-- events occurring in late 2008 >>>
(The Quiet Days, a novel by Steven Benjamin)
Ronnie Killian was a veteran third generation seaman who’d once, years ago, captained a fishing trawler moored at Southampton. His love for the sea was absolute, as was his understated enthusiasm toward ships and virtually anything that could float. Almost ten years ago, when he’d been laid off for a small period, a good friend had found him a part-time job at a local shipping magazine. At that time the job had included menial roles around the office and hadn’t comprised of anything significant, until the day he was called into the editor’s office to write up a column on an Oil tanker due to dock soon. The news around the tanker was predominantly targeted around the parent company, which was in the midst of a public court case surrounding an oil spill close to the Canary Islands. Apparently one of the clerks working in the office had mentioned that Ron had spent a term on an oil tanker which had run into some legal issues off the coast of Nigeria. Naturally this fact made Ron the most qualified man in the office on the subject. This was beside the fact that that day they happened to have two employees off sick.
It wasn’t a major article with any ground breaking expectations, though Ron had poured his passion for shipping into it – supported by his working knowledge, worldly experience and brusque tone. It resulted in an article, appealing to the avid reader, whilst even engaging the would-be non enthusiasts with his wit and blunt interpretation of events.
Killian had integrated the small planned protest to be staged on the dock by a handful of environmental activists, and touched on the hypocritical nature of man protesting the negative effects of Oil companies operating on the seas, whilst neglecting his ‘neighbour’ who worked for said company to feed his own family, because it was the only work available. By no means condoning the avarice nature of these corporations, he cited man’s equal failure to do anything constructive about them – the inability to find suitable alternatives. His conclusion stated that little would change the “juggernautical” status quo, with the valiant but whispered cries of good men swept clean away in the salty spray of the unstoppable corporate storm.
His wife and three children had subsequently persuaded him to pursue the somewhat more sedate life as a columnist. He’d soon establish himself within the magazine structures as one of their most reliable, and later senior, writers. On a customary gloomy winter’s day in Southern England, with his collar turned up rubbing against his greying stubble and his woolen cap warming his balding scalp, he turned the digital pages of another international online shipping newspaper. As he glanced over the section detailing any ships recently run aground or sunk, his eyes caught a story of a cargo ship having sunk in the Black Sea. Investigators claimed that the laden ship could not withstand the attentions of an especially heavy storm.
(to read more, click here)
[The reason for the deletion was purely for the sake of length. At the end of the first draft the book was well over 144000 words. However, because of the nature of this chapter (it would have been chapter 7) it could almost be considered as a stand-alone chapter, making up much of one of the sub-plot's in the story. I feel bad of course, because of the research I did on the, not only the chapter, but the topic in general...]
Its been an interesting year thus far, submitting to competitions, editing, some odd jobs, more editing, and on the rare occasion, some far flung adventurous escape. What's interesting about my book writing experience thus far, has been that apart from the re-draft and a couple of niggles here and there, the progress of the entire book basically/currently hinges on a few paragraphs. When I say hinges I mean bridging the divide between good and great, at least in my eyes. One such paragraph has been highlighted in red for the past few months as I try to formulate it and find the right words - its practically in the center of this 125000+ word novel, but it encapsulates so much sentiment and gravity. The timing of this paragraph is also crucial, coming at pivotal moment in the story. But, alas, this is what writing is all about; and so the journey continues...