Seven for a secret never to be told

The rules of the Lucky Seven Meme say that one is supposed to go to page 7 or 77 of one’s current manuscript (naturally, one has half a dozen to choose from. Remember the Flanders and Swann Greensleeves routine: ‘if you’re writing a musical, which I’m sure practically all of you are …’); go to line 7; and then post on your blog the next seven lines or sentences. I’m still new to this blogging thingy, but I wanted to play too. To this end you will find below seven sentences from my longest manuscript (based very loosely on Alice in Wonderland, as you may recall from The origins of the filthy comma), from page 7 (chapter 1) and from page 77 (towards the end of chapter 10).  I promise you that this makes a lot more sense with the intervening seventy pages. I also recommend Seymour’s post on the same subject.

Page 7:

However, it has since been proved to ALICE (mostly by the behaviour of BORING SUSAN, of which more later) that this cannot be the case. FATHER clearly thinks otherwise as well and has never missed a week. FATHER has a stack of dictionaries, thesauri and other crosswording equipment on the windowseat behind his chair in the other room. Protruding from his shirt pocket is his Special Crosswording Pen (an important burgundy colour) and he’s writing his article for the parish magazine with a scratchy pencil onto lined yellow paper. FATHER has written everything in this fashion since reading somewhere that John Steinbeck drafted all of his novels in scratchy pencil onto lined yellow paper. Don’t let that fool you into thinking that my father reads or admires or resembles John Steinbeck in any way, however: he does not. MOTHER clatters back into the kitchen, thrusting the tuna-encrusted plate into the sink; FATHER, HUGH and ALICE have all finished eating while MOTHER communed with the village strays and MOTHER piles the crockery up into a greasy stack while FATHER inks an answer into the crossword with great care, muttering under his breath that this puts a ‘w’ in a very awkward place.

Page 77:

We walked to church. I recognised Frank and a woman I took to be his mother. Kate was at the organ, her feet moving placidly under her, calming the beast. There were several old people, who may have known Mother, or who may have been killing time before time returned the favour. There was a vicar at the front with absolutely no chin, who rushed up to us to say how sorry he was that our Mother had ‘passed over’, as if she had been launched into the sky. Afterwards, we went outside to see her lowered into her hole. The coffin was small (I pictured her crammed into it, her arms tight at her sides and her shoulders hunched around her ears like a vulture). Mary clutched my hand. 

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17 thoughts on “Seven for a secret never to be told

  1. Seymour April 12, 2012 / 4:49 pm

    Arrrgh! You write so well! I want to read all of it one day soon, please.

    • literacywhore April 12, 2012 / 7:15 pm

      Thanks, Seymour. That’s a lovely compliment from someone with your talent and I appreciate it. I haven’t worked much on the book recently – there are always other, shorter projects that seem to demand my attention (sometimes because they involve getting paid, and sometimes not!). While I think of it, I had the chance to hear some of Joe’s work on the song cycle that includes your poem ‘Common Things’ and two of mine. I really loved what I heard and am working on a post about it. Once all the composition work is finished, I’ll see if I can get a recording done and send it over to you.

      • Seymour April 12, 2012 / 9:43 pm

        Oh, that’s super. I’m glad he’s using the poem. I’d love to hear the end product of course, too.

  2. Seymour April 12, 2012 / 5:01 pm

    AND … I would have tagged you if you had been filed under “writers” instead of “friends” in my aggregator.

    • literacywhore April 12, 2012 / 7:13 pm

      I know! It just sounded like such fun that I couldn’t resist. Also, I was pretty chuffed that I had something that *had* a page 77.

  3. Seymour April 12, 2012 / 9:45 pm

    Yeah, I’m impressed, too. I was tempted to narrow the margins in my ms. to see if I could squeeze some more pages out of it … but I would still be a long way off 77! I don’t do long 🙂

    • literacywhore April 13, 2012 / 7:35 am

      I’m really starting to wonder if I can do anything other than ‘about two pages’ or ‘sprawling’.

      • Seymour April 13, 2012 / 8:13 am

        What is wrong with us? As far as I can tell, in my teens I probably wrote a hundred pages a week. Most of it was rubbish but I was prolific.

  4. literacywhore April 13, 2012 / 9:16 am

    I think I probably did too. I am much more critical of my output now, however: when I was a teenager, I don’t think I even considered the idea that what I was writing was anything other than gold-dust. If I spend a day working on the book and I cut a thousand words, I consider that a day well spent. Fat into muscle, I hope.

  5. deerfeet April 26, 2012 / 6:57 pm

    Yeah Jess!!! Can’t wait for the finished article. It’s brilliant. I sort of visualised Papa with the crossword and burgundy pen. *Chuckle*

  6. literacywhore April 26, 2012 / 8:57 pm

    Thanks, Em. I loved your post about performing today.

  7. robincoyle May 15, 2012 / 2:16 pm

    I tried this “7” thing-y with my manuscript and it was boring as hell. Line 7 and line 77 didn’t stand alone very well. Yours works!

    If you read my other posts about the “comment” problems I am having, there is a high likelihood that this comment will be in your spam.

  8. literacywhore May 15, 2012 / 4:52 pm

    Thanks, Robin, I appreciate that. I would have liked to share more, but my reader and I (i.e. sympathetic friend whose opinion I value) are currently on a fairly brutal second pass over the manuscript. I reckon it’s at least twenty thousand words too long and there are still a hundred things to fix. Still, the early chapters are not too bad 🙂

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