Title: Into The Bliss: Having & Holding Ellanor I agree with Wombat--start with "I'm off".
Genre: Non-fiction / Memoir
Short Pitch: A mother's account of the triumphs and tragic losses of infertility, seeking how to make life count after her newborn's death.
Link: www.authonomy.com/books/46492/into-the-bliss-having-holding-ellanor/">Into The Bliss: Having & Holding Ellanor
I became conscious in what felt like an instant. It was something that had always amused me about the whole “going to sleep” under anaesthetic thing. Last I recall, I had been joking around with the theatre staff before they put me out like a light. It was something I had grown accustomed to doing to relieve my anxiety.
“Bye, then! I’m off,” I would say in these nerve-wracking final moments before the procedure. One final quip to show I was in good spirits, despite the fact they were about to spread my legs and do something medical to my uterus. The theatre staff would always laugh heartily and jolly me along. It was my way of turning these sensitive procedures into something more bearable, enabling me to ease into unconsciousness. The trick was not to panic as I went under for it would only make me more distraught coming back into consciousness after losing my pregnancy this way.
In the brief moment before closing my eyes again in the Recovery room, I glimpsed the oxygen mask covering my face. It was a harsh reminder that I had been through something far bigger than any jovial front would allow me to conceal.
My mind was awake now but my limbs still weren’t. I had done this often enough to know there was no need to call out, for I would only make a feeble grunt if I tried to talk. There were nurses walking about. I could hear them chatting happily amongst themselves. One of them would come and check on me soon enough.
“So I don’t know, I think he should finish the course – he’s come this far,” one of them was saying. She walked over to me when she saw me stirring, interrupting the conversation she had been having with her colleague. “Kirrily! Kirrily, love. Hi, you’re in Recovery.”
The nurse patted my hand. Without forcing my eyes open, I waved at her and raised my eyebrows.
“Hey,” I said in a voice that didn’t sound like me.
“It went well,” the nurse told me loudly. “They got everything. Your doctor said he will come back and see you before he leaves.”
They got everything. She means they got rid of it, I mused. And to think this time I thought the baby was going to be okay.
I gave the nurse a thumbs-up sign in acknowledgement. By now, I was numb to this sort of wake-up call. As I lay there, gradually becoming more aware of the room and the people in it, I was a captive audience to my own thoughts. How very different each of my pregnancy failures had been over the years, I mused. And how much more I had transformed after every one. My life circumstances were vastly changed again this time.
The whys of what had just happened began to creep into my awareness. Why this pregnancy had even happened if it was ending in this way anyway. Why I had to start my day with the hospital prescribed tea and toast. Why I had looked at Steve, my partner, and sighed resignedly—a “here we go again” moment shared—as we climbed into the car for the early morning drive to the hospital. Why I had to go through the booking-in procedure, have the tag on my wrist read, checked, double checked and re-read by every member of the medical team I came across. Why I had to lie on the unforgiving theatre table and give over my sense of womanhood (and decency) while my feet were going up into stirrups and my hand was being prepped for the anaesthetic. <nolink></nolink>
A few places I was taken out of the narrative:
I know that you English call your operating rooms "Theatres," and I would never suggest you change it otherwise, but in this case, whilst posting for an international audience, it really did make me blanch when I read it. Our Theatres are movie houses, and I know I'm going to sound ridiculous with this next part, but when you use the word "theatre" before procedure, it did evoke that image. I'm constantly trying to figure out--especially since I write comedy and the two groups of people appreciate different types of comedy--how to write in such a way that it won't divide the two countries by the common language. Even with Amazon now for Kindle, you upload one copy of your book and they distribute in six countries. You don't get a choice to upload separate versions with separate spellings and colloquial expressions for separate countries.
Anyway, in this instance, "theatre" completely took me out of the narrative. Do you use another word possibly, for an operating room? Or perhaps using it AFTER we know she's in the OR might fix it. Or maybe no one else will see it as an issue.
A small suggestion: since you use the word "amuse" in your first few sentences, I caught myself wanting to see a little more dry, acerbic and bitter wit. You "say" it amused you, but your internal dialogue and spoken words certainly didn't show me that. This woman seems smart, and smart women are excellent angry comics when we're under pressure. I kept reading, in fact, to find where she demonstrated that amusement, but it never came. You set me up and then let me down.
And this -> "The whys of what had just happened began to creep into my awareness. Why this pregnancy had even happened if it was ending in this way anyway."
I had to reread the second sentence about four times before I finally realised what you were doing there. I might suggest a semi-colon to join the two, so it won't be confusing, and then let the rhythm of the other "whys" carry it. And should be a comma after way.
But it might've just been me. It's been pointed out that my comments have absolutely no merit and I know bugger about what I'm talking.
Here: "“Bye, then! I’m off,” I would say in these nerve-wracking final moments before the procedure. One final quip to show I was in good spirits, despite the fact they were about to spread my legs and do something medical to my uterus."
This is probably more a personal choice, but again, you've used the word quip, but the sentence she uses isn't really quippy. If it were me, I might use her internal dialogue after that to demonstrate her amusement and quippiness. "I was in good spirits, despite the fact they were about to spread my legs and rip out everything up to my chin." No, not suggesting you use that (unless it rings true with you), I wanted to demonstrate through exaggeration how you might be able to insert a little more wry humour. But do you see what I'm driving at? Your writing is good, the narrative voice distinct and clear. But you've set me up three times now (later you use "jovial front") for amusement and wry quips, but I just don't see any! And I SO wanted to! This is right up my alley--I've been told I can take the most horrendous subject and turn it into the best acerbic, embittered and funny rant. Maybe you weren't going for laugh-out-loud chuckles, and that's okay, but I'm trying to drive home the point that you set me up for something in your narrative, but I didn't see the pay-off.
I'm having difficulty trying to explain what I mean. If this were a stand-up comedy routine, I would say the only thing missing, amongst the wonderful narrative and writing, is your ATTITUDE. YES! That's what it's missing. Aren't you completely pissed about what happened? (I'm assuming this happened to you since you use your name in the script. If it did, my heartfelt condolences.) Aren't you mad that you've been robbed of this joy? DON'T BE AFRAID TO SHOW ME SOME OF THAT! I think that's the spark missing for me.
I think this is in great shape for you to now go back and add in some of that pay-off.
Oh, and this: " How very different each of my pregnancy failures had been over the years, I mused." Dump the I mused. It ripped me right out of your narrative and it's not needed, since by now we know your protag is the one giving us the POV. The entire narrative is you MUSING, so it's not needed again.
Posted: 25/08/2012 19:33:01