HomeWritersLiterary AgentsEditorsPublishersResourcesDiscussion
Forum Login | Join the discussion
+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 12
  1. #1
    Tracy
    Guest

    "Haywire" excerpt revisited

    Hey guys, I've posted this bit many moons ago but I've got questions about it now. Hope someone here can help me out. Btw, this excerpt isn't for the fainthearted ...

    "After a quick pop into the Sausalito Country Store for some cream soda we headed over to the park where frisbees were flying, dogs were barking and couples just like us lay embraced on the lush green lawn.
    "You know when I was a kid, I was one hell of a chess player," Seth said, snatching up a blade of grass. "A regular Bobby Fischer ..."
    Somehow it didn't surprise me.
    "On weekends we'd go into New York and I'd play the old guys in the Village. Beat 'em every time," he added, grinning.
    "I lived in New York."
    It was an admission that had been debated for months. Seth was under the impression that I was just some backwoods southern belle, and though I was aware of the risks in offering him a peek into my dodgy past, the odds that it might reveal a depth he didn't think I possessed, a street credibility that might finally render us kinsmen, seemed suddenly stacked in my favor.
    Besides, Fleming's had been on my mind.
    I recounted it all with dreamy detachment: my arrival at Port Authority in the dead of winter; my clumsy trek through snow with two ankle-bruising suitcases in search of a church and a bleeding heart---Jane from St. Paul's on Broadway, who'd heard my frozen-knuckled knock and ushered me into the rectory, where she made hot tea while I cried for my complacent mother; our subway ride to the runaway shelter in Hell's Kitchen where she left me, clutching at her parka sleeve, in a waiting room full of glazed eyes and rotting arms.
    But the facade crumbled when I told him how a life of hopeful bohemia---inspired by an early Dylan album back home---turned too quickly into addiction and degradation.
    "Drugs?" Seth cringed.
    I shook my head no and told him that after a month at the shelter I'd finally found a job. The cookie store in Chelsea was just two train stops away from my new apartment share on West 45th but the 8th floor walkup where cockroaches slithered through freezing bedsheets and bare bulbs swung from buckled ceilings was depressing. It had me ducking into warm bars after work where I'd tick off the hours nursing booze the color of butterscotch.
    And that's how I found Fleming's.
    It was a lively little place with bartenders that hailed from sleepy Irish cities with tongue-tripping names. They were cocky and prone to back-slapping whenever their winks and nods of the head sent Kohl-eyed Jersey girls into giggling tizzies. And they adored me, the most vocal member of their audience, shouting out requests from the best seat in the house.
    "Do that wink again," I'd tell them. And, after muttering a "Jaysus" or two in mock irritability, they would.
    "Say 'Jesus' again!"
    "Jaaaysus ..." they'd drawl, to my hand-clapping shrieks of delight.
    They slipped me free booze and bundled me into taxis. They said I was pretty enough to be the Rose of Tralee. They patted my hands whenever the Pogues' song "Fairytale of New York" came over the jukebox and made me cry. They asked for my help collecting bottles at closing time. They asked if I missed Alabama as much as they missed Ireland.
    "And one night they asked me to strip."
    "Bastards," Seth spat. "So, what they'd do when you told them to go to hell?"
    For a split second, his contempt tempted me to change the course of my history, to tell him that I responded huffily, saying they could stick it up their Irish arses. That my attitude prompted one of them to leap over the bar and snatch me up by my coat collar, telling me to get the @!#$ out and never come back.
    But it was obvious from the dramatic buildup that this story's resolution wasn't an exchange of verbal barbs and a boot-out in the snow.
    I told him everything.
    About the 'last calls' that left me seated and feeling lucky while other patrons were being strong-armed for overstaying their welcome; about the blinds that were drawn and the door that was padlocked after the last indignant drunk was sent packing; the U2 tapes popped into the sound system; the free whiskey shots that would have me tangled up in bar stools on my way to the toilets; the expanse of bare floor framed by a semi-circle of chairs that always greeted my returns.
    "Annie, would you do us a favor like and take off yer jumper?"
    Blinding drunk by then, the word 'jumper' would always confuse me.
    "Huh?"
    "God love her ... yer top Annie, would you not take off her top?"
    "Yer trousers, luv ... would you not take them off as well?"
    "And the knickers, gorgeous ..."
    "Jays, what I wouldn't do to feck that hoor ..." they'd nudge, as I pirouetted around butt naked like a blind ballerina---slamming into tables, tripping over feet ...
    I began to cry. "Some nights Seth, they'd ..." but managed to catch myself before confessing to the dirty fingers shoved inside me as I was laid, spread-eagled and near-comatose, across sticky tables, the sounds of opening zippers that produced gagging in my virginal throat.

    "I can't hear anymore," he said, his left palm grinding an eye. "Goddammit, Annie, why'd you let those ****ers to that to you?"
    It was the same question my mother had once asked---albiet more delicately---as we'd knelt before a roaring fire fueled by the journal I'd kept of those months. "Depression" I'd told her then. But if the decade of sliding scale therapy that followed offered nothing else, it did eliminate that weak epiphany. I now knew that demon leading me, time and time again, before the gaping eyes of those shanty-Irish knuckleheads. Self-loathing. It possessed me in the days of rainbow suspenders and Easy Bake ovens. And it possessed me now, as I lay in the crook of Seth's arm kicking myself for fashioning him into some kind of priest with an expertise in exorcism.

    Copyright 2004
    Tracy Johnson

    If anyone's made it this far I'm wondering about the technical aspect of relaying my story to Seth. Should I keep the details in quotes to indicate my speaking or only certain lines as in "And that's how I found Fleming's." Does it come across as awkward or confusing to the reader? For instance, in the paragraph where I describe my newfound job at the Chelsea cookie store. "Drugs?" Seth cringed. I shook my head no and told him that after a month at the shelter I'd finally found a job. But the 8th floor walkup where cockroaches slithered through freezing bedsheets and bare bulbs swung from buckled ceilings was depressing." Now, obviously I'm not talking this way to Seth, which is why I didn't put quotes around it. But I'm wondering if it works. Also, in the paragraph where I describe my arrival at Port Authority should I separate each memory with a semi-colon? It's alot of info in that bit; not real sure how to keep it smooth and evocative without squishing it all together.

    Again, any input would be greatly appreciated.

    Tracy



  2. #2
    Kyla Marden-Steinkraus
    Guest

    Re: "Haywire" excerpt revisited

    I think it's terrific. I love the irish accents . . . was almost laughing even as I cringed at what was happening. I also like 'ankle-bruising suitcases' but feel 'frozen-knuckled knock' is a bit too much for one sentence. As a reader, I would like to see Seth's reaction when Annie discloses that she lived in New York. You say they've known each other for months . . . I don't know what you plan to do with these characters, but showing Seth's reaction would give him some depth of character instead of him mainly just acting as a sounding board.
    If this were a book, I would keep reading. -Kyla

  3. #3
    Ian Barker
    Guest

    Re: "Haywire" excerpt revisited

    I think it works reasonably well as it is, though I'd break the paragraphs differently to make it clearer where thoughts relate directly to speech, as in:

    "I lived in New York." It was an admission that had been debated for months. Seth was under the impression that I was just some backwoods southern belle, and though I was aware of the risks in offering him a peek into my dodgy past, the odds that it might reveal a depth he didn't think I possessed, a street credibility that might finally render us kinsmen, seemed suddenly stacked in my favor. (That's a helluva long sentence BTW) Besides, Fleming's had been on my mind.

    Plus a couple of nit picks:

    Song titles as in 'Fairytale of New York' should only have single quotes.

    And 'albiet' should be 'all be it'.

    Pretty good stuff though,

    IB

  4. #4
    jayce
    Guest

    Re: "Haywire" excerpt revisited

    I think what you've written it is fine. Don't let yourself get bogged down in whether a piece of interior monologue should be set off in quotes, or whether you should separate phrases with commas or semicolons. You express yourself in a voice that is natural and powerful, so get back in the groove and let the story flow. Edit later.

    Glad to know you're back at it. I wondered what happened to you.

  5. #5
    Ian Barker
    Guest

    Re: "Haywire" excerpt revisited

    Sorry missed a bit - all be it contracts to 'albeit', it's one of those i before e exceptions like 'weird'.

  6. #6
    Tracy
    Guest

    Re: "Haywire" excerpt revisited

    Ian,

    Many thanks for your input. Truthfully, "Albeit" was a typo. Checked my manuscript and I've got "albeit." Good call though. Also the song title, another good call. Changed it as you suggested. Also made note of that "helluva long sentence" you mentioned. The last of your good calls. Changed it all around now.

    "I lived in New York."
    The admission flipped him over to his side where he rested his cheek in a propped up palm.
    "You did? I never knew that ..."
    I shrugged. "I'm sure there are lots of things you don't know about me."
    Lots of things indeed. The decision to, sooner or later, fess up to the most shameful era of my already humiliating history had been carefully weighed. Only in the last month had it begun inserting itself into my conscience like some contractual clause that needed signing off on before finagling a commitment.

    I recounted it all with dreamy detachment ..."

    Hopefully it's an improvement. Thanks again, Ian.

  7. #7
    Tracy
    Guest

    Re: "Haywire" excerpt revisited

    Thanks, Kyla for the post. You're dead right on Seth's reaction. Just reworked it a bit and it's a major improvement. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Tracy

  8. #8
    Tracy
    Guest

    Re: "Haywire" excerpt revisited

    Thanks, Jayce. Think you're right, there'll be plenty of time to obsess over the technical aspects. Important thing now is to make up for lots of lost time and start cranking out some pages! Thanks for the compliment btw. Sure needed it.

  9. #9
    Gordon Mc Robbie
    Guest

    Re: "Haywire" excerpt revisited


    I tend to avoid "Albeit" ever since the batsman in an international cricket match manged to fend off the first ball, albeit shakily.

    The Press interpreted this as, "Albeit Shakily, the Pakistani opening bat, fended off the first ball..."

    Gordon

  10. #10
    Ashling White
    Guest

    Re: "Haywire" excerpt revisited

    Is this chapter one or much later in the novel?
    Thanks,
    Ashling

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts