Ruth Harrison, January 28, 2012

The Fitzgerald Theater

Saint Paul, MN


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Ruth Harrison

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TR (ANNC): And now, from the hushed reading room of the Herndon County Library, we bring you: Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian.

(WRITING)

SS (UNDER): ...across the rock-littered slope and into the gravelly arroyo came the sharp clatter of hooves ----it was the wild horse White Star—that stubborn but loving pinto with the wild adventurous streak and the blazing white star on his forehead. He was back. His nostrils flared at the smell of ---- what? Of the breeze in the tamaracks. Of the wild mountain stream. Of the smell of freedom. As he-----

(FOOTSTEPS APPROACH)

TR (TEEN): Are you writing something, Miss Harrison?

SS: Oh, Brent! You frightened me.

TR (TEEN): What are you writing? Is that your journal?

SS: No Brent, it's not. Why?

TR (TEEN): I don't know. You just seemed kinda intense.

SS: I'm fine, Brent.

TR: Who's "White Star"?

SS: I don't want to talk about it.

TR: You're writing a book, aren't you? I can tell. Come on, Miss Harrison, just say it!

SS: (SIGH) Well you can't tell anybody, Brent. But yes. I am. Writing a book.

TR: But Miss Harrison—it's work hours. I thought that----

SS: Brent, the love of literature supercedes the rules. I love this library. It's my life. But I feel the urge for adventure. I want to take off this brown corduroy jumper and the sensible shoes and the glasses hanging by a chain around my neck and put on a pair of goggles and ride a Harley cross-country, a gypsy, an adventuring spirit, and support myself by writing fiction.

TR: But you're a reference librarian. You look up facts for people. You're not about fiction.

SS: Maybe I'm ready for a change, Brent.

TR: Can I read your book?

SS: You MAY NOT, Brent.

TR: I could read it and tell you if it's any good.

SS: I believe there is re-shelving to be done----- Brent-----

TR: Awwww. Okay.

(FOOTSTEPS AWAY)

GK: Excuse me--

SS: Oh! Hello, I didn't know anybody was here.

GK: I was standing here in the magazine section and I heard you reading your manuscript aloud.

SS: Oh dear. I am so embarrassed.

GK: Don't be. My name is Kenneth L. Trimby, and I'm an agent at Wild Goose Literary.

SS (GASP): Oh my goodness.

GK: I liked what I heard there. I think there are some possibilities in your writing. I think you may have a big hit on your hands.

SS: My goodness--Mr. Trimby--I don't know what to say.

GK: Let me have a look at it.

SS: Oh, it's not ready to show to anyone—it's just a bunch of scribblings in this old notebook.

GK: That's okay. I don't mind. Here. Thank you.

(PAGING THROUGH NOTEBOOK, GK MURMURS)

GK: Huh. Interesting. There's some good stuff in there. A few changes here and there and you could have a winner.

SS: Oh? Like what?

GK: Too much description, for one.

SS: What do you mean?

GK: I mean---- the dense rosy-fingered fog at dawn drifted through the trees like demurely mysterious shadows, like shifting clouds of white sea-foam on a rocky shore, pure shimmering beauty spreading its musical wings across the secret waters, vast and shining, singing passionately, as White Star's hooves like soft thunder trod the storm-dampened ground. ---- I think we could tighten that up a little.

SS: Oh? What are you saying, Mr. Trimby?

GK: Too many adjectives, Ruth. Not enough verbs.

SS: White Star is a very observant horse, Mr. Trimby.

GK: And there aren't any men in this story. Except for White Star's brutal owner Kyle. The father of Octavia, the girl who rescues the horse.

SS: So? What's wrong with that?

GK: It'd be better with sympathetic male characters. One, anyway. Like a romantic hero. Where is he?

SS: I don't know. In town with his girlfriend, I guess.

GK: And here, where you write, "Octavia wanted only to mount the noble steed and ride, wild and free, through the rosy-fingered fog at dawn, into the headlands and away from the ranch, and just ride and ride and ride, until the gray weatherbeaten house so cold and still and the pain of her father's words like hailstones falling on tender crops," ----- she's just going to run away, Miss Harrison?

SS: And so what if she is?

GK: You don't want that, trust me.

SS (TIGHT): It's a work in progress, Mr. Trimby.

GK: Listen, Ruth. Excess description. Ambiguous protaganist. Spineless characters. Concave story arc. Overuse of ellipses. Inner monologue overload. What does that even mean?

GK: Look at this paragraph--"The ranch was the only place she'd ever known --- since her mother had run away with Brad, leaving her in the care of her cruel, controlling father, dot dot dot--suddenly she imagined herself a horse--a black one with long eyelashes, kicking through the fence with her powerful hindlegs and running full speed across the merciless prairie, escaping to a place, somewhere, dot dot dot..."

SS: Okay. So what's wrong with that?

GK: How about this instead? "Octavia saw him at the edge of the treeline, looking directly back at her. And suddenly she knew. Whoever it was, it was him. The man she had longed for."

SS: That doesn't sound like anything I'd write, Mr. Trimby.

GK: I've been in this business a long time, Miss Harrison. I know a thing or two about effective writing.

SS: I'll think about it, Mr Trimby.

GK: I hope you do. Give me a call.

(FOOTSTEPS OFF, DOOR CLOSES)

TR: Wow, Miss Harrison. Who was that?

SS: Never mind, Brent. ---Check the lavatories for stragglers, let's lock up.

TR: Okay, Miss Harrison. Be right back. (FOOTSTEPS, OFF)

(SS SIGH, TURNS PAGES, SCRIBBLING OUT, A BEAT, WRITING, UNDER)

SS: The cougar snarled and then turned and disappeared into the fog and White Star stood quivering, feverish, breathing deep of the fresh breeze as a bald eagle soared glimmering high overhead, and looked toward the clearing. Did he dare to run free, into the wind of splendor and possibility, and leave the steadfast girl behind? Overhead, the eagle drifted on the wind as the horse turned reluctantly back toward the shadowy stable that lay low against the hill, like a wound in the twilight.

(THEME)

TR (ANNC): Join us again next week for more adventures from the hushed reading room of Herndon County Library, on, (REVERB) Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian.

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