Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The first draft of anything is always shit

So I've decided on two texts to work on (thanks Mr Urban Army) for the workshop in San Diego I'm aiming for in the summer of 2010. I know I probably won't get in, since over 200 people apply and there's only room for 18 or 20 students, but I have to try.

The texts are “Security” and “And then there was the word”. The opening paragraphs of both texts are posted below. Please tell me what you think. And if anyone's interested in reading and giving feedback on the whole thing, let me know and I can send it once it's done.

SECURITY

The alarm by her door woke Reuben up. The motion sensors hidden in the apple trees along the garden path, roosting like white plastic birds. He would have to find another way to position them in two months, when the leaves started falling.
Yawning so hard his jaw creaked, he sat up on his folding cot and rubbed his face. Sometimes, staring at the monitors, he wondered if he ever really slept anymore, or if he existed in some no man’s land, where sleep was no longer a physical thing, but a state of mind.
He walked over to his desk. The monitors, waiting, the images there better known to him than even his own apartment. He sat down in his Steelcase Leap, and focused on the top left monitor. A carefully smoothed down piece of packing tape across the bottom. “Front door” stenciled in precise black letters.
She stood there, digging around in her black imitation alligator purse, looking for keys. Reuben carefully noted the date and time in his log, under Arrivals, without taking his eyes from the monitor. She was later than usual, but not enough to be worth further comment. With time, he had learned what mattered and what didn’t.
After a few moments she found her keys and opened the front door. As she walked into the hallway and shut the door behind her, Reuben’s gaze slid over to the next monitor. “Hallway”. High ceiling, black and white photographs of kite surfers at Mui Ne on the walls. A coat rack in one corner, the brainchild of a team of black-clad Swedish designers. Sweeping lines of birch wood, reminiscent of birds’ wings.
Reuben watched as she took her coat off and walked into the open area that was both living room and kitchen. The hallway camera covered some of that area as well. Kitchen appliances gleamed there, unused, untouched. In three weeks, he had never seen her cook. Nine restaurants on speed dial.
Reaching under the desk, Reuben pulled a bottle of water from the fridge and took a long pull. She only drank Perrier, and wine, occasionally. Now she walked over towards her fridge, a squat cream Smeg, depositing her purse on the kitchen table. His eyes moving to the monitor one row down. “Kitchen”.

AND THEN THERE WAS THE WORD

Ishmael finds himself on his knees, face down on a hard, cold surface. Gravel bites into his shins and cheeks. He is naked. A sense of otherness envelops him. The hairs on his arms stand on end, and there's a roaring in his ears. He slowly pushes himself up from the ground, and lifts his face up to see.
Words hang in the air in front of his face, on all sides of him, above him. A cage of words woven around him. A barrier that seems as impenetrable as stone. Stunned, he reaches out and lets his fingertips brush them. And howls in pain as their power tears into him, into his fingers, down his arm, into his body, into his soul. Falling back to the ground, his face strikes the ground hard.
Someone speaks on the other side of the barrier of words. A staccato chatter of sounds that are completely meaningless to him. He looks up again, slowly, cradling his aching arm. The words spoken tumble around him, like broken pieces of some arcane puzzle. Instinctively, he pulls pieces out of the air, assembles them and tastes the result, amazed that it's touch does not burn him as the others did. It tastes like a derivative of things he already knows, of things he has read about in ancient tomes. Of myth and of dust.

5 comments:

ege said...

I think I'm more interested in seeing how the second one plays out -- but I like the first one better so far. If that makes any sense.

I'm glad to finally get a chance to read some of your writing (I mean, you know, aside from all the Your Writing I've been reading on the blog). You've got a real command and definite style.

And I think your title for today should be my mantra from now on.

Anders said...

Den första skriker deckarvarning. Jag är allergisk mot deckare. Men den kanske snarare är en voyeur-text eller en kommentar om klasskillnader eller nåt?

Den andra blir man väldigt nyfiken på. Mycket på grund av att man undrar hur du ska få någon slags struktur på fortsättningen. Den lyckas verkligen väcka nyfikenhet.

beardonaut said...

ege: that makes a lot of sense. I feel the same way too. And thanks. That's the best a writer can hope for, I think, along with a healthy helping of imagination of course.

Anders: ingen deckare. Voyeur-text, helt klart. Tänk One Hour Photo mer än något annat. Och jag ser också det problemet med den andra, men jag jobbar på det. Har en idé om var den ska ta vägen åtminstone.

Steelwheels said...

Jag läser gärna hela konkarrongen i sin helhet!

beardonaut said...

Tack du. Det kommer när det äro klart. Lär dröja några månader.