Monday, January 5, 2009

Progress, Kinda


I finally finished “The End of Day.” For those who don’t know, I’ve been fighting this story since I scratched out the first draft in Rhinelander in July. From the start, it felt like a special piece, even in its earliest forms. But it needed work. (Ok, an overhaul.) And, like all doting mamas, I couldn’t see its faults.

At the same time, I couldn’t let it go.

I can’t count how many times I worked End of Day over. Usually, just changing a few words and lamenting that inner tension that comes from being onto something that could be really good, yet knowing I still didn’t have it right. It reminded me of when my daughter was born; I labored for almost four days, but it was all work without any progress.

I think what bothered me most was how hung up I became in it. Toiling over adjectives that really didn’t matter. Agonizing over trivialities like dialogue tags. I told myself I needed to get End of Day out the door so I could get back to work on Folly. From Thanksgiving on, I puttered and puttered and puttered, while Folly grew cold on the back burner.

Then, with the new year, providence: WB Stephen identified the missing key to the puzzle. He even offered a suggestion how to fix it. And it was a good suggestion. A really, really, really good suggestion. The kind where you read it and that “Oh, yeah,” feeling washes over you. After all those months of tinkering, puttering, putzing, within an hour, End of Day was fixed. I submitted it to Flashquake this morning.

So no more excuses. No more distractions. No putzing. Come naptime today, I reopen Folly. I’ve neglected it and I expect it will fight me for that. But I’ll ease in, make my peace, nudge it gently. A series of tiny steps taken in the same direction eventually leads somewhere. Folly and I will get there, come distractions and high water.

And as for you, Stephen. Buddy. I owe you a beer. Thanks for helping me knock off my biggest excuse. Now I’m just left with the ones too personal to reveal here. So I’d better get my butt in gear.


Stephen said...

You are most welcome and far too kind. There are times when you don't realize how much of an impact you can have as a first reader. That was one of them.

As writers, I think all we need is the right spark--something said, something seen--to lead us down the path to a completed story. The work, however, is still up to us. We still have to take one step at a time, and you've done a fine job of it with this story. I am eager to see it get published, as well it should.

Linda said...

Finishing any story to satisfaction is a huge accomplishment. I hope this one finds a home, and soon.

Just sitting at the desk with paper or computer every day is an accomplishment. There are days when I write drivel. but the drivel is sometimes the warm-up to the final product. Every word counts - even those that end up on the editing floor. Peace, Linda

Greta said...

Stephen, I am not too nice. I'm shrewd and calculating. I need you to fix another story, so I'm buttering you up. :)

Linda, thanks for the pep talk. You're right. It all counts. Even the drivel and the slop.

Brenda ND said...

Great news Greta,
It is wonderful to finish something--to finally be satisfied with what you've produced. :)

Greta said...

Great to hear from you, Brenda! Hope you got more writing done over the holidays than I did.

See you on the 20th!