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writing by curiositykate
History 
26th-Aug-2004 08:14 am
MISC; violent sensual & sensitive
You watch her fill the kettle, tired and forlorn, and you can picture her as a child, dressed in peach-coloured silk, feigning attention for anybody offering two dollars, or, even better, a peppermint. She dances on her star feet, decadant and unreal.

Now, in the real world, she attempts to mollify her little daughter, history repeating itself. Hot chocolate spills from chipped coffee mugs, and she wipes it up with a paper napkin. Her smile is one thing that hasn’t changed.

Behind her, ivy grows in through the kitchen window.

[for a prompt on same_oh]
Comments 
26th-Aug-2004 01:24 am (UTC)
Mm. I shudder. Very nice. Growth and decay is a topic I love to read, although I’ve never tackled it myself. so many grand novels tackle it, but it’s wonderful to see it captured in so few words.

Can I make a suggestion about comma use? When you say “a child, dressed in peach-coloured silk, feigning attention” it’s perfectly correct, but I think you’re losing some of the impact of “peach-coloured silk”—it brings out the youthfulness and vibrancy of the child, but when you put it between parentheses (commas in this case) it feels less important. If you were to say “a child dressed in peach-coloured silk” you change the sense slightly, making the silk an integral part of the child. However, if you were to do that, the grammar of “feigning attention for anybody...” becomes wrong: you would have tol make it “...a child dressed in peach-coloured silk, who feigned attention for anybody...”, which you may think ends up looking uglier.

It might be six of one and half a dozen of the other with this suggestion, in fact it probably is, but I think it’s worthwhile being this pernickety sometimes about commas, because it can be possible to change the sense of a phrase entirely just by leaving one out or putting one in, and sometimes you may love the result.

(Incidentally, and I’m not entirely sure about this one, I think “or even better, a peppermint” is grammatically incorrect. When speaking, people often do phrase that phrase like that, but it’s colloquial: “even better” is a parenthetical clause, and so there should be a comma either side of it: “or, even better, a peppermint”.)

Good lord . . . I’ve just spent my first fifteen minutes at work writing a discussion of comma use in a small part of a single sentence. Should I worry?

As I said, I liked this a great deal. I seem to find it quite difficult to point out all the things I do like and end up going on and on about one small thing I don’t, so here’s things I love:

- The first paragraph I can’t break up, because it’s so beautiful and unusual.
- “History repeating itself”: while this is a cliché, I think it’s well-used, as using “history” brings out the fact that her childhood feels so far in the past.
- Making the napkin “paper” emphasises the fragility of the way she’s covering things up; the “chipped” mugs bring in the decay that is then highlighted so perfectly by . . .
- “ivy grows in through the kitchen window”. I double-taked at this first time round, as I didn;t quite grasp the significance. The more I think o it, the more surreal it seems, or maybe that’s just me being pretentious. But the mother’s disregard for her own home—or lack of will to tackle its problems—is just wwonderful.

I suspect that this reply is three times longer than the original piece :-D *dies*
26th-Aug-2004 01:34 am (UTC)
I changed the comma in the 'even better' sentence, but left the 'peach-coloured silk' sentence how it was because it is less clumsy than the alternative.

The ivy is also supposed to represent growth and the passing of time, as well as what you said about the disregard for her own home. She's still not grown up, really. That's also why she has paper napkins and not anything proper.

Thankyou for the comment, it was very helpful! :D
26th-Aug-2004 04:08 am (UTC)
You’re welcome!

Aye, I posted all that not ‘cause I thought that my idea for the peach-coloured comma was definitely better, but just to show that it can be worthwhile to look hard at comma usage. Maybe this is another of my punctuation fetishes :-D

I’ve been reading other pieces in here, although I won’t crit the backlog now unless there are any you particularly want me to look at, but here’s a thing: Don’t undervalue them. They really are very good. And don’t think that publishers are entirely uninterested in this kind of writing. I’ve found a book by a writer called Nin Andrews; the book is “The Book of Orgasms”, of all things, and it’s a whole book of very short pieces of writing. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. I’ll scan a couple of pieces in for you, if you like.
28th-Nov-2005 11:51 pm (UTC)
Beautiful and very oh so very visual!

I friended you...is that alright?
29th-Nov-2005 12:39 am (UTC)
Thanks very much! Sure, you can friend me :] My fandom LJ is rubykate, I write HP fanfic too. Or wrote... I haven't written anything, fanfic or original, in months :[ I seem to be permenantly uninspired!

Added you back :]
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