Write-a-thon Week 3 Completed: That’s Me In The Corner, Overachieving

Not really, but it’s hard to keep up this rate of production. I worked hard on Saturday, but of course, my Internet connection was dead all weekend so I’m only able to post about it now. And now that I’mposting, it looks as if I’ve outdone my own foolishly naive overachieving goals to a moronic degree.

To the Happy Country: 2967 words
“The Empty Slough”: 3206 words (to finish the draft with with a total of 5346 words)
Weekly Total: 17576 words
Write-a-Thon Total: 48421 words

I’m not sure I’d feel right banking words, though if I, were, I think that almost a third of next week’s work would be done already. However, I am banking words towards that final deadline, and when it comes, I’m going to sit down with a pile of good books and not write anything for… well, a few days. And at a pace I like, thereafter.Okay, I might to a little line-editing on some stories I have sitting around, in between books (and magazines… I have several subscriptions of catch up on again).

I realize I haven’t included any excerpts in the last two weeks, so I’m going to throw in a short bit from the ghost-story “The Empty Slough,” which I think needs a total rewrite but which I’m still happy about having drafted. A bit of it is loosely based on a story a professor of mine once told me from her girlhood, but of course, the ghost’s not the thing: it’s the being haunted, not the ghost itself, that matters:

When I was a little kid, I used to have this dream. My fingers were on a piano, dancing across the ivory keys, following it as it played a tune automatically.

It was a player piano. I learned that when I saw one on TV for the first time, and heard that same kind of music. Ragtime, it was called, and though the tune was different, I knew it was the same kind of music. The sort of thing they use as background music in black-and-white film reels, or in cowboy movies.

In the dream, the piano was sinking into water, slowly, but it kept playing, round and round through the tune, and my fingers kept following the moving keys. I felt like I could get away if I just got the pattern right, but I always missed a key somewhere, and had to stay and try get it right.

The sound of the strings twanging in the water was all wrong, the notes muffled. And I felt cold, so chilled. The water smelled bad. High, the way slough water is after a summer of just sitting there, building up a scum of algae.

The piano sank down, into the mud, with my fingers still jumping after the keys. I missed more and more of them with every try, and I couldn’t even see the keyboard. It was just murky, gloppy noise, and I was breathing cold, nasty-tasting slough water into my lungs. I might have been crying, but all I could feel on my face was mud, thick and grasping and cold.

The hammers inside the piano got gunked up in the mud, and the roll must have ripped — it was just rough paper inside, somehow I knew that — but I could feel the keys still moving as I blindly set my hands on the keyboard, trying hopelessly to catch my place.

The keys just kept going, as if I wasn’t even there. As if other hands, hands I couldn’t see, were still playing the silent music in the deep, dark mud of the slough.

I’d better stop there. Even discussing the story freaked Lime out. Funny that I could scare her. I don’t even believe in ghosts. Then again,that doesn’t mean they don’t chill me. I don’t believe in ghosts, but the idea scares me. I have to give myself chills to write something even remotely scary. It’s just that I don’t think those things could really happen. If I thought they could, or if in fact they actually really could, I’d very likely be in another line of work — battling ghosts, I suppose.

7 thoughts on “Write-a-thon Week 3 Completed: That’s Me In The Corner, Overachieving

  1. Alexis,

    I can let you see a draft version, but not the current one. It needs paring. And if you have any ideas on places where I should send it — I figure “prairie gothic” has some crossover potential.


    You can keep calling it eclexys if you like. I’ve kind of retired the name now that my site is more focused on my writing and so on, but lots of people still think of this blog as “eclexys” and I’m not troubled by it.

  2. The Prairie gothic angle is really interesting. It reminds a little of Lost Girls by Andrew Pyper. I love it when people exploit local color.

    The forest in Canada can be a pretty creepy place – about a hundred years ago there was a trapper in Northern Manitoba who went Jack Torrance on his family. He killed and ate most of his immediate family.

  3. Oh yeah, trappers on the trapline. Anyone would lose it, I think. This is more southern-prairie, small town, skeleton in the closet ghostly haunting, but yeah, a trapline story would be cool. My first fiction sale (earlier this year), actually, was a ghost story set somewhere on the Pacific coast.

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