Friday, June 20, 2008

The O'Riley Bees - a few paragraphs

Yesterday I hit the maaaad (as in crazy) part of this month long writing challenge. As I had earlier in the week, I got sucked into the research. This time I was looking up a few bee breeding and island facts and google filled my head and a pad of paper with way more than I needed to know. The book that Chris Baty wrote about this challenge recommended not allowing yourself to go to more than a few pages for research at a time. I see why.

In trying to find a few paragraphs to post here, I also ignored another cardinal rule, which is - don't reread what you have written. It started to make me a bit crazy last night to see how many inconsistencies have developed as my plot twists and turns. So I stopped looking for good paragraphs and am just going to post a few of the first paragraphs.

On an unseasonably pleasant day in July, on their Western Massachusetts farm, dusk was falling. Finn was picking the Brandywines and whistling a Flogging Molly tune to himself. He started singing, “If I ever leave this world alive,” carefully piling the giant heirloom tomatoes into an old bushel basket. He paused to take a bite of an overly ripe Brandywine, using the back of his hand to sop up the juice on his chin.

“Oh you don’t leave it alive, boy, but you do leave it with a sense of humor, if you’re lucky.” This was followed by a deep and bouncing laugh. "What is he doing harvesting in that shirt? What a mighty strange looking fellow.” The accent was Irish.

Finn dropped the Brandywine and looked around. No one was there.
“What? Who? Hello?” he stammered.

“You hear me?” came the cracking, surprised voice. This time, Finn was sure that it had come from the tomatoes. He squatted down and tentatively started searching for the hidden body, suddenly remembering the time when he was very small and talked to the fairies, right here at what was then his grandmother’s farm. At least, that is how his grandmother had described it when she’d come upon him in conversation. He had never seen anyone back then and had assumed, in retrospect, that he’d had a really vivid imagination. But now, he found himself searching for a little person, wondering if the Irish brogue could be coming from.. no, could he even let himself think it - a leprechaun? He moved aside a few of the branches, peering between the tomato cages, his feet grounded and ready to spring back if anything should appear.

“I didn’t meant to scare ya. I’ve never had a living talk back to me.” came the voice again, this time from a tomato bed a few feet in front of the one where Finn was crawling.

Finn froze, starting to feel wary of actually finding someone. What did he mean, “a living”. A living what? He was living, so that meant the voice was not? Then it occurred to him. It was the tomatoes! The Brandywines were talking to him. He picked one up and held it for a bit before quietly saying, “hello?”

And alright, because I happen to love one of my characters, Beatrice, this is from much later:

Once Finn and Beatrice had exited the bus, Finn had no idea where they should go. When he had only had a bee in a box to take care of he had assumed that he and Paddy would simply sleep on the beach. It was Newport. There must be a beach, right? But now that Beatrice was his traveling companion he didn’t know what to think. Did she have a plan? Was he supposed to follow her? He couldn’t imagine being away from her, even for the night. He adjusted the straps on his red backpack and stood looking up at the stars, hoping that she would say something. For an agonizing minute she just stood next to him, quietly watching the sky as well. All of the other passengers had collected their luggage and walked off to the station or towards the line of taxis, before Beatrice softly broke the silence.

“I hope the weather stays this mild. Bees can’t travel through rain and they are also handicapped by extreme heat. I think the weather will stay with them.” Beatrice turned to Finn, smiling. “Shall we get something to eat? I could eat a whole bushel of my auntie’s corn, slathered in butter. But I’ll settle for whatever they’ve got here.”


kelli said...

So many of my favorite things! Irishness, fairies, tomatoes, Massachusetts, Flogging Molly, the name Finn (have you seen Waking Ned Devine?) ... :)

It makes me want to read more! It amazes me how these stories and characters come alive in the writer's mind. You're very talented.

Madeline said...

Oh Kelli! Thanks. I had no intention to go to Ireland, and to the bee-fairies but they wanted to be represented in a big way. As a result I have learned a lot about both and am incredibly moved by the whole Irish 19th century experience.

mindy said...

Yeah Madeline! I am so intrigued and want to know more! And I'm so glad you posted something with Beatrice...I think I shall fall in love her as well!

Deanne said...

I want to read more! Maybe you can bring it to L&L to share? ;)

Danielle said...

Hmmmmm.... a bit of Tom Robbins-esque whimsy. I like that.

Looking forward to reading more. Thank you for sharing a bit of your baby with us.

Madeline said...

Thanks you guys. It was hard to share it. But then, it was good to take myself less seriously by posting something that isn't ready.

I used to read so much Tom Robbins when I was younger. I guess it had an influence. But I am shocked to hear it. I had decided it was all crap until yesterday when I really got going. Deanne, you mean like at the untrepreneurial fair? It is a good goal to think of for having an edited draft ready. But it is also so soon!

Erikka said...

wow, thanks for sharing! i'm hooked already. please do share more when you feel ready :)

Angie said...

Love, love, love this....can't wait to read more!

Alecto said...

Bravo! And I agree with the Tom Robbins reference. I understand that it is very difficult not to go back and check for inconsistencies but in my experience, that just created more and slowed me down.

Jessica said...

Yay! A book! I loved that bit. It sounds like a book that would be so beautiful on tape since it seems to have such a voice.
Thanks for sharing :)
Love, Jessica

Madeline said...

Thankyou! Jessica, what a fantastic thing to say about the voice. I want to read it out loud to the kids and Nicolas on Mon. night (when it will be finished) but have all announced that they want to read it to themselves! So I hope it has a voice.