The Empress’s New Clothes: A 7-piece capsule wordrobe anyone can own

It’s a great moment. Isn’t it a great moment? You know the moment I mean. The moment when the small boy points at the Emperor and says, ‘But mother, the Emperor isn’t wearing anything at all.’

Well, if you’ve ever wanted to play that role, now is your chance.

Because, thanks to that fine writer Justin  Bogdanovitch,  I am forced to reveal just how much of a newbie I really am at this novelising game. He was right to call it ‘vengeance’ when he tagged me with the Lucky 7 meme.

The truth is I don’t have a page 77 of anything. I barely have a page seven.

The situation is particularly dire at the moment as I am writing poetry for an assignment and my poems don’t tend to length. I mean, they’re not haikus, but they’re pretty spare.

I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words in my life. I’ve done journalism and copywriting. I’ve written one screenplay (rated U: unsuitable), a stage play (also U – scenes inducing mild headache) and lots of chapters of novels – beginnings, middles, ends – in all sorts of orders and voices.

What follows is, therefore, something I wrote a while back. It’s a short story called Please Turn Over. I thought of it immediately because it starts on page five. Phew. Here are the prescribed seven lines.

Mum’s saying she would of ordered the invites, like, last month, but Dad is too tight to pay for the ones with double satin bow and diamante heart and she’s not having whole Karachi saying she’s cheap.

Dad says whole Karachi can pay bill then and mum opens her mouth to go, like, mad or whatever.

And that’s when I start to tell them that the college is near, I could take the bus, or walk –

Mum says, eyes to sky, married doesn’t go college.

I look at Dad, but he is closed to me, like he’s in cardboard box, wrapped and taped. He don’t say it no more, don’t say nothing to me, but I hear it. Think of the family. Think of the shame.

Please note, all the deviations from standard grammar are intended. Honest. You have to leave me my syntatical thong, a last string of dignity.

Or I’m not playing.

Here are seven other luckless bloggers who I’m putting on the spot. Darlings, get your tombstone-like manuscripts out. Turn to page 77 (or seven), find the seventh line and print out the seven following lines. No cheating. And if your oeuvre is more strip than strapping – own up.

The Zen Corner

Essential Guide to Being Unpublished

Mo Slevin

Juggle Juggle Toil and Trouble

Cath Bore – Mersey Writer

Brad Geagley

Free Literature Stuff

Come on! Don’t be shy. It’s rather nice feeling the air.


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Posted in Writing
24 comments on “The Empress’s New Clothes: A 7-piece capsule wordrobe anyone can own
  1. zencherry says:

    You can have any thong you want hon. Love your writing. 😀

  2. justinbog says:

    I love syntax, perfect or whatnot, C 🙂 And your 7 lines are intriguing . . . I love the tag game when it has to do with any kind of writing . . . digging into old manuscripts, shaking off the glittery promise, and putting words down. Best.

  3. Cathy Dreyer says:

    Thanks all. It’s very encouraging to get such great feedback. I’m so grateful. Cathy x

  4. Karen Hodkinson says:

    Your 7 lines are fab!
    Reading it has motivated me to start working on some original lines of my own.

  5. tmycann says:

    This is certainly evocative… Now I want to Know The Rest Of The Story (as a famous US news personality used to say)…

  6. Cathy Dreyer says:

    Thanks Tonya! Thanks so much. Cathy x

  7. Jane Isaac says:

    Hey Cathy! I love your intro – best lucky 7 one I’ve read yet. And the words in your piece are well put together and intriguing. I’m dying to know what happens next. In short: think your writing is wonderful:)

  8. Cathy Dreyer says:

    Thank you Jane. I think I might die of joy. *Faints instead*

  9. P. C. Zick says:

    You have to know the rules to break them! Great post.

    • Cathy Dreyer says:

      Fanx PC – not quite sure which rules you mean as, I now see, I broke bazillions of them. Oops. Love your blog.

      • P. C. Zick says:

        Any rules of grammar – look at Catcher in the Rye. Salinger broke every rule in the the good old grammar book of English, but he was successful because he knew exactly which rules he was breaking! It can be said about any genre of art. Picasso, for example.

  10. Cathy Dreyer says:

    Well I’ll take those comparisons and add a little swagger to my typing. Thanks PC – even if it wasn’t quite what you intended. Rofl.

  11. Jack Durish says:

    You really ought to start finishing stuff and publishing it. Really. Get on it. Now.

  12. I agree with the gentleman above with the handsome ‘tache. You’ve definitely got the talent Cathy. However, I’m a fine one to tell someone else to finish things, families tend to get in the way, don’t they?

  13. Love your extract, Cathy and who cares what page it’s from? I was grateful to see your footnote re grammatical deviations however. As a true pedant, I had a moment of extreme anxiety on reading ‘Mum’s saying she would of….’ Only kidding, I soon realised it was intentional!

    • Cathy Dreyer says:

      Thanks Isabel. Great to bump cyber fists with you. The grammar thing is interesting. My tutor told me, and I think it’s probably absolutely crucial, that if writers do break the rules of grammar they must do it consistently to give the reader confidence that it is intended. Especially, I imagine, new writers. That’s obvs something difficult to establish in seven lines. Glad you realised though. Cathy x

  14. Hey you
    Did the meme. Enjoyed it too.
    Love your lines, and like many who read your blog and other writing, I cannot wait to read your finished novel – I know it’d going to be stunning!!
    Thanks for the tag and speak soon
    Amanda x

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