dancy was Mia’s one true love. They both began dating 

since they were in middle school and by high school everyone 

around them knew the connection that both of them shared.  

Sadly, once they had graduated and began attending college Leo 

had fallen ill and was soon diagnosed with cancer.  

Sadly for Mia and Leo the prognosis for his cancer recovery was 

not a good one and he was told that he was not guaranteed to live 

more than a year after he was diagnosed. The news had come 

like a tidal wave who had come and swept Mia and Leo’s world 

into oblivion. 

Mia could not believe that the man of her dreams was not going to 

be around. To say that the news had destroyed her was an 

understatement. Mia who had always had such a bubbly 

personality at one time did not seem to be the same person right 

after the devastating news. 

On the other hand Leo tried to keep it together for both of them in 

spite of his dire circumstances. But sadly for Mia it became 

almost unbearable. It almost looked like she herself had received 

a death sentence. Leo was the light in Mia’s life he was the whole 

meaning to her world. Ever since their first encounter in middle 

school and through out their high school years Leo had always 

been the man of her dreams and she just did not want to 

see it all come to an end. In the present time Mia’s tears began 

to take over as she continued trying to get herself ready for this 

day. Just then Mia overheard a knock on the door and 

immediately jumped out to the window to see who had arrived. “ 

Who is there?” she called out.

“ Mia hunny it’s me , said her mother. “ Come on in mother!” 

called out Mia. As she said this she made sure to compose her 

demeanor before her mother. “ I am glad I caught you dear” she 

smiled. “ Why is that mother?’ called out Mia as she continued to 

brush her hair.  

“ Oh Mia please do not act like this is easy for you !” said a more 

stern Mrs. Gerard. 

“Mother it is going to be fine”, said Mia as she tried to remain 


“ Okay fine dear the last thing I want to do is fight with you today!” 

called out her mother.  

“ If you want I can drive you there dear, smiled her mother.  

Mia tried not to scream at her mother even though she felt like 

exploding. She also had started to become exhausted from 

hearing how concerned she was. However for the time being she 

decided it was best to not argue and just let her mother think she 

was helping.  

“ Fine mother, said Mia.  

Once inside the car Mia’s anxiety began to kick in. She tried to 

disguise it by closing her eyes. Sadly the only one person who 

had always been able there was already gone.  

“ Please get a hold of yourself Mia, she thought to herself. The 

drive seemed to last forever and 

Mia was not sure what would happen once she got there. For now 

she just decided to focus on trying to get a hold of her nerves and 

then within the cold air from the outside of the snowy Michigan 

roads she began to recite a prayer. Within moments she began to 

feel a little better.  

It had been about an hour when they finally arrived to their 


The second draft is Chapter 1  of the original Manuscript I published in October 8, 2015. 

Chapter 1

Part One

My name is Mia Gerard, and dancing had always been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I don’t think there was ever been a time I didn’t love it. When I was five years old, my mother enrolled me in my first ballet and jazz class.  After working so hard for so many years and putting countless hours into it, I was thrilled when I began winning so many competitions. However, nothing came close to winning the heart of Leo Dancy.
In my 7th grade English class, I started to feel a connection between us. I could not explain it.   I mean how can a twelve-year-old know when she is in love, right?
Well, although I did not have concrete proof, I knew what I felt. It was a feeling like no other. My heart raced, and my hands got sweaty every time I was near him. I know it may sound cheesy, but I literally felt like he and I were the only ones in the room, and we were meant to be together.
Oh, when I think about it now, I can’t help but let out a chuckle. I can still see Leo coming in with his blondish hair and green eyes looking right at me. I hadn’t seen him for awhile. We went to the same elementary school, but his parents moved to Chicago, and we lost touch.
I was just glad to see him back in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  He was always such a comedian. Like the time in sixth grade, when he made a joke about the Wolverines beating the Ohio Buckeyes.  The love of football was something that we had in common.  I was never social due to my hectic dance schedule. Most of the Girls, except for Courtney Deegan and Keyla West, who were in the same dance class as me, were the few that I got along with.  We grew up together, so they understand me more than the rest of the girls at school.  I know dancers are supposed to be graceful. Not to say I am not, but it doesn’t hurt to be one of the guys and be ladylike too.   It’s okay for us to wear tutus and play in the mud.  That is why Leo and I became close.
Leo loved that I danced.  He was very supportive, never missing  a recital.  Many times after dance practice, we would hang out by the lake or do bonfires surrounded by family and friends. No matter how busy we were, we always helped support each other. Boy! I miss those football games. I can still see him on the fifty-yard line, making passes, as the band played our school song.
He was very popular and everyone liked him.  Even the school bullies were respectful toward him. Now there is a story. One time, Chad Pearson, was picking on Samantha Green, who was the new nerdy girl at school.  She wore a neck brace due to a medical condition.  I never saw Leo so angry.  Instead of using his fist and resort to violence, he was there for Samantha and invited her to our lunch table.  Once word got out to the football team, everyone protected her and eventually, Chad was expelled.
During seventh grade, I got the lead in Swan Lake. He was so proud of me, and he bought a ticket for front row seats.  After dancing the last piece, Leo was the first to give me a standing ovation.  Then the crowd followed, but not before I heard him shout “Way to go, Mia!”
They all smiled at me, and then the crowd applauded even louder. Oh, I can go back and replay that forever. That was the moment I knew I had feelings for Leo. It was the same sort of thing I’d felt when he first came into English class, only deeper.
Oh, I don’t want to ruin our friendship. What should I do now?
I knew how I felt about Leo, but that did not mean he felt the same way. Did he? I thought about playing it cool.
I don’t need to say anything. If I do, and then I find out he doesn’t feel the same way it will be weird between us. No, there is no need for him to know. Friends, it is.
For the next few days, I could not stop thinking about Leo. It was getting harder to be near him, and all I wanted to do was hide my feelings.
During seventh grade finals, I was really stressed out.  I didn’t study for my history test due to the Swan Lake recital.  It took so much out of me, for I was the prima ballerina.  I was at the studio from the time I left school to about ten o’clock every night.  Who had time to study dead people anyway?  Like, we don’t even live like that anymore.  Ankle dresses, no make up, no style, no ponytails were just not my thing. With the history final on my mind, worrying about it affecting my GPA, I literally ran right smack into Leo, knocking him on his butt.
“Mia, are you okay?” he asked while I lied on the floor.  Embarrassed, he helped him.
Turning back to my locker to hide my embarrassment, I grabbed one of the books and responded with a smile, “I am fine, Leo, but are you okay?”
Smiling sheepishly, he replied, “My bottom is a little sore, and my pride is broken.  But other than that I am fine”  Looking down, he stared at my feet with a puzzled look.
I sighed. I didn’t have time for Leo’s games right now. “Leo, what is the matter?”
“Well, I notice you are wearing two different types of shoes today.”
My mouth dropped opened, and I quickly looked down at my shoes.
I was mortified. Leo was right. My shoes didn’t match. One was my running shoe for gym, and the other was my dance shoe. I didn’t know what to do.
“It is okay, Mia.”
Okay? How can he think it is okay? Tears welled up in my eyes.
“Mia, it is okay.” He leaned closer and started to twirl my hair. “I pointed it out, because my socks don’t match today. We are so much the same.”
Looking deep into his green humorous eyes, I felt my heart skip a beat.  I silently begged him to ask me out.
“I say we blame the weather.”
The moment was lost, and I tried to hide my disappointment. “That is right.” Michigan weather was always changing, and even though it was April cold temps still blew in from time to time to disorient you.
“Come on. I will walk you to class.” He grabbed my hand, and my heart leaped into my throat.  It was surprisingly strong, rough, and warm.
I looked up at him. “What are you doing,” I asked breathlessly.
“Well, don’t you think it is about time we make it official?”
“You know, go out as boyfriend and girlfriend.”
I blinked. “You do?”
He abruptly stopped, and I almost ran into him. “Yes. Do you accept?” he asked, turning toward me.
I felt my heart racing again, and it was hard to get the words out. “Yes, I accept.”
He held my hand as he walked me to my next class, and I didn’t care about my shoes anymore.
“I will see you in English class, Mia.”
I smiled. “See you then, Leo.”
I recalled this day as if it were yesterday. If only there was a way to go back. Leo Dancy was  my soul mate—someone I wanted to be with the rest of my days. I fell in love with every part of him.
He was one of the nicest people you could ever meet. Oh, I get so teary-eyed as I remember everything. But that’s all in the past. There is no future for us.
No, I refuse to think that way. This can’t be the end. I do not want to wake up. I want to stay asleep. Leo, my love, I want you to take me with you. Please take me with you.
Not only did this first chapter take a different turn.   I decided to focus the entire novel to come from her own point of view.  

For me the first draft was just about writing and I never stopped once I began while I was working on it for Nano.   However I did walk away from it and then began on it once again in late 2014- 2015.    After going over the draft  I wanted to hear Mia's voice and since this was her story this led to the change in POV.  

Next week I will bring you another chapter of this book.  


Sylvia Stein


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