Day Five #nanowrimo

IMG_6168Words for the day: 2190 (just shy of the 2500 target for today)
T-shirt: Plot Machine (NaNo 2009 official tee)
Best song vibe: “The Power of Love” Frankie Goes to Hollywood (1984)

“He looked up expecting her to be standing there, weirded out at the thought she might be and not exactly relieved when she wasn’t.”

Day Five and almost 18,000 words. Phwoar!

Today was reward day. I decided on the weekend when I hit 15,000 I would treat myself to a massage. So I’ve been working my way toward that. And didn’t my body need it? When I’m done here I’m off to sink into a warm salt bath to ease the pain. Plan is to try and organise a write in-cum-massage afternoon here, either the weekend the middle of NaNo or the final day.

This morning I fronted up to the coffee shop where Christian and Tabitha were scheduled to meet for their first face-to-face in months and I found myself choking up as Christian saw Tabitha bruised and beaten. The conversation didn’t quite go the way I expected it to go, so Christian will be stepping out of the shadows in the 11th hour to get things back to get them both into Dalhousie for the close of the First Act.

I guess though, this puts Tabitha truly out on her own (isn’t that part of the Hero/Virgin’s journey?) She has to decide to go regardless.

Today was the first day I didn’t quite meet my projected daily target. Truth be told, I could sit here for another 15 minutes and bash out the last remaining words but I’m already a grumpy shit and sleep beckons (so does the bath!)

Tomorrow I have my first Writer’s Surgery mentors meeting at the QWC so best I be bright and chirpy. So without further ado, today’s extract.

* * *

“I asked you once when it ended,” she hissed when they stood face-to-face beside the table. “And you said it ended when it ended. You sounded fucking philosophical.”

“Tabitha.”

“Guess it ends here, now, in a fucking café, with a fucking audience.” She turned and glared at those looking at them.

“Tabitha.”

“Go home, Christian.”

“Tabitha.”

“Fuck you.”

And let her go. Her defeated shoulders burnt into his memory. And the way the wind  caught her hair up so it looked as though she was caught in auburn tentacles. He picked up the partially soaked slip of paper, with her precise handwriting on it.

Saturday, April 7th 11:38pm

Joshie had told him, as his small body huddled close to him in the racing car bed, with a tiny shaking voice that barely fought back the dark, that the clock had eaten the woman on his phone. Sitting there, clutching the stained paper, her last memento, he knew something far more sinister, and real, had stolen her away. And he had let it.

Day Four #nanowrimo

Day FourWords for the day: 5240 (as a pretty much an all-day slog)
T-shirt: Ninja House Party
Best song vibe: “Run to You” Bryan Adams (1985)

“Don’t butter your bread on both sides and pretend it won’t hit the floor butter side down.” ~ Mish

Today started off with a bang – literally. Back at the start of NaNo Adam dared me, on the back of the 2011 sex dares, to write a solitary sexual experience. I knew exactly where to slot it in. Then of course one of the characters decided a little self relief in the shower was the order of the day. I thought I’d nicely ticked that box until I rocked up at the page this morning and knew how to wind the original idea into where the new story was headed.

Ahhh, Tabitha what would I do without your wild imagination and your need to escape from real life.

Ramsey strode out onto the page mid-afternoon in all his icky brilliance. I look forward to honing this voice most of all, as it is the most different between the three POV characters. Also to see the world of Dalhousie, his domain, through his eyes.

I wrote what was perhaps the hardest of all the scenes — where Robert thumps Tabitha back into submission when he finds her sneaking back into the house after her ‘night’ at Dalhousie. Where she faces up to what she really wants and makes the commitment to reclaim her life.

PARDON ME, IS THAT A NOVEL YOU’RE WRITING?

What was meant to be a school day, turned into an unexpected writing day (that you will see I milked for the largest possible word count!). A trip to the washing line threw up the next few scenes and around lunch time it dawned on me that BETWEEN PAGES was never going to be a novella.

I had been keeping an eye on the word count and the events as they unfolded. Where the inciting event occurred and how the rest of the events played out around it to make up the first act. And I think I’m pretty spot on. When I overlaid the eight point script progression* (of what I know of the story) it is a snug fit.

Plot Point #1: Opening & Closing Images

I currently have the novel opening with a dream sequence/love letter, from Tabitha to Christian. A monochrome dreamscape of longing and billowing sheets. I do like the idea of thinking of this in a cimematic book end!

Plot Point #2: Inciting Incident

As mentioned earlier, I believe this to be the acceptance letter. This is the event that forces the lives of Tabitha and Christian in an entirely different direction.

Plot Point #3: First Act Break

This where I am almost at and will wrap up with Christian agreeing to go with Tabitha to Dalhousie, though he believes it to be a fantasy Tabitha has dissolved into in the wake of being hit by her husband.

In a movie this is usually accompanied by a change of location and voila… the end of Act One sees Tabitha and Christian move into Dalhousie for the six week residency. (Upon reflection I think the First Act probably ends with Tabitha striking the new deal with Ramsey to allow Christian into the house, which faciliates their move and ultimately her downfall.)

Plot Point #4: the Midpoint

This changes the direction of the story and I think this is probably where Tabitha goes to the sculptor’s room looking for answers to Christian’s bizarre behaviour and his withdrawal from their chamber, only to leave with her new found strength and belief destroyed.

Plot Point #5: the Point of Commitment

When Christian takes Tabitha into the basement and shows her Ramsey’s machine and what he has produced during his secret apprenticeship, Tabitha puts everything behind her to start over with Christian, supporting him to finish his chronometric pulley and her to complete her novel.

Plot Point #6: All Is Lost

Without saying too much, this is where Tabitha is called to honour her debt in a no-win situation.

Plot Point #7: the Climax

There is murder and mayhem, hearts will be given and stolen, two characters will be caught in a frantic game of hide and seek. Three major characters will die, one will be left to attempt an impossible rescue. This is where the short story leaves off with the hope of a happily ever after.

Plot Point #8: the Resolution

The ending will decide what genre it actually is – romance or horror (honestly, this still make me smile until you consider what gothic horror is?) Will the rescue attempt be successful and facilitate a happily ever after? Will the rescue attempt be successful but only to a certain point where happily ever after is a little longer than either anticipate? Will there be no happily ever after, instead history repeating itself?

In Summary

This effectively means I have a plan. Terrifying from the POV of a panster. Liberating from the POV of the poor sod who redrafts ad nauseum to lay flesh on the bare bones. At the very least the basic structure of the novel will hopefully be solid and the pacing about as good as it can be on a first draft. It’s quite exciting.

I’m writing a novel! I’m doing what I said I was too scared to do alone. And I plan to do it all in November.

Before I skip out for another luxurious night of sleep, a little of what came to the page today.

FINAL WORD COUNT FOR TODAY:  15619

***

Superstition suggested the paper felt heavy in his hand. A human life weighed in the handful of pulp, squeezed and pressed and dried and rendered blank. The possibility as palpable as Newton’s theory of potential energy transferred to the thumping human heart and stained in the stroke that bleeds ink from the point of quill into the parchment. The thought made the back of is cold hands tingle and then itch beneath the soft leather gloves.

Five blank contracts sat fanned on his desk. He took one and wrote Tabitha’s name in the top of the contract and the date, pre-dated for the beginning of the residency in four days time and pressed the blotting paper in, enjoying the bloom of the pin pricks of ink. The came the name of her novel — BONE DEEP — pulp drivel about love and dinosaurs (if he correctly translated what she’d outlined in her application letter), in the space identifying the project to which she was contracted to complete during her residency.

Nothing else changed from contract to contract. The confidentiality clause, the release clause all the legalese that lawfully bound them and their projects to him in excruciatingly obtuse language that most failed to read or chose not to read.

He checked the time on his fob, straightened his frock coat, fussing over the froth of lace extending beyond the cuff and then rang for Marie. Several minutes later she arrived at his door flustered.

“Curtsey, slattern!” he boomed and Marie awkwardly bobbed, her head bowed to hide the tears welling in her eyes. “Bring me Miss MacLeod.”

“But I’ve only just served breakfast.”

Ramsey stood and loomed over his desk. “Do I need to cut your tongue from your head to ensure you keep it?” The words, barely loud enough to hear, struck with force.

Marie cowered and shook her head, staring at where the hem of her dress met the floorboards.

“Compose yourself and fetch me Miss MacLeod.”

“Yes, m’laird.” Her voice quivered but she rallied to keep her fear from swallowing the words. Another inelegant bob (and he made a note to have Mrs Myers drill her on etiquette again) and she withdrew from the room, until Ramsey called her back from behind the closing door.

“Don’t make me regret giving you a second chance, lassie.”

“No m’laird.”

The door opened again before Ramsey had time to complete the next contract. Tabitha wore the same bedraggled excitement he had grown used to but there was something else in her. Something that made her even more tantalising in person than on paper. He had overheard one of the resident’s years ago remark on the “Quiet desperation” of one of their colleagues. Yet that underestimated what he saw now and what he had observed over night, and what he felt when a jolt of static electricity zapped him when he took her hand in his to kiss it.

“I don’t think I’ll get used to that,” she said, her hand bothering the medallion at her neck when the drew apart.

“Intriguing necklace,” Ramsey said, as he lowered himself into his seat after her.

“A circuit,” she said, “Well it was.”

“A well-loved gift,” he stated and noted the blush rise in her cheeks.

He handed her the parchment. “Your contract.”

Her eyes flicked back and forth over the tiny hand-printed text, then up and down, and then returned to the top of the page to begin again. The delicate line of her brows drew together.

“There is much to take in, but I am a man who believes in action rather than words. You have seen what Dalhousie offers.” She nodded her head but didn’t look up from the contract. “In exchange for six weeks here the Trust asks only for a completed work from you.”

“You will teach me to spin gold and I will offer up my first born in payment.”

Ramsey threw his head back and the howl of laughed startled her.

“Oh, lassie,” he chuckled, wiping the side of his eyes. “Do I look like Rumpelstiltskin?”

“Do I look like someone who will simply sign away my artistic ownership? My intergrity.”

She wasn’t hungry enough, or was she. He remembered the tempered manner in which she’d approached the initial orientation with the house. She had learned to be careful though it wasn’t born of calculating manipulation but…

That’s what it was. Beneath the excitement. Fear. Caution born of the real consequences of her decisions.

“Miss MacLeod, this contract does not assume the right of ownership over the work you produce here. It merely states that to collect all the benefits of the residency you are required to complete what you started. Otherwise—”

He opened his hands and watched the words sink in.

“Many of us begin but how few of us actually realise our dreams?”

“May I take a copy of the signed contract with me?” she asked, putting the paper down on the desk.

“Each is hand drafted and given each resident arrives without the final commitment to enter into the residency, I have only one for each of you.  But,” he raised his hand to silence her. “I can assure you that upon arrival here next Wednesday I will have a copy for you to study at length, if that is your wish.”

“No spinning gold.”

“I believe you underestimate your worth as an artist, lassie.”

Tabitha smiled and he imagined her climbing, content, into the palm of his hand to dance on the keys of a typewriter. He dipped the quill into the ink well, wiped the residual from the tip and passed it to her.

“Before you do sign though,” he said, as she lowered her head and the quill to sign. “It would be remiss of me not to point out the confidentiality clause. In signing this you provide your promise to not speak of this, to anyone, until the expiration of the residency. You must understand that this…” He paused and rolled the ends of his moustache between his leather fingers. “If everyone were to know the secrets of Dalhousie.”

Tabitha nodded and scratched her name to the bottom of the document. Ramsey passed her the blotting paper, sighed as she pressed the paper against the wet ink. He took the contract from her, folded into three and warmed a wax stub over the flame of the candle on his desk and drew a small circle in melted wax over the edge of the page. He dressed his ring into the wax and the contract was sealed.

“I look forward to seeing you Wednesday evening at 9pm.” He stood to show her out the door. “Nine o’clock is a suitable time, for your family?”

“I think so,” Tabitha said and waves of giddy anticipation rolled off her and Ramsey flexed his hands by his sides. “I won’t disappoint you, Mr Ramsey.”

“You will be grand, lassie. Godspeed.”

He escorted her through the revolving door and left her to walk, alone, down the long driveway. The green of her dress faded slowly into the murk of the night until she was just the faint memory of a chemical rush washing through his veins.

*For more info on the eight plot points see:
How to Write A Script Outline
Step Outlines Can Be Fun

Day Three #nanowrimo

 Day3Words for the day: 2442 (across two sessions)
T-shirt: Self Rescuing Princess
Best song vibe: “Current Stand” Kids in the Kitchen (1985)

I didn’t feel there was much to smile about this morning. My head felt like it was filled with cotton wool when I climbed out of bed and a shower didn’t blow them clean. The words came surprisingly easy but the fuzzy head remained until a power nap late afternoon.

Today, I ensured I wasn’t distracted by other things. Words came first. I got in early and was lucky enough to hook up with Nichole to write the first 1K stretch. Rus was still man-at-large at that stage. (Thanks to the epic time difference I’ve just passed the baton to him now to begin his 3rd day!) However I did wait until the end of the day to finish off my words, determined to get all the other chores out the way first.

What was the best bit of today: feeling like I was actually writing. I got a total immersion morning and the sense of being in the flow of things, rather than forcing words onto the page, gave the impression of writing. And in doing that, in being in the rhythm the words, there was raw beauty. Or perhaps it was hitting the dark stuff.

I’ll leave it for you to decide!

***

A bell sounded, two short rings. The gaslights dipped and extinguished, plunging the room into darkness. The light from the candle lit a column of air above the desk and Tabitha saw in the liminal space where the light became dark, a bell, attached to a cable, hanging from a hook and beneath it, an hour glass secured within a metal frame. The bell rang a second time and Tabitha moved toward the corner, ignoring the pull in her guts that reminded her she was terrified of the dark. Tabitha took the candle and climbed onto the chair, deciding she didn’t trust the stability of the desk and reached the candle up into darkness to confirm what she thought she had seen. The cable jerked and the sound of the bell filled the room again. The hourglass turned and the floor shuddered. Tabitha reached out to steady herself against the wall, the chair beneath her moving as though it were on wheels. A cold draft whistled through the room, bothering the candle flame and Tabitha was torn between keeping her balance and protecting her only source of light.

The smell of ozone and oil stole away that of emptiness that had permeated the room and Tabitha shuddered. Somewhere beyond her room, she could hear gears straining and grinding. Tabitha fought to hold her bladder as the floor shook, the hungry draught snapped at the candle and the smell of ozone burnt her lungs leaving her gasping for clean air. She fought the sense of trapped within a meat grinder, on the verge of ceasing to exist. And then as suddenly as it began it stopped and everything was still and silent. The only smell, her nervous sweat filtering out from the soaking seam of her dress, when she climbed down off the chair. First she carefully placed the candle on the desk and only then, did she pull the heavy velvet curtain aside.

Beyond the window, where she expected to see the muted monochrome of the fancy gardens and the expanse of lawn, where the pinprick of stars and the breath of the moon had fought the sodium glow of the city’s lights and the world had been when she walked in less than an ago, nothing existed. A darkness of the most intense hue it existed as an absence and hurt to look into. A darkness that inhaled you. Dissolved.

Her fingers, alabaster against the nothingness, splayed against the icy glass in a wordless plea. A stop-motion SOS to the world stolen away.

Desolation and abandonment poured in and filled her like a waiting amphora before her thoughts could reconcile the real with the surreal.

Where had she let Ramsey take her?

CUMULATIVE WORD COUNT: 10359

Day Two #nanowrimo

IMG_6148Words for the day: 2745 (across two sessions)
T-shirt: The Book Was Better
Best song vibe: “Pressure” Billy Joel (1982)

Today’s goal was to hit the 7500 in total. I stupidly thought it would be easy because I knew exactly what was going to happen today. Tabitha was off to meet Ramsey for the first time, to set foot inside Dalhousie on the orientation evening she speaks about in her email. What took up perhaps a paragraph in the jettisoned emailed fleshed out most of today’s word count.

It totally sucked and emphasised my previous thoughts about me not ever being a plotter. it took forever to get the 2700 odd words out.

The introduction to the house and to Ramsey is dodgy at best, but it is there to be honed in the future. I can see the bare bones of what it will be. The house looming up all spooky and Ramsey materialising from the shadows looking at his fobwatch.

Tomorrow it’s what goes on in the room and the Tabitha’s realisation she can have it all and more.

What struck me as I reached the end of the word count today was Tabitha’s diary says she took Christian with her into the house so they could play out their affair in the relative safety of the house. But writing tonight, I saw that wasn’t the real reason. Tabitha takes Christian into the house so she won’t be alone or outcast in the midst of people who are confident in themselves and their art.

She’s not the strong sassy woman she writes as in her diary. She is full of self doubt, riddled with fear. She is endlessly lost in fantasies of a different life and always coming up short when her fantasies fall well beyond that of reality. In this, she will have a good character arc as the time with Christian will empower her to believe in herself, to be stronger. To strip away the version of herself she detests. She refers to herself as a disaffected mother, a scared wife, bored part-time tutor and disillusioned writer.

Oh, and the sculptor finally introduced himself: John Hardgrave. But as we know, he will always and only ever be, ‘the sculptor’. Not surprising, within minutes of him and Tabitha meeting they are at each other!

***

Here is a small taster from today:

Tabitha swallowed hard, clutching the purse to her stomach as though she could push the dread brewing there back in.

“I have a family. It isn’t possible for me to spend all night here. They –”

“What if I were to ask you to trust me, Miss MacLeod.”

Never trust a man who says, trust me. Especially if he has it on his tie. Joel had that fucking Garfield tie with trust me on it and look where that ended up. Jesus, what was I thinking in coming here?

“I’ll need to make a phone call,” Tabitha said, knowing it was a lie but one that would buy her five minutes to think. Enough time to, at the very least, send Christian a message in the event she became the next victim in a mass murder or disappeared off the face of the earth never to be seen again.

“I say we trust, Ramsey,” the sculptor said. “What do you have to loose, Miss MacLeod.”

She hated the way he emphasised the Miss in her name, as if calling her out in the ruse of a double identity.

“There is no we here,” Tabitha bit back. “You don’t speak for me.”

The sculptor shrugged. “Call a taxi then and let the rest of us get on with the business of being here.”

Tabitha rankled at his suggestion that she was somehow expendable, inferior to the rest of them.

Ramsey walked over to her. “I appreciate your concern and your reluctance. But I cannot emphasis how important it is to me, to have you as part of this residency, Tabitha. For what you will bring to this group.” He offered his hand to her. “May, I ask you reconsider and come with us upstairs.”

The young maid reappeared and her tray was quickly filled with empty glasses and she was gone again.

“Fuck it,” Gordo-Ham, the one in the seventies shirt, said. “I’m in.”

“And me,” Becca and Ham-Gordo said in stereo.

All eyes were on her, as though the entire thing would fall apart if she dared to say no.

“Lay on, McDuff,” she said, attempting to lighten the mood, drawing on the fantasy version of herself who was radiant and socially adept but failing dismally in quoting McBeth’s death words.

“And damn’d be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough!’” finished Ramsey, the curve of his moustache going up with the smile punctuating his words. He closed his hand around hers and together they lead the group  toward the sweeping staircase at the end of the foyer. As they climbed the heavy-carpeted stairs he leaned in to whisper in her ear, “You are the first to not misquote the bonnie bard, lassie.”

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

“Aye, lassie. Protest too much indeed.”

NaNo Bound

nanowrimo2It’s time. Time to return to the madness that is the National Novel Writing Month.

Last year I had spent most of the year writing and had just completed the final edits on Elyora/River of Bones and didn’t feel NaNo was the thing for me. I also spent the first ten days travelling and I just wanted to enjoy the time away. In 2011, NaNo was the straw that broke the camel’s back (so to speak). When I had to concede I just couldn’t write and I pulled the pin less than half way through it was like pulling the pin on a hand grenade and I imploded. It was the start of the second serious bout of depression I suffered through in 2011.

Ironically, what I wrote in the year I didn’t ‘win’ provided the only published work from a NaNo adventure to date. A section of the opening story in Seeker Lover Keeper became the vignette ‘Intersected’ published in the first issue of Vine Leaves Literary Journal.

In 2013

So this year, I’d been toying for a bit as to what November would hold for me. Would I? Wouldn’t I? It was seeing that Rus Vanwestervelt was planning on doing it, that pushed me over the line. I needed a writing buddy. Someone I could confide the dark corners of the story to. Someone I know who will be an awesome inspiration. And that’s Rus and more.

The plan is to write a novella length adaptation of my steampunk romance ‘Between Minutes’. From my NaNo pages:

A passionate love affair.
An impossible house.
The opportunity of a life time.

The six-week creative programme offered at “Dalhousie” is like no other in the world. Tabitha’s offer of a place in the programme is the opportunity she and her secret lover, Christian, have dreamed of. A chance to escape into a Bohemia of naked passion for music, words and each other, where the pressures and frustrations of their suburban lives have no place.

But Bohemia has its limitations. The claustrophobia of the house and it’s Victorian workings, fuelled by Christian’s obsession with the future, Tabitha’s entrenchment in the past and the competing motivations of the other residents, threaten to unhinge their sanity and commitment to each other.

When Tabitha is called to honour the undefined debt in her contract, the cost of the residency will be more than a minute of their mundane existence on the outside.

Born between the promise of mad machines and crumpled sheets, “Between Minutes” is a dark, erotic meta-steampunk novella of cognitive dissonance.

It’s not a perfect little (*cough*) blurb but it is a start. I haven’t yet decided if I will go toward the romance, happily ever after bent, or the darker horror version. The original short story walks the path between the two.

Ready, Set…

With less than half an hour until kick off I am happy to say I have:

  • an extensive playlist of early 80’s music (it all started with a single Kids in the Kitchen song!)
  • a tidy writing space
  • the relevant bits of the original story (and it’s plethora of earlier drafts) printed off
  • ‘What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew’ bought and loaded onto my Sony

And the best bit of all, this close to things starting… the characters have begun to talk. I always imagined it beginning with Tabitha talking with her closest friend Mish and that’s where I’ll be beginning tonight.

Throughout November I will be snapping a photo a day, noting the tshirt d’jour (sadly I don’t have 30 different ones but it will be close!) and hopefully putting up a snippet of work.

The plan is to write every day, in the morning. I know it is possible.

Do I want the 50,000 words? Well yeah, that would be nice but more important to me is a completed novella. I am aiming for 30,000. It may end up at 40,000. It may go all the way to 50,000. Anything is possible. If I finish with words to spare I will jump back in to my birthpunk novella.

Now… time to go boil the kettle, do a dozen start jumps and wake myself up, ready to put the opening pages down before bed tonight.

Day 8 Extract: Introducing Lucas Gardiner

This is the raw and mostly unedited opening scene of Lucas’s story (the third story in my set)… located in South Brisbane. The moment with the men’s choir comes direct from my own experience, hurrying up the road on the way to South Bank Station in late September, on my way to Conflux in Canberra!

Lucas stopped on the corner of Hope Street trying to work out where the voices came from. They cut an unexpected harmonic through the monotonous growl of idling engines punctuated by moments of loud music as a car sped past against the growing snarl of traffic.

The voices weren’t coming from the ugly white block of the TLC building on the other side of Peel Street. The building which temporarily became a church when Father Peter Kennedy’s mob lost their bid to keep him at St Mary’s and they opened space for him to continue to say Mass there. Luke hadn’t been to Mass in years, but Ally insisted they go and he sat there, imaging his bum on the seat as a finger to the Catholic Church. The middle finger. He liked that idea. And now they were outsing Father Bob down in South Melbourne. The local dioceses really were hell bent on emptying out their churches. Even he’d be hard pressed to sell the Catholic church back to its flock these days.

The crunch of steel against concrete reminded him the corner behind him, once a car park, was now a construction site – 25 more storeys of two bedroom apartments,  almost inner city apartments, vapid glass and steel vying for its place in the changing South Brisbane skyline. At least they didn’t knock down the halfway house beside – just the odd block of shops adjoining the car park, where he used to stop in and get flowers for Ally when they first dated.

The corner to his right stood vacant, except for the towering concrete support of bridge which took the train into South Brisbane station, posters in varying stages of decay clinging to the greyness.

He pushed his sunglasses down his nose to look closer at the newish grey building dead ahead, the voices stopping under his scrutiny, as though their song wasn’t intended for anyone, least of all a soulless advertising exec, standing there having a moment on the street corner. Like voices hushing and shutters slamming shut against the plague in a movie. But the shutters weren’t closed, they were all open, an entire wall of louvres, lining the side of the building facing him. A horizontal bank of shelves set up to catch the afternoon breeze. How was it he’d never seen that aspect of the building before?

Luke marvelled at the way the late afternoon sun lavished the wooden louvres with golden hues, caressing them with the care and attention of a lover. A money shot if he’d ever seen one, and he’d seen plenty in his ten years in advertising. He reached around for his camera and remembered he no longer carried it. When was the last time he carried a camera? He couldn’t honestly remember. He wouldn’t defile the beauty it with a dinky shot taken on his iPhone. It deserved better anyway. Better than him and his world framed by advertising hype.

The voices started again and he realised that beyond the wooden shutters, a men’s choir congregated, rows and rows of them, looking like a living jigsaw through the louvres. They all wore odd looking vestments, colours constantly shifting in the filter of the sun. The voices rose and swelled, words woven with harmony; music for the pure joy of it, not because someone paid them to do it.

Goose bumps pricked up beneath his Industrie shirt and down his arm, beyond the rolled up cuff, a million hillock spawning toward his wrist.

He ran his hand through his hair, pushed the sunglasses back up onto the bridge of his nose. Christ he needed a sea change if he was caught on a street corner, in peak hour traffic, having a heightened moment of experience from a men’s choir. Maybe he’d sucked up too many exhaust fumes. Or perhaps he was facing up to his own burn out.

Day IV Extract: More Amanda

I’ve decided to convert Amanda’s story to 1st person POV so this will be the last post you get with it written in 3rd person.

Today I combined elements of my public transport adventure and wander through the mall on the way to meet up with Tracey O’Hara, with Amanda’s story. I’m still try to pin her down as a character, she’s very changeable, but I’m wondering now if she has a rather mercurial nature?

Here we find her in peak hour bus hell.

– – –

A woman with bad body odour and a lime green dress with black pokadots sat down next to her, the dress clinging to and emphasising all the wrong curves of her body. She wore a long black crocheted vest with it and a pink satin flower in her hair. It was like, she was a day late trying find her way to Eagle Farm for race day. No the woman wasn’t a fashionista with an eating problem – just some wack-job with bad taste in clothing. The whole get up screamed ‘wrong’: go home, go directly home, stay inside the house, do not inflict this on the general public.

Her arms flapped as she dug into a huge handbag, spreading the stink of her B.O. as she trawled through the overstuffed thing, disgorging the conents onto her lap when she couldn’t find what she was looking for. Amanda gagged at the smell and the sight of auburn tufts of hair in her arm pits. She turned back to the look out at the platform again, looking for the English guy, wondering if he lived here or if he was backpacking. She couldn’t see him, the commuter crowd had swallowed him alive. She hoped he found his way and at the same time, got rid of the snail trails of crusted drool around his mouth and chin.

She heard the hiss of a can and turned. The woman moved a can of Impulse around her, disappearing in a fog of body spray, with each protracted spray -as though she’d suddenly become aware of how bad she smelt and was doing an agent-orange styled dousing.

Amanda sneezed. The woman looked at her and kept spraying. Amanda sneezed again.

Could the afternoon get any worse. She sneezed again, wishing she had the guts to tell the woman to put the fucking can down. Her eyes began to sting and burn. She’d never had an allergy or reaction to anything before. Rather than the Impulse (she’s worn plenty of it in her time) she was certain the reaction was telling her to move away from the badly dressed woman.

“I think the young lady next to you might have an allergy to your perfume,” a woman in a business suit, standing next to them said. Amanda pushed the sleeves of her hoodie into her eyes when her travelling companion looked at her, with the same determination on her face, as though she would recommence spraying despite what the other suit had said.

“It’s not perfume.”

Amanda bit her bottom lip. Whatever the fuck she wanted to call it it wasn’t agreeing with her. Someone else close by coughed. She preferred the stink of the woman’s detoxing body, without the Impulse over lay now, simply because it didn’t make her eyes burn or nose itch.

“Perhaps you can wait until you get off,” the business suit continued. “I think we’d all appreciate it.”

The woman held the can, uncapped and Amanda, thought about karma and how karma was going to get this woman if she didn’t put the fucking can away.