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Old 04-28-2010, 05:33 AM   #31
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great stuff Cass! if you have an exploratory essays on Embryonic or The Soft Bulletin (even Yoshimi) i'd love to read them!

i'm really excited, next topic in creative writing is Review, and that's our assignment. i get to write 1500 words on something, one of my favourite albums. just got to pick one!

in the meantime, this is the personal narrative i'm submitting for assessment, it's about 300 words too long, so if you have any suggestions for parts to be excised, or any comments at all, please post!

Quote:
Thumb-Wrestling // Daniel Paproth

“Oh my FUCKING GOD!”
I didn’t squeal, or scream, necessarily, but it was enough to relay to Ve, the Vietnamese lead hand, that I needed attention. Preferably of the medical kind.
“What-wrong-mate,” says Ve.
What’s wrong, as I turn off the deceptively-powerful drill press, is that I can’t see my left thumb. I can see four fingers, sickly drops of deep red blood, and a shredded polyurethane glove. No thumb.
It is at this moment that my heart skips three beats; I realise that the reason I can’t see my thumb is because it’s barely there.
I spot a bit of purple flesh on the 6.5mm drill bit that I was using. I try to pull my hand away – what’s left of it – but nothing happens. So with my free hand I reach up to the drill head and slowly wind it counter-clockwise, which disgustingly frees the thumb.
I gaze down at what was a fully functional thumb. It’s a glorious array of blood-related colours; red, blue, pink, purple. The tip of it is just hanging there. Looks bad, but I remind myself Leigh had an accident with the drill a few weeks ago and apart from a heap of blood he was ok. Calm down.
“You-go-a-see-Robs-Clarkes-he-help-you,” says Ve. Rob Clarke is the first-aid officer here at Holmwood Highgate, the sheet metal factory in which I work.
Unfortunately it’s quite a walk from the drill press to his office, and I wish I got a dollar for every “oh shit, what happened?” or “you’ll be right, run it under some cold water.” Looking behind me, I think that I won’t have to worry finding my way back to the machine, as I’ve left a Hansel and Gretel trail of blood splatter in my path.
Rob is not as confident H2O will solve the problem. “It’s broken.” FUCK. “Can you move the tip there?” I try. Nothing. SHIT. “You can’t move that at all?” FUCKKKK. “No,” I sort of half-whimper. You’ve gotta be a man in these places, you can’t admit to worry and pain.
“Clayton, take him to the hospital mate. Are you in pain?”
“Nah.”
“Do you want some water?”
“Yeah, I could use a cup, yeah.”
As I get into Clayton’s car my thumb begins to throb as if someone’s using it as a bass drum. As we drive, all I can hear, feel and think is blood. Some morphine’d be bloody nice right now.
***
“What’s your name?”
“Daniel Paproth.”
“You’re going to have to spell that for me.”
“P-a-p-r—is this the emergency department?”
“Yes. P-A-P-R?” This woman asks me, a little impatiently.
“O-t-h. How long is the wait going to be?” I ask.
“As long as it takes.”
I sit down in the cramped waiting room at Williamstown hospital. The seats are small and plastic, and if there was one thing I’d like right now besides medical attention it’s probably a comfortable seat. People sporting very furrowed brows sit in seats as far away from each other as possible – it’s like we all hate each other.
My thumb continues to pound insidiously as I look around the room. No one else seems to be in quite the obvious physical discomfort I am. The walls are a vomit shade of yellow and have apparently been neglected by the cleaners for years.
Outside is not a calming, picturesque garden, but instead scaffolding, flattened cigarette butts and aggressive weeds.
This depressing setting has made me furrow my brow as well, and while I continue to wait to be seen for an emergency, I think back to the incident.
I was drilling holes in aluminium corner posts, and the shavings were getting clogged in the drill bit. To remove it I was turning the machine off. At first. But that became too hard, didn’t it? What better idea than to remove it by gently touching it with my thumb as it’s rotating?
Every now and then the pulsations become a searing stab of fresh pain and I twitch uncontrollably.
My screaming thumb and the incessant waiting and thoughts bouncing around my brain are making me angry. I’m having trouble sitting still, so I tap the ground with my right boot and the armrest with my right hand. Thoughts run into one another.
I’m so goddam stupid.
I need to take a piss.
This can’t be the emergency department.
I’ve been here sitting here for fifteen minutes.
If I had a grinder sticking out of my head would I be told to wait for a doctor as I bleed out?
What if I can’t use it ever again?
I bet all the blokes at work are having a good old laugh.
Everything in this waiting room seems to be amplified. The drone of the TV, the woman trying to get her kid to be quiet, the dull whirr of construction workers up on the scaffolding.
Finally one of the nurses calls me through. “Just have a lie down on this bed,” she smiles. “Are your parents aware that this has happened?”
“Yeah, I think Dad was called.”
“And is he on his way?”
I think about that for a second. To be honest, as much as I’m trying to be macho and pretend I’ve only had a minor incident, I’m in a world of pain, and Dad would know how to calm me down. So – in a hesitant, offhanded way mind you – I tell the nurse that she should probably let him know to come down. “I’m going to need a lift home anyway,” I reason. She obliges and says a doctor will see me shortly.
Glancing around the room reminds me why I hate hospitals. Everything is so pristine, so clean, so white. It reminds me of when I used to visit Nan, and how the only colour in the room was her yellow, jaundiced skin.
It’s been about an hour since the accident now, and the blood is spreading throughout the hastily-applied bandage and it gives off an unpleasant odour as well. Where is Dad, I think to myself, over and over and over.
After about five minutes a slim Vietnamese doctor walks in. A Dr Tran. He must be extremely efficient at his job as he wastes no time.
“Let me see,” he half-demands. I wasn’t looking forward to this, I don’t have a very high pain threshold, I don’t want to see the thumb, I don’t want to be asked questions, I don’t want to try and move it, I just want some painkillers and Dad.
“Broken!” Dr. Tran says. “You have X-Rays now, you come back, we have a look, and maybe you have surgery tomorrow.” And with that he rushes out the room.
The word surgery was the breaking point. Fighting back tears, I got a flashback to Nan’s funeral where I didn’t cry for a second. Yet now I’m sniffling like a schoolgirl. Where the fuck is Dad…
The X-Rays revealed a clean break at the knuckle, and Dr. Tran insists on emergency surgery at Sunshine hospital the following morning at 7am. Luckily Dad’s here now, and he puts a firm hand down on my shoulder. I instinctively went to move away, but he grabbed tighter.
A lovely young nurse from Wisconsin has been with us for ten minutes, has administered some wonderful pain meds, and the three of us are chatting about our family’s upcoming trip to the States. Wiping away the remaining evidence of my little breakdown earlier, my spirits have risen slightly thanks to this nurse, who seems to have no problem with casual laughter and conversation as she removes the swathe of bandages and cleans up my sanguineous thumb.
***
They have that rule for surgery, that you’re not allowed to eat or drink after midnight until your operation. It’s never bothered me. My guts are swirling that much food is the thought furthest from my mind.
Dad and I got there at 7am, and are instructed to the waiting room. There aren’t even two seats together; we’re packed like sardines in a crushed tin box. At about 9am, after we’ve sat through two hours of morning shows (something I’ll become very familiar with over the weeks to come), a man wanting to be known as Dr Luke calls us through.
We sit in a corner, barely hidden from all the other patients, enclosed by one of those short, pinboard walls they erect at expos.
“Hope the wait hasn’t been too painful,” Dr Luke winks.
I like Dr Luke. He’s young, sarcastic, cool even. He examines my thumb carefully.
“It’s not good,” he says. “It’s badly broken, so we’ll put a K-wire in there.”
“Will I be able to use it again?” I ask, trepidation gripping me.
“We’ll do the best we can,” Dr Luke assures me. “We’ll see in you in the theatre,” and he walks away. I punch the wall next to me. Dad sympathises. He broke his arm this time last year after a drunken night at the cricket club. “At least you’ll be getting compo,” he says.
I’m led into another waiting room where I’m instructed to put on the humiliating hospital getup, the white coat with strings at the back, and given a blanket to keep my legs warm as I wait. I’m saved from total boredom for the next two hours by Peter, who is 30-odd and pretty enthusiastic for a man about to have a hernia operation.
“Second time,” he tells me. He’s happy to talk about his fantasy football team until he’s shipped off for hernia removal, leaving me with another morning show.
Midday rolls around and I’m starting to think that perhaps I’ll be here for the rest of my life, edging ever closer to the operating table, waiting room by waiting room.
That hallucination is quashed thankfully as a nurse leads me through a corridor and puts me into a bed. Everything is so white. So white that it’s intimidating. I can hear my heart pounding as they wheel me feet-first through a number of swinging doors and wide corridors.
The anaesthetist’s room is probably the worst of them all. It feels much colder than any other. People crowd over me with masks and words I don’t recognise. I feel like I’m on alien spaceship awaiting probe.
In goes the needle.
***
My eyes feel like they weigh a few hundred kilos each. I feel like I’ve gone a few rounds with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. I squint around the room – there’s Peter! – there’s about 20 of us in here, in evenly spaced beds, like the girls’ bedroom in Madeline.
I try to go back to sleep but it proves futile, the throbbing is unbearable. I ask Dr Luke what the prognosis is for my thumb. He repeats his line from earlier – “we’ve done the best we can” – and says only weeks, months even, of rehab will tell.
The painkillers I’ve been given have eased the pain for now. In my drug-happy state I’m not at all concerned.
I’ll just tell girls it was a thumb-wrestling injury. “You should see the other bloke!”
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Old 04-28-2010, 03:36 PM   #32
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great stuff Cass! if you have an exploratory essays on Embryonic or The Soft Bulletin (even Yoshimi) i'd love to read them!

i'm really excited, next topic in creative writing is Review, and that's our assignment. i get to write 1500 words on something, one of my favourite albums. just got to pick one!

in the meantime, this is the personal narrative i'm submitting for assessment, it's about 300 words too long, so if you have any suggestions for parts to be excised, or any comments at all, please post!
Ha, funny thing is...I do. I did a project on songs from The Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi, and At War with the Mystics that were themed broadly about life, love, and death. It's from freshman year though, so I'll peruse through it a bit and see if it's worth putting up or not.

Good luck deciding on an album! That's always the toughest part for me, but luckily, projects seem to choose me rather than the other way around.

And, excellent job there, Danny! I have no idea what you should cut out though...I'm a terrible editor myself.
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Old 04-30-2010, 03:09 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by cobl04 View Post


great stuff Cass! if you have an exploratory essays on Embryonic or The Soft Bulletin (even Yoshimi) i'd love to read them!

i'm really excited, next topic in creative writing is Review, and that's our assignment. i get to write 1500 words on something, one of my favourite albums. just got to pick one!

in the meantime, this is the personal narrative i'm submitting for assessment, it's about 300 words too long, so if you have any suggestions for parts to be excised, or any comments at all, please post!
By when do you need this edited? I'll see if I can do it this weekend.
I actually like editing. I do it often for work for press releases and white papers.

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Old 06-28-2010, 05:29 PM   #34
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Personally, I take serious care in word choice, to a painstaking and honestly draining degree (oh, but I still love it so!), when writing in order to convey precisely what I mean, which is something that people who don't consider themselves "writers" probably wouldn't take the time to do.
I know the feeling, which is why I doubt I'll ever do it for a living -- not enough output.
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Old 06-13-2011, 05:55 AM   #35
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This is the piece of "literary fiction" that I submitted for assessment and I might send it out to a few publications as well.

It's based on that quote about Running to Stand Still, "if you don't like the world you're living in, see it through different eyes / heroin gives you heroin eyes to see the world through" and the fact that I am absolutely enthralled by objective, non-strictly-negative takes on drug use.

Spoilered for length, as it's over 3,000 words.

I would love for some people to read it and give me feedback, and I'd be happy to do the same for someone else. I'm pretty happy with this. It's been three years in the making.

 
The Seven Towers of Ballymun


Alle, alle, alleluia, alle, alle, alleluia…

She was just 17 when she passed away. There was no funeral, no death notice, no grieving. The world turned for everyone as it would any other day.
Her mother was only 16 when she was born; and died shortly after from complications. The father was a teenage boyfriend, and disappeared once he heard the news.
Her formative years were spent in an orphanage Cappoquin, west County Waterford, but she was never adopted. She was transferred to an orphanage in Ballymun, about two and a half hours north, just out of Dublin. Dublin in the late 1970s.
The building was tall and narrow, and far from modern in its rectangular shape and evenly-spaced, square windows. Black smoke billowed from the chimney atop the roof; the tenants never saw fit to keep it in good shape. The walls were stained from the pollution; the rooms were overlarge and cold.
She grew up despising the place, lining up to be gratuitously checked over for prospective parents – the workers didn’t want to be there either.
Each day passed with a bit of hope – some were adopted. Potential parents had come to look at her, but always found something in her to turn them away. She was perhaps the most reclusive of the lot. But how could you blame her? One dead parent, and one might as well have been.
She wished for a normal life. She watched mother, father, son, daughter, walk past on the other side of the street. What that must be like.
Gradually, as she grew older, that small feeling in the pit of her stomach, the hope that she would be adopted, deserted her. Her 10th birthday came and went in tears. Her doll’s hair had fallen out; the nearest kid to her age who hadn’t been adopted was six years old. She felt ostracised and alone, always staring out the window. She always had a great imagination.
Outside the windows, across the road, were the seven towers of Ballymun. She would spend hours just thinking about them sometimes, wondering what happened inside them, whether she would ever find out.
Tedium was perhaps her greatest enemy. Her own miserabilia got her through many days. But those towers were a constant source of fascination. She became adept at making up stories about them, and would often get so carried away that she began to enjoy herself.
In the first tower, for example, farthest to the left, she imagined the richest tenants had the top floors, which were exquisite. They had marble floors, immaculate kitchen areas, big televisions and thick, lush rugs made from various animals. The rooms were white, and there was not much space on the walls, which was peppered with interesting artefacts from a whole range of cultures. They had their own elevator to reach their floor. But their vapid floors often left them feeling empty when they returned from work.
The poorest members of the building had the bottom floors. Their rooms were poorly lit. Light bulbs hung and wobbled from wires, and gave off a jaundiced colour when switched on. The windows, which were never cleaned, were stained and made the world outside look bleak. Their floors were cold concrete and they had no televisions. But there were more poor people in the building than rich people, and they all shared rooms. They were happy. And that they were happy made her happy.
But the hourly chime of the clock always alerted her to the time she’d been daydreaming and snapped her back to reality. She had to limit herself when thinking about the towers. Such was the existence she lived she had specific times for imagining; doing it all at once would leave her with hours to kill and no stories to play out in her mind.
She noticed after a while that a man in a heavy, black coat often walked past the first tower, at least a couple of times a day. Sometimes he would meet another person just down the alleyway from the second tower, just enough for her to watch them. A few quick words, some seedy glances, a couple of hand movements and they parted ways. She watched it happen, day in, day out, trying to figure out exactly what was going on in these exchanges.
She learnt after a month that it was always the same four or five people who met with the man in the heavy, black coat.
She wondered what happened in the second tower. Was this where the man in the heavy, black coat lived? She decided that it was. Now she had to figure out what he was doing. It must a bad thing, because the man always walked into the alleyway and was always jerking his head this way and that, paranoid.
She asked one of the orderlies, but all she got in reply was “don’t know. Why are you always staring?” The orderlies never really cared. Their solution was always another round of Godfrey’s cordial.
Those towers had always kept her fleetingly entertained. But this man, the coat, the same people he met every few days, the glances, the money he counted, had her enthralled. Each night for a few weeks she would think about what she had seen until she fell asleep. It was the first thing on her mind when she woke up. She had to know.
After breakfast on a Sunday morning, she waited until a visitor came through the doors and walked down the main corridor. The front doors took a while to close, and so, watching carefully, she crept out into the street and started walking.
Her heart was pounding. She slipped the hood of her jacket over her head, stuffed her hands in her pockets, and retreated to the abandoned lot a block down from the orphanage.
She stood behind a tall, grey pillar, and tried to slow her breathing, as it was a typical cold, winter Dublin morning and her exhaled breath was visible.
She looked across the street to the second tower. No one was there. She had been in such an adrenalin rush she had not given any thought to what she was hoping to see.
She sat down. Minutes passed; her mind raced. She began to feel guilty.
Down the street she spotted a man walking towards the towers. His hair was unkempt and his pace was stilted. She made out the heavy, black coat. It was him. She stood up again, looked around to make sure she was well hidden, and watched him turn down the alleyway.
He tapped his foot impatiently and walked around in circles. The doors on the third tower opened and a short man walked out. He too shoved his hands into his pockets and headed towards the second tower.
The man in the heavy, black coat was growing more impatient. He poked his head around the corner and spotted the short man walking towards him, though he didn’t look up. A car turned right on the road and the man in the coat quickly moved behind a shipping container. The short man kept walking. He put his head further down, quickly glanced out on the street and then turned right down the alleyway.
A few mumbles were exchanged, and the man in the coat flung out his arm, though she couldn’t see what he gave the other man. They nodded, and moved off.
Still she had no idea what had happened. But her imagination had been so captured by this man, and his activities, and these towers, that she took a deep breath, and crossed the street.
The man was leaning against the farthest wall of the first tower. He was counting money. She crossed the road at the second tower, and her heart was thumping. So loud, she thought she could hear it. She stopped at the end of tower, and glanced down the alleyway, slowly, feeling as though she was doing something wrong, but more excited than she had ever been.
The man turned around and saw her. Now she was certain that her heart was as loud as a freight train. He walked towards her, and she took half a step back, but like red deer in headlights she was frozen on the spot. How differently her life might have turned out if she’d gone back to the orphanage.
“Who are you? What are you doing?” The man asked, now standing right in front of her. She didn’t answer.
“You look young. Are you from the orphanage down the road?” He pointed to her building. She turned her head slightly and nodded, inadvertently.
“Must be tough, huh. I’ve seen children younger than you walk out with new families. You must be losing hope.”
That pit of nervous excitement in her stomach was turning to sorrow. Now someone else had pointed it out, so bluntly, the gravity of her life hit her. She didn’t reply, but turned her head back to face the man, and looked up at him. His face was pock-marked, and he had a few small scars.
Mindful of his surrounds, and how long he’d been milling about, his facial expression became strained.
“I’m going. But that place has some money, right? They got some stored away in there?”
She nodded again. She knew where they kept the petty cash. It was in one of the draws, behind the desk, near the entrance.
He put his hands in his pockets and pulled out a needle and some white powder. Her eyes flashed and her sorrow turned to a guilty, nervous excitement again.
“Well how about this. You go in there, get me a few wads of cash, and we’ll sort something out.” Still she didn’t say anything, and he got annoyed as she stared back quizzically.
“Well?”
She nodded again, more slowly.
“Meet me here, tomorrow morning, same time. A few wads of cash. What else are you going to do? Sit around staring out the window? I can make it better.” He walked off. How did he know what she did every day, she wondered.
He was more than a block away before she could process what had just happened. A million thoughts, or maybe none, were racing through her mind. She’d never really had anyone teach her what was right or wrong. He seemed to understand her plight. She shook her head, and crossed the road, and walked back to the orphanage.
She didn’t eat that night; instead she just went back to her dormitory, and waited until well after nightfall. Once everyone was asleep, she crept out of the room, still wearing the same hooded jacket from earlier that day. She donned the hood and made her way to the entrance desk.
She looked around furiously for the key, and after a few frantic minutes found it, taped underneath the table. She opened petty cash and took out a few notes. In her haste she grabbed more, shoved it in her pocket, locked the drawer and taped the key back to the table. Keeping her head down, she went back to her dorm, her pace a little quicker as she struggled to contain herself. She didn’t sleep. She laid there, wide awake, replaying again and again the events of the day. She tried to take her mind off it by making up a new story for the fifth tower, but to no avail.
Stale toast was for breakfast on the Monday morning, but she didn’t eat. She tried to appear patient as she waited for it to finish. She kept looking at the clock. She excused herself when she saw a visitor walking up the driveway towards the front doors, and she went outside again, walking towards the second tower alleyway.
Her pace was much quicker than yesterday, and she crossed the road immediately, not bothering to stand behind the pillar again. As she crossed she saw out the corner of her eye the man in the heavy, black coat, walking past the first tower, head down. Her stomach swirled.
He looked up at her, and then placed a hand on her back and led her down the alleyway, behind the shipping container. How had he not heard her heart beating?
“Do you have the money?” She put her hands in her pocket and pulled out the notes she had taken.
“Yes, yes… that will do.” He put his hands into one of the pockets and showed her the junk, just like yesterday.
“What you need to do,” he said, his voice pointed and paranoid, “is take this, dissolve it in water, draw it into the needle, like this” – demonstrating on a new needle how to move the syringe – “then make a fist and tense your arm muscles. Show me.”
She did exactly as he said. This was the strangest she had ever felt. She could think of nothing else as she concentrated on his every word. She made a right angle with her right arm and looked up at the man.
“Tap the inside of your elbow, with your fingers, like this,” he said, taking the index and middle finger on his left hand and forcefully tapping the inside of his elbow. She repeated.
“That’s it. Now you’ve got a nice blue vein. Then you take the needle, and pierce your skin, and push down, right into the vein. That’s how you do it.” She stared down at her arm, and the needle and the bag and the powder and the small spoon in her left hand.
“Meet me here again in a few days,” he said, and he forced a smile, and walked away, turning right at the end of the alleyway.
She leaned against the back of the shipping container for a few minutes, again trying to organise all that he had said. She felt bad, all of a sudden. It felt wrong. But then she remembered what he had said yesterday. “What else are you going to do?” A wave of anger flushed over her, and she went over to a rusted tap, at the back wall of the alleyway.
She held the bag underneath the tap, turned it on and dissolved and mixed the powder. Then she sat down next to the tap, picked up the needle and withdrew the viscous liquid.
She took a deep breath, tapped the inside of her elbow, and pushed down the syringe.
***
She woke up sore and shaking and out of it. She blinked, trying to organise her thoughts, but she couldn’t. Her shivering got worse, and she tried to move to stop the pain. When she looked down she could see, just beside her, a massive pool of vomit. She brought her hand up to her face and hair and could feel it, smell it. She threw up again, then put her hands under the tap and cleaned herself up. She tried to stand up, but failed.
She sat there for a moment, unable even to think. After a while her head seemed to clear up, and she thought about the moment. How her blood was pumping as she got ready to inject, how her heart felt like it was going to explode inside her as she plunged, the strange emotion she felt as the stuff took effect.
She’d never felt that way before. It was the most amazing feeling. Like nothing seemed to matter. Everything that had brought her pain became immaterial. It was the greatest moment of her life. She felt… happy. The alleyway looked different now.
People often talked about love. It was a concept she had never really understood, but she observed that it made people very happy. She thought maybe this was like love. She had to experience that again.
She caught herself. Now she was freezing, ill, and miserable. She wondered why she didn’t stay like that. She finally mustered enough strength to stand, and walk the few blocks back to the orphanage.
It consumed her thoughts. She spent the next day freaking out. She became agitated, and had marks on her arms from where she had scratched herself. She hadn’t wanted to eat, was too uptight to sleep. All she’d been able to think about was that wondrous day.
That night, she left the dorm, and walked towards the entrance desk. She took more money from petty cash and shook the doors in desperation, but they were locked. She had another sleepless night as she waited to meet the man again.
Skipping breakfast the following morning, a visitor opened the doors and she took off, running towards the alleyway. Her mind raging, she saw him, and immediately relaxed. She longed for the needle’s chill.
He grinned and sniggered to himself. Another one. She handed over the money, and he gave her another small bag.
And another.
And another.
And another.
Each time she took the plunge she felt a powerful surge of what she could only guess was true happiness. She had never had any true friends, never known anything close to a family. Her tower stories had been all she’d had, until she was caught staring down the alleyway by the man in the heavy, black coat.
She remembered the poor people she had imagined, and how despite their squalid living conditions, they were happy people. She felt like them.
One night, after she had come down, she sat sitting against the back of the shipping container. It was the first time she hadn’t thrown up. She didn’t return to the orphanage that night. Inside those walls she was bitter, and would spend every waking hour looking to the alleyway. Here, by the rusted tap, she was contented.
Knowing that within a matter of hours one of the orderlies would come to look for her, she loaded the needle again. She felt a solitary tear roll down her cheek as she tensed her right arm, tapped the inside of her elbow, pierced her skin and let go.

She never got to find out what really happened in the seven towers. No one mourned her.
But no one saw the smile spread across her face, either.





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Old 06-13-2011, 08:04 AM   #36
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Excellent. Definitely feels more refined than the first draft I read. I'm still not sure about the alleluias at the start, but it doesn't take anything away from the story. I also really like how the characters fate is immediately revealed at the start. Great job.
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Old 06-13-2011, 08:16 AM   #37
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Thanks. I actually didn't notice I'd left those in there, they've been in there since the very first draft three years ago. Guess I just love those live versions too much
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Old 06-13-2011, 12:19 PM   #38
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So, I'm writing a novel. It's called Ramblewood, and it's kind of a summertime coming-of-age thing about the titular town, which happens to be incredibly suffocating to an almost disturbing degree. To an extent, it's the villain of the story, as the characters regularly wish to get out; this causes a split between the two main characters, one of which succumbs and settles for a shitty job and, over the course of the story, descends into insanity. The other starts a Tyler Durden-esque cult through his protesting and petty crimes except, because he's as slow as the rest of Ramblewood's citizens, none of it actually means anything or serves to benefit the town in any way. The two fall out prior to this, and the former ends up crawling out of his miasma to join his friend's cult. Then there's a twist ending I haven't really worked out yet.

Anyway, here's the first chapter. I'm on page 19 now, but I've worked out the details of the plot well beyond that. Tell me if you're digging this, I'll post a couple more chapters eventually.

And yes, I know I got lazy with the names. I did this on purpose because I'm lazy.

 
Chapter 1

August is an awful month. August is the party that goes on a few hours too long, overflowing with soda bereft of effervescence and young people too incapacitated to notice. It’s always for the best that they don’t. The month signals the end of summer, a season pregnant with potential that now is loaded down with weight and figurative stretch marks. School is about to get back in gear, which is bad news for those involved and even more depressing for those it has long since passed by.

The populace of Ramblewood, West Virginia largely has no use for school. Packed to the gills with the aged and the incompetent, the local school system is more of an excuse to stir shit at PTA meetings and raise the collective pulse up to the level of a conscious human being. Inside its hollowed walls, the local community college is filled with acceptable – if outdated – volumes of the facts, figures and dilettante culture required to be considered an expert by the government standards of yesteryear. Its windows are lightly frosted by dust, and its tiled floors have become a homogeneous brown. It’s not entirely in a state of disrepair, not when acceptability has become a looming presence over the town at large. Ramblewood is the Kraft single of American cities: likely innovative nearly a century prior, but now merely quaint to the naked eye and outright despicable to its recipient.

It’s difficult enough to get out of bed every morning with such a metropolis to look forward to, but when you have to peel yourself out of a summertime bed, a humid cocoon that offers no chance for embarrassment or demotion, it’s downright exhausting. And therein lies the logic of everyone in town. The local postal service has made up more than enough holidays for every Monday in the year, and no one here has any interest in more bad news as it is.

This frame of mind greeted one Trevor Whitten on a particularly sun-kissed August morning, making it difficult to sweep away the cobwebs of his fast-disintegrating dreams. He had nailed bath towels over his windows to block out any sense of responsibility he may have over summer break, but sunlight found its way in regardless, nestling his naked shoulder with the warmth of a mother’s love and the heat of a father’s impatience.

It was on this day, the first of August, that he was told to start shopping for college-related supplies (nothing too exciting; this trip was on his parents’ dime, but they wouldn’t allocate a dime to anything more illicit than White-Out). It was previously set for July 1st, but he had managed to postpone the application process beyond that. And further still. His intellect justified procrastination in his own mind, as he set out to write the greatest application essay that could be managed…in one night. Days before the deadline. His friends approved because the wheels of his father’s car continued to roll, but the boot of good parenting was about to be nailed to it.

It was him against his own will that lonely night before the deadline for Penn State fall semester applications. He had never even tried Facebook, and had no interest in doing so, but that night he chose to “like” a cause for procrastination in the coming school year. It was all in good fun. He knew he was a complete tool, but had a good laugh about it. His status update about the irony of the subject was far more insightful than anything he wrote to the university that night. Upon finishing, he also sleepwalked his way through the application process for Valley County Community College, the safety net for all who wanted to postpone the donning of McDonald’s hats for another year. Months later, he hadn’t heard back from either, and it didn’t look like he had any reason to start allocating funds for an out-of-state apartment. Today, he would buy the necessities with that no longer in mind: a haircut, pencils, and perhaps an expansion pack. Hey, if you have no idea where you’re going, a couple extra maps couldn’t hurt, right?
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Old 06-30-2011, 03:45 AM   #39
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I like it. I wonder if Trevor Whitten (come on, try a bit harder than that ) will get to know peef at Penn State. You've got quite a sarcastic tone in some of the sentences; I'd maybe pare that back a bit as it doesn't come across easily in writing and could confuse readers.

I got a 72% for my story above It was late, so without penalty it would have been 77% or perhaps 82%. The teacher commented that it had an "impressive historical basis", I demonstrated intertextuality, had a "rigorous approach", my protagonists' "loss of innocence is a metaphor for a general loss of humanity", "very moving", "very topical" and that I have "lots of talent".

Bragging because I'm pretty fucking happy and it shows that perhaps I don't have to run gung-ho down the journalism path.
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Old 10-30-2011, 05:15 PM   #40
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Is anyone taking part in the National Novel Writing Month? NaNoWriMo?

I am! You can cheer me on here: National Novel Writing Month
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Old 10-30-2011, 06:10 PM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pearl View Post
Is anyone taking part in the National Novel Writing Month? NaNoWriMo?

I am! You can cheer me on here: National Novel Writing Month
I think "Ms The Edge" is, too.

Good Luck.

I'd love to try some time.

Some of the best writing advice I've heard was from Al Franken, "Park on the down-slope."
Meaning: Stop writing for the day while you still have a thought to express or part of a story to tell. It makes it easier to pick it up and continue the next day (or whenever you get back to it). Don't keep writing until you're dry.
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Old 10-30-2011, 06:19 PM   #42
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I think "Ms The Edge" is, too.

Good Luck.

I'd love to try some time.

Some of the best writing advice I've heard was from Al Franken, "Park on the down-slope."
Meaning: Stop writing for the day while you still have a thought to express or part of a story to tell. It makes it easier to pick it up and continue the next day (or whenever you get back to it). Don't keep writing until you're dry.
Thanks Kramwest1!
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Old 10-30-2011, 08:21 PM   #43
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This is a very cool thread indeed - I look forward to getting home so I can read the pieces properly.

I'm another wannabe writer... I lack discipline when it comes to forcing the words out regardless of what mood I'm in, so it might be a long time before I can put together a novel I'd feel happy to send out to publishers. I'm all ideas and good intentions so far.

I've loved writing since I was at school, and I've been particular about spelling, grammar and punctuation since then too, despite not knowing a great deal about grammar - I know I still get things wrong, and I need to get hold of some style guides, I think. I have a book about Australian Grammar at home but the one time I opened it, it was so incredibly boring I practically fell asleep on the spot. There's a challenge for a technical writer - make grammar interesting! (Punctuation is fine, I enjoyed Eats, Shoots and Leaves.)

I used to write reams of awful poetry, and a little bit that might have been decent, but in recent years I've written more short stories and one or two longer-form things that could possibly end up novel-length. And I'm definitely stuck in the sci-fi/fantasy genres, so that sci-fi-hating teacher would have got a complaint from me, for sure.

I did NaNo in 2003, and still haven't finished the story I started. I hit 50,000 words and just stopped dead, probably in the middle of a scene.

Kramwest's advice (via Al Franken) is spot-on. It saves any amount of time thrashing around in the throes of writers' block... I always try to leave something unwritten, and even jot notes for myself about where to go next.

(Of course, that hasn't helped me re-start the NaNo story, but I don't think it was that good anyway. I really should finish it off, just so I can find out what happens.)
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Old 10-30-2011, 08:25 PM   #44
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I've already started my novel, so hopefully I could finish it once NaNo is over.

I've been meaning to write a book ever since I was a kid, but I now finally have the time and energy to do so. I feel also this is a good time to put out a book because of E-books and how it allows self publishing to take place. Look at Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath. They're very successful E-publishers. I don't expect to be like them, but E-books are definitely turning the book industry around.
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Old 10-30-2011, 08:28 PM   #45
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Time and energy are good things to have, good luck with it, Pearl!

I also need to learn to avoid tempting procrastination tools, like mindless facebook games.
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