"Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it's the answer to everything. … To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it's a cactus." Enid Bagnold
Thanks to Rochelle for organising Friday Fictioneers, and to Roger Bultot for the photo prompt.
Every morning Mr Chen stood outside his shop, raising his hat politely to passers-by. Not even the oldest resident could remember a time before he’d been there. ‘The street needs him,’ they joked.
The morning they sent the eviction notices, Mr Chen wasn’t there. He wasn’t there the morning the bulldozers moved in. He wasn’t there the morning they started building the new tower block.
The morning the half-built tower collapsed, passers-by swore they had seen an old man in an upper window, raising his hat politely. But the fire crews searched and searched, and they never found a soul.
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Bit late this week, because I’ve been taking a break after hitting the aforementioned milestone. But now I’m trying to gear myself up to tackle the mammoth task of editing and rewriting, so thought I’d ease into it with a nice achievable 100-word story first!
No story today. But I’m writing a self-congratulatory post because for the first time in my life, I’ve actually done it.
I’ve written a whole book.
More precisely, I’ve written a pretty terrible first draft of a book. But it’s the first one I’ve ever actually completed without giving up halfway through, and that’s a big deal.
It’s a middle grade novel, and the first draft comes out to 29,500 words, which I’m relatively pleased with as a word count. I went barrelling through the plot for the first draft, which means I’ve got a fair few extra scenes to put in to flesh the whole thing out, but at the same time I need to edit the language to be more punchy, so I’m hopeful that I’ll end up at around 35,000-40,000 words or so.
I am taking a bit of a break before daring to read it through – I imagine it’s going to be quite a painful process. The whole thing needs re-drafting for structure, for characters, for tone… well, for everything, really.
My first draft of this story was a horrifying 260 words. I cut it as far as I dared, and it was still 120. So I took a deep breath and plunged the knife again. Usually I end up with a better story for it, but I’m a bit sad about the word limit this week, because I think that for once my 120-word version was better than the rather threadbare final cut. But there we go, it’s a good exercise, and hopefully it still makes sense! I have often wondered what fairytale characters would tell their therapists about their rather dysfunctional families…
Thanks, as always, to Rochelle for organising, and to Ted Strutz for the prompt. Click HERE to read other responses or join the fun!
This boat of ours
She is home.
Most homes hedge one round with cloying comfort. But she carried us fearlessly through the inevitable storms. She is strong.
Now she flirts with the waves, caressing the gentle rollers, buffeting mischievously into the white-caps. She is beautiful.
Lift and fall, lift and fall, she dances. She has carried us safely to journey’s end. She is joyful.
We have crossed an ocean. Triumph as majestic mountains rise from the waves. Yet a hint of regret. Life with empty horizons had its wide simplicity.
Is this journey’s end? Or just one stop along the way?
She is freedom.
“What a ship is… what the Black Pearl really is… is freedom.” Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean
Today’s story is not so much a story as a love letter.
I started sailing when I was about three years old. As many did, I fancy, I learned the basics in an old wooden Mirror dinghy, jilling about on the river with my Dad. Some slightly unsuccessful teenage sailing lessons nearly put me off with all their capsizes into the chilly Norfolk Broads, but a good sailing instructor at university, along with my parents’ acquisition of a bigger seagoing boat, reawakened the enthusiasm.
I’ll never be a racer. The concept of sailing as fast as possible in a circle isn’t one that particularly appeals. Sailing, for me, means the sea, exploration, discovery, freedom. The joyful feeling of knowing that nobody can reach you out on the waves with their deadlines, to-do lists and other tedious aspects of real life. The excitement of planning an adventure, then setting out to carry it through. The beauty of a boat with her sails up, slicing through the water with purpose, and the knowledge that down below is a little world she carries with her.
This story above isn’t my story. I have never crossed an ocean. I’ve never done any significant exploration on a yacht. Yet. But we have made our first tentative steps in the direction of adventure. We are the proud owners of a dinghy (to jill around in with the kids, carrying on the tradition) and a yacht so small that nobody believes we can possibly sleep 5 people aboard (the baby goes on the floor), in the Lake District. Baby steps. We have our plan in mind. Some day, a bigger boat. The West Coast of Scotland. The Hebrides. And then… who knows?
This is the first story I wrote in response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt, and it depressed me so much I took it down and wrote this one instead. But it’s written now and I hate to waste a story, so I’m popping it up on the blog anyway although not linking to it in the link party. Thanks to Rochelle for organising Friday Fictioneers and to Jennifer Pendergast for the prompt photo.
The Lego house
You built daddy a house when you were four. The walls all uneven. The roof incomplete. Daddy said it was the best house he’d ever seen.
Each year it become more elaborate. A treasure store (age 6, your pirates phase). Battlements (age 7, knights). A rocket launch pad (age 8, space).
You never finished that house.
Daddy kept your photo flying from the battlements. Every Christmas he’d build another section. All year he’d plan what to add next.
Now his photo flies beside yours, and I contemplate an empty house and a rather depleted box of Lego.
I wrote a different story today as my first response to the prompt, but it depressed me so much that I deleted it and turned to a character from a previous story. I’ve been wanting to bring Billy back for a while. I’ll pop the other story into a different post as it’s already written and put a link at the bottom of this post for any morbid souls who want to read a more miserable story on this grey and chilly morning!
Billy glared at his father’s back. Them and Their stupid rules about Not Putting off Homework Till The Last Minute As Usual.
He glanced longingly at the Lego fort. It was magnificent, except where Emmy had added a pink chimney for Santa. She was only six, so he’d let her. But later he’d put up a watchtower instead.
He sighed and opened his homework. 10 sentences about medieval fortifications.
Well, in that case it was research, wasn’t it?
Billy walked his fingers under the Lego portcullis and went to greet his fellow knights. First they had to sort that chimney.
Click HERE to read other people’s responses or join the fun!
If you’d like to read it, here is my previous attempt at a response!
A note on the last line
When I was younger I read a book called The Castle of Yew, by Lucy Boston. It’s a wonderfully peculiar story about two boys who are so desperate to get into a miniature topiary castle that they actually shrink and have an adventure. The image of one of the boys in frustration walking his fingers through the door, and the rest of him suddenly shrinking and following, was in my mind as I followed the track of Billy’s imagination.
Okay, so I’ve already responded to Rochelle’s post once this week, but the muse was still nagging, so I’ve been greedy and gone for a second bite at the apple. This one went in a totally different direction.
Her body curled warmly around his.
“You could stay.”
He sighed impatiently and rolled onto his side.
“Elena, how can I stay when there are worlds to be discovered?”
“And who needs to discover worlds when they already have paradise?”
But she knew he’d go. The Regina was leaving port tomorrow for the New World, and not all her warmth and beauty would keep him from going aboard.
“You men. What will you do when all the world has been discovered?”
He turned back to her with a half-smile. “Well then, carina, we’ll just have to fly to the moon.”
Thanks to Rochelle not only for organising, but also for providing this week’s prompt! A lady of many talents.
The towering landscape on the wall mocked him. Painted by a young man on a neverending quest for superlative beauty. A quest which crashed down to earth with the brutal finality of a rock fall.
“You can still paint,” said the consultant.
“But I can’t get anywhere. I’m a landscape artist.”
“You may not have your legs, but you still have your eyes.”
“What good is that, when they’ve nothing to look at?”
Nothing? Idly staring, he noted the pleasing order of the salt and pepper shakers, the raucous intrusion of the ketchup bottle.
Tentatively, he flipped the sketchbook open.
* * * * *
This was one of those pleasing weeks where the title writes itself. I enjoy it when a title is multifaceted. After last week, when I felt that a good title was tantalisingly out of reach, it was nice to have this one present itself on a silver platter, so to speak!
Click HERE to see what everyone else has written and join in the fun!
Late to this one, but at the very last minute when completely out of ideas I spotted the two youths in the photo, looking slightly out of place next to the children’s merry-go-round, and that gave me the glimmering of a plan. Once again, it was far too long so I’ve had to cut it to the bone and I’m not sure it still makes sense. Hopefully the protagonist’s dilemma has still come across. What decision do you think he made at the end?
Also, I could not think of a title, so if you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them!
Round in circles
“What d’you say?” “Nothing.” “You said it looked fun.” “I said nothing.” “Are you a baby? Want a ride on the horsey with your mummy? Focus, we’ve got to lift at least €2000 today.” Jean kicked the moped into life.
Adi lingered, mesmerised.
If I just knew what it was like. To go up and down. To clap along to the music. To have a mum who held you tight so you wouldn’t fall.
Maybe I could have a go. Just one go.
“Come on!” Jean revved the engine impatiently.
The horses danced with childlike joy.
The moped zoomed away.
Thanks to Rochelle for organising, and to Brenda Cox for the photo prompt.