Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Chapter 15, Finished!

wordcount = 52,655!

I call this chapter "The Gospel I Would Preach." An excerpt:

At some point my fancies turned to dreams and in my sleep I marched across Europe, my manuscript under my left arm, my right hand around the hilt of the dagger Bernardo had given me. I walked with my head high and all men stepped aside for me. When I reached Germany I strode boldly to each house, opened the doors and peered within.

"Was suchen sie?" the Germans asked, bowing before me.

"Ich suche die Teleskopen," I said. "Wohin soll' ich gehen?"

All pointed me north, and I followed their directions across the Rhine and the Elbe to find myself in Berlin.

"Nord," I was told, and I passed through thick forests and fields of grain and over villages and always the Germans pointed me north until I was following the coastline of Jutland, stepping across the Korsor Nor, stumbling in Rostok and then I was in Elsinore. I stood before the house of my youth. It was night, frigid and starless. I no longer held Bernardo's dagger.

When I put the palm of my hand to the door I felt heat pouring through the panel, as though the house were afire. I withdrew my hand and my glove smoked and I smelled the scorched leather. The seams between the wooden planks of the door glowed suddenly red and then burst into flames. I took a step back and threw my arm over my face. The door burned rapidly away, as a brittle tapestry or a sheet of parchment. I lowered my arm and looked into the house.

Within, all was flame and swirling sparks. Somehow lightning streaked along the rafters while thunder cracked and boomed beneath the floorboards. A forge, a hell or a volcano's mouth lie within the house and in the midst of this terrible furnace was a man, eight feet tall and wrapped in armor, his long cape aflame but not consumed, or perhaps his cape was made of flame. I could not see what this giant did in the burning house, but he held a chisel in one hand and a dead raven in the other. A bolt of lightning chased across the ceiling and I saw with horror that this figure had two heads upon his shoulders: the head of Tycho Brahe and that of my father.

Each head screamed at the other, such obscenities and filth as I had never before heard.


  1. That was interesting. I'm sure it would make more sense once I read the whole book. But beautiful. I loved the fire. Very real.

    Can I ask you something -- you write in very long sentences -- when all the world says no -- is it for effect, or is it the way your brain thinks so you write it that way. I think it's very lovely, but now that I read as a writer, it makes me wonder. I do it too, but then change all my commas to full stop and begin a new sentence.

  2. Anne: I write in sentences that seem like the right length to me. I don't think about length of sentences or paragraphs. I know that some people find if off-putting, but to be honest, I'm not writing for those people. Also, because of my ideas about rhythm and flow, sentences sometimes need to be long.

  3. To paraphrase Lincoln, "A sentence should be as long as it needs to be to reach its point."

  4. Yeah, that's right! What was the other one? "A man should take as long as he needs to reach the end of a first draft." Or was it "A man should be as tall as necessary for his head to reach his hat."

  5. This is really nice, Scott, and congrats on your word count! Your writing blows me away, and I anxiously await the day I get to read both your novels. I love the description of the 8-foot man at the end!

    I see Little Women over on your "random books from my shelves"...have you really read that? I guess, more importantly, did you like it?

  6. Michelle: I have read "Little Women." And "Jane Eyre" and "Pride and Prejudice" and other unmanly works of literature. I liked the first half of "LW" a lot; not so much the second half with Jo and Mr. Bahr. I didn't believe that relationship at all.

    The 8-foot man gets really scary.