Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Crowd of thoughts

I'm workshopping a story over at Fictionaut.  If you're a member or not, I'd love your input either there or here.


Thomas Taylor said...

Brilliant. I need to digest it some more, but your writing really is brilliant.

Rachel Fenton said...

Oh cheers, Thomas!

Andrea said...

I don't think I'm any good at workshopping, but I really love your writing!

Rachel Fenton said...

Andrea, I prefer to keep my fiction to myself until I submit if for publishing, too, but it's interesting to ssee just how varied responses to it are. I'm spoilt with readers like you! Thank you.

Tim Jones said...

I enjoyed this very much, Rachel! I don't have much to add to some of the comments already made on Fictionaut - especially all the ones saying how good the writing in this story is! - and also the suggestions in particular, that the first little section could be removed.

I did think of these four small points:

* As I had no idea what sort of fabric "voile" was, I didn't get the full effect until I went to look it up - I may be your only reader who didn't know this, however!

* I was surprised by the lack of concern the protagonist shows about Lisa being bitten by a white-tailed spider, given both the pain whitetail bites can cause and the fears people have about whitetail bites causing necrotising fasciitis (though apparently they don't) - is this lack of concern a reflection of her disconnection from Lisa and Chris?

* I got the general idea that she was setting up her house as a reef, but I'm confused as to why she tapes up the rest of the house - was that to stop spiders getting in/could it be passed off as such, or was it all part of the 'reefification' of the house (whoah, new word there!)?

* I would have liked a bit more of a visual picture of the reef she's creating - the sealing up is described in detail, the making of the reef much less so - or would this give too much away?

I hope these points are helpful rather than far too nit-picky,


Rachel Fenton said...

Thank you, Tim - not too picky at all - very good, actually - very useful.

Voile - you are the second person who asked what this word means! I think I like that I can spread a new word here though - net/sheer curtain doesn't give the description what it needs (for me) but I'll try on some different words and see if there's a better fit before zi set my decision in stone.

The protag is exceedingly detatched, hence the reigning in of spider fear - whereas I have a huge spider phobia in real life and would be hopping about on the balls of my feet if I saw one on my daughter's bed. I think the protag is reliably informed about the risks of infection from white-tail spider bites and knows a good wash prevents a multitude of ails :) Side note: Lisa is not the protagonist's daughter.

The basement is the practice area - to get the technique sorted before starting "where it matters". Not to keep out bugs, just to perfect the method as the protag knows she has a limited window of opportunity to "reefify" the living area.

I think the first para, (although agreeing with crit suggestions to move it from the opening) is good as it gives a description of a settee in a tank, so I'm toying with moving this and incoorporating it into the para where the protag feeds the fish on the way out to the deck.

I think your imagination can create a finer furniture reef than my description ever could but I take this - and all your points - on board and will re-draft until I find the balance.

I definitely don't want to alienate readers - I hope there are enough rewards in this story for the reader who is willing to put the effort in to make the connections, and I have to make sure I've done my job by signposting those connections.

I think, as with poetry, there isn't much in the way of a wasted word in this story - everything is a clue. It's really a mystery in that sense - hopefully not a jigsaw with a piece missing...

Thanks again, Tim!

Kass said...

I read myself and my life experiences into this story completely. It doesn't matter to me if I 'get' it as a time/continuum narrative. I'm swimming with the same uncertainty here as I am in my life.

"...a state of perpetual — short term perpetuity — nightmare. If only my memory were as short." - Did you ever see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? We jam our memories into categories that accumulate and feed our addictive mind-sponge of top twenty 'hits.'

"I should have known better than to analyse you, to look too deeply. Some things simply aren't there, no matter how much we convince ourselves they are."
- Thus the need to flail about in the watery depths to escape the gravity of certain situations.

"They think I left them but I drowned." - is so profoundly poignant.

Telling the white lie of a mosquito where a white tail is threatening the stepchild fascinates me - "It'll work out. Trust me." Lisa is stepchild - an idea that isn't organic, but cultivated with the hope it no longer feels derivative, but an original offspring.

A species dependent on that one mass for existence - Oh how we grasp for a mass, a "thing" that anchors us together. If only alphabetizing and poisoning non-compliants would delay the festive apocalypse.

I wish I could tell you what to change or add or leave out, but the whole thing was so visual for me, I don't want to see the painting changed.

You're my kind of crazy heroic!

Rachel Fenton said...

Kass, thank you.

I'm so moved by your comment ("comment" is such a reductive word and doesn't express how much your words have affected me).

Donna Hosie said...


Do I get a prize for knowing what voile was?!

Rachel Fenton said...

Hahaha - you get the sheer uncurtained joy of knowing you made me laugh :)

Talli Roland said...

Headed over to check it out, Rachel!

Rachel Fenton said...

No worries, Talli x