Friday, October 27, 2006

New Beginning 149

Alcohol doesn’t take away the pain of career rejection, but it does dull it a bit.

I shift on my cushy green couch and take a sip of my liquid tropical paradise, pretending to listen to the woman beside me. She’s talked nonstop for the past half hour.

“—and they don’t ever read their assignments,” the woman hollers above the sweet sounds of Prince, who, unlike me, gets to party like its 1999. She shakes her head and says, “I just don’t understand it.”

“Yeah, I hear ya,” I say to her with a fake smile, trying to pour empathy into my voice.

On the inside, though, my heart aches from the unfairness of life—earlier this week, I found out Andrew, my boss, hired someone else for the newly created management position.

From outside the company.

I’ve busted my ass for three years, working hours upon hours of overtime, and for what?

I’m still fuming when I return to my desk, smelling of tobacco and alcohol. I throw my coat untidily across the back of my chair and drop myself into the seat. I can see Andrew in his office talking to the new manager, occasionally taking surreptitious glances at her legs. There’s a new pile of mail in my in-tray, my message light is flashing and a bunch of post-it notes bearing Andrew’s scrawl are stuck along the edge of my mouse pad. The lunchtime cocktails have loosened my inhibitions and given me an edge; I feel bitter and vindictive. Does Andrew think he’s the only one able to crush a person’s hopes and aspirations?

I fire up Word and start typing:
Dear Author, With regard to your recent submission . . .

Opening: Rhonda Stapleton.....Continuation: ril


ScienceSleuth said...

This is quite good. Nice immediacy.

I especially liked "liquid tropical paradise". Wonderfully descriptive.

I didn't care for the use of the present tense, though. It takes me out of the story and makes me think about technical things like past vs present tense.

Stacia said...


I usually hate present tense, but I honestly didn't notice it here. Very well done, although I probably would have noticed by the end of the first couple of pages and stopped reading, because I really do dislike it.

Still, I liked this a lot.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused by the setting and also after the first sentence I thought there would be something about the rejection but that's not for another 3 paragraphs. I was a little confused what this person was being rejected by and what it had to do with the girl talking to the narrator.

Great continuation. I'm sure I'm the one on the end of that letter too; my last one had liquid tropical paradise stains all over it.

Rhonda Helms said...

Thanks, guys. I appreciate your feedback (FYI - due to agent feedback similar to yours, this is being revised from 1st person).

I thought the continuation was hilarious...

Anonymous said...

Overall I think it was quite good. This bit bothered me:

I shift on my cushy green couch and take a sip of my liquid tropical paradise

cushy green couch - liquid tropical paradise -- the exact same structure twice with only a few words in between them. Get rid of one of those adjectives (I'd recommend cushy, because if you get rid of green it'll read "cushy couch" and the alliteration is just too ridiculous. Also, "liquid tropical paradise" is a great phrase). Actually, I'd get rid of both of the couch adjectives, since I doubt the narrator is thinking about whether the couch is green or not. Then it would read:

I shift on my couch and take a sip of my liquid tropical paradise

If it's really important that the couch is cushy, work it in later. Or stick it in now, but use a word other than "cushy", which conjures pictures of people's behinds to me anyway. Maybe "squishy", although I still don't like that.

Sorry for being so declamatory and stuck-up. It's really late and I haven't slept in 24 hours. This is of course just my personal opinion and I really did like the rest of it. (Except I'd take it out of present tense, which I see you're already doing -- bravo).

LOVED the continuation!

McKoala said...

Was it present tense? Oh look, there it is. I missed that too.

I was also a bit confused about what the location was and the connection between that, assignments and someone else getting hired. I'd probably read on, though, to find out.

McKoala said...

Sorry, forgot to say, loved the continuation!

Anonymous said...

This ending is hysterical!

I'm not a fan of first person either. I think I'd love this in 3rd person. I am also confused as to what and who is being rejected. He's been rejected for a promotion, certainly.

Well done, though. I like the internals.

Unknown said...

Yep, I had a problem with the first person. I only write in 3rd person so it's probably more a personal dislike than anything else. But, I thought that in first person your "thoughts" should be real. I mean, honestly, who thinks like this? Dunno. Didn't thrill me.

Loved the continuation.

none said...

This felt a bit blah to me. Having been shafted in my time, I would have expected to find more here to identify with.

Maybe I should have applied alcohol; it seems to have removed a LOT of the pain.

Anonymous said...

The writing is nice enough, but I wasn't grabbed by this. As Buffysquirrel notes, the protagonist seems pretty relaxed (albeit artificially) about his/her life, so why should I care about it?

There's no tension or conflict. This is just a guy/gal feeling bummed out.

I think you've started your story in the wrong place. Find the point where the protagonist realises s/he has a problem to solve and must take action. Start the story there. That conflict will keep the reader interested in reading on.