Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Revising the End

To my memoir class:
Here is a new ending for "The Breach." your feedback suggested that a final wrap-up might be helpful to this piece if i am to submit it as a stand-alone piece. i'm a little worried about shifting the metaphor, or saying too much - you know how i am.

i included the last paragraph to get you in the mood, the the revision starts with "Two years later" -- as always, feedback welcome.

I lean on the railing and take in the horizon - a crisp line separates the cloudless sky from the water. It’s August and we are already in hurricane season. It was a September when Isabel hit the island. Hurricanes begin as simple thunderstorms that drift off of the coast of Africa and then travel for weeks in the warm waters of the tropics. Most simply die out, but others join together, gather strength and move up our coast. They cause untold damage when they make landfall. I gently thump the warm banister with the palm of my hand. The islands of the Outer Banks are really only delicate strips of sand in the sea and any part of it, including this very house, may not be here in the years to come. As I pull open the sliding glass door and head inside to shower and get into my bathing suit, I find myself wondering if there’s a storm out there now - just beginning to brew.

Two years later:

An eye of a hurricane can be quite small, sometimes called a pinhole, or it can be fifty miles wide. For slow moving expansive hurricanes, such as Hurricane Isabel, it can take days to pass. The eye is surrounded by what’s called the eyewall, a ring of towering thunderstorms and high winds. It’s risky to leave shelter while the eye is passing, even though it may be calm and even beautiful outside. Rather, one should stay inside and prepare for the opposite eyewall, the unavoidable second punch.

My silence was like the eye of a hurricane, many miles wide, or, in my case, many weeks long, and, naturally, there was no avoiding the second punch. The calm I invented was how I coped, how I made everything seem just fine for my family and myself. But it was temporary and had a high emotional cost. The silence, it turns out, was the hardest part for me to bear.

Ultimately, I turned Justin in to his employer and to the state licensing board for massage therapists. I went on to press charges, but lost in court. Difficult, yes, but for me, along with my writing and the support of my family and friends, doing so turned out to be the very wires and pipes, the stilts and the shingles that I needed to rebuild.


  1. I like this Janice. I like that you really use and own the hurricane metaphor. It's not cliche, it's meaningful. I like the last line, but there's something about the last paragraph that feels off to me. Maybe if it was in the "I would turn him in, go to court, etc." instead of the "I did" I would feel better about it. But I guess you've already said this is writing from two years later, so maybe I'm wrong. Let me think about it.

  2. I see this as an introduction to a book--but I'd ditch the last paragraph. Introducing the book with the hurricane metaphor is a really compelling way of beginning a longer book-length piece. You'll get to the specifics/conclusion of the last paragraph in later chapters.

  3. Great use of research, making something sort of scientific, but not too much so. Nice metaphor, too.I l think it works the way it is, but that's just me :)

  4. I would leave out the "two years later" and just go right into the stuff about the eye of the storm. Then maybe begin the second to last paragraph something like this "Now, two years after, it seems to me that my initial silence was not unlike the eye of a hurricane . . . " The rest is great!

  5. I'm glad you're pushing forward with this Janice. Keep going. Your metaphor is strong here, so don't let it get away from you.


Please feel free to jot down your thoughts. I would appreciate knowing your reaction if any, to what I've written, and/or your feedback on how I've written it. I am actively trying to be a better writer.