“Yes, Yes! Better! Keep going!!” That was the first comment on last night’s post, from recently reconnected high school pal, Ingrid. She’s currently living in China, and just started a cool photography project on Facebook, with the hashtag, #300HappyChinaDays. Go look! She takes these wonderful slice of life photos, that give you a view of Beijing through her eyes, and what keen eyes they are.
Ingrid’s been a cheerleader for me on this writing project since day 1, and I’m so thankful. She’s given candid and critical feedback that’s helped me look at things a different way. And Ingrid’s not the only one. Many of you have given me thoughtful and useful comments. Thank you for each and every one. I know it’s not always easy to be constructive, but what you’re providing is not only helpful to the piece I may write, but it’s encouraging. Just knowing people, some I haven’t even met “in real life”, and some I haven’t seen in person in more than 30 years are reading and taking the time to give me their insights is motivating.
Okay, time to crack on. Have you got your cup of tea?
I’d like to critically consider some of the specific suggestions I received, as this may help me to think through how I construct the story, and make decisions as I go forward.
More than one person inquired about Amy and Alan’s ages. Their weariness after a day’s work, and their propensity to sit for long periods in the evening suggests middle age or older. I think that’s probably right. I see them as a bit younger than me, but not much. I’m thinking about ways I can reveal this information without straightforwardly stating their ages. I may mention something about how long they’ve been married. And maybe whether or not they have grown children.
Someone else inquired about the country the story is set in. Drinking tea suggests England to some, particularly for a working class couple such as this. I’m certain that at this point I don’t want to set the story in England, as it would require me to rethink word usage and such that I’m not prepared to tackle at this point. I may eventually do that with a story, but since much of what I’m writing is stream of consciousness, and I’m American, it might not sound natural. And I like the image of the chipped teapot, so I will need to give this some thought.
Several of you were less than thrilled with the imagery of the giant hairball being sucked down the drain, to illustrate Amy and Alan being sucked down through the seats of their chairs. I agree with that, and am searching for an alternative image. Suggestions welcome!
Now that I’ve started this story, and you’ve given me ideas, I have a decision to make. Do I take the story writing off-line so to speak, and start working on that? Do I include an excerpt in this blog daily? I know I don’t want to keep going back and rewriting it and sharing the same bits with you over and over. You’d all be yawning and switching back over to Facebook or your latest Netflix obsession. (Mine’s Fringe for the second time round. What’s yours?)
Perhaps I’ll just carry on with it for a bit and see where it goes. My tea cup is more than half empty and I only have 30 minutes of writing time left, so this may be brief.
All around them was pitch black. Amy and Alan groped in the darkness for each other, and finding each other’s hands, held on firmly. They’d both landed on something warm and reasonably soft. Alan whispered, “Are you hurt?” “No,” Amy replied, “You?” “I don’t think so.” They held hands, breathing heavily, and listening. What was this place? While what they’d landed on was soft, it didn’t feel like earth or grass. It was more like padded carpet. As their eyes adjusted to the darkness, they realized it wasn’t completely pitch black. They could see the outline of a hallway that curved round in front of them to the right. A weak light, possibly candlelight was coming from down that way.
Then they heard it. There was music coming from what seemed like not too far away. It was a piano playing a lively ragtime tune. They looked at each other, baffled. Feeling reasonably certain they were okay, Amy let go of Alan’s hand, stood up and brushed herself off. Alan did the same, stretching his arms over his head to work out the kink that was developing from sitting huddled on the floor. And just as suddenly as it started, the music stopped. They quickly clasped hands again before taking a step forward.
Alan motioned to Amy and lifted his index finger to his closed lips. She got the message and stayed quiet. Still holding Amy’s right hand in his left, Alan peered around the corner in the direction of the light and music. He couldn’t see much, as the hallway seemed to just stretch ahead of him for miles. What he could see was that the hallway had no doors or windows. What it did have were several rather large photographs hanging on the walls. Alan took a tentative step up to the picture closest to him, gently tugging Amy’s hand. They stood there side by side, blinking as they starred at a photograph of…
I need to stop there. Well, okay, I don’t need to, but I’m going to. Not only do I love a cliff hanger but I really don’t know what’s going to happen next and I need to think on it.
Was there enough description there of the place they landed? Do you want to know more of what they were thinking/feeling? Is it believable that they would so quickly acclimate and start exploring or should more happen first? I find the second sentence a bit clunky but haven’t thought of a way to reword it just yet. And I do see I’ve mentioned their hands more times than seems necessary in three paragraphs. Clearly I have some editing to do!
My tea cup has been empty now for ages, so until next time…