Measure once, cut twice (cut once version)

He’d never been good at counting. Numbers didn’t mean much to him. One was enough. More than one? An abstraction.

It wasn’t that he didn’t understand numbers, he did. He knew the eternal feeling of eight, the bridging qualities of two. He had mourned the loneliness of three for longer than he cared to remember. Secretly, he feared the sternness of seven. The number came too close to comfort. Why he couldn’t say. It just seemed hard-hearted. He longed for the safety of nine.

People thought him strange. He thought the same of them, so he never noticed. He had enough friends. There was the one who made sure that he ate enough. The one who helped him pay his bills. And the one who laughed with him until their belly hurt. They were one. They were all. They didn’t hurt him. They didn’t hurt themself.

He knew numbers had a life of their own. But as numerals, they were insufficiently factual to him. Until one day the number eight got to him. He could feel it in his bones. It hurt him. He asked a friend to come over and bring an axe.

As one, they said goodbye. He aimed, slowly, and then struck, sharply. But when he cut eight in two, he cut too much to the left. Instead of two perfect halves, he was left with a three, and more than one leftovers. His friend laughed until his belly hurt. He said goodbye, before the loneliness of three could hurt him. Once more, he moved on.

My batting practice for https://godoggocafe.com/2020/03/14/writers-workshop-i-week-2-batting-practice/ We were asked to remove 10% of words from our version. I went from 320 words to 264. My main character still thinks it’s too much. He would prefer just one.

The picture I’ve added to the story today comes from a book I’ve made with my mother. The Dutch e-book is live since today, the hard back edition and PDF have been out since the end of February. I’m happy to share with you that the English edition is almost finished. I can’t wait!

Raak

9 thoughts on “Measure once, cut twice (cut once version)

  1. Manja Mexi Mexcessive

    Same, I was also afraid that removing anything would be murder, but I prefer mine now. Yours kept the spirit, which is the most important thing. And numbers.

    And let me tell you: this is one wicked appliance and photo! 😮

    Reply
  2. Tanya Cliff

    I love this, Angela! My favorite edit: “He knew numbers had a life of their own. But as numerals, they were insufficiently factual to him. Until one day. One was enough. The number eight got too much for him. He could feel it in his bones. It hurt him. Eight was not moving on. It was trying to see.

    He asked a friend to come over and bring an axe.”

    became

    “He knew numbers had a life of their own. But as numerals, they were insufficiently factual to him. Until one day the number eight got to him. He could feel it in his bones. It hurt him. He asked a friend to come over and bring an axe.”

    The revised section is crisp. It feels snappy. Wonderful job.

    As with everyone else, I am sorry I didn’t get to reading this faster. Our kitty had a major surgery this week and just came home yesterday. That, and global pandemic…but everyone is dealing with coronavirus.

    Tomorrow’s challenge is short, fun, and useful; and the quoted passage is directly from the source. Can’t wait to see how you apply it!

    Reply
  3. Pingback: WRITER’S WORKSHOP I, Week 3, Curveball Challenge | Go Dog Go Café

  4. jane tims

    A weird- feel to this. Makes me think of a serial killer or someone very disturbed. I like re repetition of numbers and the one who laughs. The shortness of words lets us into his head.

    Reply
  5. Tanya Cliff

    Sorry it took me so long to get back over here. It has been a crazy week, for everyone. I love all the comments that you left as you were working through this challenge. Thank you!

    I love the opening line that you already had. I’m not sure that the “but” construction can improve on anything, but it is fun to experiment. Sometimes the experiment just shows that the original was the best.

    Your opening: He’d never been good at counting. Numbers didn’t mean much to him. One was enough. More than one? An abstraction.

    Ideas:

    He had many friends, but he’d never been good at counting.
    He had many ideas, but he’d never been good at counting.
    (btw, I have a friend who HATES math, who I need to share this story with. LOL)
    He could add up the things he loved, but he’d never been good at counting.

    I kind of like the last one. Again, I am not sure it adds enough to warrant the change.
    I really enjoyed this story, Angela.

    Reply
    1. Angela van Son Post author

      You’ve read my mind, I was longing for suggestions. Thank you! I like the last one the most, just like you.

      Things are crazy everywhere indeed. I’m grateful you found time to comment. Even though I didn’t come up with an answer to the assignment, I enjoyed struggling with it!

      Reply
      1. Tanya Cliff

        Wonderful! I hope you join us next week for a new prompt and some fresh challenges. We are all stressed and dealing with some version of crazy, so I am working to keep it fun and easy.

        Stay safe and healthy, Angela!

  6. Pingback: WRITER’S WORKSHOP I, Week 4: A Celebration and My #1 Writing Tip | Go Dog Go Café

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