August 24, 2009

Scribbles of a Wannabe Writer

The beginning of a story I have been working on...I'd love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and comments!

Cancer. The word reverberated in her ears. It made an echo as if her head was hollow. She could feel her heart sinking in her chest. "We can start chemotherapy on Monday and..." She could faintly hear the oncologist speaking to her but she couldn't comprehend anything. She felt like a spinning top that was about to fall over. The world she woke up in this morning was a different world than the one she is now in. The two do not intersect. An invisible line has been drawn in time dividing her life into "before cancer" and "after."

She felt the doctor put his hand on her shoulder. "Erica? Are you alright? Do you need some water? Do you want to lay down? Should I call someone for you?" Call someone. As if there were anyone to call. Her mother had died when she was eight. Her sister, Jane, had been killed by a drunk driver when she was sixteen and Erica was thirteen, and her father was in the late stages of Alzheimer's. She had just broken up with her latest boyfriend, Jack, whom she had dated for only about seven months. She wasn't good at long-term relationships. Once they started getting serious, she started to retreat into her own shell. She wasn't sure why she did it, if it had something to do with her mother and sister, or if it was a lack of maturity, or what. She just knew it had been happening for fourteen years, ever since she went on her first date with Bobby Monroe when she was sweet sixteen.

Call. She could call her friend, Violet, but she was overseas in Stockholm on business and would not be awake at this hour. She couldn't awaken someone with news cancer. That would be a horrible start to the day, she thought.

"No, thank you, Dr. Brennan," Erica mumbled.

"Now I want you to come to chemo starting on Monday, Erica. The Cancer Center is in a separate building on the East side of St. Rosa's Hospital. Do you need directions?"

"No, I know where St. Rosa's is." She knew all too well. Her father lived in the Advanced Care Living Center that was diagonally across the street from the hospital. He had been living there for going on 2 years, ever since he could not take care of himself any longer. Erica could not take care of him herself. She had to work every day and her apartment was barely big enough for one, let alone two people to live there, and even less for a father and daughter who have only intermittently spoken to each other for the past 11 years. The day she went to college was the day she found freedom from her father's depression and overprotectiveness. Of course, she understood why he was that way, but it did not make it any easier to live with. Especially as a teenager. But she did help get him into the center and she goes to visit him on Sunday afternoons.

The doctor left Erica alone to collect her thoughts. She realized she was gripping the arm of the chair she was sitting in in Dr. Brennan's office. She released it but felt herself gripping it again seconds later.

Cancer. What am I going to do now?

Comments? Suggestions? Critiques? Please leave me a comment! I only learn when I know what is good and what needs improvement!


  1. Ooh, i like the involuntary gripping. I know exactly how that feels, and it's perfect.

  2. I think this is terrific!

    Did you mean to have the doctor be grammatically incorrect, by the way?

    The family history is so tragic - it makes me want to know more about Erica.

    I can't wait to read the next installment!

  3. Wow, poor Erica! I really felt for the character. The horror and shock of her situation were definitely conveyed.

    Great job! :)

  4. Wow - they talk about opening paragraphs being gripping. You had me on the first word! Well done you!

  5. Thanks! You inspire me to keep writing!

  6. Oh, and rhapsody- no I didn't mean for the doctor to be grammatically incorrect. I suppose I am just grammatically incorrect! Thanks for pointing that out!

  7. I like it too. I want to know what kind of cancer she has. Is it mentioned later on? (silly of me, it must be!)

    I'm not that good with grammar, but do you want this part "she goes to visit him on..." in present tense, when everything else is past? (is this the kind of critiquing you want?)
    "Cancer. What am I going to do now" Should that be italicized because it's her thoughts? or something to note that it's not part of the narrative?

    Erica has lost a lot of family members. Makes me wonder if she is going to have a change in the way she relates to people because of the cancer. I feel for her, dealing with her dad's depression as a teenager (been there, done that). I am also wondering if she has the same trouble with friends, that she has with boyfriens, or if she has created a second family (of friends, like some people manage to do when they have a dysfunctional family).

    I think you packed a lot of information about Erica in just a few paragraphs, but it didn't seem awkward to me. Once again, I think this is a good start. This, by the way is not coming from someone who is in any way a writer, I'm just a reader. (and I liked reading your start here) You've made me interested in Erica, and made me start wondering what's going to happen with this story and your character. You also made me do some math to find out that she's 30 years old. Sneaky, sneaky! :)

  8. I'm intrigued!! I like it so far. It's tense and has me wanting more information -- a great way to get a reader like me hooked! :)

  9. I think this is a great beginning. Keep going.


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