Under the Microscope extra: Geldr

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17 December 2020
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Microscope_icon-71204.jpg Under the Microscope extra
A reader's novel opening goes under the editorial microscope

Read our suggested rewrite of a reader's first 300 words and for the full critique, see the February issue of Writing Magazine.

Geldr, by Shiva R Joyce - original version

The grey metal lockers of the changing rooms slam with a familiar rhythm. Some staff carry the end of work day weariness in their shoulders, others give a cheery 'See you tomorrow.'

Never to me.

If I had an identifier it would be “the quiet dark one”. People tend to be wary of those in my position. My quietness, coupled with being the only woman on the killfloor didn't encourage small talk or friendship. I didn't mind. I understood that I was unnatural. The job and my long-standing presence in it were only part of that.

Today will be ten years. Shanti said we should celebrate, and I didn't doubt she'd have something planned for when I got home. She was always home first and would come to the door the minute my car beams shone through the front windows of our small demountable home.

She was the cheery one. My colleagues would have chatted with her endlessly. It is this way with sisters sometimes. Those born close together. But then Shanti would never have taken up work in an abattoir.

To begin with, it had simply been the only work that was available to us. We were not trusted with the cleaning of people’s houses. The abattoir, however, did not baulk at our origins or heavily-accented English. Or perhaps, it was simply the fact that locals would not do such work, for any money.

Later Shanti did manage to get a job at a small real estate company cleaning their offices. She was reliable, had a bright smile that made the owners feel magnanimous and most of all didn't cause a fuss about long hours and poor wages. Soon enough she was responsible for cleaning the new rentals and had a small, steady income.

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Geldr, by Shiva R Joyce - McCredited version

The grey metal lockers of the changing rooms slammed with their familiar reverberating cacophony. Some staff were bowed with end-of-day weariness while others gave a cheery 'See you tomorrow!'

Never to me.

If I had a workplace description, it’d be “the quiet dark one.” People tended to be wary of those in my position. My quietness, coupled with being the only woman on the killfloor, didn't encourage small talk or friendship. I didn't mind. I understood that I was unnatural. The job and my long-standing presence in it were only part of that.

That day represented ten years. Shanti had said we should celebrate and I didn't doubt she'd have something planned for when I got home. She was always home first and would come to the door the minute my car beams shone through the front windows of our small demountable home.

She was the cheery one. My colleagues would have chatted with her endlessly. It’s this way with sisters sometimes. Those born close together. But then Shanti would never have taken up work in an abattoir.

To begin with, it had simply been the only work that was available to us. We weren’t trusted to clean other people’s houses. The abattoir, however, didn’t baulk at our origins or heavily accented English. Or perhaps it was simply the fact that locals wouldn’t do such work for any money.

Later, Shanti did manage to get a job cleaning offices at a small real-estate company. She was reliable, had a bright smile that made the owners feel magnanimous, and most of all didn't cause a fuss about long hours and poor wages. Soon enough, she was responsible for cleaning the new rentals and had a small, steady income.

For the full critique, see the February issue of Writing Magazine