Swanskin The Final Update

Swanskin the Final Update www.aliisaacstoryteller

Swanskin the Final Update

It’s been a difficult week; two children sick at home, and now I have contracted the dreaded lurgy myself. It’s not conducive to sleep, writing or creativity. However, I got all my re-writes done, and have just started the final edit before sending my new little book-baby out into the kind (I hope!) hands of my lovely beta-readers. Current word count is 30, 317, but I expect to reduce that as I edit. This is the last time I will post about Swanskin until nearer its launch date. Btw, if anyone’s interested, I’m looking for two more beta-readers.

Here is an excerpt. This piece is one of the re-writes I worked on this week. Cethlenn has something of a complicated relationship with her mother, as you will see…

The atmosphere in school was pretty hyper. There were groups of students everywhere, some happy, a few distraught, many hugging and screaming and doing little happy dances. The noise was intense. I felt sick as I moved through them, a part of it all and yet not.

I signed for my envelope, then turned to be confronted by a shrieking Sophie. She flung her arms around me. “I passed,” she yelled in my ear. “I passed. Well, only just, but still. It’s a miracle.”

She faltered when she saw my own envelope was unopened. “Congratulations. I’m happy for you,” I replied, and meant it. I had really missed her friendship over the summer. She took my arm and drew me over to a quiet corner.

“Go on. You’ve got to look some time. Might as well get it over with.”

I groaned, stomach jolting. “I don’t think I can.”

“You could always leave it to your Mam.”

I ripped open the envelope. “I don’t think so. I need to prepare myself. She’s gonna go mental.” I scanned the results and sighed. “Yep, she’s gonna flip. That’s her plans for me being a teacher down the drain.”

“You don’t even want to be a teacher,” Sophie retorted.

“I know, but since when did that matter?”

Sophie snatched the sheet of paper from my hand. “Well, it’s not that bad. But it’s not good enough, that’s for sure.”

“Maybe I can re-sit them.”

“Yeah.” Sophie regarded me seriously. “Are you still seeing that guy?”

I shook my head. “No. But I’d rather not talk about it just yet, if you don’t mind.”

She nodded. “And how are things at home?”

I tried to twitch my lips into a smile, but failed. “Not easy. It’s world war three between Mam and Cian lately. Don’t know what the hell he’s supposed to have done. He hardly ever comes home, just works on the farm with Dad and dosses with mates at night.”

“Well he’s gonna get a reprieve when you bring this home.” She handed back my results and I stuffed them into the envelope. “A few of us are going down the town for a celebratory coffee. Want to join us?”

I shook my head. “I think I’ll just go home and face the music. Better get it over and done with.”

“Ok. Well, you know where I am if you need me. And I’m sorry about… well, you know.”

“I know. Me too. And thanks.”

I headed down the road to wait for a bus. I was dreading Mam’s reaction.

She was surprised to see me. “I thought you were celebrating with your friends?” she said.

I didn’t reply, just handed her the envelope. She stared at me for a moment, compressing her lips into that awful white line. She sat down at the kitchen table, shook out the letter and read its contents without a word. She must have stared at it for ten minutes while I stood there, anxiously hopping from one foot to the other. I thought I was going to throw up over her freshly mopped floor.

Eventually, I couldn’t stand her silence any more. “Well say something, then,” I burst out. But she didn’t. Slowly, she tore up the results, allowing the pieces to fall from her hands onto the floor. Then she got up and left the kitchen without even so much as a glance at me. I fled to my room. I didn’t go down for dinner, and no one bothered to call me, or bring me anything on a tray.

And here’s a little snippet from Ruadhán, too…

Nothing exceeded the rush of flying. It was my only solace. I lost myself in the spaces between winds and soared, nothing but the roar of the empty air about me, and the landscape passing beneath me, glorious in its abundance and many guises.

Sometimes, I thought I would fold my wings and allow myself to plummet and end it all, but somehow, I was ever unable. Perhaps my soul still cleaved on to hope, even though my heart and mind did not.

I wandered, and the days and nights merged into one formless mass, as they had done for centuries, each one nondescript and indistinct from the other. Just loneliness, and an ache that could never be relieved. I felt so heavy beneath its weight, I wondered that my wings could lift me.

I sailed from river to river, drifted from lake to lough, flying and feeding in the day, hiding and sleeping in the night. I say sleeping, but oft times it eluded me completely. Or else I was mired in traumatic dreams and memories which served only as torment.

SWAN FACT NO.4  A swan has over 25,000 feathers covering its body. Wonder who took the time to count them, and how the swan felt about it at the time!

OTHER NEWS; I entered a piece of flash fiction into Sacha Black’s Writespiration, you can read it here. The prompt was ‘write about a struggle’. Mine was based on a true story.

I also entered a poem into Jane Dougherty’s Poetry Challenge. You can read it here. The prompt was to take a favourite line from a song, movie, etc and allow it to inspire a poem. I chose a line from Demons by Imagine Dragons, and wrote a villanelle (my first ever).

Ad that’s it for today. Have a great week!

58 Comments on “Swanskin The Final Update

  1. Gosh you have been busy and with two sick children, too! I have had the lurgy too – probably from across the pond. Your writing is really excellent and prompts the reader to want to read more.


  2. Exciting stuff lays ahead for you and this new book, Ali. I wish you the very best of luck with it. I remember exam results days very much. Didn’t go home for 12 hours. My father thought I was out celebrating. I was, but only for those who had passed. 😀
    I did Okay, but I never let it stop me going for the jobs I wanted to do (apart from being a Fireman, but that was only because I wanted the uniform!)
    Hope you are feeling a lot better.
    Hugs to you,


  3. It reads wonderfully Ali! and do get well soon! I can’t apply to be one of your beta readers (I would) because I’m in the throes of a big move but I’m sure you will have lots of applicants! Sending you many good wishes and thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So sorry to hear you’re not well, Ali. It makes doing anything that much harder. Would love to beta read for you, but I am into a major rewrite – well not all that major, but certainly niggly – of my third book, based on beta reader comments. I have to have it to my editor by the end of February. After that I am free to read.
    Get well soon, and congrats on all your writing accomplishments!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It looks beautiful and I’m sure the rest will read as beautifully. I’m amazed at all you’ve done considering you and your family weren’t well. I’m never complaining again (until the next time).

    Liked by 1 person

      • You know it 🙂

        It felt very real. My parents were incredibly strict when it came to grades, especially my dad. Anything short of a perfect score was deemed a failure. Not an easy environment to grow up in. Made for a pretty stressful childhood, that’s for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Gosh, sorry about that. I know people who are like that with their kids too. I think a child will shine if given some freedom to do so. It can’t be forced. If you are naturally gifted it will show. Making a child study will not improve their grades if they are just not able for it. We can’t all be good at everything. If grades are poor through laziness, that is quite a different matter. My parents were hippies so we received no guidance whatsoever in childhood. Of course that’s going too far the other way, too. Its hard finding the right balance.

          Liked by 1 person

            • Some great experiences. Lots of travel. Fortunate to have experienced that at an early age. Independence. Self reliance. But it made me want to have a more stable nurturing home life for my own children. Also schooling was very interrupted. It was hard to make friends because we moved around so much. The freedom assumed by the generations of the 6os and 70s had quite far reaching consequences, not all of them positive.

              Liked by 1 person

  6. I hope you find your (kind) beta readers Ali. They’ll enjoy reading the book and with luck it will go on to be a great success. Feel Better Soon.
    xxx Huge Galore xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Really like the dialogue, it’s so vibrant and natural.

    I feel for you and your sickness. I caught the flu over Christmas and only now I’m getting rid of it. It was aweful… 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gosh that is a long time! You must have caught a bad dose! Mine is only a cold so should only last a week. Still makes you feel miserable though. Thanks for the compliments.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. If I’m not on your list already, I’d like to volunteer 🙂
    And I hope you feel better soon, no time off for you when you have the lurgy, I would imagine. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for re-blogging, Kim. And thanks for your good wishes, I appreciate it. That image is just for the post, though. I dont have a cover yet for the book, which is unusual for me. I like to have the cover ready halfway through writing, it helps me persevere to get to the end, although this is only a long short story really. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I’m writing a novel right now and I have a glimpse of a cover but am using a picture I bought as inspiration. Maybe I’ll get the cover when I’m over halfway which I hope is today. Thanks for following me. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oooh, exciting! The half way point, once you pass it you know you are hurtling towards completion. Its such a good feeling. Having the cover was great motivation for me. Good luck!

          Liked by 1 person

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