Opinions on this story.

Hello, hello. 

 

So, I've churned out another bundle of words, and I was wondering as to what people think - does it spike interest, and so on... This is an experimental piece - I'm writing it in a non-chronological fashion, and it's a diary format. So, it's a series of diary entries, arranged in no particular order. 

Should this not pan out, I'll do some reorganizing, and maybe try to shuffle it into some linear arc.

I'll post the text here, as I know some people may be hesitant to open a file - I know I am!

I hope to hear from some of you soon. The forums don't appear t be very active. It's a shame. This site has been helpful and enjoyable, thus far. 

Regards.

 

Snow

Snowflakes sift down, through the great tree in our backyard. I watch them, shivering, my hands clutching my collar, my jaw chattering. The neighbour’s lights look so warm, splashed across the white. I wonder if they’re seated, happily, at a big, wooden table, enjoying dinner as a family.

I’m out here because I failed to make an A+ on my latest assignment. Mother has a habit of locking me outside in these deep colds as a way of punishing me.

I only have a spoonful of peas in my stomach, so the grumble is my only company. My belly aches. My pour belly, nothing to digest.

I don’t think my mother has ever really liked me. My younger brother was planned, unlike me. I came at a very inopportune time, so she’s always retained a tenseness around me. My father is almost wholly indifferent, he lets her do whatever she wants to me, his sole contribution being a swift backhand from time to time.

My bare feet look blue. The icy air crawls under them. I wiggle my toes. Are they still alive? My breath dissipates into the night. I’m so numb.

It snows most of the time here. The sun occasionally breaks through the grey, and salutes with columnar beams, like stairways to Heaven. I treasure these moments, it’s as though everything in my life is put on hiatus, and just for those moments, I ascend, suspended with frightful happiness. I dream of tearing the sky asunder, and wrenching upward. Take me.

The door behind me clicks. I turn around to see mother, gritting her teeth, looking down into me. She brings her heavy hand down onto my shoulder, and rips me inside. The dog is eating scraps at my feet. She grabs a tuft of my hair, and pushes me down. She tells me to growl. My frozen face hurts as the muscles stretch. I growl weakly, then cough, and cry. She stands astride me, looks into the watery jelly of my eyeballs, and chides me with the word ‘pathetic’. She leaves me dissolving into a puddle of my own tears, the dog licking my face.

 

Rain

 

It has been raining all day. The garage door is open, so the cool air rushes in at me in bursts. I take a break from fitting spark plugs, stand, and let it hit me. It makes me feel so refreshed, the dullness of my life not so acute. The cranking of my co-workers is turned down, and it’s just me and the breeze.

I close my eyes, drift into dreaming, before being perturbed by my manager, yelling at me from his nest, up a flight of stairs, towards the back of the shop. My eyes pop out of their sockets. I look down, see my blackened coveralls, the spanner in my hand, and remember where I am. I crouch over the engine, and stick my hands back into its guts.

It’s almost lunch, and the rain has intensified, coming down in strong sheets. The air’s electric, pre-storm. I see people brave the gusts, their umbrellas being blown everywhere. My colleague tugs at the cuff of my arm, and asks me to help him.

In the staffroom, I munch on a ham sandwich, listlessly, like a cow chewing cud. The pitter-patter on the roof is so soothing. I try not to think about anything, but that’s been hard lately. I find my thoughts being dipped in animus more and more. I’m just so very tired.

 

Birthday.

 

It’s my 13th birthday. I charged down the stairs this morning, thinking, naively, that I’d be tackled with happiness and well-wishes. Instead, I saw the three of them at the kitchen table, sullen, seemingly unaware as to the significance of the day. Why do I do this to myself each and every year? Do I so enjoy the disappointment?

The sullenness persisted throughout the day, into the afternoon. I was given no presents, no kisses, no kind words, no smiles, nothing. Now, I stare at the grey ceiling of my bedroom.

 

Fuji

 

He’s been shooting spit balls at me for weeks now. It all started in gym, when I changed in front of him; my gaunt figure drew taunts. Mother’s dietary regimen of peas has sucked the juices from my meat, shrunk me.

As soon as my shirt came off, he turned to one of his friends, whispered, and made semi-audible jokes. I slunk into the only cubicle, and sobbed, cupping my mouth to reduce noise. When I exited, once I thought that everyone had left, he was there, with his taller, pimple-faced friend. They were holding wet towels; they herded me into the back, in the showers, and whipped me. Fuji started to get a bit excited, and flicked me in the eyes multiple times. His friend told him to stop, and so they left me there, against the tiles, crying, like a hurt animal.

 

Droplets

 

I’m in my apartment, looking down into the courtyard. It’s raining again. The news said it’ll be pouring all week. I don’t mind, I don’t mind at all. Imagine being an arborist, working in this, though: climbing trees with saws, dismembering them. I sometimes wish for a job like that: fresh air; back to nature, so to speak. All good stuff.

So, what did I do today? I woke up at 9am, ate a cheese and ham sandwich – grilled; then sat and watched a horror flick. I may soon head out, go to Akihabara, and check out the latest of this manga I’m into. I really don’t know what else to do with myself.

 

Slam

 

I made an A+ on my assignment, thank Christ. I’d crammed all week. I couldn’t bear being shunted outside, in the cold again. I even conferred with my teachers, requesting direction.

Last fortnight, I drooped just below an A+. I shouldn’t have to tell you that there was hell to pay. I stopped “misplacing” my results after receiving a firm beating for it. So, last time, she ripped the papers out of my bag, saw the grade, spat in my face, and slammed the door. I stood there, planted into my carpet for a few minutes, before I heard her stomp up the stairs. I braced myself. She burst through the door, brandishing a belt with a red hand. She struck me across the face, and as I fell to the floor, curling inward, she unleashed a frenzied flagellation. My brother came up, and stood in the doorway with a dumbfounded look on his face. She left me in the usual fashion: in my own tired, salty tears; this time with an addition –blood.

 

First

 

It’s my first day of high school. I’m yet to encounter any friendly faces. I think everyone already has friends, so I’m just a third, odd wheel, as per usual. I don’t much fancy friendship, I don’t think – not really. I know that it’d be advantageous to befriend someone, to keep the surging, puberty-hounds at bay. I think I’ll just find a quiet place, and sit there, reading. I found this sad-looking book at the refuge several years ago, and I’ve been unable to put it down since. It’s a gory tale about space-marines. The story appeals to me a lot.

 

Pills

 

When I woke up this morning, left my room, I smelled a peculiar, sweet smell. I heard some commotion at the end of the hallway, in mother’s room. I pushed open the door, and saw father standing over mother, tucked into bed. He was on the phone. He rushed over to me, and shoved me out, closing the door.

Right now, it’s 9:25pm, and she’s been gone since this morning. The phone has rattled off the hook several times.

 

Cashier

 

Today, for an adventure, I went out of my way to go to a new store. Upon entering, I happened to notice that the cashier was stunningly attractive. I spent some time pretending to browse things that I didn’t want, just so I could feast my eyes upon him. I found myself short of breath. I must have been there for 30 minutes. I ended up going to the counter with an energy drink and chewing gum. I was gripped with stinging rage when he didn’t even look up at me, just scanned my items, and peered blankly into the lines of my palms. I snatched my change, and stormed out.

For the whole walk home, I felt the impulse to barge into people, drive my work boots into their teeth, and listen to that sublime gurgle. I just… don’t understand why I’m so unwanted. Do I require a perm or something?

 

Auto

 

I’ve been unable to secure employment since moving to Tokyo. There are no nooks, and no crannies in which to fill, apparently, so I have enlisted in the services of an employment agency. The agency has hooked me up with an apprenticeship as a mechanic. The employer balked at my age, I heard, but thankfully, 25 is still in the bracket, albeit at the teetering, higher end.

So, I’m due to start next week. I have enough money to live on until then, if I play my cards right, and don’t blow my wad on too many dime-store, hoe-bags.

Comments

  • Thanks for sharing!

     

    In general, I found the prose well paced and clear. I think, to present the "diary" feel, you might have the narrator linger on some more trivial seeming things. If everything in the diary is pointed, the diary may come off as inauthentic. 

     

    One thing I would very much consider is the organization. There's a lot you can do with breaking the linear bounds of chronology. But it has to be purposeful. Segmenting time will naturally cause some confusion for the reader, so it should be done in order to cause this confusion, to allow your narrator to reveal aspects of themselves at a specific time in the story, despite when it may have occurred in the chronology.

     

    Broadly, the character you're beginning to sketch out is interesting, troubled, and seems to have a very profound perspective. All of these things point toward a potentially exciting character to follow. 

     

    I would spend some time really figuring out who this character is, and why they are journalling their experiences. With a firm grasp on who this person is, the world they live in will come through even more vividly, and you'll be on your way to an interesting and compelling story.

  • I'm going to generally agree with Paul on this one, though a couple of points could be made:

     

    The character is clear -- an abused individual, unplanned, and unwanted. Isolated. Alone. The scenes are clear -- the yard, the mechanic shop, very good settings and we feel the emotional baggage that each brings.

     

    Now, there are some points where the story goes beyond what is necessary to invoke pathos. A spoonful of peas -- a diet of peas -- is this a realistic degree of cruelty? Can one even live on nothing but peas? Can an A+ student find no work except an apprenticeship to a mechanic?

     

    So to me reading it, even though it is well-written and the scenes are clear, there is a discordant element. I don't find myself immersed in the story and sharing the experience so much as standing apart from the story and judging its reasonableness.

     

    There is the mention of Tokyo -- is the story set in Tokyo? Is this a Nihon-jin, writing in English, or a western child, being raised (badly) in Tokyo?

     

    I also hasten to point out that if there were a real individual who had experienced this sort of abuse, that is, if the story had any roots at all in real experience, then that individual should go to a trusted authority and seek assistance with the feelings that would result: A priest, rabbi, minister, teacher, counselor, or behavioral health professional. Feelings of oppression and isolation can be very unhealthy.

  • The forums don't appear t be very active.

     

    You are right, it's remarkably quiet, but years ago it was incredibly busy, 100s a day using it, and far more sections. I often wonder if the large tab Learn helps. It could mean anything! Should it not say Help?

  • It's not my cup of tea, but it looks OK, even if depressing, so even more so not my cup of tea and if a story is good or bad could
    be only a matter of opinion.

  • Thank you for your input.

    The good thing about this style/format, is that I can easily switch the entries around.

    I'll certainly stitch things in to - hopefully - impart a more authentic feel.

  • Thanks for taking the time to write.

    Yes, the peas... I may consider excising that. 

    The story is loosely based on Tomohiro Kato - the perpetrator of the Akihabara incident in 2008. I have weaved this tale with some of the tidbits gleaned from articles. I can swap out the names and locations, or simply omit them altogether. Also, it'll be written in English regardless, for I feel the language matters not, as the conveyance of meaning and ideas are the same. Critically, too, I cannot speak Japanese.

  • It appears as though most users simply use this service to publish, not participate in discussions.  

    I was considering submitting a manuscript to a publishing company called Austin Macauley. I've seen their advertisements everywhere, and they seem eager for submissions. Ambivalence sets in, however, when I consider the fact that I can self-publish, through Lulu. Yes, I'd have to do all of my own checks, and designs (unless I'm willing to pay for that stuff), but I think, ultimately, it's preferrable to crossing into the stream of traditional publication.

  • Tomohiro Kato incident? I don't recall that. The problem with news broadcasts is they are limited to time, and the West has its very own similar and much worser things to relate.

  • It appears as though most users simply use this service to publish, not participate in discussions.

     

    True, but that was not always the case because the forums were the first port of call for those who did not know how to do it. It's not simply a place of discussion even though some regulars go down that path at tangents from the original posting. The Knowledge Base has improved immensely and things easier the find in it, but from random samples of Preview reads, far too many people really should seek advice.

     

    I was considering submitting a manuscript to a publishing company called Austin Macauley. I've seen their advertisements everywhere, and they seem eager for submissions.

     

    It's unusual for traditional publishing houses to 'beg' for submissions, they usually get far more than enough without doing so. (Some do though, and when you click the Submit link it usually says > 'Section closed. No more for now thank you.') One has to be beware of some places. I recall one that goes through the usual thing. Synopsis, sample chapters, ("gosh! this is great!") total manuscript, and then starts to ask for money. By the time one has ran the gauntlet, which can take many months (it was by snail-mail in fact) one just shrugs and thinks, "well I have got this far ..." and hands it over, and then more, and even more. That was/is Vanity Publishing pretending not to be and such businesses still exist.

     

    Ambivalence sets in, however, when I consider the fact that I can self-publish, through Lulu. Yes, I'd have to do all of my own checks, and designs (unless I'm willing to pay for that stuff), but I think, ultimately, it's preferrable to crossing into the stream of traditional publication.

     

    It's a daunting task that too many people rush, just wishing to get their 'best book ever' output on the market ASAP. Many ignore the fact that a book's pages should  look exactly like one that's been created by professional traditional publishing houses, who include editing and proofreading, of course, and at the publisher's cost. Some self-publishers use the excuse "it's only the story that matters." No it's not. And another problem can be that some are not even good well-written stories!

     

    And that's where the Lulu forum can help.

  • Thank you for your input.

    The good thing about this style/format, is that I can easily switch the entries around.

    I'll certainly stitch things in to - hopefully - impart a more authentic feel.

     

    Word Processes are the greatest invention since sliced wheels.

  • I may be wrong, Kevin, but I believe that the incident involved a small number of death-cult activists setting off Sarin gas in the Tokyo subway.

  • With that clarification:

     

    There are a couple of things to note here: First, your research must be impeccable. You will need a very clear understanding of Japanese culture, and you will need to at least learn a few common phrases. Beware: There are many pitfall in learning Japanese. There is an entirely different sentence structure depending on whether the speaker is a young man, a middleaged man, an old man, a girl, a woman, an old woman, a boss, a worker, and so forth. Thanking a peer, one might say Domo,  thanking  a parent one might say Arigato, or more properly Domo Arigato, and speaking to your boss, you would say Domo Arigato Gozaimasu. But only a girl will ever say Arigato Domo-so. These sorts of subtle points are likely to be known by your readers.

     

    As an example, my boss was once standing in a hotel lobby here in America, and texted me to ask who ahd done a certain bit of work. I replied, Watashi. Apparently she said out loud, "Who the hell is Watashi?" because someone in the lobby informed her that it means, "This person." If a random stranger in an American hotel lobby is likely to know who Watashi is, your readers may well know also.

     

    You will also need a clear understanding of psychological disorders, because you are writing about a person who has become unbalanced. If you can obtain a copy of the DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, edition 5), you'll find that it will be very helpful.

     

    A second point to consider is that you will be writing about a person who desperately needs help. As a result, people who have similar desperate needs may feel drawn to your book. Some people will disagree with me here, and I acknowledge that we do not all make the same artistic choices. But I feel that the writer has a duty to do no harm to the reader.

     

    You must not merely kindle someone's rage without also showing him the relief of that rage. I believe that a book such as this must offer some kind of hope, even if the protagonist rejects that hope. I think that it should be clear that there are outlets for these sorts of emotions, through counseling, or through friendships, or through catharsis. It is not inevitable that a man who is raised on peas may live a full and wholesome life.

     

    Finally, if you are going to disjoint your timeline, you must be extremely organized. To the reader, it may be jarring and choppy and confused, if you truly want to say that "The media is the message." But to you, it must be as clear as a bell. I would go so far as to suggest writing the story in strict chronological order, and then deciding how to arrange it for the manuscript.

     

    I hope that those points are also helpful.

  • I looked it up, it was some random nutter who went in to a shop with a knife and injured 13 people, the sarin thing was a bunch of terrorists who were arrested before, so it's said, they built a tesla earthquake machine.

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