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WRiTE CLUB 2013 – Bout 10

S. King becomes our eighth writer to reach the play-off rounds!  Remember, you can check my WRiTE CLUB 2013results page for a breakdown of all the winners along with links to the previous bouts.  

Counting votes that came in last night, over the course of nine bouts so far I have received 378 votes (by registered voters), and therefore that same amount of names have been added to the pot for the $75 gift card to be drawn at the conclusion of the contest.  That averages to 47.25 votes per bout – which is awesome!  Nine voters have commented on every single bout – which is doubly awesome!! I just wanted to take a moment on behalf of the contestants for all of the interest (and critiques) you have bestowed upon their work.      

Let’s keep it rolling....

Here are today’s randomly selected WRiTER's. Standing in the far corner, weighing in at 470 words, please welcome to the ring The Scribbler.

It was almost as if they didn’t remember they were at a public pool. With children. I watched them covertly, glad of the sunglasses that shielded my gaze. Not that they noticed anyone. Their faces were close together, her legs wrapped around him as he held her up with hands under her, well, her buttocks. I blushed and looked away but couldn’t help looking back.

She was garish, who wore make up to a pool let alone that much? He was, well, a redneck meets inner-city San Francisco. But it was the expression on their faces that drew me.

How long has it been since my husband looked at me that way? How long since I glowed like that? Knowing myself to be the object of his affections.

A tug on my arm distracted me. “Yes dear?” I asked my fifteen month old. “Oh look, a ball. Throw it to mommy.”

I hadn’t even realized our marriage was missing anything until I saw them and, shocked, thought ‘we used to be like that!’ I tried to remember the last time my husband and I had been that way; oblivious to the surroundings. Three…four…maybe five years ago.

“Good throw, baby. Mommy will throw it back now. Catch.” Now here I was sitting in a one foot deep kiddy pool playing catch with someone who couldn’t even talk. “Oopsie. You’re ok. It’s just water, wipe it off. Stop crying. You splash all the time in the tub.”

A wave of loneliness swept over me and tears pricked my eyes. Again I was grateful for the glasses. I didn’t dress up much anymore, or curl my hair. But had that happened after he stopped looking at me or before? I couldn’t remember. Or was it one of those vicious cycles everyone kept talking about. I didn’t know what they were but they sounded unpleasant.

Is it me? I looked at the pooch on my tummy covered by a t-shirt. And my thighs were flabby, but modestly covered by a swim skirt. It might look a little grandmotherly but how else would I hide the cellulite?

“Time to go baby.” I gathered up the swim floaties, water toys, sippy cup, and cracker wrappers that littered our chair, stuffing them into the already full beach bag. “We’ve got to make dinner for daddy.” Daddy who would sit, head bowed and nod indifferently to my recitation of our day, even though he had asked. Then he would sit down with the paper. At least he would keep the baby on his lap so I could get something done.

I remembered the glow in the girls face as she wrapped her arms around the boy. Would my husband would even look at me tonight.

“Yes, we’ll come back tomorrow.” I hoped the couple wouldn’t be here then.

And in the other corner with 500 words in the YA Contemporary genre, let me introduce to you BruinGirl.

I lower the volume then turn on the record player. I skip to track 3 since she circled it. It must’ve been one of her favorites. I set the needle down on the record then lie down on the floor in front of the speakers.

It begins with a single slow drumbeat and a soft strum of the guitar. Oh Mother, I can feel myself drowning. A subtle sadness leaks out of the lead singer’s voice. Soon the guitars and drumming pick up as the singer laments his loss. Ohhh, it’s over and love can never be for us. It’s natural and real, but not for us. It’s haunting, the single guitar strum and the way the singer’s pleas become more and more desperate. I feel his misery begin to swell inside me. It’s so easy to hate and so easy to laugh, but such bravery, oh, to be kind. The guitar and drums begin building once again, each strum and each hit with more force than the one before it, with more pain and insistence.

I close my eyes as the desperate voice repeats the opening line over and over. Oh Mother, I can feel myself drowning. By the end of the song, he truly is drowning. He feels it, and I feel it. A tear begins to form in my right eye. There is such great pain and sorrow in this song. Even without lyrics, the slow build of the music creates desperation and longing all on its own.

I jump up and return the needle to the beginning of the song. I have to hear it again. I stand over the console as it starts up once more. I take in slow breaths and remain fixed with both hands on top of the console. My heart beats in rhythm with each note. The quiet sorrow of his voice makes me ache from within, and as the arduous pain in the lyrics and the melancholy guitar notes grow in strength, a tear streams down my cheek. He is so sad, overwhelmed by a drowning desolation. Another tear falls at the thought.

Still hovering over the console, I play the song again and again. Each time more tears spill for the achingly beautiful lament in this song.

The next time I play it, though, something happens. When he calls out Oh Mother, I can feel myself drowning, I call out with him. We sing it over and over as tears streak both my cheeks. My legs weaken, and I crumple to the floor. How could she have left me? Oh Mother, I can feel myself drowning. Tears turn to sobs that nearly choke me. Why wasn’t her love natural and real? My body shakes, racked with sobs. It is over. My mom is gone. Forever. She’s gone and she’s never coming back. Oh Mother, I can feel myself drowning. Oh Mother, I can feel myself drowning.

I choke it out over and over, long after the song has finished.

As always, anyone can vote…just register on the Linky List HERE.  Please remind your friends to make a selection as well.  The voting will remain open until noon next Wednesday (Aug. 21st). 

Remember, here in WRiTE CLUB, it’s not about the last man/woman standing, it’s about who knocks the audience out!


  1. BruinGirl.

    The first passage kept my attention, but the writing was weaker and included some typos. The emotion leaked out of the second quite nicely.

  2. Ah. I like them both. The first passage had more errors, while the second was cleaner. But I found myself more interested in the story of the first. So my vote this round goes to The Scribbler.

  3. I'm voting for #1 because it really reminds me of a scene from the movie "Little Children" (which I really enjoyed) in which the characters are sitting at a public pool, kids/innocence/joy all around, but there's other themes lurking under the surface - lust, fear, loneliness. I'd want to keep reading!

  4. Tough Round.

    BruinGirl's peice was definitely stronger writing, but it felt a little melodramatic to me, so by the end i felt more turned off by her grief than sympathetic.

    The Scribbler has some real rough spots in regards to the writing. More than once i had to re-read a sentence or a passage to understand what was trying to be said. Breaking up some of sentences would help tremendously. But there was forward movement in the story, which i liked.

    My vote goes to The Scribbler

  5. The Scribbler gets my vote.

    Both pieces are kind of depressing, though. If either one begins the story, I would not read further. They would work better in the middle of the story, after I've gotten to know the character.

  6. BruinGirl. The writing is much better, and that's what this is all about.

  7. I think both of these show some unique writing moments, but they do need work. Scribbler, I'd focus particularly on grammar (especially punctuation) and finding a way to make your story and phrases stand out as original. I knew what was coming each moment.
    BruinGirl, you have what it takes to end up a good writer: a sense of deep emotion and empathy. Unfortunately, in this piece it so tips the scale toward melodrama that I couldn't believe it. Additionally, especially in a piece that focuses on music, there is a jarring rhythm to the sentences when read aloud. I'd love to see a little more flow, with some longer sentences and more varied sentence structure.
    I'm going to vote for The Scribbler, because I think she did a better job of accurately portraying and conveying a true emotion.

  8. My vote goes to THE SCRIBBLER.

    There are many little things that need to be cleaned up in The Scribblers piece, but over all there was a sense of character and story. I could really see and feel something.

    BruinGirl has a great piece of emotion and cleaner writing, but I couldn't relate to the voice in any way other than through the pain and even that wasn't evident until the end. This was well written but with no sense of character or plot.

  9. Wow. Both were fantastic. I almost didn't read the second one, because I didn't think the first could be topped, but I'm glad I did, because by a very small measure, it did. My vote is for BruinGirl

  10. My vote is for THE SCRIBBLER.

    The punctuation and grammar errors were a jarring turn off for me in the first piece. Also- when i realized she had a toddler with her i was like 'how is she watching that baby by the pool if she's watching these other people make out?!'- made me anxious which then took me out of the story.

    BruinGirl's piece was definitely a cleaner piece of writing. personally- i'm not a huge fan of descriptions of music or lyrics in books. And a large portion of this piece was just that. When i first read it i was a little intrigued to find out who the MC was grieving for, but honestly by the end when it was revealed it was his mom, i was like 'oh. ok.' and didn't feel compelled to read on.

    In the end i appreciated the forward momentum of the first piece a little more than the cleaner writing in the second so that is how my vote fell.

  11. Another interesting contrast and comparison in today's bout. Both offer first-person views of loss and loneliness, although in two different ways.

    The Scribbler's piece has some rough edges (comma splices, "makeup" should be one word, missing commas, etc), but the tone is conversational and the characterization of the MC comes through. The loss here is the loss of the intense, lust-filled, early love in the MC's marriage -- it is a familiar thought to anyone who's been in a relationship long enough to have it evolve past that initial rush of the early stages. The piece does kind of make it a little too obvious, and the character dwells on her self-incrimination a little too long, but overall, it's easy to identify with the MC, and by the end of the piece sympathy and concern for the MC are evoked in the reader.

    In the piece by Bruingirl, the basic mechanics of writing are smoother, but here the loss is that of a mother, echoed and amplified in the song that the MC (he? she?) listens to. But while The Scribbler tended to spoon-feed the emotional content to the reader, here we're pummeled with it as the pathos drenches each and every line. I'm not trying to diminish the sense of loss one feels after their mother has passed away, but I can't help but think this piece could be so much more effective with an understated delivery. Plus, it's damn near impossible to adequately describe musical passages -- despite reusing multiple ways of saying "painful" and "sad," it never really works, and it ends up going on too long. I get that it's a depressing song, but I really have no idea of what it sounds like.

    So overall, I have to give the edge to The Scribbler today, simply because this piece ended up being more effective at what it set out to do.

  12. The scribbler made it hard to start with abrupt sentence structures. The story had a purpose but there was a lot of repetitious thoughts. If you weeed out the repetition and replace with some more background it'd give more meaning.

    Bruingirl was a little too detailed. The story is definitely emotional by the end meaning the song could have played twice but the second time you could have just said it rather than rewrite it and summarize that she could sing the pain with the song. The emotional pull though is what tipped it for me.

    Vote bruingirl

  13. Both of these had mistakes, but not enough to lift one over the other, and because they were designed convey emotion, it's difficult to be objective if identifying with a particular scenario. BruinGirl's was a little too slow for me, and The Scribbler's was uncomfortably reminiscent. I choose Scribbler.

  14. I hate to vote for a piece with mechanical errors, but I'm going with The Scribbler this week. The second piece was melodramatic, but I didn't feel any genuine emotion in it. The Scribbler's piece was flawed, but I really felt the character.

  15. A tough one. #1 has a few awkward errors that threw me out of the story. #2 didn't pull me in as much emotionally - I think because there was too much physical detail without that emotional context. Hm. Vote goes to #1

  16. Eh, it's a draw. Neither piece drew me in enough for love although I felt the emotion in both.

  17. I'm voting for The Scribbler. I just couldn't connect with Bruingirl's piece.

  18. Tough it was close for me, I have felt both scenarios. I'd have to say The Scribbler #1 tugged at me more. Bruingirl's gave me pause and I felt the pain, but I too felt it was over played. For me death sends my mind rambling trying to escape the path I know I must face. It comes in like thunder and shakes me, then the rain, next comes the escape. There was no escape. Death makes us want to divert our reality-perhaps a memory of this song being played at another point in time.

  19. Scribbler, although there were some typos that a proofread could have eliminated, the scene's effect was still there.
    The writing was cleaner in Bruingirl's but that's not entirely what swayed my vote. I can identify with the grip of a sad song. And for that I have to vote Bruingirl.

  20. Tough to choose between these two pieces. The first one had better pacing, but the grammatical errors made it to difficult to read. The second was written better, but I was bored by the time the big reveal came that it was his mother who was gone.

    I am voting for The Scribbler.

  21. Man, these are both pretty depressing - which is what the authors were going for, so good job. My vote goes to Bruin Girl for having an overall more polished piece and for conveying music with words so well.

  22. I won't repeat what has already been said by others. My vote goes to Scribbler despite the grammatical errors.

    Suzanne @ Times Squared

  23. I usually go for the writing quality, but Bruingirl needed something stronger in the content. I didn't really connect with the MC.
    I vote Scribbler

  24. Some of these bouts are really difficult to choose between.

    My vote goes to The Scribbler. I connected with this one more than the character in the second one.

  25. Voting Bruingirl. It seemed a more polished piece of writing to me.

  26. The Scribbler for me.

    So stark. So real. Yet not overdone. I loved it.

    (I just wanted to point out that "Time to go baby" should be "Time to go, baby.")

  27. I vote for The Scribbler.

    Scribbler: There were errors, but I really felt more connected to the MC and the scene, although it was a bit predictable.

    Bruingirl: Your piece was well written, but it didn't hold my attention. It was a little over the top for me.

  28. Aww, the first one is so sad!
    BruinGirl's reminded me of Smiths lyrics.

    Voting for The Scribbler.

  29. This is not fair. They're both quite well-written and drew me in. Tossing coin and Scribbler wins.




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