I mention swarf for a couple of reasons. First - it's a fun word to say. I can imagine the person who coined the term saying it with disdain. "I'm knee deep in this goddamn....this goddamn...this goddamn SWARF!"
Second - it's interesting stuff. It really is beautiful to look at because it is usually coated with a thin layer of oily fluid called cutting fluid which keeps the cutting bit and the workpiece from overheating. Depending on the metal, the oil tends to reflect the light imparting a shimmering rainbow effect. A single coiled strand of swarf can be hundreds of feet long and usually works itself into a rough ball-like structure like some kind of razor sharp cotton candy.
Third - I grew up with swarf. My dad was a tool and die maker and there was not a working day he didn't come home with a tightly condensed coil of swarf hitchhiking in some fold or cuff of his clothing.
Finally, I speak of swarf because it is the introductory image in the new story I'm working on. Almost the entire story takes place in a machine shop with one exterior scene and a very brief glimpse at the main character's home life. It is a story about human cleverness, opposable thumbs and alien need and envy. This one is shaping up to have a very Twilight Zone-ish feel to it.
On another note - got a letter from the good folks at the 3 Day Novel Contest. They're looking to past participants to sign up for this year's ordeal. It's a tough old haul of intensive, almost non-stop writing which takes place over the Labour Day Weekend each year. I've done it twice before and have been very pleased by the results. I skipped last year because with kids heading to the first day of school the next day it seemed a little daunting. This year - due to the calendar, the kids head back to school before Labour Day. My wife asked if I wanted to do it this year and whether I had any ideas for a short novel that might be written over three days.
I'll need to ponder...