This week, the world has been pinging writing-triggers my way, like pebbles falling on a rooftop to claim my attention.
A dog slithered her way into my previously pet-less WIP — Valvoline, a little black collie, slippery as motor oil, persistent as memory. She is a stray who sidles in and out of scenes, tripping off my laconic main character’s inner dialogue.
I was revisited by flash memory of my grandmother’s wedding ring — which hid beneath a larger band, her original ring worn thin as wire by 53 years of marriage. More than once, that thin rose-gold band has crept its way into my writing. Remembering her hand conducting the air as she trilled along with an old song, her widowed ring became parallel to the gun my main character wears in a hidden holster. Which — I’ve slowly realized — is empty. His empty weapon found its parallel in the widowed wedding ring, and this small observed detail plants the seed of a hint that the woman he dates is a widow as well.
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Raw and unedited (and possibly doomed for deletion before the final draft), here is a bit from this morning’s writing.
I follow several international journalists, and part of my writing this morning was spurred by tweets amongst them about this week’s East Belfast riots. A picture posted by Belfast journalist, John Mooney (photo here), who was nearly trapped in Newtonabbey after last night’s riots, triggered dormant thoughts about memories my main character (Roonan) has of one of the mistakes in his life. Trigger was not the riot, but the image of a leafless tree against clouds of smoke.
When the explosion rang in his ears, Roonan ran first to where his brother had turned to face him. Looked for the startled, wondering face where it would have been in the remaining cloud. Searched for him in the crater blasted into the pavement, down into soil and rock below. Moved the car a distance, their mother’s sweater sliding back and forth across the empty seat, voices repeating, tormenting in the deafening ringing of his ears. Walked back to sit beneath a leafless tree, black lines of twigs drawn against the silken sky as riot police gathered behind an armored car. Wiped something from his face. Startled to know he’d been crying, tears muddying the faint grit and spray of red across his face. He’d run then – the slow, steady pace of a man intent on getting away, relaxed to disappear into a crowd.
It was the tree he remembered. Spindling black-twigged branches. Huddled, riot-armored men behind the huddled armored trucks, black shine of their helmets, round as his father’s crash helmet against the flashing lights. Agents milling through the lifting cloud like men on the moon. His brother no longer there. Slick slide of his mother’s cardigan across the seat. Ice-rush of water as he washed his face, changed his shirt. His mother no longer there.
Exaggerated, unworldly silence concussed his hearing. Like the moon. Like the moon. No matter the milling of people moving in curiosity down the street. No matter the diversion of men as he crossed back over the border. No matter the passing cars, the friendly, sorrowful wave of a neighbor as he turned back into Ridell’s main street, passing the grocer where she shopped, the post office where she’d mailed Stephen a package only last week, the shops where she’d just sent him with spare money she’d found to buy his brother longer jeans, now the youngest had grown so tall. No one on the moon. No one anywhere in Roonan’s ringing head. No one to ask him, What did you do?
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Going on this month:
- Best online reads of the week: Friday Links 01.11.13
- Join me in the January Challenge – to finish one thing, begin one thing, improve one thing, then plan. Links here:
- Writing resolutions: 2013 Day One: Reflections, Goals & a Challenge
- Novel Revisions: Danger – Book May Bite