Tag Archives: desperation

Wednesday Write-In #66

This week’s words for CAKE.shortandsweet’s Wednesday Write-In were:

collar :: cold hard cash :: medicine :: dirty :: spirit

Image: narayana-publishers.com

Image: narayana-publishers.com

First, Do No Harm

‘Unless you want one o’ my boys to start feelin’ your collar, you’ll pay up. Right now.’ When he smiled, his gold tooth gleamed behind its sticky film of saliva. The goods sat inches from me, neatly laid out in their padded case; I looked down at the vials, rows upon rows of them, and tried to focus. Lack of sleep was making my thoughts thick and heavy.

‘But this isn’t what we agreed,’ I said.

‘Two dozen. Morphine. Delivered. What’s not part of the agreement?’ he snapped.

‘I assumed you’d provide hypodermics,’ I said. ‘All of ours are headed for incineration. Without needles –‘

‘Not my problem, matey,’ he replied, in a voice like a broken power line or a loose mooring rope. ‘All I want’s the cold hard cash – what you owe me, fair and square – and that’s our business concluded.’

‘But you know I can’t leave the city to get more! Even making it as far as here was a huge risk!’

‘Look, son,’ replied the man, leaning in close. His breath was rank. ‘This situation ain’t good for nobody, unless you count the fellas makin’ the weapons. I need to make a livin’, you need to keep savin’ the children, or whatever. Pay up and we’ll both be on our merry way. Good lad.’

I closed my eyes.

Broken streets. Homeless children. Ravaged faces. Walking wounded. Tearing, ripping agony in the eyes of the injured. The relief this medicine would bring. The pleading on their faces. Please. Help us. You must know how to help us.

The rampant infection and disease that using dirty needles would unleash upon an already terrible scenario. The clamping in my gut at the very thought of it.

There have to be clean needles here. Somewhere.

I opened my eyes and stared right at him.

‘Fifty thousand, wasn’t it?’ I said, in a low voice. I reached into my pocket, hoping the tiny click as my arm straightened out wouldn’t be heard over the phlegmy mess that was his breathing. I felt the mechanism in my sleeve release and a reassuring weight dropped into my hand, the solidity of the cool metal around my fingers making my choice seem simple. I still couldn’t believe I’d made it through security with this on my person, but I was only a doctor, after all. I was harmless. Right?

‘Yeah. Fifty thou. That’s the spirit,’ he grinned, licking his teeth and sitting back. He turned, slightly, looking away from me for just long enough. He raised his hand to gesture to his bodyguard. Come closer, he indicated, and the man obeyed without question.

Just as well, I thought as I brought my hand out of my pocket, my cold fingers wrapped around my pistol. I wouldn’t have had enough range on this thing to take them both out, otherwise.

Pulling the trigger was harder, and infinitely more simple, than I could ever have imagined.

The Plunge? Taken!

We find ourselves on the rocks of Thursday once again. I trust you’re all well? Good, good.

So, this week, I finally got around to doing that thing I’ve been promising to do for, oh, the last six months, or so. I’m sure most of you had given up all hope that I’d ever make good on my word, and had probably come to the bitter realisation that sometimes, you just can’t believe a thing you read on the internet…

I never should have trusted her! Sniff! Image: nature.com

I never should have trusted her! Sniff!
Image: nature.com

Yeah, or not.

In any case, it might be of interest to you to know that this is the week in which I finally did it. After many months of waffling about it, I’ve at long last begun to make contact with agents. Literary agents. Actual literary agents. With connections in the publishing industry, and everything. So far, I’ve lived to tell the tale, but we’ll see how long that lasts.

You know, sometimes, how you can pay visits to really tall buildings – in places like America, I mean, because of course Ireland doesn’t have any *really* tall buildings, on account of how we’re all short and oppressed – and they have glass floors that you can walk on and look down hundreds of feet to the ground below?

Like this? *covers eyes* Image: alexderavin.blogspot.com

Like this? *covers eyes*
Image: alexderavin.blogspot.com

When I tell you that I had to have a cup of strong coffee before I could even do a Google Image search for that picture, I’m not joking. I hate heights so much that even looking at that photograph is giving me vertigo. Standing on a kitchen chair is as high as I ever want to be off the ground – and even at that, sometimes, I get an attack of the wobbles.

And, my dears, that feeling of vertigo, and the sensation of ‘ooh, I think I might be out of my depth here,’ is now a permanent fixture in my life.

Pressing ‘send’ on an email which contains the first five pages, or the first three thousand words, or the first ten thousand words, or whatever the case may be, of a book over which you’ve (almost literally) sweated blood, is no easy thing to do. The email doesn’t just contain words, of course – it holds your hopes, and fears, and plans, and ambition. It contains everything in you which is good and admirable, and everything which is desperate and terrified, too. Every submission made is an hour, or two hours, or a day of preparation – writing a synopsis, crafting a cover letter, reading and re-reading and re-reading your opening chapters just in case there’s an error you’ve missed the last five thousand times you read it; it’s the hours spent researching the agency to which you’re submitting and making sure they have an interest in what you’re writing, as best you can; it’s the hours of self-talk, trying to convince yourself that this isn’t completely crazy and that you can actually go through with it.

So, you see. Not just a case of ‘whack it all together and let it go wherever it needs to.’

I’m trying not to look back over the emails I’ve already sent, because they’re sure to make me cringe. I’m trying to be positive, and hope that something in what I’ve sent will spark interest, somewhere; I’m aware, though, that what I’m doing is akin to trying to light a match somewhere on the deepest ocean floor. There are a lot of people trying to do what I’m doing – most of them with more to offer than I have – and it can be hard to keep dredging inside yourself, expecting there to be endless supplies of optimism and hope just waiting to be tapped; that, however, is what I have to do. Every time I sit to write a synopsis (because I do a new one each time I submit to an agent, in the interests of keeping the whole thing ‘fresh’ and relevant to each particular recipient), it gets harder to shake the feeling of boredom surrounding my novel – it all seems so old, and worn, and overdone. I’m telling myself that’s because I’ve read it so many times, and I’m clinging to the hope that this is the truth.

And, of course, I’ve only just begun the whole process. I still have the weeks and months of waiting for a reply to come yet. At least the waiting process will give me some time to build myself back up again, just in time to cope with the lovely, kind, well-meaning emails which will read something like: ‘Thank you for your submission – we can see you’ve worked very hard on it, but unfortunately, it’s not for us…’

And, the best bit of all? I’m not even halfway through my list of agencies, so this will be going on for some time yet. Someone pour me a whiskey…

'Tomorrow... Is... Another day!' Yes, Scarlett. Another day in which I have to turn around and do all this again! Yay? Image: lesscakemorefrosting.com

‘Tomorrow… Is… Another day!’ Yes, Scarlett. Another day in which I have to turn around and do all this again! Yay?
Image: lesscakemorefrosting.com