Friday, 30 October 2009

West Of Ireland Writing Tip Number Two

The first evening back at the family home in Leitrim I found a task awaiting me that could not be postponed. The sinks were not draining properly. Upon investigation, the problem turned out to be a blocked gully. The only way to clear it was to put my hand down into the depths of the drain and start pulling out whatever debris I found there.

The culprit turned out to be many years’ accumulation of leaves. Indeed, I found so much decayed matter that it was like encountering a miniature peat bog in the bottom of the gully. I half expected to uncover the remains of a Neolithic settlement at the bottom of it.

I was reminded of my friend Teresita who told me how once when facing the same problem, she thrust her hand into several inches of scummy water and grasped something soft and wet which felt a bit like an old glove, or perhaps a woollen hat. Chuckling to herself, she drew her hand out of the water to find that she was clutching the bloated corpse of a dead rat.

Teresita is a strong and independent woman so I’ve no doubt that she handled the situation with grit and aplomb. Whereas I would probably have yelled, hurled the rat as far as possible and rushed for the shower.

I know I’m overdoing the writing metaphors at the moment. But I’ve just been looking at a manuscript by someone that ended so weakly, after promising so much that I couldn’t help another one coming on. So here it is, Brian’s West of Ireland Writing Tip Number Two: you’ll have much more impact if you end your novel with a swollen and grisly carcass than if you leave the reader with nothing more than a handful of wet leaves.

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