Making the cut

I’m going through my book, again, and mercilessly slashing it to bits. I have a bad habit of keeping things in solely because I wrote it. I’m a genius, after all. Only I’m not. I can’t even fool myself into thinking that.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read and reread each single line. Some are great, some need a little bit of polishing, and some are crap. On one particular paragraph I added this little note: Who cares?! Shorten or delete paragraph! There are other lines and paragraphs that I have marked as needing to be cut out. Those parts have bothered me, but I resisted. Enough is enough! I’m taking care of business now.

I’m finding it difficult to delete those words I worked so hard to write. I’m discovering that not everything I wrote is worth saving. I say I’m discovering that fact, but the truth is that I already knew. I guess what I should say is that I’m finally accepting that I need to be a little more discerning as to what makes the final cut of the story.

I’ve read, and I’ve cut, and I’ve rewritten and finagled spelling, grammar, syntax and I’m still not satisfied. As a whole, I’m pleased with the story, but there are those places that cause me distress. I’ve reprinted the whole book, or I’m in the process of doing so, and it comes in at 400 pages, double-spaced. I want to trim that down some.

I’m only on the second chapter, but I’ve managed to cut out maybe a thousand words. I’ve cut out a secondary character’s story arc, one that adds nothing to move the plot forward. There’s another character that needs to be rewritten. I haven’t figured out how I’m going to do that. It’s a puzzle that I need to put together, and I have no idea how the finished picture is supposed to look like. I’m a little stressed.

I’m going to continue reading and making my notes, tweaking it so that I can finally send it to someone to proofread. I’ll correct as many of those as I can find, but I’m sure there has to be several stupid mistakes per page. I can’t wait to be done with this. Why did I think I could do this? I must be mad.

I’m also really tired.

Lonely Isle

I live upon an island
set in a swirling sea of gray
of life that lingers on
though time I see is fleeting.
I walk through a fogged jungle
dodging, parrying, feinting, thrusting
must that I marshal my defenses
as I go about this life I live.

Though my island is but a bubble
bobbing in the transverse sea
lonely in a crowded world
shivering through the heat of day.
I pray as I’m preyed and devoured
yearning to find some solace
in the solitude of my lonely isle
beset by many who dare invade.

Short Stories

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Previous story – Recycled

Short Story: Recycled

Blake sometimes wondered why the company required them to work in such a sterile environment, considering what they did. Before entering, they were required to bathe, ensuring no contaminates would enter the facility. Then they put on a sterile one-piece jumpsuit which covered them from the neck down to their feet. White rubber boots were then fitted,  then a headpiece which left only the eyes exposed. The last thing put on were a pair of goggles. Gloves were put on at the work station.

At eight every morning, Blake, along with her work partner Jensen, walked to their station. They waited until five after before the system came to life. They worked from a control panel, in front of which stood a sealed chamber of reinforced concrete and two-inch shatterproof safety glass. There was no way in, and theoretically no way for anything to get out, which made the safety requirements all the more puzzling.

“Another day,” Jensen said flatly,

“…another group recycled,” Blake whispered. Pushing a button, a door on the ceiling opened up, and something fell in, a broken tangle of limbs of what used to be a woman. A pair of robotic arms pushed the corpse onto the conveyor where the body was moved into view, in front of the pair.

“Oh, the joys of harvesting,” Jensen said in a bored drawl. “Imagine, one day we’ll be on the other side of this glass.”

“And cracking jokes about it, no doubt.”

Jensen grunted as he used a joystick to control a robotic arm. Meticulously, they removed every stitch of clothing, which in the corpses cases was a thin hospital gown. The subject, a young woman in her early twenties, lay there as Jensen eyed her hungrily. “You know, I’d totally do her, you know, if she was still alive.”

“You’d do her dead, no doubt. That’s probably why they’re on that side of the wall and we’re on this side.”

“That’s a bit out there, even for me. Still, what would it be like to screw a stiff?”

“I think maybe you need a new job, looking at live specimens.”

“Live girls fight back,” Jensen joked. “But even if I wanted to, what else am I qualified to do? We’re stuck here, you know?”

“I know,” Blake moaned. The corpse moved along the conveyor belt until it rested in front of her. Another body, this time of an elderly man fell through the opening, and came to rest in front of Jensen. Blake studied the girl carefully, removing any metal from her, earrings, tooth filling, and the like. She studied an x-ray to see if any metal rods or screws had been implanted.

A few minutes later, with only a few rings and one gold filling placed in a sealed bag, she injected the body with a liquid desiccant, to aid in drying out the body. With a push of another button, the girl’s body was pushed off onto a cart. The process was repeated until the cart held ten bodies, and then carted off to the drying room, where the bodies fluids were collected, purified, and then introduced back into the water supply.

“You know,” Blake spoke up again after almost an hour of absolute silence, “that we used to bury the dead.”

“Why the hell would we do that?” Jensen replied. “Seems like a waste of resources to me.”

“I think it’s fascinating,” Blake countered. “We once respected the remains of our loved ones.”

“What’s the point?”

“The point? The bodies would rot away and rejoin with the Earth. I think it’s a romantic notion.”

“Romantic my ass. This way is more efficient, and has the added benefit of not polluting the environment. We collect everything there is to collect, water, minerals, and whatever chemicals. All pathogens are destroyed. All that’s left is pure, clean materials that we can use to build our future.”

“And the fact that we may be consuming our loved ones doesn’t bother you?

“You’re being such a woman, B. Too emotional and melodramatic. We’re nothing but a matrix of organic compounds blundering about the world, mucking along until such a time that we’re called to be culled. It’s no big deal.”

“No big deal?” Blake asked incredulously. “It’s a big deal! We’re more than the sum of our parts, and our ancestors understood that. Now? We’re just a resource in potentia. A resource only to be harvested upon our death. Reduces the meaning of life to nil.”

“There is no inherent meaning to life, B,” Jensen argued as he striped another corpse. “We live, we die, and then that’s that. There is no hereafter, no afterlife. Those who believe otherwise are blind fools.”

“Are they?” Blake responded. “I’m not so sure anymore. If this is all there is, existence is pretty bleak.”

“That I can’t argue with.”

“Finally, something we agree with.”

The day remained uneventful until almost two. A body fell through the opening and promptly stood up. ” Oh look,” Jensen said gleefully. “I forgot about him.”

“Another execution?” Blake moaned. “Why aren’t they killed before they get here?”

“Why waste the resource?” Jensen pushed a couple of buttons, and then with the joystick aimed and fired a projectile into the condemned. It injected him with the liquid desiccant and within moments he fell to the ground, dehydration rapidly disabling him. Jensen proceeded to strip him of his clothing before Blake took over, removing all metallic objects from his body. The condemned shook, trying to break free, but the desiccant left him unable to use his muscles.

“Such a shame to torture him this way.” Blake protested feebly.

Jensen grunted. “Then he shouldn’t have done whatever it was he was found guilty of doing.

At three, they began disinfecting the chamber, and by fifteen til four, they were back in the changing area, their jumpsuits stripped and placed in the chutes that led to an incinerator. By four-thirty, they both had showered and dressed in their own clothes and headed home. Tomorrow they would begin to disassemble the dried remains of today’s batch, feeding the massive grinder which would pulverize the remains into dust, before placing the dust into the kilns to be fired, dried, and sterilized before shipping to the next facility to process and refine into useable materials.

As Blake sat down and pulled out a biscuit to snack on, she shuddered and wondered if she was eating the remains of someone she had harvested. There was no way to know, but the thought creeped her out as she took a bite. If I’m eating someone, she thought, at least they’re delicious.

Short Stories

Next story – Lonely Isle
Previous story – Segovia’s Revenge

Recharged and looking forward

I haven’t been updating as frequently as I should. I’m sorry about that. It’s just that I haven’t had much going on as of late. I didn’t feel like repeating myself. My posts were becoming redundant. I felt that taking some time away was the right thing to do.

So now I’m back, feeling recharged, and raring to go. My vacation was relaxing, though too short. I’m back at work now, and even there I’m wondering if there’s a change in my future. I wish I could elaborate, but I’m not sure what it is. It’s just a general sense that change is on the horizon. Maybe it’s a move up, a lateral more, or me deciding to move on, but something is coming.

On that note, I’ve been thinking a bit about my own future. I’ve talked some about how money has never been my prime motivator. It still isn’t, but I’m coming to a point in my life where I need a relatively massive influx of money. I’ll be 39 next month. I want a house, a car, in short, I want my life back on track.

Career-wise, I feel as though I have stalled. I’m comfortable in that I know what I’m doing, and I know my co-workers and feel comfortable around them. Comfort is not enough. I look at my work-in-progress, and I realize that what I want to do is write and maybe make enough to fund my life. I don’t believe I’ll become wealthy, but I would like to make enough to perhaps go back to college.

Retail is a game of numbers, and I don’t have that desire. Again, money is not a motivator. I don’t have a head for business, and though I’m good at what I do, there’s also a lot of things that I fail at, namely customer and co-worker interaction, playing the office-political game, and just doing what I’m told vs. what I think needs to be done. I forget that I’m not free to do my own thing. My manager, as agent of the company I work for, dictates what I do. I hate that.

I’m not clear on what I should do, only that I should do something new. There’s a part of me that yearns for an adventure, a new direction in my life. I have no one in my life, no anchor, nothing to hold me back. There are experiences I want to have. I just need to be bold enough to find them.

Which has always been problematic for me. I’m not what you might consider a go-getter. I’m content, for the most part, to remain at home and chill. I don’t usually need a lot of excitement. I’m best when I have few distractions. I hate being overwhelmed by the world at large. It’s the great paradox of my existence.

I hope to have this figured out soon. I’m ready for a change. I’m also ready to buckle down and get back to writing.

I’m home

I’m sad to announce that my vacation will officially be over tomorrow morning at 5:45 a.m. While I understand that it in no way affects you, I’m still announcing this because I’m feeling sad. I know being employed is preferable to being unemployed, I’m just complaining that time on vacation seems to pass so much quicker than time spent at work.

With that in mind, I want to recap what I’ve done, writing-wise, on my vacation. I spent a few hours on my wip and I got around to writing my review of 3 Kisses newest release. All that talk of getting caught up? Forget it! I did get a considerable amount done, but not enough. I’m okay with that. I finally got over this illness that kept me from doing much for the past month. I knew getting away would help.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back to my routine. In fact, I’ll have the house to myself for the next few days. I think the quiet will do me some good and that I’ll get more accomplished. I’m hoping. at least. For now, I’m getting all my laundry washed and put away. Also, I’m relaxing for a bit before I head on to bed and, I pray, get some much needed sleep before my return to reality.