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bananamelissa
10-28-2010, 07:49 AM
Greetings fellow Earthlings!

I bet that opener makes me sound like a sci-fi writer but I'm not. Just a little nerdy! Thank you for opening my post. I have turned to this website for advice in the past and am now taking the plunge and becoming a poster. Is that the right word? Hopefully, this website is about writing and words...

I have finished a general fiction novel that I believe clocks in at 120,000 words these days. I love it like its a prized pumpkin at the county fair. I make that reference because I once grew a pumpkin. It wasn't prize worthy, but still fun. My novel has been through the rounds of submission, requests, rejections, and so on. I have gotten some bites which I got entirely too excited about and they didn't go to fruition. My most recent rejection came from an independent publisher. After reading the first three chapters they requested a full, then a few months later gave me the no thank you letter.

I am now calling upon my fellow writers for a little exchange. I am looking for a writing partner. We can exchange writing, talk about the best microbrewery (I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours), and pat each other on the back as needed (virtually speaking of course). If I am posting in the wrong place PLEASE let me know, because I would love a partner ASAP! I just got another request for the first three chapters and I'd love some feedback while I wait. I am not one to take without giving, so my primary interest is in someone else who has work for me to read. I have been taking stabs at this writing biz for years and years now and would love someone else who's fairly serious. But not too serious because I'm a light hearted girl. I am going to post the first chapter so we can cut to the chase. If this writing interests you please get in touch with me! If it doesn't interest you... well, you could be one of the agents who rejected me! Just kidding.

Chapter 1 - Origami
North Western Oregon
April 2034
Age 48

Olivia tipped her head back while closing her eyes. In her mind she was reliving her last moments with Aviva. They had been sitting together in Aviva's kitchen. Aviva's long black hair had been pulled back in a braid, putting emphasis on her hollow cheek bones. They hadn't said much to each other. There was nothing left to say. Olivia had been tapping her spoon against the table. She was slumped down, sitting like a defiant child, her face heavy with sadness. Aviva had put her soft, bony hand on Olivia's to stop the tapping.
"Your hands are like ice," Aviva said.
"I get cold when I'm nervous," said Olivia.
"What are you thinking about?"
"Your scarf."
Aviva moved her thin hand up to the silk scarf around her neck. She fingered the red fringe dangling on her chest.
"I bought that for you," said Olivia. She was looking down at the spoon.
"I know. That's why I'm wearing it."
"Seems like a million years ago I was there."
"Where?"
"Turkey. I bought it in Istanbul."
"Yes...I remember."
Olivia looked up at Aviva. She caught Aviva's eyes and forgot what she had been about to say.
"You'll never guess what I found wrapped inside of it," said Aviva, unable to get Olivia to look at her again.
"What's that?"
"That little paper crane you gave me that day."
"Oh."
"Oh? That's all you have to say?"
Olivia shrugged. "I don't know why you kept it."
"Because you said the most amazing thing. It stuck with me. I kept that crane, and I would look at it and think about what you said and feel better."
"About the origami?"
"Yes."
The wrinkles around Olivia's eyes deepened as she thought. She made a single, slow nod with her head. Her lips curled up slightly as she recalled the day she had given Aviva the paper crane, the place she had been in her life, that time that had seemed like it could never be anything less than everything. Now it was close to nothing. A faded moment of the past, recalled only after Aviva reminded her of it. Her eyes glassed over as she recalled her own words.
"It's just like origami," Olivia thought, surprised with what ease the words came back to her. "A life path, it's like folding up one of these little cranes. When you make the first fold you know it's important even though it doesn't show you much. You make more folds, sometimes going up, sometimes down. No matter which direction you go, big or small, they're all important. As you go along it starts to fold into its self, layering in a way that might confuse you. It's funny, because those ones you made in the beginning, you can't see them after a while, but you couldn't make the last ones without 'em. Sometimes you might think there's too many and wish you could skip to the end, but you can't rush, it doesn't work that way. On the last step you spread the wings open. There is your crane, ready to fly."
"It's just like origami," said Aviva. "Remember? That's
what you said, a life path, it's like folding up an origami crane."
Olivia looked over at her, startled out of her memories. The vision of Aviva as she was now, compared to the young, vibrant one that had just been jogging through her mind, jarred her even further. She jumped up from the table and went over to the counter.
Her hands wrapped around the metal tea kettle. It was still warm. She wondered when her hands had begun to look like her mother's. She moved her left hand to cover the pour spout. Rust had built up around it. The tea kettle was old. It was wearing down. It brought tears to her eyes and she felt foolish and weak. She was still caught in memories of the past, and a guilt washed over her as she let her mind slip back there and hide. She wrapped her hands tighter around the rusty tea kettle.
"Why are you holding the kettle?" asked Aviva.
"It's warming my hands."
"Come, sit back down."
As Olivia stared at her hands she kept hearing the words, "there is your crane, ready to fly." They had a power of their own, and no matter how hard she tried to control them they refused to be pushed aside. She took a deep breath and let her hands fall limp beside her. She returned to her chair without looking at Aviva.
"I got to thinking," said Aviva, "and I realized, what you said, it's very incomplete."
"How so?"
Aviva again put her hand onto Olivia's. Olivia could feel her hand warming under Aviva's soft grasp. Tears and snot were coming down Olivia's face. She turned away, wiping the snot onto the inside of her shirt.
"Go on," said Olivia, turning back with a weak smile.
"If you look at an unfolded piece of origami," said Aviva, "you could think, 'oh I understand, I see how it all works now.' Once it's unfolded putting it all back together is so easy, the lines are there, you can see how it happened. It's so simple it makes you smile. Then you have this unfolded piece of paper and you're saying okay, so that's how it was folded, but where did the paper come from? Where is the actual beginning? Because in order to understand it you'd have to find out how the paper became paper, where it came from, where it really started, and you can't figure that out. You'd start going back, and you'd go back and back and back, to the trees, and you can't stop there, you'd have to go back further, to their seeds, but then where did those come from, and you'd keep going until you'd find that that little piece of paper, it comes from something you can't make sense of. You can't find the source of it all, all you can do is look at how it's all connected. Everything at one time is part of everything else. There is no beginning and there is no end. The finished creation of the origami, that's awesome and fun, and it's really great that you can see how it becomes what it's supposed to be. But how it connects to everything else on Earth, how its source is something you can't find, the way it shows you something you can't understand, that is the amazing part."

Olivia opened her eyes to bright white light. It was streaking through the thicket of leaves. She squinted and turned her head back down.
She stared at the small paper crane, following the creases up and down. She turned her head up, her hand relaxing, the crane falling beside her feet. Her gaze went up and up, higher and higher, deep into the crown of the maple tree. The tree leaves rustled as a shiver went up her body. A cool breeze was passing through the meadow. Her eyes closed. She listened.
One sound. Two parts. Together, for a moment, the tree and the wind were merging on the sound plane.
Another shiver went through her, from the crown of her head to the souls of her feet. She was standing barefoot. Her sandals were lost in the high grass. Olivia focused on two things. One was herself, one was the leaves. She was shivering, the tree leaves were rustling.
Shivering. Rustling. Shivering, rustling, shivering, rustling.
She stopped. The leaves stopped. Everything was quiet.
Her cold fingers untied the sweater from around her waist. She put it on, a third layer atop two linen shirts; one ochre, one blue. Despite the warm temperature she still felt chilled. Her arms wrapped around herself. Olivia shivered once more, but this time there was no breeze. Thoughts of Aviva again flooded her mind.
A small sigh came out of her. She was standing alone in the quiet. The red paper crane sat before her. Her body went down into a squat. Her fingers reached for the crane, and then on impulse she instead grabbed a fallen leaf. She held it up to the sky, studying the complexity of the veins and texture brought out by the sunlight.
Her focus was not really on the leaf though, but lingering in that kitchen, the last place she had been with Aviva. When the dark pant legs stepped in front of her she made a slight gasp. She had forgotten that he was there too. She put her hand onto her chest. Her fingers slid over, ending up on her shoulder, inside the sweater. Her other hand closed around the leaf, crushing it against her palm.
"You scared me," she said.
"Are you ready?" he asked. He reached a dark hand forward. Olivia put her hand into his. His hand was warm and soothing on hers as he helped her up. He clasped her cold, pale hand between his two dark ones.
"Your hands are like ice," he said.
Olivia pulled her hand away. She tucked it beneath her arm.
"I'm ready."
Gautam walked onto the bridge first. Olivia followed behind. The boards were weathered and neglected, splintering up in several parts. She looked down at her feet. The soft soles pressed into the rough wood of the bridge. Dirt was caking up between her toes.
Gautam bent down and picked up the small urn. He held it out to her so she too could put her hands on it. Without words they tipped it forward. The contents flew out towards the water. The river was moving fast. Spring was upon them, winter snow melting quicker by the day.
The ashes puffed out in one big cloud of grey. Olivia let go of the hard surface of the urn. Its soft, feather light contents were coming down slow and steady. The gentle breeze came again, pushing some of the ashes in an erratic pattern.
"Goodbye Aviva," she thought. The tears came down her cheeks. She knew they were coming down his face also, even though she didn't look at him.
The final bits of grey fell into the water. She realized then she was still holding the leaf she had picked up. She let it go and watched it flutter down onto the water. It was quickly whisked away, and she got a strange feeling that as long as she could see the leaf everything was okay.
The leaf bopped up and down as it rode the rapids further and further away. It disappeared from view and her body tensed up. She looked down at the urn and pictured the way the ashes had come out in a soft puff. An unexpected thought of Alaska, triggered by the replaying of the ash cloud, flashed in her mind. A small, tight lipped smile came onto her face.
“Where are you?” asked Gautam.
“What? Me? I’m right here,” she said, looking at him with surprise. She pulled a small cloth from her pocket. Tears and snot were wiped onto it. She balled her hand up and held the cloth beneath her chin.
"No, you were lost in thought. I could see it. What were you thinking?”
"Nothing."
"Was it about Aviva?"
"No." Olivia shook her head and looked down. There was a loose nail in the splintering boards of the bridge. She put her big toe on it, the small metal shape pressing against her skin. "It's just something I heard in Alaska. It popped into my head."
"What was it?"
"It's stupid."
"That's okay. Tell me anyway."
Olivia looked out over the river as she spoke. "What are the Northern Lights?"
"I don't know. What?"
"God sneezing."

bananamelissa
10-28-2010, 07:52 AM
sorry about the lack of formatting in the first chapter. I didn't realize it was going to do that. I thank anyone who read it anyways.

wrombola
10-28-2010, 03:00 PM
Theres a critique section: Share your work, where you can post work for critique. You could start by posting a chapter there and see where it goes. I'll take a look when I have some time. Good luck.

Honeybug
10-28-2010, 05:09 PM
Theres a critique section: Share your work, where you can post work for critique. You could start by posting a chapter there and see where it goes. I'll take a look when I have some time. Good luck.
bananamelissa---wrombola is right!! :) Go the the SYW (Share Your Work) forum and find the genre that your story is appropriate for. Post your story there in parts so that those interested may critique your work. Be aware that if you post you are looking for honest crits, some can be brutally honest---honest nonetheless!!!
Good luck with your work
Honey

bananamelissa
10-28-2010, 08:30 PM
thank you, I will get my stuff up in that section. I appreciate the help!

Rowan
10-29-2010, 12:11 AM
And of course you can still post here if what you're seeking is a beta reader/writing partner, and not just a critique. ;)

ETA: You did post in the correct forum for a beta reader/writing partner.

Hip-Hop-a-potamus
10-29-2010, 07:04 PM
Beware of squirrels bearing bazookas. Good luck!

jclarkdawe
10-30-2010, 07:25 AM
Beware of squirrels bearing bazookas. Good luck!

Squirrels bearing bazookas are only allowed, other than by specific request, in query letter hell.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

bananamelissa
10-30-2010, 07:42 AM
My turban fears no squirrel. Boo ya! Thanks for the replies, I got some great feedback in the syw forum.