Is This What I Discarded?

I mentioned it in the proper ISWYM? post for Folklore, but it bears repeating. The first go was seriously awful. Luckily, I figured out what the problem was before I went ahead and posted what I had. I was following the intro without just taking the basic information and running with something different. I was just trying to tell the story better instead of rewriting it. That story cannot be told better with events and actions the way they were. The drama was senseless and hackneyed. The characters’ actions made no sense, and they were both flat as pancakes.

I spent so much time on characterisation that description went to the dogs.

Anyway, just so I don’t have to throw away writing, which I hate to do, here is the discarded stuff that I wrote first.

(Ellen)

The waters had been calm when I had chartered the boat. My captain had not seemed happy about taking me out to Doolin, but I hadn’t been in a mood to take no for an answer. Two weeks before, I might have let him scare me down with his stories of sudden storms and the dead’s influence over the island. Back then, I had just been a salarygirl, working for a wage and leaving the pub late on Friday nights. I drank as much as I could get away with. I liked to read.

With the air crackling like cellophane and pouring down on me in buckets, there wasn’t much chance of a good read nor a shot of whiskey. I backed away from the rail to find a comparatively dry place. I had to read the letter again. Every time my resolve flagged, it helped just to hold the envelope.

I knew it by heart anyway. While the captain yelled at me that he “wouldn’t go no closer,” I ran the words over in my mind. My mother, missing from my life for nearly twenty years, had told me to come to Doolin. I’d gotten horrible marks in English and Irish, language was not a skill of mine. But I knew the difference between come and go. There was no return address on the envelope, but she had written that. Come to Doolin.

“That’s it, we’re turning back!”

Something in my chest sank. I thought of my luggage, lying unpacked on my bed in my flat. I hadn’t brought anything but myself and what I was wearing. All of my money had gone to the cowardly captain. I slipped out of his sight. If he saw what I intended to do, he would try stop and fish me out. I dropped into the water and swam for the island.

Two weeks and a letter. Did it really take so little to change me into this kind of person?

(Keats)

I sat at my desk, fingers dug into my scalp like spiderlegs caught in long grass. My dad had told me it wasn’t healthy to hang work up on the wall. But he had been a war correspondent. I wrote for an occult magazine.

More than half of the articles I had to write myself, under different names. No one stayed at the magazine for long. They were either devotees that flaked out in the face of having a job, or cynics who couldn’t bring themselves to write to believing readers. It didn’t matter if I believed or not. Half the time, I thought I didn’t, but the familiar rush that came with tips betrayed me.

Tips, I had in abundance. What I didn’t have was money. There was an island I’d received multiple tips about, but it was not a short trip, and I couldn’t bring myself to write about it without seeing it for myself. After all, an island where the living could meet with the dead warranted a visit, surely.

I mulled over that morning’s mails, tapping the edge of an envelope on my desk. A cheque for £500, in an envelope mailed from Doolin. It was enough money to pay the bills, maybe put some away and save up for a date. I hadn’t had a date in ages.

Dad had been right about the walls. I grabbed my coat and ran out the door, cheque in hand.

//

In retrospect (and isn’t it all retrospect) I think one of the problems was going with first person. It always makes me think of teenage girls.

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