Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Secret Agent #23

TITLE: Caregiver
GENRE: Memoir

Shut… up. Shut up. Shut …up. Dear God, please make him shut up.

Horrified by her thoughts, Ann reversed direction and instead of reaching toward the shelf to put away a glass she’d just removed from the dishwasher, she filled it with water and drank deeply, trying to drown the words before they could escape into the air.

Don’t say it. Don’t even think it, she admonished herself. Her face warmed from the rush of adrenaline coursing through her veins as she struggled to get her emotions under control. The deep undeniable anger she was struggling with was unwarranted and she couldn’t understand why it was surging through her now. They’d been through hell the past several months, but all that was over and things were getting better.

This is so wrong. What’s happening to me?

The words ‘fight or flight’ popped into her head.

What happens when you can do neither? She wondered, sudden tears coursing down her face and sliding off her chin to mingle with drops of icy water she’d spilled on her pajama top.

“Do you hear me?” her father-in-law, repeated, shuffling toward her, the shush, swish, shush of his worn slippers punctuating every word. Suddenly she hated that sound. “I can take my medicine by myself. It’s too much trouble for you.”

“I heard you,” she answered.

The angry thoughts continued … I heard you this time, and the last time and the time before that.


  1. I'm confused by the fact that this is listed as being a memoir but written in the third person.

    There was also some odd phrasing to me, like "Ann reversed direction" makes her sound kinda like a car, maybe just stick with 'Ann turned around and instead..." Just a thought, it may be personal preference.

    That said I think you do a really good job capturing the difficulty and inner-conflict a caregiver experiences and it's not something I've read much about in the past so it's great to see.

  2. Like Zoe, I am confused about the genre due to the POV?

    I like the conflict and the obvious strain being placed on the caregiver. I just wonder if it would be stronger in first person.

    I would like to read more.

  3. Oooh, I love this. I'm intrigued by the topic, and I know it would have a robust audience. I, too, would love to see this as "I" vs. "Ann." But maybe there is a reason you chose this POV that will come out later. I love how even the sound of the slippers is getting on her nerves. You've captured the feeling of intense irritability really well!

  4. This is extremely well done. The build up of the intensity of feeling in the MC is so well achieved, sparking all kinds of questions from simple internal moral conflict to schizophrenia and highlighting the fact that so often simple reason cannot overcome these irrational feelings so one has to resort to drugs.

  5. I, too, thought the emotional content here was compelling.

    3rd person is an unusual choice for memoir, but I'm willing to give it a chance. I suspect that it will seem natural after a few pages.

    I would, though, like some hint as to what's wrong with the father-in-law. It would only take a few words, in the sentence "They'd been through hell the last few months, [since her father-in-law had been diagnosed with ________]..."

  6. Very sad and compelling. I would read on. It did not strike me as odd that it was third person (until I read the comments) so it worked for me.

  7. I thought this was well written and compelling. Honest. You do a wonderful job with what I would consider deep third-person POV. I don't read a lot of memoir, so I'm not sure how common using third-person is; this was not an issue for me. My take on these very few words was that perhaps Anne and her family have gone through a tough time and find themselves living with in-laws or something along those lines. Whether right or wrong, this 'filling in the blanks' happens because I am truly interested and drawn to the story. I'm not filling in the blanks out of confusion or boredom. To me this is a good sign. Nice work and good luck with this.

  8. I too thought Ann was in a car when she reversed direction,

    Even though you do a great job of showing her inner angst, I could have used a 'smell' description as the father-in-law shuffles towards her, as well as the sound of the slippers. For me, this would have established an age and a created the start of a visual - i.e. old man smell would indicated narky, but a 'younger' smell would indicate a man who is more snapping from frustration.

  9. I love how you get in-tune with your characters feelings. Readers get a real sense of her anger and anxiety.I didn't have a problem with the POV either. I felt that it was appropriate for the way you were writing. However I would have liked to have more information as to why she is angry but I suppose that gives me a reason to read on.

  10. Interesting topic and one a lot of people can relate to.

    I was thinking that between parg 2 and 3, you might add a line or two that says something like her father in law droned on and on, just something so we know immediately who ‘he’ is. You might even allow him a line of dialogue there, just so there’s a bit of interaction and the whole scene isn’t in her head.

    I’d cut ‘coursing through her veins’ in parg 3. The sentence will make sense without it, and it’s just one of those phrases that’s worn out and cliché.

  11. There's some great tension here but it's being dampened by the overnarration. There's a bit too much overexplaining of thoughts.

  12. Great emotion! I feel so bad for the MC already because she's obviously at the end of her rope and is trying so hard not to lose it because she loves this person she is taking care of. But to be honest, I was disappointed it was her father-in-law and all he had done was ask her the same question over and over again. I was expecting it to be a young child she is caring for, maybe with developmental issues that made the child mean. That situation would pack more punch for me as a reader.

  13. I immediately felt for the MC and her situation--it sounds far too familiar. I was a bit thrown that it was her father in law that was the person she was frustrated with, as I had imaged a spouse or child at first.