Tir Na Nog by SM Prasad

  • : Thriller/family drama


  1. Honey Mustard

    A scene that shows up Jen’s state of mind very clearly. I like the characters you’ve sketched here. The bartender, the barfly, the girl holding up the wall – it’s a great backdrop for her mood too. I also liked how the barfly was an annoyance and nothing more – they usually are, nothing profound comes from there. (Have a look, though, at the sentence describing him: checkered flannel shirt with similar unfocused eyes – I don’t think that came out quite the way you wanted it.
    Jen’s relationship with Al has been really bipolar throughout this story. Also her relationship with Bernadine: BFFs with a serious dose of envy. It feels important that Jen relates in this way to the world and I wonder how this will define the way her story resolves.

    1. SM Post author

      Hi Hanri,
      I will check out that sentence, thanks for pointing it out. I meant similarly unfocused eyes to her own…in that they were both drunk. I’ll clean that up in the next draft. Yes, in many ways she has not learned how to reciprocate her friend’s full giving spirit–she relies on it and is feels guilty that she does but there are obstacles that prevent her from returning the love she gets. Thanks so much for your feedback, it’s very helpful here.

  2. Kathy Sanford

    Great scene. Was confused by the poem at the end. Loved this paragraph: The bar was buzzing with laughter, loud voices, shouting, and clinking balls from the pool table in the other room. Every table had a clear, membranous, protective dome over it and the people inside were unaware of any other conversations in the room. And here I was again, on the outside looking in, slithering around in the ether, not fitting in anywhere.

    1. SM Post author

      Hi Kathy!!
      Yes, I will deal with the lyrics from the song in the next draft. Thanks for pointing out what worked for you.

  3. R.L. Nel

    Hi Sudha, and I’m caught up at last! I loved this scene. I was right in that pub with Jen. Oh man, will she ever see Al again? I was about to hate him when the waitress said she had spotted him, until she handed her the note. Well done, Sudha! Can you believe that the end is in sight??? – Rachel

    1. SM Post author

      Hey Rachel,
      Yes I can believe it but its still pretty daunting. My favorite part of the pub was when Jen pushed a huge piece of carrot in her mouth and scared off the barfly. I giggle whenever I read that. Thanks for catching up–I really appreciate it!

  4. Marilyn Weisman

    Good scene….lots of description.
    The image of the place matches her emotions right about now.
    I keep thinking back to the first scene and the mall with the acoustics and how far she has fallen….
    Will there be a point when Al shows up and sweeps her off on a white stallion to his castle in the sky?
    Guess I have to stay tuned.
    Not every love story ends with ‘They lived happily ever after.”

    1. SM Post author

      Hi Marilyn,
      No –happily ever after is sometimes qualified, right.? Thanks for reading and leaving your feedback!

  5. Deryn

    Hi Sudha – poor unravelled Jen. A night in nursing a bottle might have been safer but wouldn;t have served your plot – so a dive of a bar where it all started with Al is as good as anywhere! I could feel her discomfort, churning stomach, hungry/not hungry – she narrowly averted a full blown fall from gra,ce (fall from the stool!) and can thank Gerry and the waitress for saving her from herself. And Al lives and breathes – somwhere. Suspenseful. Well done!

    1. SM Post author

      Hi Deryn,
      Thanks so much for reading and leaving your feedback. I’m glad that the setting worked well for you. A pub is such a great space.

  6. Jan

    Hi Sudha,

    As always your beautiful millefeuille layering of the imagery puts us right there with her in the bar, I can smell the deep fried chips and I loved the rotting leaves. I also felt her on the rickety chair as the beer started to numb her senses. From there, the sequencing seemed somewhat uncoherent, but from her inebriated viewpoint it made perfect sense.

    One detail – I agree with Leona that beer seems somewhat out of place for someone like Jen, I’m thinking back on how she polished that bottle of red by herself and that felt right.

    I don’t know if I’ve ever told you, when I see Jen, I think of Agent van Pelt in the Mentalist – she would definitely be able to knock back a few pints with the boys at the pub, but then if she were nursing her sorrows wine or G and T or something like that works better.

    I liked the larger story of how they met in the bar. And often when people meet, they write their numbers on napkins or something like that, and here he had, in the present day, written something for her. I found that really lovely!

    Beautiful scene Sudha! Well done on Nr 46!

    1. SM Post author

      Hi Jan
      Thanks for your feedback. I am definitely going to meditate on her choice of drink. –I guess I see G and T and even red wine as sort of genteel and maybe a little embarrassing to order at an Irish bar. Maybe she downs some Guinness? or Bloody Mary’s ? (my favorite drink). So I will definitely go back to revise that in the next draft. I just looked up Agent Van Pelt and I agree, she looks like how I have pictured Jen.
      Thanks so much for telling me your reactions…it really helps!!

  7. Leona Dawson

    Hi Sudha – so many comments above I agree with – in particular the setting. I think one description of the smell would hold my attention more. I love the rotten leaves. That dank, earthy smell which stale beer can have. Her stomach gurgling a warning which she ignores is also powerful and if you could link it to both drinking on an empty stomach plus a signal she’s not in a good place you make very good use of this metaphor. Drinking quickly to drown her sorrows. Has she been introduced as a beer drinker in earlier scenes. Its just women don’t normally drink beer to drown their sorrows; they are more likely to go for the quick impact of spirits. That way they don’t feel overly full. This scene really captures her emotional world; jaded and flattened by life but the little uptick of hope at the end created a forward momentum for this part of the story.

    1. SM Post author

      Hi Leona,
      She’s an indiscriminate drinker. I’ve had her drinking wine before and very regrettable actions took place. She’s trying not to become a drinker but she’s run out of options on how to drown her sorrows.
      I definitely have friends who drink way too much beer but I will take your observation about women and beer into account.

  8. Peggy (PJ) Rockey

    Lots of great imagery in the bar, while Jen drowns her misery yet again. I’m glad she has someone (Gerry) to look after her, as she sure isn’t looking after herself. Jen’s character has really spun out of control throughout this story, from that first moment when she sprang the flash dance on Al, only to be spurned by him and then later to find out he’s really undercover and still unavailable to her. She’s gone from someone seemingly in control of her life to this fragile, broken character and I hope she gains some of her self security and inner strength back before the story ends – does she rely on Al for that, or will she realize her own self-worth?

    I wonder what the words on the receipt mean, and look forward to seeing where you take this.

    I like the song lyrics. You could have her read them on a plaque on the wall behind the bar as she eats her stew, and then ponder the meaning as she leaves the bar.

    another great scene, Sudha!

    1. SM Post author

      HI Peggy,
      I really appreciate your comments about the themes that you see. They weren’t so clear to me when I was first starting the story, but yes, I see that we need to go this way to make the story work. You have a wonderful memory of what has happened so far and it’s really useful to see what has made an impression on you.
      Jen has really unraveled and she needs to figure out what happened and why.
      Thanks so much for your insight here.

  9. Becky

    HI Sudha, Great imagery with the bar, I can picture it well. I like how Gerry is helping Jen, she needs it. I like how you described him as a bough of support in a windstorm.
    For a suggestion, if you don’t mind, Nuala could use a better introduction. Perhaps she was introduced earlier in the story and I’ve forgotten.
    That must’ve been one huge carrot chunk, lol. Good way to get the barfly of her tail. That soup was just what Jen needed, for multiple purposes!
    Were all of the song lyrics written on the receipt? Was the message for her specifically–the one from Al? So intrigued by if/how/when they’ll be reunited! Well done!

    1. SM Post author

      Hi Becky,
      thanks for the feedback about the waitress. I didn’t want to introduce a new character so late in the story- I might just take away her name and go back to waitress in the next draft.
      I”m sorry I wasn’t clear about the lyrics…no the receipt had just the three words on it.
      The song lyrics were just an ending for the scene, but in the next version, I’ll either axe them or I’ll weave them in somehow.
      Was the message for Jen specifically? We don’t know yet.

  10. Ben Hunt

    Hi Sudha, this is a great scene, your description of the bar, of Jen’s state, the kindness of Gerry and Nuala, all of it is so well written!
    I agree with Nina that the song at the end comes a little out of the blue but it’s a beautiful song and it fits Jen’s mood so well. Maybe she could have heard it on the jukebox in the bar and it’s stuck in her head?
    I loved that line: ‘My stomach gurgled a warning, but I ignored it. My stomach was not in crisis right now.’ and the fact that that vile bar fly looks over her head for an easier prey whilst chatting her up.
    Great scene and I’m keeping my fingers crossed, she’ll be reunited with Al soon. For now, she at least has his message to hold close to her heart xx

    1. SM Post author

      HI Ben,
      I understand what you mean about the song lyrics popping up out of nowhere. It makes sense that there should be some reference to it earlier so it doesn’t blindside the reader. I just found the song online the night before i posted the story. The name of the bar is a real one in NYC that I know but I’d never known about the meaning or the song before.
      Thanks so much for the feedback, it’s much appreciated!!

  11. Nina

    Poor Jen, you put her through the wringer here. I’m not sure about the song at the end. I wonder if you could sneak it in somewhere else? Maybe while she’s sad and lonely sitting at the bar to reinforce that? Letting the tears freeze on the walk home is such a fabulous and powerful image to end this evening with. I also wondered if you tweak the opening paragraph so the stench of the bar hits her first. Nice setting in this scene. Made me think of Doyle’s in Jamaica Plain. Good job drawing out her pain and suffering and the mystery surrounding Al.

    1. SM Post author

      Hi NIna,
      The song was an afterthought. I like the idea of weaving in lines as you suggested. Maybe a bit at a time? That would be a more subtle way to work in the song. I like the idea of the stench hitting her before the appearance of it. Great ideas for the next draft!!! Thank you. I think I’ve been to Doyle’s in JP–my kids definitely have.

  12. Julie

    Oh poor broken hearted Jen. The indignity of ordering two drinks for herself alone in a bar is so awful. And then being hit on by a leery barfly, ughh – I was a bit confused at the floor dropping as Jen slid in…but it might just be me. You captured the feeling of being depressed and alone in a bar where everyone else seems to be having a rewarding, intimate evening. Jen’s description of her stew was a little too sharp for someone whose getting lost in the haze of alcohol. I am so glad the Gerry has her back and acted to paternal, she needs it as she’s temporarily lost her rudder. What on earth is happening with Al? Poor Jen will be at her wits end if she has to wait to seem him any longer. Lovely scene of hurt, longing and then sheer confusion.

    1. SM Post author

      Hi Julie,
      Thanks so much for the feedback. The floor dropping was how she felt as she slid towards the barfly and almost kissed him. I’ll see if I can clear that up. I’ve promised myself to avoid using “feel” or “think” as much as possible but I might have to break my rule. As for the stew, I changed that last night and you make a good point–about the accuracy of the vegetables (can you tell I love to cook?)–it’s kind of weird and takes you out of the story. I will revise that now back to what I had before. This scene came out of nowhere and was way off the plan. Thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate it. BTW, since you’re writing about Bridget’s Irish background, check out the song Tir Na Nog on youtube–has a very haunting sound.

      1. Julie

        I will check out the song – Thanks for that. 🙂 I love the way scenes ‘come from nowhere’ its so true that our subconscious is doing its work while we think we’re off duty!