Tuesday, April 27, 2010

some progress

Okay, so today I'm feeling less befuddled and blocked, and there is some slight progress, possibly because of my riff-writing last night. For those of you who are interested in such things, here's the newest version of that snippet I posted before, from the very beginning of Chapter Two. It's still far from perfect, but I think it's rounded out just enough now for me to MOVE ON. Which I better hurry up and do, because I need to turn this sucker in on Friday to my writing group.

No matter how hard or fast Mist scrubbed, the mountain of dirty pots kept growing taller. They covered the entire length of the nearby worktable in a stinking soiled heap of jumbled bronze saucepans, iron skillets, and three legged cauldrons. The truly big ones, the black vats roomy enough to bathe in, were haphazardly stacked nearby, left for Saru and Eno, the two burly kitchen boys.

An hour’s worth of scrubbing, and I haven’t even made a dent. The thought exhausted her. With a miserable sigh she eyed the biggest vat, half tempted to climb inside and curl up like one of the kitchen cats in the cool dark interior. She wouldn’t mind the grime because she already stank of grease. The rancid smell clung to her hair and wafted up from the damp spots on her linen shift.

But she squashed the thought. Someone would miss her and the few, stolen moments of rest wouldn’t be worth the punishment she’d get. Maybe though, she could sneak a tiny break. One just long enough to work out the kink in her back, that spot that felt like someone had rammed a carving knife between her shoulder blades. After a quick glance to make sure no one was watching, she pushed away from the stone wash basin and, hands on her hips, she stretched out her aching back.

“Mist! Back to work,” one of the undercooks snapped.

Without even looking to see who’d issued the order, Mist grabbed the nearest pot and dunked it into the basin. She knew better than to complain on a banquet day. She wasn’t alone in her misery; today every single slave in Master Doro’s kitchens worked at a feverish pace and tempers ran high. Using a stiff bristled brush, she furiously worked at the remains of a creamy mushroom sauce that had hardened into black cement. Four more hours before she got a break, a bite of bread, and a moments rest, and then the clean up would begin. She’d be lucky to see her sleeping mat before midnight. The sauce refused to come clean so Mist tossed a handful of soap pellets into the water and churned it up into a bubbly froth. The harsh soap, which she helped make a fortnight ago from potash and tallow, stung her skin. Her hands would be chapped and cracked before the day was done.

Gods, how she hated banquet days—up since dawn running coal, scouring pots and mostly trying to keep out of trouble. Somehow though, trouble kept finding her.

A heavy hand landed on her shoulder and roughly spun her around.

And now I'm off to change a diaper. Because diapers take precedence over writing, even when you are on a deadline.



  1. Hey, Karyn, how does your writing group work? Do you guys bring in 'x' number of words to share? How do these sorts of groups work, anyway?

  2. Really? Diapers take precedence? Only when they stink though, right?