Fooling around with stream of consciousness

This was for an exercise for a writing course. The goal was a scene shown from the POV of a horse and a farm where an IRS (tax agent) gets kicked. For those curious this would be Chapter 5 exercise 10 from Josip Novakovich’s Fiction Writer’s Workshop

Warning: this is very unedited. I’ve only looked through it once after writing.

Any stylistic comments here will not be incorporated into the submitted assignment without attribution or notes in the text. Professor knows that I have “resources” and has simply asked that I note any outside editing/assistance I receive.

Have fun.

A horse’s view of tax day
Hot sun. Pull pull pull Flies in eyes. Something in ear! OFF! OFF! Pull pull pull. Soft dirt. Hard thing hurts foot. Pull pull pull. Almost to green food, sweet food. Head pulled side, have to follow. Pull pull pull. No green food, sweet food. Pull pull pull. Smell water, so thirsty walk faster, no head pull back. Pull-pull-pull. Smell green food, sweet food. Smell yellow food, dry food. Smell white food, best food. Head pull back, stop. Big soft bird take off dirt pull thing. Big soft bird pull head to inside water. Drink drink nice water. Big soft bird go to food. No follow or big soft bird make bad noise. Big soft bird cary white food to soft dry sleep place. Big soft bird move! Food food food. Big soft bird swish song with wing. Feel good. Feel good. Big soft bird good. Noise. Noise of big soft bird not mine. Smell not good. Big soft bird mine stop swish song. Big soft bird not mine make big soft bird noise. Big soft bird mine make noise. Food food food. Bad noise. Bad big soft bird noise. Big soft bird mine make bad noise at big soft bird not mine. Big soft bird not mine make bad noise. Protect big soft bird mine. Protect big soft bird mine! Kick! Kick! Kick! Big soft bird not mine gone. Food food food. Want big soft bird swish song. Food food food.

A farmer’s view of tax day
Two more rows in this sun. Straight! Can’t blame that fool horse I’m the brains he’s the brawn. Turn ‘im left. One to go. D–n its hot. He’ll be thirsty. There he goes, pickin’ up to get to the water. Six hours plowin’, he’s earned it, let ‘im have his head. I won’t make it without ‘im. Best horse I’ve ever had. This year ’ill be different. Good rain. Best horse. Good seed. Let me get this plow off you boy. D–n you’re a good horse. Let’s get you inside to the good water. Only horse I’ve see that didn’t wander off from the water trough. Extra oats for him today. Good horse. I’ll move you fool. Let me brush this sweat off ya. D–n! Taxman. I’ve already told him I don’t have anything. He’s not really comin’ into the barn? You don’t want to be in here mister. I’ll meet you outside once I finish with my horse. 5 minutes. What did he say? You can’t get blood from a stone buddy. You take the land or the tools or even the animals and you won’t get nothin’ cause I won’t have nothin’. He better lower his voice or he’s going to spook this horse. That would be fun to watch though, let this horse at him. HOLY S–T! Don’t laugh. Drag ‘im out. He’ll never set foot in my barn again. How’m I gonna pay these taxes?

Why is farmer, big soft bird? Or am I miss reading?
y’ looking fer typos? D-n its hot needs an apostrophe, in (it’s) and I’m wondering if darn wouldn’t read easier and sound more natural as d’rn or simply darn. If d-n is damn it doesen’t read well to a Brit…well not this one. Ain’t nowt wrong with damn, or holy shit for that matter! :laughing:

I’m not convinced with the horse’s speech pattern. If it uses human language, English in this case, then, I’d expect more fluidity. I’m getting the impression you feel as though you have to differentiate between man and beast, for us. Try a sentence or two using standard/normal speech patterns. Let the subject matter tell us it’s a horse talking, not the delivery.
But don’t forget, these are the opinions of a non-expert reader, and should be seen as such. :wink:

You have that right. When I was thinking about how a horse might associate animal classification there were only 2 things that I could think of that regularly went on two legs, humans and birds. A horse would likely know birds from chickens, ducks and various barn pests like sparrows, swallows and pigeons. Most of a horses interaction with birds would likely be through pecking at pests on the horse or stepping on them. The big differentiator would be size and touch/crunch.

“Damn it’s hot” is very common. Although right now the saying is “damn it’s cold!” It might be an americanism. The abbreviation was to follow a genre, writings of this time would not have spelled the “swear words” out. Corruption of the reader and all. Thanks for the typo catch.

Speech pattern: I was trying from something between Joyce and “intelligent” horse. It is supposed to be a simple, ignorant horse. In trying to imagine what would be in a horses mind (which is impossible) I figured it would boil down to food, sex, comfort, safety (Wait, that’s me. No that was the horse. No me. Close enough either way). The thing I don’t like about Joyce’s streams is the unbrokenness. Punctuation is only added for reference of thoughts in the horse. I’m thinking extended commas. If I were to right it as I think it the first few horse thoughts would go more like

It’s hard to see exactly how a horse might see pulling a plow through the soil.

Let me give it a whack with a more natural feel.

Yo Pilgrim,
horse wrote:
Hot sun … Pull, pull, pull,
Flies in eyes. Something in ear! OFF! OFF! … Pull, pull, pull,
Soft dirt. Hard thing hurts foot … Pull, pull, pull.

phwerrr, sun’s hot. I’ll be glad when he’s had enough. It’s me, mind, that’s doing all the pulling ‘n’ pulling ‘n’ pulling. C’ld do with a long long drink and a tail on my head to swat these pesky flies…watsat in my ear…gerroff!

I don’t think there is any point in using such a stunted jerky language delivery when the world is full of books/stories where animals communicate in normal everyday speak. It’s content that matters.

Animals, especially domesticated animals, develop a very sophisticated communicative relationship with humans. Even cows and bulls with the farmers, sheep and goats with shepherds and goatherds. Even pigeons…be they in Trafalgar Sqr. or in the coop. Horse won’t confuse farmer with any other species. I think you’ve adopted an overcomplicated idea of what’s expected of you.
I’ll say no more on the subject…unless you want to kick it around some more…if so feel free :wink:


I like what you’re trying to do here, shows imagination and thought (not necessarily the same thing). One image keeps pushing into my brain, horses on my grandfather’s farm, at work in the fields: they seem to lean more than to pull, lean forward and let their weight do the work, keep trudging along. (As it’s from seventy years ago and more you may discount it on that fact alone.) But “pull” is what they do from the farmer’s POV; to a little boy climbing on the fence, they seem to “lean” into the work.


The last thing I would do is discount it! As soon as I read that I had images of shire horses come flooding back from various stages across almost as many years.
All imagery of Shires, working in the field, if not stood still, appear to be leaning. It’s an exceedingly apt description. I don’t think it’s for Horse, to deal with, in this situation…then again… :confused:
What it did evoke, was memories of times over the years of reading the County Diary, column in the guardian. There’s some of the most evocative descriptive prose I’ve ever read of events and occurrences in the countryside, in that column. … ntry-diary ‘Leaning’ belongs in there somewhere. :wink:

Given the way that the horse makes up new words to describe things it doesn’t already know - namely, by adding another descriptor to the noun for differentiation - perhaps concatenating these elements might fit well and be easier to read. Hyphens or losing the spaces should do the trick.

Eg, Big-Soft-Bird-Not-Mine

I’ll have to give this more thought. Good points.