A novel-writer's meme, which has wended its way through the web: Turn to page 123 in your work-in-progress. (If you haven’t gotten to page 123 yet, then turn to page 23. If you haven’t gotten there yet, then get busy and write page 23.) Count down four sentences and then instead of just the fifth sentence, give us the whole paragraph.
Here is mine:
She finished her hamburger and folded her napkin on her plate. The barmaid was wiping glasses, looking dreamily out toward the front tables. The old man at the bar was bent over his plate and cup of coffee. Voices and laughter drifted thinly from the restaurant, a group of office workers trying to settle the check while the waitress stood indifferently beside their table. Nancy always maintained to Carl that she despised the Sportsman, that she came here only for him, but she had a sneaking love for the wood-paneled dimness, the sound of voices echoing among the ranks of glasses and bottles on the bar, the high, patterned tin ceiling, the closeness of the air, smelling even now in the afternoon of beer and cigarette smoke. It reminded her of the place her grandfather had owned in Cleveland, in one of his more prosperous incarnations, a place where Nancy had washed dishes and done her homework on the bar in the long slow afternoons before it filled up with shot-and-beer drinkers after supper.
This meme came at a good time for me, since I'm girding my writer's loins to go back into my novel one more time, to see if I hate it; to see if it's anything like what I meant; to fix the timing problems in the last part; to interrogate Carl, the main character: is he too passive? maybe to cut a bit more here and there; to see if there's too much dialogue; to check if there's an actual plot.
Some good responses to this meme: No Feeling of Falling, Writing Under a Pseudonym, and Loud Solitude.
Anyone else out there? Book of Marvels? Madame X? Plan B? anyone else writing a novel/long work?