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Forward or first page - A Book I am Writing


Jeannie 10 / 214  
Nov 17, 2009   #1
When y'all get a minute (or an hour) tell me if this is really boring or if I have only read it too many times while editing. There is quite a bit more, but I will spare you that for now, teehee! Be advised, it is 763 words, so grab your hot tea and cookies first!

Cielos Azul

Forward or first page



There is no mark that a skydiver leaves; no vapor trail, no tracks in the snow, no wake in the water. You would not even know we had been there if not for the blue sky that whispers of the sweet, secret passing of souls through its magnificence. The blue sky is loud and cannot keep a secret very well from those who choose to listen. I remember every word for I have passed through that beauty. I have seen the light from other souls. I have witnessed the silent screaming of joy, and I have tasted my own love. I was born here.

I was a little girl with the first dawning of innocence being slowly broken by years. I wanted so much to feel the Truth. I wanted to be free and untouched by ugliness. I would sway in the tree-tops for hours, bending the branch to the very cusp of its snap. I wanted to know that God was there. I wanted everyone to know that I was not afraid.

I was terrified. Not of the tree or of its branches breaking, but of living a life without the hope of ever being good enough. Most of all, I wanted to be happy. The tree made me happy. The cold-metal taste of the sky made my tongue bless my ancient eyes, and the dark, secret, flesh of the highest leaves caused my thighs to grab tightly. I am old now.

I have noticed the words "use to be" leaving my lips often throughout the day.

Used to be, I plucked my own tomatoes off the vine and ate them where I stood, or brought them to the stand where we sold the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor. Most of the time, we just played and picked, laughed and planted, plowed and moaned. It was a very good time.

Our fields in Ellington, Connecticut, weren't really ours; they belonged to our Landlord, Samuel Fuches. Yes, that was really his name and we made fun of it too! He was a very nice old man. He always had a hat perched just above his brow, in imminent danger of falling off, and a business suit that was worn and frayed around the cuffs but respectable and rather grand nonetheless, and he gave me a dollar for washing the windows of his Cadillac.

Though grownups never actually told me what Mr. Fuches was there for (and I was shooed from any proximity of their adult parley), I knew what was going on, and I felt the tension and the sweat of mommy's anxiety; nevertheless, he let us plant and plow, and my mom always came up with the rent somehow. One year there would be wheat on one side, tobacco on the other; the next, it would be corn and...well...more corn

The tobacco years were the best. I liked the tobacco people. Most of them were hippies or "Spanish". Off-season, I slept many a night in the tobacco barn's rafters watching the bats and owls catch bugs and mice. When there were tobacco-pickers, there were thirsty folk. My Kool-Aid stand was a hit! The bonus was getting to meet all those nice hippies, learning how to count to ten in Spanish, and finding the fat grapes as they turned from green to purple on that hot, sunny, dirt road. It would all come to an end, of course, in the fall.

I would sit and watch the dry dust as the trucks pulled out. The hippies would be long gone, but there were a few Spanish friends nodding and smiling as they walked back up to the road. They pointed to me and laughed, "lemon-aid bandita!", as I kneeled high on the back of my pony, Squirt, and hollered, "After banana!" (That meant "see you tomorrow in Spanish... It took me a few more years to figure out differently, but I know they understood). In one fluid motion, I would wrap my legs once more around Squirt's withers and charge after them, showing off. I was always sad to see them, my summer-school teachers, go. But I felt the hinting chill in the air. I saw the bright, fruitless, promise of blood-orange leaves sucking the last will and testament of summer from the trees before giving it all up to the purple, crimson, waxing of winter. It was the fall. I always knew by the chestnuts showing their soft, green spines. I remember the chestnuts very well, not only for their new and shapely innocence, but for mine.

pcvrz34g 22 / 117  
Nov 17, 2009   #2
wow. i like it a lot. this isn't boring at all. in fact, it doesn't feel 763 words because it went by so fast. I don't have anything bad to say...

Keep posting them! I want to keep reading.
Go work so far. (:
OP Jeannie 10 / 214  
Nov 17, 2009   #3
pcvrz34g
You know the old saying, "don't feed the cat and it won't come around?" Well, now you done it!
It gets much worse because I am frankly exhausted with it. It is a good story, though...I just need to quit nit-picking at it. jeez!

Thanks, pcvrz34g, I am glad to hear someone likes it (I was always afraid to ask, so you are the first to give me any feedback...gives me hope that I won't always spend my time staring at my kitten sleeping in the litter box...;)).
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,335 129  
Nov 19, 2009   #4
Awesome, and it is about blue skies... ha ha, you are consistent. I see on your profile page that you skydive... that is scary!

There is no mark that a skydiver leaves; no vapor trail, no tracks in the snow, no wake in the water.

I think it actually is not correct to start a sentence with "There is..." I don't know the rule, exactly, but I think it is considered bad form.

The skydiver leaves no trail...

or

No trail appears behind...

For this one, how about a metaphor at the end instead of beauty:
I remember every word for I have passed through that beauty (something different).

It would be nice if the last sentence and first sentence of the first para referred to the same thing... either "the skydiver" or "I."

Do you know what I mean? Maybe that paragraph should be about either the skydiver or "I" but not both. I only suggest a small change. Don't mess with the soul of that good intro paragraph!
OP Jeannie 10 / 214  
Nov 19, 2009   #5
I remember every word for I have passed through that beauty

Yeah, I didn't like "beauty" either. It was just a space-holder 'till I thought of something...

Hmmm. How about:

...for I have danced in its ethereal garden...'k now I'm getting overly dramatic, I will think some more on it. I will also work on tying the beginning and ending together better. I have to leave the first sentence alone for now because I am out of ideas that sound pretty. :)

Thanks!
pcvrz34g 22 / 117  
Nov 19, 2009   #6
it is about blue skies... ha ha, you are consistent.

blue skies... that's so cool. is that your motto?

skydive

OMGGG. i want to skydive soooo muchhh. I will one day. I will.

There is no mark that a skydiver leaves; no vapor trail, no tracks in the snow, no wake in the water.

I agree with kevin in that it isn't grammatically proper to start with "there is," but I feel like it helps with the parallelism with the vapor trail, tracks, and wakes.
OP Jeannie 10 / 214  
Nov 19, 2009   #7
blue skies... that's so cool. is that your motto?

"Blue skies!" is a skydiver's way of saying so long and wishing all the best...Save your money and sign your bank account over to a responsible third party before skydiving...it is addicting. :)

Blue skies!

Now back to those changes...

Changed:
There is no mark that a skydiver leaves; no vapor trail, no tracks in the snow, no wake in the water. You would not even know we had been there if not for the blue sky that whispers of the sweet, secret passing of souls through its magnificence. The blue sky is loud and cannot keep a secret very well from those who choose to listen. I remember every word for I have passed through that other realm far above the world. I have seen the light from other souls. I have witnessed the silent screaming of joy, and I have tasted my own love. I was born here.

Is that better, or am I taking "corny" to new heights?
OP Jeannie 10 / 214  
Nov 21, 2009   #8
I think it actually is not correct to start a sentence with "There is..."

Can I use "There are...?"

There are no peanuts in the basket; quit lookin'!...as an example.

There are no marks that are left by a skydiver. aarrrgh! It sounds cumbersome that way.

If I get paid a bazzilion dollars, would that make the grammar go away? :)

There are no marks that a skydiver leaves; no vapor trail, no tracks in the snow, no wake in the water. You would not even know we had been there if not for the blue sky that whispers of the sweet, secret passing of souls through its magnificence.

Is that right? because I really want to move on here...:D Gotta heckofalot going on, ya know? Now, on to the other thing...

The blue sky is loud and cannot keep a secret very well from those who choose to listen. I remember every word for I have inhaled its every dying syllable.

I like it. Y'all?

I appreciate the input!

Blue skies,

Jeannie
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,335 129  
Nov 22, 2009   #9
No peanuts are in the basket. There...
There is a Zen riddle for you to ponder, ha ha. My mind is the mind of the no-peanut basket.

There are, there is... yeah, they're wrong at the start, but I don't fully understand why. I do it all the time, even in this post multiple times. It might be the innovation of some prudish grammarian, or it might be a stylistic "rule" that teachers made up. It might not be incorrect at all, but it behooves a writer to avoid using it at the start of a sentence just because some readers or critics would use it against you.

That is the first time I've ever used the word behooves. It's that kind of day.

And actually, in my own writing I like to use "Here is..." at the start of many sentences... I think "here" is a powerful word, like "now." If There is wrong at the start, here should be, too! So... yeah. I don't know, google around about it. :-)

for I have danced in its ethereal garden...'k now I'm getting overly dramatic,

Ha ha, ethereal garden is awesome. It is dramatic if you use it alone, but as a well developed concept it would be great. Sounds like something that must have been used before, but if not, you should buy it as a domain name, ha ha.
OP Jeannie 10 / 214  
Nov 22, 2009   #10
That is the first time I've ever used the word behooves.

Ha! The other day I thought to myself, "you're being kinda truculent, get over yourself." I have never had occasion to use the word "truculent" in writing (some words are better left in our heads, but I like "behoove" ...though I rarely write that one either...)

avoid using it at the start of a sentence just because some readers or critics would use it against you.

Shhh!, there are grammar cops afoot!

Ha ha, ethereal garden is awesome. It is dramatic if you use it alone, but as a well developed concept it would be great. Sounds like something that must have been used before, but if not, you should buy it as a domain name, ha ha.

>snicker < :)
OP Jeannie 10 / 214  
Nov 23, 2009   #11
There are, there is... yeah, they're wrong at the start, but I don't fully understand why.

Neither, apparently, does the University of North Carolina. Note the first word in part four, "How to Organize a Paragraph"

unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/paragraphs.html

(jeannie rolls eyes and whistles a jaunty tune)

I know it's busy season, so I will leave this for now. :) but I'll be back...
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,335 129  
Nov 25, 2009   #12
Oh yeah.. they wrote, "There are many different ways..."

For sure, this "rule" is some kind of stylistic consideration that is not actually a rule. It's just something somebody said about good style, and I embraced it as a rule.

There are other fish in the sea.
Other fish are in the sea.

I don't know.. "There" gets a sentence off to a slow start, I think.

:-)
OP Jeannie 10 / 214  
Nov 25, 2009   #13
There are other fish in the sea.
Other fish are in the sea.

It sounds like you are talking about passive voice vs. active...hmmm. I am always and forever using the passive voice. I need to make a practice essay using all active voice...it's really hard for me to see those subtleties.

A skydiver leaves no mark; no wake...

By George, I think you're on to something, Kevin! Thanks!
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,335 129  
Nov 28, 2009   #14
passive voice vs. active...hmmm.

Nope, this is a little different.

"No wake is left by a skydiver" is passive voice.
"There is no wake that a skydiver leaves" is active.
"There is no wake left by a skydiver" is passive.

But the whole thing about there is and there are to start a sentence... it is not a real rule, just a stylistic norm that someone came up with... and it caught on. On it caught.
OP Jeannie 10 / 214  
Nov 28, 2009   #15
EF_Kevin

I fear I will never get the passive/active voice thing when I am writing. I do it a lot, and though I see it clearly when others point it out, I don't always recognize it while reading either...weird. I need an entire lesson on nothing but passive and active voice...and negative and positive number problems :) I think my brain is fried sometimes, or maybe I think in a different dimension. Some things just won't stick, ya know?
channy - / 15  
Nov 28, 2009   #16
this is great! def not boring! loved the start and description - animals and the barn and all! really nice!
OP Jeannie 10 / 214  
Nov 29, 2009   #17
It would be nice if the last sentence and first sentence of the first para referred to the same thing... either "the skydiver" or "I."

Do you know what I mean? Maybe that paragraph should be about either the skydiver or "I" but not both. I only suggest a small change. Don't mess with the soul of that good intro paragraph!

Yes, I do know what you mean, but the reason will become clearer as time passes, and I intend for the last chapter of the book to revisit the first paragraph...Here is the next little bit. Maybe that will shed some light on the direction of my thoughts - it is semi-autobiographical, so the memories are important to the whole...

Hooked on a fork of the tree's limbs was a magnificent nest of leaves and twine! I had to get closer! There I saw string, lint, bag-ties, plastic, all woven together to make this structure. I stayed a while to see if any adult squirrels came to scold me but none ever did, so I climbed up to the very limb it was sheltered on. I stretched my neck and body out to look inside the nest and remembered:

Someone left a rickety, wooden ladder here, the highest place around. The chicken coop. Three stories tall. I had raked the muck out of each one of those floors for dollars for the last three summers, and shoveled the offal of chickens, horses, cows, chinchillas and goats out the windows and onto the field in back of the coop. There was a nice, sunny patch of earthly compost drying on that side beneath the back windows, that's where the hot sun always shined from dawn till night; the thought entered my head that it would be soft and spongy to land in if I should misstep , and the idea of flight was born.

I began the climb up that rickety ladder, fearful of it's sway. Half-way up, in the very middle, it bowed inward so suddenly that I yelled out. I looked around, still as a robin caught fetching it's very first worm of the morning, and continued my climb. No one was even awake yet. And on that early-bird principle I gained my confidence. I climbed.

The gutter of the chicken coop roof was a black spot in my eye from the sun just-now-shining over it's edge, and I was worried that it's flat, sharp, edges would be difficult to climb over. I got to the top and my worst fears were realized. How do you climb Under and over when you are nearly vertical to begin with? That ladder was not going to help In fact I decided, then and there, that I wasn't going down that route, by God! The bottom ledge to the third story window was down and over from where I stood on the ladder, the top edge was just at knee level. I decided that was my place to swing to and brace my feet against if all went wrong, and I was prepared for that inevitability. I breathed, wedged the ball of my left foot against the upper corner of the window jam, and closed my eyes. I swung! I hitched my boney heal up and to the edge! I caught it with my will, I grabbed that rough, rusty, edge with my tiny, callused fingertips, and I hauled my worthless-little-girl body up and over in one long, desperate, heave.

I was on top. No one had ever been up here! No one else, just me. Well, OK, me and maybe the guys who made the tar and gravel rooftop, but from the look of things, they had to be long in their graves, maybe they were even the ones buried in that place right by the chestnut tree! Maybe they rode with my Grandfather and Paul Revere! I sat down Indian-style to catch my breath and look out over the unobstructed vista of my world. There was the dirt road leading from Penny Street, sloping down the little hill where I first tried out my junkyard skis two winters ago, past the chicken coop, and to the trail made by some long-ago train that I always rode my pony Squirt on. There was the garden! It looked so scrawny and pathetic from way up here, but the neat rows made me proud. There were the corn fields, mostly harvested, but with some hangers-on yet to be cropped. Soon it would be tilled, and the dry remnants of stalks poking their hopeful faces through the soil and tripping my clumsy, running feet, would be just a cold memory of last season.

I thought about were I came from, where I'd been these few years of my life. I thought about all the people I had run across. So much evil dressed in goodness. So much sickness and sadness. I thought about Jason, my baby boy who was gone one day when I came home from school. I thought about my sister Jill, eight months pregnant with her infected track marks, and I wondered how she could have given him away without even asking me. I thought about my mother, the co-conspirator, the most overwhelmed person on the planet, giving away the baby I spent the past nine months of nights, days, and weekends caring for, feeding, changing, bathing, loving, singing and reading story books to. He even peed straight in my eye once! I taught him his first word and it was "mommy"...the second one was "yane" which was close enough to "Jeannie" to count in my book. I thought about truth.

This place, this time, this very moment was True. I felt pain and studied, up close, the smooth pebbles, mixed with gravel, dirt, and mica, made sharp and unyielding beneath my hand. I studied the proof left in the indentations caused by this man-made mixture, and grew frustrated over a bigger truth that I could not articulate but knew in my heart was important to my survival. Some profound lesson was scratched and splintered into my palm.

With a mental shake, I left that thought for another day. I had a high place to survey, and, unlike a tree, I could walk it's boundaries. I stood with an ease that has left me now, no bones creaking or protesting the sudden movement. I breathed deeply of the high air and felt a giddy moment of omniscience. Twelve years old and already closer to God than the hypocrites who went to church every Sunday, ironically teaching me about hypocrites and probably sneaking peeks up my dress and planning to get me alone. I left that thought too, and proceeded with my inspection.

So many lumps of faded roof verses tar and gravel! I felt as though to take one step in the wrong place would be certain, plummeting death. I chose carefully and moved a tentative foot forward, testing the soundness. It held and I took one more, and so on until I reached the other side. All I could see was a vast, open field of tan. The kind of tan that you can taste. The dry wheat stalks. The pungent aroma of sweet, clean, earth. It made me a little dizzy so I plopped my fanny down again and decided I had better slither my way to the edge this time. I had never felt vertigo before, didn't even know there was such a thing, but there I was, on my belly and feeling woozy. Weird. Flat upon the roof, I inched forward, froglike, the insides of my armpits scraping the gravel, I moved forward inch by inch to the very edge and looked down.

"Total malfunctions, partial malfunctions, line twists, bag-lock, two canopies out, all kinds of things can go wrong...but do it anyway! Ready in? Ready out? One! Two! Three! Jump! Altitude awareness...check"

Just where I pretty much figured it would be, there it was. The cow-manure pile! What a lovely sight to see. Perfect in every way. Twenty feet across, twenty feet wide, with a bank up higher against the wall. Sun-bleached hay over the top of a spongy, dry, center four feet thick from the ground,

bleeding out for another six feet of cow-chips all around. I had a landing pad! All I had to do was drop straight down and roll. I was a really good roller! People used to say I was made of rubber, and that made me proud and fearless (I can tell them with some confidence, now, that I am pretty sure I am made of painfully-ever-healing bone). This was True!

With the confidence that only familiarity can bring, I stood. The vertigo was gone, and I realized with some consternation, that the vertigo was caused by fear. My fear caused a momentary lack of full control over my own body...hmmm. Filing that bit of news away, I looked around and down, not fully trusting now that I had discovered that I could involuntarily play tricks on myself. Sharp focus came to me in a swoosh! The pebble/gravel of the roof was so crystal clear! It was as solid as a rock in the ground. The real ground, so far below me a second ago, was just right there! I was whole again, but this time better. The omniscience I felt earlier was back, only this time so much more acute. I could actually see every single blade of hay on the top of the pile forty feet below. I wished someone could see me when I do this! It's me! Jeannie! I'm here, I am fearless, I am alive and happy and you can't bring me down!

A little spider decided to crawl onto the toe of my shoe at that moment. I gently scooped him up and brought him to my forehead. "If you want to ride, you better stay here and hold on tight", I said, as I shook him free from my hand and onto my hairline. Now I had a friend. Now someone would understand. This little creature was taking a front row seat to my biggest adventure yet, and I loved him. I think He was God.
OP Jeannie 10 / 214  
Nov 29, 2009   #18
Much more to come; I appreciate this venue to at least get over my fear of never being good enough. I can be...all I need is help sometimes, and encouragement...and ideas and sincere critique.

Thanks for reading!

Jeannie.


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