Thursday, March 26, 2009

work in progress


Today this blog turns two years old. When I wrote my first post on March 26, 2007 I was living a very different life than I am now. So what better time to talk about that life a little bit more?


This is the beginning of the book I'm writing. Some of you may have seen it before and it's virtually unchanged, since I'm trying really hard to knock out a first draft before I go back and start my compulsive tweaking. I'd really love to know what you think. Is this a book you'd keep reading?


In the end, really, it was all a lie. I suspected it at the time and couldn’t prove it, but as time went on it all fell into place, one puzzle piece at a time. You’d think the fact that I knew it was all a farce would have softened the punch a little, but it didn’t. It made it worse, to tell the truth. If there’s a rattlesnake coiled up two feet away from you that is looking in your direction and the person who supposedly loves you assures you it’s only a corn snake and it won’t hurt you, you don’t worry as much. And this is your first mistake.



See, what happened was this. My husband sat me down one day out of the blue and said these words to me:



“We have to fix our marriage or end it.”



He had that look on his face he gets when he’s put something off for a long time and really doesn’t want to face it, like the time he took over paying the bills and accidentally paid the gas bill four times but forgot to pay the electric. It was pitch black in the house when he was trying to explain the situation to me, but I knew the look was there. It’s a look I’ve grown accustomed to over the course of twenty years. It’s the look that says “I’ve screwed up but I’m going to find a way to make it your fault.”



That was actually written into our marriage contract, the clause about everything being my fault. I don’t remember the exact wording, but it was something to the effect that he had retained the law firm of Dodge, Divert and Deflect to keep him from ever expressing an opinion one way or another and when I had no choice but to make a decision, it would then be held against me forever in the emotional equivalent of Marco Polo. (Remember Marco Polo? As a real California kid, I grew up playing this pool hide and seek game. You swim blindly underwater trying to tag people who can see you coming the whole time. Every now and then – when you’re desperate – you come up for air and yell “Marco!” and they answer “Polo!”, ostensibly to tell you where they are, but then they move away as quickly as they can and you keep swimming hopefully toward them until you drown. Because you never catch them. They always get away. That’s the way the game is set up.)



This all ran through my head sitting at my kitchen table hearing what I took as an ultimatum coming out of my husband’s mouth. Fix it or end it? Could he be a little more specific? What exactly was it that he thought was broken? The kids were all in the other room, so I knew he was speaking to me. He was still talking. At least his lips appeared to be moving. He reached out and took hold of my hand, as a few of the times he’d had this particular look on his face flashed through my mind.



There was the time he’d sworn he had made the car payment on time and then I caught him frantically trying to do it on-line before I noticed. The time he insisted he’d stuck to his low-carb diet, yet had part of a jelly donut smeared on the outer corner of his lip. Or how about when he was an hour late picking me up from the airport and blamed it on the traffic, only for me to find out later that he hadn’t even left the house for the thirty minute drive until ten minutes after my plane had landed?



“I’m at the point in my life,” he was saying, “where I’m really looking at where I am and where I want to go. I love you, and I want us to stay married, but I want to make it better. I want to have a different kind of marriage than we do. I want us to be closer and do more things together. You're the woman I want to grow old with, so I’m really ready to put the time and effort into making this the best possible marriage it can be. I’m willing if you are”.



And that’s when I knew he was leaving me.

27 comments:

Wisewebwoman said...

It reads well, it reads even better if you omit the marriage clause paragraph.
XO
WWW

Faye said...

I like your short flatout sentences. They suit the "and this was the way it was when I knew" realization that things were over. Are you working backwards from this point? Or, are you jumping back to the beginnings and filling in the blanks?

my two cents said...

Happy Birthday, Blog! Obviously I would keep reading and I think I even know most of the story. Keep writing!!

Maggie May said...

Happy second anniversary!

Yes, I would read your book.
Just a thought though...... are you going to give ALL the facts in the beginning? It might pay to keep people dangling till the end, before you disclose whether he left you or not. (If you are going back to the beginning after that opening statement, that is.) I think there needs to be some disclosure at the end that leaves people a bit shocked, in any book. You know, something that keeps people guessing, though I am no expert.
Keep writing.

The Finely Tuned Woman said...

I would keep reading, because I would be very curious how you told the story of your marriage and what your take on it was. I would want to analyze it, I guess.

WT said...

Happy Blogiversary.

lv4921391 said...

RC it's good...your writing style for this seems to be the "movie flash back" technique to me...i flashback...

seashmore said...

I like your style. I don't know the details of your story, but most divorces I am familiar with stretched out. I like how the short, sharp sentences you use contrasts that.

One thing that would make this particular excerpt more interesting is to describe the scene a little more. Was it a kitchen table with dinner dishes all over it? Were you sitting on the couch in the living room? That sort of thing.

CC said...

I like it! Keep writing. It seems a wise decision to leave the tweaking until after you've got the whole first draft out.
And happy birthday blog!

softinthehead said...

I agree with Maggie about keeping a little mystery because as I remember I was shocked and saddened . :) I would definitely read on RC. Many happy returns for today.

Teena in Toronto said...

Sounds good!

Happy blogoversary!

laurie said...

the marco polo stuff doesn't make sense to me. it might just be a california game..

Potty Mummy said...

Happy Birthday. And it reads well - I want to see what happens next (even though of course I have a pretty good idea of how it ends...)

Katy said...

Very good writing, but I agree with Seashomre - to make this truly a novel you need to place your narritive somewhere.

Its not easy and the thing that always drove me insane when I tried to move from writing poetry to writing short stories. I gave up declarinig it impossible. I hope you don't though, you have a good story to tell. And a very good begining.

Kaytabug said...

I love it! I want more.
I LOVED the marriage clause part, and I get the comparison to marco polo, don't get rid of it or the marriage clause part!!!

I grew up in KS and we played marco polo!

Happy 2 year Blogiversary!!!

speccy said...

I've been reading here for ages and, like softinthehead, I was shocked and saddened when you told us about the marriage guidance and the divorce. But this opening? is great. I so want to keep reading. I'm curious about how you got to that point, despite all the misgivings, and about where 'now', or 'the end of the story' is.
Didn't get the marco polo thing- too cold in Ireland!
Oh, and many happy returns!

aims said...

Girl - I've been telling you forever to write because you can.

You know I'd read it.

Kudos on the anniversary. You've kept a lot of us in many emotional stages over this period. I for one always come back for more.

auntiegwen said...

Happy Blogiversary

I would definitely read it because thousands of miles away in June 2006, my husband of 18 years and father of my 3 children was telling me the same thing.

And if it happened to us, how many other women will be able to identify with your story too ?

Akelamalu said...

Happy Blogversary and good luck with the book. :)

MarmiteToasty said...

:) you used the same 2nd birthday photo as I did a few months ago when Twaddle turned 2 :)..... great minds think alike....

and my goodness, I thought you had been blobbing for years, so professional and beautiful over here....

Happy Blob anniversary, may you stick around for many years to come...... I dont always comment but I hang out here like a sweaty sock in a teenagers bedroom LOL

x

Pamela said...

I would keep reading.

Mya said...

Happy second blogiversary RC!
I would definitely keep reading. I agree totally with Aims. Talent will out.

Mya x

skywind said...

Oh, birthday cake, 2-year-old birthday cake.
Health information
Humor & Fun World

Cath said...

I just think you are gifted. And I am not an ego-stroker. I was riveted from the first sentence and if you can continue in that vein, don't change a thing.

Happy second anniversary!

Cath said...

PS - really, the bit where you said his lips were moving etc. - I was right with you there. Truly. Just felt your complete mind numbing shock.

It's good.

Kayleigh said...

Your writing really grabbed me, I don't know the story and felt like I wanted to keep reading to find out. You have a knack for turning a phrase and a great sense of irony -- both VERY compelling.

This is nonfiction, yet I think "show don't tell" can still apply. Like when you first said he had a look on his face similar to when he puts things off and then described him messing up paying the bill...that was great, but I think you may have muddied it when you also attributed that same look to him making things your fault. I think it might be more interesting if you let his penchant for twisting things into being your fault sort of reveal itself via his actions, rather than your assessment. Trust your reader to get it (and I know MANY of us do, oh yes, lol)

That last paragraph, and then the subsequent final sentence, were brilliantly done...it really hit me and made me want to read on.

Hope you post more of your work in progress here...you are very talented and I am incredibly curious to see how it all turns out :D

Anonymous said...

Jules, liked the piece overall, but did not like the beginning, 'specailly the analogy of the snake, although I "get" it. I agree with other posters that you need to fill in details - we need a setting in which to place you and your husband and we don't have one so far. Call me if you want to discuss it. QFE