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Thread: Meatier?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012


    Looking at my writing, at least in this book, I have to say that run-on sentences and too many commas (probably there to help you find your way through the run-on sentences) are both common. As is inanity. Or silliness. Some might call it humor. It's the way I write. There is some "meat" to be found, but it's personal, and not something I want to put up here, naked and out of context. This excerpt is maybe somewhere between inanity and meat.

    March 2, 2009

    Wow. It just keeps getting better. Yesterday I was talking with Mom on the phone and the whole world started to tilt. I bid her a hasty goodbye, which is okay to do when the world tilts. But it wasn't the world after all. It was the boat. The tide keeps going out from under us.

    The day before yesterday, we had dinghied over to the State Park, pioneered our way through dense woods to the road, crossed the road, walked a long winding entrance-way in to the park, got a tram ride with the oh-so-casual-about-this-job tram driver (Rudy said that he’d been a shuttle astronaut before he retired—I had been thinking a NYC bus driver). We had a blessed 45 minutes on the beach until it got a little windy, and I was thinking that I didn’t want to prevail upon Rudy’s goodwill about the beach—stretch it too far, use it up, anything like that.

    So we left, and made our way back to the dinghy eventually, exploring a bit in this very dense mangrove forest in the meantime to find a better landing spot for the future, to get to the beach. We arrived back to the dinghy at dead low tide of the lowest tide that had ever been or ever will be, in that part of the world. I have an image of this, as though I were able to take a picture of it. Rudy and me, sitting on the side of our dinghy, 50 yards of mud and sharp rocks away from anything remotely like water. For an hour and a half. We read books out loud to each other, we talked, I wandered away and explored a little until I got scared about the possibility of making a wrong move in the wrong mud, and getting sucked in and dying there, a lonely, excruciating death.

    Yesterday, though, was worse. This boat-tipping thing, not so amusing, or relaxing to live through. Especially the second episode of it, which took place at around 5:30 this morning, and was prefaced by a night of howling wind and noises I have never heard this boat make before. Even more especially the knowledge that, in order to avoid a third episode, we are going to have to move the boat and re-anchor somewhere else, somewhere not so close to the shore.

    The wonderful part about last night was that, as we surveyed our new situation-- the boat very still now, but very crooked, the silverware spilled out onto the counter, the Cokes on the floor--as we came to grips with this new reality, up to our boat, rowing herself along in a dinghy, came this sweet sweet woman, maybe 60, 65 years old, who knows, too old, I thought, to be rowing a dinghy by hand-- but she was coming to ask us over to her boat. She told us two things: one, that the bottom of our boat looked woonderful, and two, that there was nothing we could do about the tipping thing now, so we may as well come over to her boat, have a drink and forget about it, until the tide rose again. She said she knew how we felt; she had spent a Thanksgiving that way one time, heeled over on a sandbar. Had cooked a turkey that way. Some sailors are amazing. And I don't count myself among them.

    But I was so grateful to her; this felt like one of the kindest invitations anyone had ever extended to us. She on the other hand was sort of pissed that no one else had come to see about us first—she was not rowing her dinghy, it turns out, by choice, but because someone had stolen the engine for it, and she had felt certain that someone who had an actual engine on their dinghy should have used it, and come and “rescued” us. As a matter of fact, I think even her husband may have refused to participate, thinking us, perhaps, well-deserving of our predicament. Kind of like someone who starts out on a car trip, and forgets to put the tires on the wheels.

    But we didn't know any of this, at the time. And I think this good woman was rewarded for her efforts. She took us back to her boat, where we turned out not to be stupid or irresponsible. Just inexperienced. And that, I think, is mostly forgivable.

    Experience is not something you can pick up at Megalo-Mart, or borrow from your sister. You just have to get it, slowly, painfully, sometimes in full view of others who already have it. Or who, in this situation, may take note of what happened to you and learn from it, vicariously. So yes, all you other smug boaters in this little harbor, you're welcome. For the little moment of smugness you got, when you realized that we were in trouble and you were not, and for the reminder that we provided, to be careful where you anchor. Or at least don't anchor where we did.

    We had cocktails and snacks with her, our savior, and with her slightly stand-offish husband as well, and she told us about the Thanksgiving on the tilt, and lots of other things. She had a beautiful soft accent, which she had acquired from her youth in some wonderful exotic place the name of which I no longer remember. But I hope she is alive and well today, and I send her thanks and blessings.

  2. #2
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Columbus, Ohio
    I don't know about anyone else, but in my opinion, this content is WAY better than the other...but yeah, you need to hack those words back. They really do clog up the works. Remember: things important in your life elicit stories, things not important in your life elicit commentary. This is a story. Your other post was commentary. What readers love most, me included, are stories...the more, the better.

    Not a bit of inanity here, but it is still fat, careless writing. I think if this is an example of a typical story in your book, and if you decide to care about writing in a specific way, you'll have a first-class book to publish.
    Last edited by John Oberon; 08-01-2012 at 11:53 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Thanks much, John. As you can imagine, those are very encouraging words.

    I'd still appreciate others weighing in, with any thoughts. Thanks in advance!

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