Day 7: And on the seventh writing day…


…he didn’t rest.

I think I’m in trouble with this story. Usually, with the sustained output I’ve managed, I’d be with sight of the finish line. This time round, I’m barely half way there and what I’d hoped would be a quick sprint has turned into a marathon.

No matter, the work has to be done.

Last night I finished off the section I had so briefly outlined the night before. The section isn’t too bad, and I clocked up 916 words.

A word on quantity vs. quality. It would be utterly fantastic if the first draft came out word-perfect, read as smooth as silk and had the reader cowering in fear by the last word. The grim reality is that isn’t going to happen. Getting the story out can be like getting blood from a stone; excruciating, agonising and bloody hard. But it has to be got out and to do that, I have to write and write and write. First drafts for me tend to be a sprawling mess, unless I’ve had a moment of madness and edited as I’ve written.

Quality is what comes next. That’s when I get deep into the editing, fix the prose, straighten the story, give the characters more depth and bring lucidity to what they say. At the moment, ‘Pipes’ is a bit of a bedraggled mess, literally what the cat dragged in. Given time, I’ll fix it, but in the interim, getting it to the page is the aim of the game.

An extract, and then I’m off.

A few minutes later Hannah found a cave. She considered it for a few moments, taking in the fronds of seaweed lining the entrance, and the gnarled growths of barnacles choking the entrance. She looked back down the beach. Clouds stretched across the sky, rolling banks that filtered the light and cast racing shadows over the water and beach. It was as empty as it was since she’d arrived. Plucking up her courage, she ventured across the threshold.

The first thing that struck her was the smell. The smell of salt was strong, tainted with a strong undercurrent of rotting vegetation. She held her hand over her mouth and nose and splashed forward a few steps.

The riot of colours amazed her Striations of pinks and mauves ran in thick, intermingled bands overhead. When she examined them more closely she saw they were tiny fronds fixed to the wall, an alien form of life from the sea transplanted into her world. She ran a finger over them, a soft, velvet carpet.

A low throbbing moan swirled around her head. She snatched her hand back and looked into the depths of the cave, eyes wide. The dark at the back of the cave was absolute. With shaking fingers, she pulled her mobile from her pocket and pushed a button. Light burst from the screen and she held it up, casting a ghostly light that the darkness swallowed whole. Hannah was convinced there was no back wall and that instead of a cave, she was in the entrance of a tunnel. The moan grew louder, the throb deeper and more insistent, reminding her of the wind whistling through the organ pipes far above.

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