Monday, July 19, 2010

A Brief Update & A Very Short Story

I thought I should probably post something so the blogosphere wouldn’t think I’ve abandoned ship. First, a few excuses and a brief update: I haven’t been ignoring your blogs, but after 2 three-week-long trips to NH (since my last post) and the current craziness of putting our house on the market, I’m a little distracted.

As far as Story for a Shipwright goes—I’ve had 2 requests for the full manuscript, and 2 subsequent declines. I’m just so tickled that someone found the premise interesting enough to ask for that much, but a little disappointed that I didn’t receive some sort of feedback with it…Oh well, that’s okay—we all know that’s the biz. So, rather than second-guess the entire project and assume it’s my writing that sucks, I’m getting ready to send out another round of queries.

I’ve also started a new WIP, but for now, all I have to post, literarily, is the result of a 7 minute prompt, provided by a fellow writer, (which I couldn’t post without turning into an hour-and-a-half revision).

The Prompt:
Evening sun reflecting off a ripe peach sitting on the porch rail.
(the picture probably gave it away)

It’s not as if I heard the porch boards creak or caught the fleeting shadow of a goldfinch darting from its nest in the corner lilac bush—it may have only been a flash of radiant hue from the setting sun that beckoned me. Whatever the impulse, it drew my attention from the single dish I had just set to drip-dry, and brought me to the front screen door, my damp hands patting my cotton skirt. I certainly didn’t expect to find anyone out there, nor anything for that matter. Why, scarcely anyone but the faceless mailman knew I had taken up residence in the secluded old farm house, with painted clapboards checked from the Southern heat.

I didn’t see it immediately. Not until I sat in my lone rocker did I discover it at eye level, within arm’s reach in front of me, on the railing. Ochre blazed against the viridian and burnt umber background, so perfect and ripe, absorbing and reflecting light as if the sun itself had studied that spot for an eternity before planting itself right there. Rather than scrutinize the bushes for a broken twig, or the dirt walkway for a footprint, I stared in astonishment for an eager moment.

Reaching for it with both hands, my fingertips met its downy texture. Fondling it, brushing it against my upper lip, I breathed in its summertime scent. In seconds, I pierced its skin sending a dribble down my chin, escaping from a smile I could not restrain. Abandoning my self-consciousness, I devoured the peach like an undisciplined child, and sucked any remaining flesh from the pit. The way I used my bare wrist for a napkin and smacked my lips would have earned the scorn of any mother.

At last, I held up the pit for inspection. Who had left such a delectable gift?

Perhaps the college student working a summer job at the paint store, who wouldn’t meet my eyes, but raised his feathered brow with intrigue when I objected to too much yellow: “No,” I had told him, “too apricot. More peach—a fleshier, more succulent tone.”

Or perhaps the old spinster lady with fingers bent at painful angles, tending her fruit stand, holding out the peach that would be past ripe by tomorrow, as I clutched a pint of dark, dew-laden cherries, while counting my very last pennies.

Maybe the John Deere-capped and pepper-chinned farmer on the road, whose mud-caked boots shuffled along, halfway between town and his truck, and declined a lift because, he said, “It’s a beautiful afternoon, and I ain’t as broke down as my ol’ Chevy yet! But you’re a peach for offering.”

Or, I hoped, the azure-eyed gentleman at Stan’s Art Supplies, with crisp white sleeves, twice folded, exposing thick forearms, who asked if I was interested in purchasing the Summer Peach watercolor. When I said, “No—I’m simply studying the technique,” he handed me an enrollment application for an upcoming workshop, which I filled out, even though I loathe classroom settings.

I then placed the naked pit back on the rail, wondering if I ought to plant it, or if it might sprout, right there, overnight, of its own volition.


  1. glad to see your return,, makes me have a hankering for one of them there peaches,,

  2. Gorgeous! I could taste that peach and slip into her rocker, musing on life.
    It's so lovely to have you come back with a delicious piece of fiction, and yay for the requests! Hang in there.

  3. Well, Glenn, you go right on ahead and help yourself!

  4. Thanks, Tricia--I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone. I'm glad you stopped by...

  5. I love the detail about the narrator sitting down and finding the fruit at eye level! The last paragraph is beautiful too.

  6. Thanks for popping in, Davin, And thanks for your kind words.
    Hmmm...who knows what will sprout...

  7. Bridget, this is lovely and so well written...and reminds me of the dripping peach I cut up this morning and savored, thinking the lushness of the fruit and the overall experience warranted a blog post. You beat me to it. I'd love to know who left the peach...

  8. Liza--a peach setting on a plate or a porch rail simply begs to be eaten--no, devoured with abandon...:)
    I have a pretty good idea of who left the peach, but it might not be so obvious...
    Thanks for dropping by...

  9. So you are still alive????? I'm only kidding. Sorry about the declines. You are right, though, such is the life of a writer. New WIP? Can't wait to hear more about it.

  10. Yup, Susan, still alive, and kicking! how goes your revisions?

  11. You're back! I was going to email you soon and see where you were. I was getting a bit worried! Glad to see you back, and I LOVED your little piece here. It's lovely. I love the crisp white sleeves and the forearms of that hot art guy. I'm already envisioning romance going on. Sigh. I love the last paragraph. You're off to a great start!

  12. Michelle:
    Yes, I particularly like the looks of the art fellow also (no surprise there!) I have an idea about how to develop the storyline, but it will have to wait while the idea germinates :)
    Meanwhile, I'm getting ready to do a wash on a 'particular' painting--an orchard setting, to be specific...

  13. I'm SO excited! You'll see that I'm giving away a free print of that photo for my book release giveaway. It's so gorgeous in print, but I'll bet you anything I fall in love with your version even more!

  14. Welcome back, Bridget! I, too, disappeared from the blogosphere for a while, only to return and discover that several of my blogalicious friends had done the very same thing. Haha!

    Anyway, I just have a few comments, in no particular order:

    1. That picture is simply gorgeous.
    2. I'm happy to hear that people have responded favorably to your pitch, but sad to hear that they have yet to publish your wonderful novel.
    3. So, you haven't moved yet? It sure has been a nicer summer in MI than last year's was.
    4. I LOVE this new beginning and can't wait to read the rest of it.
    4. I'm completely drawn in by your protag's voice - and it's making me wonder if I shouldn't write HOLLOW SOULS in the first person, too. Of course, whose POV should it be? - hmmm, that is the question.
    5. Your descriptions are wonderful - almost as if written by a painter... hey, wait a minute. ;-)

  15. Laura:
    1) Thanks!
    2) Yes, well, that's just the way it goes--I guess it's time to brace myself for another round...
    3) No, we just barely put a house for sale sign in our front yard--now we gotta finish researching 'For Sale by Owner' stuff...
    4) & 4) Writing first person is sort of addictive--when I tried a third person version of this piece, it sucked a lot of the 'experience' right out of it. How is Hollow Souls going, by the way?
    5) Yeah, I guess I've kinda been on a painter's kick lately! :)

    While you were gone, I learned how to use emoticons and now like them very much :) :) ;)

  16. Oops, I just realized that I had two "4's" in my list - well, at least they inadvertently related to each other. The obsessive editor in me now wants to redo the list with "4a" and "4b" - how sad am I?

    Anyhoo, good luck with your next round of SFAS queries - and good luck, of course, with your big sale/move. I so wish I could meet you in person before you head to NH! I'm more likely to make it to Standish than to the East Coast any time soon.

    I'm glad, of course, to hear that you've been on a painter's kick lately - you really do paint beautifully! - and I'm also glad that you've finally mastered emoticons... I just knew you'd come around. ;-)

    As for HS, well, the short answer is... it's not going well at all.

    Here, now, is the long answer: After last summer's round of beta reads, I realized just how very far I had to go to finish the book, much less begin querying. And, once work on my Florida Keys guide kicked in, all my fiction-related motivation flew out the proverbial window. My guide work promptly put both the novel and blogging on the back-burner... and, of course, once the Florida Keys guide was wrapped up, I had to start working on the new Michigan guide. And it looks like a New Orleans one might be in my future, too... but luckily, I have a hubby who won't let me cast aside my novel-writing goals without a fight. As I write this, he's trying to figure out a schedule for me... one that includes time for my novel. Oh, how I love him!

    Oh, and another reason that work on the novel has stalled is that, before I begin revisions, I've vowed to finish my beta-reading duties. I'd simply feel too guilty working on my own book when I owe feedback to others.

  17. You sound as crazy busy as ever, but perhaps we could still to lunch!

  18. Lunch would be great. After reading each other's novels, it feels only right that we meet in person. ;-)