Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Shameless Need for Reinforcement

I posted this back in October, and later the 2nd chapter as well. Since then I left it somewhat by the wayside and then almost had quite a mishap.

The hard drive of my laptop crashed, and all eight of the chapters I wrote went with it. Thankfully my little sister (in-law) saved them, as well as one of my best friends (and probably biggest cheerleader.) But the close call has me thinking that perhaps I should finally buckle down and get back to it. I'd like some more fresh feed back if anyone is so inclined. Be honest, in a kind way. If you're interested the 2nd chapter is here on the blog as well and can be found by clicking "book writing" under the topics on the right.

So let me know, is this a book you'd want to keep reading?

Feedback Please - Be Gentle - Redux

Years ago I started writing a story. I wrote four chapters and then life got busy. I let a friend read it and she was unhappy with me at the time, so she kind of annihilated me with criticism. It was unfortunate, because if you're a writer, you know sharing your work is like putting your baby on display. It's hard to take criticism, and if it's given harshly, it can be down right painful. The book got put aside never to be picked up again.

Becoming a published writer would be a fulfillment of a dream for me. I really love to write and feel it's actually a gift from the Lord more than a talent. Back in April I felt inspired to start a new story. I'll be honest, it's been since August since I've done more than look at it, but I did get 8 chapters written this time, albeit short ones. I don't know, how do you write a book?

Anyway, I've been contemplating getting back to the task and have had mostly positive feedback from the few friends I have had read it, but for some reason today I am feeling really bold and ready to throw it out there for a larger consumption, but I'd like to actually hear back your thoughts. So, check it out, read chapter 1 and let me know what you think. But be gentle... it's my baby and all.


Chapter 1

Jared was in a deep sleep on the couch as he heard the vibration on the coffee table. Rubbing his eyes he reached across and tried to make out the caller I.D. on Chelsea’s cell phone. Who in the world could be calling at this hour?

He flipped open the cell phone, “Hello?” He could hear noises in the background but no one answered. “Hello?” he said again the phone went dead on the other end.

He set the phone back down on the coffee table and uprighted himself on the couch. The clock on the VCR said 12:38. He’d dozed off a couple hours before while watching TV. Now the lights and TV were off. Chelsea must have headed to bed, he thought. Why does she just leave me out here?

He wandered into the kitchen for a glass of water. Who in the world could be calling her phone at this hour? he wondered. Maybe it was just a wrong number. Although he hoped it was the case, something in his gut told him it wasn’t.

Chelsea had seemed more and more distant lately. He knew she was probably angry with him for falling asleep on the couch in front of the
TV again. He was just so exhausted. The new project at work was requiring so many late hours. It wasn’t just physically exhausting, his brain was tired. He actually hadn’t been sleeping very well at night. When he tried to go to bed his mind would just start reeling. The thoughts would keep him up till all hours of the night, falling asleep in front of the TV seemed to be his only reprieve from the constant battle with insomnia.

Now the brief benefit of the nap was spoiled by the sudden late night disruption. Now he was wide awake and it was a good five hours before he should be up to start his day.


He walked quietly down the hall and looked into the bedroom where Chelsea was sleeping. She had left the basket of clean, folded laundry just sitting on his side of the bed. He wondered if there wasn’t a message she was trying to send that even if he did manage to find his way back to their bed, maybe he wasn’t really wanted there anyway.

No sense in getting into bed, he’d probably just toss and turn, then neither of them would get any sleep. He pulled the door quietly shut behind him as he headed back into the hall.

He decided to peek in on the kids. First he looked into Erica’s room. His 5-year-old was sprawled out, all her covers kicked down into a pile at the foot of the bed. She looked pretty adorable. He pulled her blankets back up over her and quietly moved into Joshua’s room.

Josh was two and a half. He’d just moved into his “big boy bed” a couple weeks before. Unlike his big sister he was curled up tight into a ball with his blankets pulled all the way up under his chin. He thought to himself how much their sleeping positions mirrored their personalities. Erica was open and outgoing, free and relaxed, Josh was shy and quiet, often keeping to himself. Funny how you could see it even when they were sound asleep.

Jared continued down the hall when he noticed the light shining out from underneath Angie’s door. Quietly he tapped on the door, not sure if she was awake or had fallen asleep doing her homework.

“Yeah?” her voice whispered out, sounding a little surprised by the disruption.

As he opened the door he could see her sitting at her desk, working at the computer. “It’s really late kiddo, don’t you think you ought to get to bed?”

“I know Dad, I’m just finishing up with this assignment. Then I’ll get to bed.’

Angie, such a bright young girl, Jared couldn’t believe she was almost 17. She wasn’t his daughter biologically, she was Chelsea’s daughter from a relationship before they met. It didn’t matter though, he loved her as much as he did the two children he and Chelsea had together. Really, Jared was the only father Angie had ever known. In the 14 years Chelsea and Jared had been together Angie’s dad had breezed through their lives maybe six or seven times. Jared couldn’t understand how any father could be so casual in his relationship with his child. Actually, casual was too generous a word, irresponsible was more accurate. It was Tom’s loss though, Jared was honored to fill the void he left, and that’s why when he and Chelsea got married ten years ago, he made the promise to love and care for both his wife and her daughter, their daughter now.

“Whatcha workin’ on?” Jared asked, peeking over her shoulder at the computer screen.

Angie turned her chair toward him with a smile, “It’s a presentation for my speech class. We’re doing a series of debates in class on different topics in the news.”

“And your topic…?”

“I’m debating marriage.”

Jared chuckled, “Really? I didn’t even know there was any special guy in your life.”

“Oh Dad!” Angie laughed, “I’m not debating the prospect personally! I’m debating the ‘logic’ of marriage. A lot of people consider it to be an antiquated concept. A lot of people don’t consider it to be feasible these days. They say it’s too much to ask of a person to make a lifetime commitment to just one person. So one of us is debating against the institution of marriage and the other one of us is debating that marriage does still work and is still important.”

“Sounds interesting, and which opinion do you find yourself holding?”

Angie smiled, “Well actually the assignment requires us to both prepare for both sides of the debate. We have to be prepared to persuade either viewpoint, you know, all in the name of having an open mind. I won’t know which side I have to argue until moments before the actual debate, which isn’t until the end of the semester. It’s going to count as 40% of our final grade.”

“Really? I’m fascinated. So is everyone preparing for this same debate?”

“No, there are 26 of us in the class and there are four different topics. There’s my topic, a debate on keeping abortion ‘safe and legal’; a debate on euthanasia and the fourth topic is prayer in schools.”

“Wow, those are some pretty heavy subjects. Did you get to choose or were you assigned the topics?” Jared asked.

“No, it was all by drawing, we actually pulled our topics out of a coffee can. There are six of us for each topic, except euthanasia, there are eight people on that topic. We don’t even know who we’ll be debating yet, we may not even know until the actual day of the debate in like late May or June.”

Jared stood up, “Well honey, it’s only January and the semester has just started, your debate is a long way off, I think you can afford to put the topic aside for the night and get a good night’s rest.” He leaned over and kissed the top of her head. “You need to get to bed.”

“OK Daddy, five more minutes, I promise. Tomorrow is ‘late start’ because the teachers have a meeting, so I’ll be OK.” She turned back towards her computer monitor as Jared slipped out of the room.

As he came back into the living room Jared saw Chelsea’s phone face light up in the dimly lit room. He picked it up and saw it said “Four text messages.” He looked over at the clock that now read 1:36. What in the world? He resisted temptation to read the messages and set the phone back down. Finally feeling tired enough to doze back off he grabbed a blanket out of the cupboard and made himself comfortable back on the couch. He grabbed his own cell phone setting its alarm clock for 5:30am. He laid back trying hard to dismiss the uneasy feeling he felt beginning deep down inside himself. A few minutes later he was back to sleep.