On Saturday, August 2nd, one of my holy triumvirate of authors, Dennis Cooper, hosted Writer's Day part 1 on his blog (the second part was on Saturday, August 9th). It was open to anyone who reads his blog; they could send in a bit of their work to have it shown on his blog.
Here's what amazes me about that: someone who plays on his level doesn't have to be nice to up and coming people. Other authors who are on his level don't have anything even close to the contact he has with his readers, nor give them anything even remotely like the level of access he gives. It's beyond awesome how supportive he is of other writers.
I sent a small portion of the novel, namely chapter forty (the shortest chapter that could be read without knowing the full plot of the book and still understood).
So, in case you can't make it over there, here is the excerpt that I sent to him. This is chapter forty of the novel:
Forty: Wade in the Water, Children
I remember we made the trip all the way to San Diego. This big water park there. I was just a little older than the whole photograph thing I was astounded. I'd never seen that much water before. That many fish all in one place.
The moment I remember most was standing in front of this enormous tank full of all that water. It was so gigantic, and yet so peaceful. My little hands pressed against the glass. Sharks swimming right next to fish that they would eat if they weren't so well fed. I just wanted to climb into that peace and swim. Just swim for the rest of my life.
"Look, honey, that one is called a lemon shark. " A man standing not too far from me was knelt down near a boy almost as tall as me. The boy, wide-eyed, safe. Loved. I watched them out of the corner of my eye for what seemed like hours. The kid was an endless fountain of questions which his father answered with no anger, no frustration. I wanted to walk up to them. I wanted to ask him to be my father.
I just wanted to swim there.
That's when the guy grabbed my shoulder and forced me along with him to the nearest bathroom. One of the ones that told me to call him 'dad'. It was the worst beating I ever got. The taste of the pencil between my teeth. I had to stay quiet because it was a public place. I remember how mad he got that he 'couldn't get a good god damn swing' in the small stalls.
I had wandered off. I did that a lot when I was a kid. I used to pray that I would get lost and not have to go back. I was still young enough to think someone was listening. That, somehow, the police would find me and see what he'd done. Then they'd come to the house and kill him. When you're a kid, you think like that: that killing the bad guy solves everything. Walt Disney did that to us.
The whole time I stood there, pants around my ankles, snot and tears streaming down my face, I thought about swimming. I almost didn't even feel the belt. I almost didn't hear his heavy breathing, or how cold my legs were getting. There was just me. And swimming.
There's always a part of that memory, though, that I can't get beyond. The beating stopped, I think, and I remember him hissing 'stay quiet'. Then there was a hand on my hip. I don't remember anything else until what must have been about a week later.
Swimming at the local public pool. I was always there early, so I was kind of alone. Not many people. I remember holding my breath and sinking. All the way to the bottom. I just sat there, slowly blowing bubbles up. There was a peace and quiet. I sat there until I was burning inside, like my lungs were about to explode.
They hauled me up. I gasped and sputtered. Pushed the lifegaurd away when he tried to give me mouth to mouth. I left, hurried, embarrassed. Ashamed. Everyone thought I had tried to commit suicide.
I was just trying to be alive.
That was one of the early places. It got a lot worse. I think that was the second family I ever stayed with. I don't remember a lot about it. Just that day. Just that feeling. Swimming. Sinking.
*I'm back from my vacation. There was insanity, both the good and bad kind.