Saturday, February 6, 2010

37. Life's curve ball

As he cut across the grass to the gravel pathway, Henry left a trail in the morning dew. Being able to fund the purchase of the block behind "Strathmines" in late '57 had been a touch and go exercise, but he maintained the faith throughout the tortuous negotiations, not only with Sanderson, who was a troublesome barrister with rooms in Hegarty’s Chambers down on Phillip Street, but also with the planning department within Woollahra Council. Petty bureaucrats! They had frequently been the bane of Henry’s existence.

Crunching down the pathway toward the well, Henry’s mind’s eye filled with a vision of both he and Marjorie and Buzzy Pascoe mocking up the lay of this curve. Marjorie, usually so conservative and considered, was the driving force in the design, spending endless hours with the patient and bemused Buzzy until the curve measured up to her ideal.

Henry’s eyes welled with tears.


myletterstoemily said...

i loved "sanderson, who was a troublesome barrister"

aren't they all? :)

Joan Elizabeth said...

Ah now I see that they extended and built the garden. I love the description of the laying of the curve ...also love the photo .... reminds me of the Everglades driveway. Also the story reminds me a bit of the travails going on over at BitingMidge ... come to think of it there will be a Sanderson and bureaucrats there too.

Julie said...

This morning, as I wrote the third in the trilogy, I wanted to use the term "solistalgia' and it was at that point that I recognised the similarity. So I diverged markedly ...

Vicki said...

“Henry left a trail in the morning dew” paints a wonderful word picture.

I’m going to be honest here, Julie, and say I had to read through this twice. The reason, I think, is the 57-word second sentence. It’s long and includes two “but” clauses. Sorry.

Gorgeous photo. Lush green grass… I’ve almost forgotten what that’s like.

Julie said...

I welcome honesty above all.

From your comment, am I to understand that more than one "but" clause introduces a level of complexity that obscures meaning?

How about the following?

Being able to fund the purchase of the block behind "Strathmines" in late '57 had been touch and go for Henry. The tortuous negotiations had been led by Sanderson, a troublesome barrister with rooms in Hegarty’s Chambers in Phillip Street. Henry’s faith was frequently tested by hurdles erected by bureaucrats within the planning department of Woollahra Council.

Still 57 words, but broken into three sentences. Is the meaning conveyed better by this structure?

Vicki said...

Excellent, excellent, excellent!

Much better. The "but" clause is yet another conjunction in an already complex sentence.

I did a quick search and found the following at AskOxford:

"Over the whole document, make average sentence length 15 to 20 words."

The other sites I checked basically said the same thing. Of course, this doesn't mean all sentences should be the same length. Quite the contrary.

Hope this helps.

Julie said...

Definitely does help. And yes, the word count is an average aim, not an obligation.

Now to check the post for tomorrow against this information.