In progress.

A quick excerpt of my most recent writing. This week, I may send my first two chapters to a New York publishing company. Keep your fingers crossed. Is this worth a read? I hope so. Feedback, anyone?

 

“Angel, how the hell are we supposed to get out of the front door without anyone seeing us? Aren’t they going to wonder what the fuck we’re putting in my trunk? It’s pretty damn obvious there’s a head and a pair of legs in there. I can’t believe I’m doing this.” He leaned against the sink where the condom wrapper still sat. I grabbed it and threw it in the trash.

“We’ll go out the back way. Just pull the car around. Listen, I’m scared too. I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t thank you enough for helping me, Hugh.” I put a hand on his shoulder and tried to find a crack in my voice. “You know I’m not a violent person. I never would have wanted things to turn out this way.”

I was sixteen when I had my first boyfriend. I had already been sleeping with Mr. Paoli for nine months, but I knew it wasn’t love; only lust. I agreed to slip into his bed each night and he agreed to buy my friends and me anything we wanted; he thought blackmail was a more reasonable sentence than jail time.

Charlie sat next to me in math class that year, and had started dropping his pencil near my desk just so I would lean over and pick it up. While the other girls were sporting the modest seventies fashions their mothers forced on them, my breasts spilled over tube tops and out of push-up bras I bought with Mr. Paoli’s money.

“Hi Angel.”

Charlie stopped me at my locker one afternoon, his left hand fingering the lock while he stuttered and tried not to stare at my chest.

“Wou-would you like to hang out with me? To-tonight, maybe?”

I giggled and put a hand on his shoulder. He was shaking.

“Yes, Charlie. I would love to.” I winked and his mouth broke into a crooked smile. “My place or yours?”

I gave Charlie my address and told him to look for light from the candle I’d put by my bedroom window. That night he arrived ten minutes early, knocking loudly on the pane glass. I warned him to be quiet as he slipped into the room.

“What now?” He barely had both feet on the floor. I sighed and reached one hand around to my back, unclasping my bra.

“Let’s get to the point, Charlie.”

I listened for the rough idling of Hugh’s 1975 station wagon and imagined that the dark wooden paneling was one of the reasons he never took any women home. A thin ray of light crept through the single fogged window of the men’s room, bouncing off the trash bag that concealed Steve’s legs and feet. The light began to warm my scalp and a sudden wave of exhaustion swayed me into the sink. I hadn’t slept in more than a day.

“Pst – Angel! Hurry up, I’m out back.” Hugh’s whisper came from the other side of the window, startling me back into the moment.

I looked at the dark heap on the floor then back at the window. “Jesus, I could use some help, Hugh.”I heard him shuffle over the gravel toward the bar’s back door.

“Sorry” he mumbled, as he reentered the bathroom.

Minutes later Steve was in the trunk, Hugh was sweating behind the wheel and I was lighting a cigarette with the early morning wind combing through my hair. We decided to drive to a nearby construction site, where a new apartment complex catering to couples 55 and over was in early production. Miles of dirt and areas of hollowed earth lay before us, still quiet before the start of the work day. We parked by a sagging fence and I scanned the landscape, using my hand to block the sun from my eyes. Hugh rested his forehead against the steering wheel.

“There.” I pressed my index finger against the windshield and pointed towards a ditch by one of the new apartments, likely to be filled in and built upon soon. “And let’s hurry up. It’s nearly seven.”

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2 Comments

Filed under Writing

2 responses to “In progress.

  1. I’m glad you pointed me to these excerpts, Nicole. They really show how your writing has grown.

    I hope things go/went well with the publishing company. (I hope you have a contact there. That could make a difference in whether your chapters get looked at or not.)

    As for feedback, there’s just my feeling that every writer needs an editor because we can never read our own work as “somebody else.” But if we can’t afford one, and don’t have that perfect storm of a friend who’s great at it and wants to do it for us, we have to try our best to do it for ourselves. Ask yourself what an editor would see in your sentences and paragraphs, not just your plot. You want a publisher or an agent to see you at your best — fresh, glowing, the right colors and accessories to enhance your style…

    Do any of your sentences have phrases where you used two words to describe something when they both mean the same thing and one would do? Have you used two because you didn’t search for that one that would work better? (When I’m stuck, I love my thesaurus. It’s a cool tool if you use it well in the search and do your cross-checking.)

    Do the words and sentences you’ve written advance your plot, illuminate more about a character, help us understand a fact or an emotion, or give us a broader view of the world you’ve created? In each scene, is your alchemy as precise as you can make it? Does it say what you meant it to say?

    I love making a copy of a scene and then going over it like a hundred word story. What’s redundant? What’s expendable? What don’t I need? Then, what would be richer if I enhance it, and how do I want it to feel when I’m done? Then I compare it to what I started with, and see what I think about each of them.

    Also, a lot of writers I’ve been keeping up with have been talking about the difficulty and the heartache in the traditional publishing process, so I thought I’d point you in the direction of one of them — Angela McConnell’s recent blog post’s about her research into traditional versus e-publishing, and her decision making process about how to publish her own work. She writes speculative fiction, but I know that your genre has also done well with the self published approach. With your blogging practice and your familiarity with Twitter, I think you would be able to do some effective work to interest and reach your audience, if you were to choose that route. Here’s a link to Angela’s last article, if you’re interested: http://angelamcconnell.com/?p=2865

    As usual, I seem to be ‘talking’ too much, so I’ll end this here. Again, best of luck with your work. It sounds like you have a strong story here.

  2. Thank you for this feedback – you never seem to be talking too much! I appreciate every word.

    I do the same; I create a scene, get it on the page, then read it over dozens of times, chopping things up and rearranging them. This is my first attempt at something so lengthy, so I am working to be very careful that every word counts and everything matches up perfectly. But you’re right – this is why writers need editors!

    And I’ll be checking out Angela’s article. 🙂

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