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[Writing Contest] - THE ARENA

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Comments

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Politics Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 81,310 CMod ✭✭✭✭coffee_cake


    FB's was touching and well written, but I quite liked the short dramatic style of AB's, and the ending! :)


    it was also closer to the limit ;)


  • Registered Users Posts: 627 ✭✭✭hcass


    I picked Alfa Beta - although I was thinking the whole time "there's some twist to this" and it was a little cheesey.

    Fudge Brace - I just didn't believe that someone would walk out like that, it seemed too easy. I don't think you showed how close to the edge she was before she finally gave in and walked out. And how quickly she felt relieved - I don't think anyone would feel like that after making what I would think was such a difficult decision to make.


  • Registered Users Posts: 216 ✭✭FudgeBrace


    hcass wrote: »
    I picked Alfa Beta - although I was thinking the whole time "there's some twist to this" and it was a little cheesey.

    Fudge Brace - I just didn't believe that someone would walk out like that, it seemed too easy. I don't think you showed how close to the edge she was before she finally gave in and walked out. And how quickly she felt relieved - I don't think anyone would feel like that after making what I would think was such a difficult decision to make.

    yeah I completely agree! I should have made the decision more difficult and maybe even heartbreaking. Thanks for the feedback!!


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,252 ✭✭✭echo beach


    As usual two great pieces, both deserving to win.

    FB's was beautifully written and I was sure must have been written from personal experience, right up until the last paragraph. The sudden change didn't work for me. I know the ending was needed to fit the theme but if you change it or even omit it completely you have a beautiful piece of writing to be proud of.

    I loved Alpha's tone and didn't see the twist coming at all.

    Congratulations to you both.


  • Registered Users Posts: 216 ✭✭FudgeBrace


    echo beach wrote: »
    As usual two great pieces, both deserving to win.

    FB's was beautifully written and I was sure must have been written from personal experience, right up until the last paragraph. The sudden change didn't work for me. I know the ending was needed to fit the theme but if you change it or even omit it completely you have a beautiful piece of writing to be proud of.

    I loved Alpha's tone and didn't see the twist coming at all.

    Congratulations to you both.

    Thanks and yeah the last paragraph was a bit rushed and not thought through . And yes I do write from experience although not as bad as the piece I wrote thank god!! Thanks again for the feeback!!


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  • Registered Users Posts: 449 ✭✭Agent Weebley


    Sometimes . . . sometimes, yeah, well you have to let a comment breathe a little before a reply. In this instance, I figured alfa beta and Fudgebrace needed some breathing space to write their stories, so rather than monopolise the thread during a competition, I went off to visit John for a while. I had a few questions that I needed him to make rhetorical for me. In the meantime, KABLOOEY (sorry for shouting) threw up 2 more stories, rather than continuing the magic story that I liked so much. I guess I will eventually comment on the mousey "fear based meme" that he/she then promulgated on that thread directly, but I mention it here because alfa beta suffered from "fear based meme" effects after his little fender bender; no victims, the kid and the dog were not "freaked out" by death, and the only injury was to the car.

    Did you notice the reference to wine in my link above?

    Agent Weebley mentioned "wine" to me yesterday. He is posted (no pun intended) on The Daily Bell right now. Oh, he also says "hi" and "onwards and upwards" to you all. He also gave Kudos to alfa beta's comments on hcass' story writing abilities. He again mentioned that story you wrote, hcass. He loves it to bits - and he would love for Agent DelKey to meet Gaia. They could compare notes (them eat them.) Agent DelKey looks a lot like Fi Fi. Remember Fi Fi?

    Where was I? Oh yes, "wine." Agent Weebley posted a message to Chris Becker and Anthony Wile - a comment on their interview last weekend. The article was about Africa, and just as juicy as the Anglo Irish tapes. Buried at the end of Agent Weebley's comment and shameless plug for boards.ie, was a video made by Faza Nelly just before he was killed. At 1:16 Faza Nelly says: " I demand that the poor get that wine."

    Oh my, I seem to be going off the rails on my preamble to my comment about the Fudgebrace and alfa beta stories; I had better get back on track. Let me finish my thought first? So here I am talking to John. I was a bit busy at the time, so I asked him what the next step was. He gave me nothing, so I said "Thx," which is short for "thanks," but I added 1138 afterwards, which makes "Thx 1138." Why I did that, I do not know. He replied: "and Winnie-the-pooh"

    The reason I mention it, is that I was thinking about my new magical abilities - running along the lines of Nerfy's new found similar magical skills, and Agent Weebley's age-old much QED'ed magical skills, and I was wanting to play "I Have The Touch" by The Angel Gabriel. I typed it in and the top result was this, so naturally, I clicked it.

    OK, here we go:

    I read Fudgebrace's story and thought it was good, but rushed. There needed to be a temporary escape, and it seemed like it was written like a permanent escape. A Mum and daughter that love each other wouldn't permanently split like that. I love my Mum forever, no matter what. I'd like to see a re-write that explained it a little better. Notice how the Thx 1138 video ends in an escape into the Sunlight in much the same way?

    With respect to alfa beta and the thieving - no, giving Santa. I loved it! A polar opposite to the fear-based dry run "escape" story. Nice. It got my vote.

    Do you want to know what my question was to John? All of us have been talking about it all week: how to distribute MetaFlorin to all Irish people equally, like Santa. Oh crap. John gave me the answer.

    I just got it.

    He referred me to Merseybeat Magazine and said: "Bill Harry." Gotta go - we have some writing to do.


  • Registered Users Posts: 449 ✭✭Agent Weebley


    Agent Weebley wants a convo tomorrow - I can't wait!

    The Handshake . . . the contract . . . the graph.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,461 ✭✭✭--Kaiser--


    Went for FudgeBraces story, perhaps because I have relatives who had to deal with Alzhemiers. The end was a little odd though, but perhaps it's more a fantasy for the character than the reality.

    The voice for alfa beta's story wasn't as well developed as it could have been (seemed half-cockney, half something else) and I didn't like the twist at all I'm sorry to say


  • Registered Users Posts: 627 ✭✭✭hcass


    --Kaiser-- wrote: »

    The voice for alfa beta's story wasn't as well developed as it could have been (seemed half-cockney, half something else) and I didn't like the twist at all I'm sorry to say

    It's all that international travel - he picks up a bit of every accent.


  • Registered Users Posts: 66 ✭✭Achillles


    Went for alfa beta's in the end. Although I probably preferred FudgeBrace's style, it seemed like you were trying to fit a lot of story into the short word count. This made it seem a little rushed- ironic considering it seemed to be alfa beta writing down to the wire!
    Both great pieces, but I think the contrast in the endings pipped it for AB.

    By the way I'd like to throw in a challenge...do I have to join the queue?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 216 ✭✭FudgeBrace


    Achillles wrote: »
    Went for alfa beta's in the end. Although I probably preferred FudgeBrace's style, it seemed like you were trying to fit a lot of story into the short word count. This made it seem a little rushed- ironic considering it seemed to be alfa beta writing down to the wire!
    Both great pieces, but I think the contrast in the endings pipped it for AB.

    By the way I'd like to throw in a challenge...do I have to join the queue?

    I'm not sure if anyone else is lined up to challenge, but I think your up next if want, unless I didn't see someone else put their name forward ?


  • Registered Users Posts: 66 ✭✭Achillles


    So that means I'm challenging Alfa? Ill wait to see if I'm jumping the queue and what suits Alfa too.


  • Registered Users Posts: 449 ✭✭Agent Weebley


    Congratulations, alfa beta, our reign(deer)ing champ.


  • Registered Users Posts: 763 ✭✭✭alfa beta


    thanks for all the comments. didnt think that story would win. think kaiser nailed it re the nartators voice. but hey!
    also very impressed with the first three quarters of fbs piece. your writing is getting stronger all thr time fudge.

    ok im ready when you are achilles. throw up a topic and we'll get cracking. on hols at the mo with family so dont worry if i take a while to get back to you - not gonna be online too much - also will be writing on my phone so please ignore typos.


  • Moderators, Arts Moderators Posts: 17,231 Mod ✭✭✭✭Das Kitty


    On your phone! Hard core!


  • Registered Users Posts: 66 ✭✭Achillles


    Sorry was drowning my sorrows yesterday after Kildare were humiliated!
    Grand sure ill throw up the topic now and whenever you're ready we'll take it from there.

    Pressure


  • Registered Users Posts: 763 ✭✭✭alfa beta


    ok 'pressure'

    sounds interesting

    sorry bout the delay but i'll give that a shot sometime tomorrow and post what i come up with.


  • Registered Users Posts: 627 ✭✭✭hcass


    Am I the only one thinking - "let the man enjoy his holiday with his family"


  • Registered Users Posts: 449 ✭✭Agent Weebley


    Hi hcass,

    I was also thinking that alfa beta needed a well deserved break. I was intending on addressing his comments on Aston Martin during this lull, as he may know someone we know at that fine establishment . . . but maybe another day, another thread.

    I instead began to read the story: Erewhon, as I needed to get to The Musical Banks tout de suite.

    Have you jumped over the saddle and landed on the other side yet, hcass?


  • Registered Users Posts: 66 ✭✭Achillles


    Ok I'm throwing mine up beacuse I'm in work from three.
    Pressure
    He stood at the gnarled oak door, trepidation written across his face. On the far side of the door, he could hear city traffic, and imagined it slowing as it passed his gate, straining to catch a glimpse of the recluse. He could feel their eyes on him, silently judging. Swallowing, he reached shakily for the handle, then recoiled. Maybe he should stay in? He’d made it as far as the door today- it was progress. The panic swelled up again in his chest, came crashing at him in waves. He could feel the pressure built up in his head, could sense the blood churning around. It was silly and irrational he knew, not being able to step outside his front door. But how could he face the world? Three weeks. Three weeks since he’d lost his wife to the rabid beast that was cancer. His hand still hovered skittishly in the air and he willed it forward, felt the coolness of the brass knob. Bile rising in his throat, he turned it.
    Outside it was a cool, overcast day. He took in his surroundings. Traffic passed, but didn’t slow. Nobody stared or pointed or stood in waiting for him to break down. He took a step forward, playing the part of Neil Armstrong. The grass of his front lawn needed mowing, perhaps for the last time this year. Leaves the colour of too-old saws scampered across the path. He began to make his way down that same path. It hit him again. Hard. He almost turned on his heel and fled back to the safe haven of home. He would have if he hadn’t been weak at the knees. Reaching to his wallet he fumbled for the small picture of Moira, caressed it with is thumb. Finding some kernel of locked away courage, he moved on again. Hermetted away for almost a month, she would have laughed at him! It was two hundred yards to the shop, surely he could make it that far? He did. All the while fighting the lump hammer threatening to cave his chest in.
    The automatic doors opened before him. Should have had them at home he thought. Would have made this whole saga a lot easier. He walked the aisles furtively, terrified of a chance encounter with a well meaning friend. That could reignite his downward spiral indefinitely. He realised he didn’t want anything and he was just wandering aimlessly. He picked up some milk that was close to hand and went to the counter.
    “Morning, Ian. Just the pint of milk is it?”
    “Yeah, just that thanks.” No pity, no condescension, don’t ask me how I’m coping. I’m not coping. How would I be? Just a simple transaction please.
    “Ok, see you soon.”
    He took his change and left. Walking out the front doors, he felt ridiculously buoyed by the experience. Like a child after learning how to tie his laces for the first time. On automatic pilot, he steered himself towards home. Almost there, and he stepped in a steaming pile of dog ****e! He didn’t care, just kept on walking with a smile on his face for the first time in over three weeks. A smile no man who had just stepped in dog ****e had a right to.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 763 ✭✭✭alfa beta


    I am dying.

    I am lying in a small, clean, white, sterile room where I am surrounded by electronic blips and whirrs. I am staring at the ceiling. There’s not much else to do.

    Nurses come and go. Some of them stride. Others shuffle. Some smile. Others don’t. They, like the room, are clean, white and sterile.

    They ask me if I’m comfortable. I say I am. I don’t know what else to say.

    They are doing their jobs. And when I’m gone they will do those same jobs for someone else. That is how it works. That is all there is to it.

    By now I am not worried about dying. No longer am I angry. No longer am I sad. Certainly I have cried and I have shouted. I have cursed and I have sworn. I have hoped and I have even prayed. But all to no avail. Nothing, no act, no thought, no outburst, has brought me to anywhere other than here. And here appears to be where I’ll stay. Until the end.

    Emotions have come. And then they have gone. In my thoughts and in my feelings only hopelessness now remains. Wearisome and solitary. Like an unwanted guest at the end of a tedious party. Like a lingering, insidious odour, impossible to remove. And I have come to realise why. Hopelessness, I now know, is not an emotion. It is the lack of one. The complete, utter and total lack.

    I am fifty four. I have smoked all my life. That is why I am here. It is why I am dying. It’s why I won’t see my son turn fifteen.

    There is, of course, an inevitability about my situation that I can’t deny. I can resent it, but I can’t deny it. An inevitability that, I sense, taints and contorts the way my condition is perceived by those who feel forced to visit me. ‘He could have given them up’ they think. ‘He could have avoided all this.’ I can see it in their eyes. Hear it in their voices. Empathy is difficult, I guess, when the wounds appear so obviously self-inflicted.

    I wish to god that weren’t the case. I wish those who came and stood uncomfortably by my bed knew just how strong, how vice-like, the grip that my fatal addiction held me within really was. I wish they understood how often and how desperately I longed to extricate myself from it. And how I couldn’t, how I simply couldn’t - no matter how hard I tried and no matter what damage was being done to me inside. Of course, now I know they’ll never understand.

    Under the crisp, clean, white, sterile sheets I can easily picture my blackened lungs, heaving and straining to pull their final gulps of air down my raw throat like the filthy dried-up old sponges they have become. I have poisoned them through the years. I have not wanted to but I have. They have borne the brunt of my addiction – they have been inflicted time and time again with deadly carcinogens when they sought only clean, pure oxygen.

    Look at the warnings on the front of any cigarette pack and you’ll see my lungs staring back at you. In all their rancid glory. Read the messages and don’t ignore what I did all those years ago. When on a wet and windy September morning at an eleven o’clock break I felt the first pull of warm smoke down my throat.

    I was thirteen at the time and I coughed and spluttered repeatedly and wondered how anyone could possibly like the sensation or the taste. It was nothing like I had imagined.

    That first cigarette had come from a stolen pack of twenty, shared furtively among a group of us – just before the teachers emerged from their warm staffroom to prowl around the yard. A lad we called Fitzy offered them around. Everyone took one.

    I hesitated.

    I still remember what he said when I did. ‘Ah go on ye bollix, shur one f***in' fag won’t kill ya.’

    He visited me here yesterday. All fake smiles and ‘you’ll-be-out-and-about-soon’ bullsh**.

    He looked well though. I could tell he didn’t smoke any more. Probably hasn’t done for years. I didn’t ask. Makes no difference to me now.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,461 ✭✭✭--Kaiser--


    Some very good turns of phrases to Achilles' story ('Leaves the colour of too-old saws' , All the while fighting the lump hammer threatening to cave his chest in') but alfa beta's story has such genuine voice of despair that it felt more real


  • Registered Users Posts: 449 ✭✭Agent Weebley


    The following "Solomon Grundy" like precis on the preceding 2 stories may make more sense to hcass at this moment, since I believe she is reading the same story I experienced and became engrossed in over a 2 day period: Erewhon - By Samuel Butler. The story I actually completed yesterday - 84083 words: captivating and page-less reading, scrolling down and further down, hour after hour in html format, punctuated only by lonely chapter headings and the ribbon bar on the right. But before I travel down that particular and peculiar path, I need to give you a little background to set you in good stead for the trip.

    Back in 1975, Agent Weebley, then unknown as Weebley, outwardly known as Stephen or shortened to Steve, but nicknamed Moggy by close friends in his early years, due to him playing the part of a cat in The Pied Piper Of Hamlin when he was 9 or 10 when attending St. John Vianney Primary School in Coventry, met me, whilst listening to The Blue Album in his living room; the drifting ethereal sounds of the Fab4 catching my ear next door, and drawing me in. We have been joined at the hip ever since, so joined we are that I came to Canada with him and his family in 1975.

    He married Lucy in 1988, but due to her desire for her outwardly known name to remain anon., I shall not delve into it at this time.

    At 6:30am Canada time yesterday, 16 degrees C and with an overcast sky, both Agent Weebley, who froze his age at 49, and Lucy, who is only 3 years older than alfa beta would have imagined, parked their car in the parking lot at Brampton Civic Hospital and entered. They left me in the car to continue reading the book that Agent Weebley had suggested reading in the Literature Forum.

    Now, we are the type of people that keep illnesses private, desiring them to not impinge on the daily trials and tribulations of our Quest, but if a life-long smoker with a strange and singular mass on her lung, whilst simultaneously going downhill rapidly, needs to have an invasive lymph node test and yet another bronchoscopy done to establish what the heck is going on, meanwhile, both Agent Weebley and myself are in the middle of trying to get Steve to send an Investment Request on the Quest (IRQ) email to Bono, Bobby Shriver, Anthony Wile and Chris Becker, you may deduce that reading a book may not be the prescribed course of action.

    But then again, Erewhon may have been like manna from Heaven.

    Both Agent Weebley and myself are in the throes of speaking to Lucy about making the mass very small in relation to her body, similar to that which was indicated in Aldous Huxley's "Island."

    Achilles: you nailed it.

    Sorry for the interrupt, but I felt these 493 words needed to be said.


  • Registered Users Posts: 19 Recidivist


    A few years ago I sat in a Liverpool hospital listening to my friend drown in her own sputum after far too short a lifetime of smoking.
    She was full of shame and despair.

    alfa beta, uncomfortable reading – close to the bone.


  • Registered Users Posts: 763 ✭✭✭alfa beta


    hcass wrote: »
    Am I the only one thinking - "let the man enjoy his holiday with his family"

    haha - nothing like finding a good excuse to disappear from the joys of legoland etc for an hour or two though....

    but thank you for caring h !


  • Registered Users Posts: 627 ✭✭✭hcass


    Legoland! That's my dream holiday ye lucky bastard.


  • Registered Users Posts: 66 ✭✭Achillles


    Sorry I took so long in getting back, was fair busy in work the last few days so only had time to check in on the winner. Congrats to Alfa on another masterful performance! Fine piece of writing.
    Some very good turns of phrases to Achilles' story
    Achilles: you nailed it.

    Sorry for the interrupt, but I felt these 493 words needed to be said.

    Thanks to the both of you, always good to hear some vindication for your work!
    Hopefully I'll get into the swing of contributing more regularly to the forum from now on.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,551 ✭✭✭Rubecula


    I loved both stories equally. Very well written. BUT I had to chose one. I went for Alpha's

    Why did I not choose Achilles? Well it was simply because I HAD to choose Alpha's

    The story reminded me of two things. (my time in hospital earlier this year when I too nearly died) But mostly of the time my dear and much missed mum was in hospital thanks to the killing effect of smoking. She stopped smoking instantly after decades of indulging, but a few (far too few) weeks later she passed away.

    The emotions are still there and Alpha's story took them and twisted them up inside, By the end I actually had tears in my eyes.

    I had to vote for it.


  • Moderators, Arts Moderators Posts: 17,231 Mod ✭✭✭✭Das Kitty


    Alfa, are you up for a challenge?

    (I can't believe how far I had to dig to find this thread!)


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  • Registered Users Posts: 26,578 ✭✭✭✭Turtwig


    You didn't have it bookmarked? :eek:


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