I've reached the point in my Middle Grade novel where I need to start to rein in the characters. They were given a bit of freedom to explore, but now I need to bring them to the wrap party and it needs to make sense. To tell you the truth--I've been dreading this a bit. I know where I want them to end up for the most part, but now I have to figure out how they will get there. I write by the seat of my pants and that adds an element of suspense--for ME.
This challenge presents itself to me like four necklaces that have been tangled up into what feels like an endless mound of knots. The tendency is to just chuck the whole thing in a drawer (or the trash) and leave it regardless of the lost value or the likelihood that it will never be dealt with if it is not dealt with now. Another inkling might be to break at least one chain to make it easier to untangle. Maybe just untangle one--my favorite one or perhaps the easiest one to untangle. After all, no reader knows how I wanted it to end in my imagination.
My characters can be tweaked as needed unbeknownst to anyone.
So few would look at a knotted clot of chains and be excited to patiently, slowly, mind-bendingly and methodically follow each strand to its first knot. Work to untie it. Then the next and the next until each is free from its metalic captivity--able to be useful again, to be admired for its own individual attributes instead of one tangled mass of metal.
A confession: I am the designated detanglee in my family. So, it's not neccessarily a task I loathe or have never done. It's a challenge. Something I know I need to sit, relax and work on. A puzzle.
And so, that's where I am in this project--untangling, identifying each individual strand. The part where I need to focus and figure out. Hopefully I am able to do it because I believe there are some really valuable jewels in the pile and I'd love to showcase their dazzling merit for readers. Admittedly, it feels so good when something is transformed--like a clump of metal--from trash to treasure.
There is a relief and a sense of accomplishment. There is the fulfillment of investing time in what could otherwise just remain a useless cluster of words and transform it into an intricate and powerful story that sparkles and demonstrates how materials found in nature can become art in the right hands. Here's hoping that my hands are the right ones.
The hardest part is that I won't know until I have put the hours of untangling in. I could be left with nothing more than aluminum out of a gumball machine or I could be left with a solid gold, gem encrusted family heirloom. The challenge is the not knowing, but needing to have faith and persevering anyway.
That's the mystery of any artform, right? Any mission or passion--any initiative. Persistance. Blind faith. So often it is endurance, not raw talent, that determines success and satisfaction. Skill without the will to try and try again won't get a person very far.
Tuck in and find that first knot.
Forgive (yourself) and forget (your efforts)--early and often.
Pick up Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird and start going knot by knot.
I'll get there. So will you:)
I have to admit I am writing this entry—not because I feel the winds of creativity calling or sweeping over me during this pandemic. I am not writing because of any heightened artistic energy arriving with the first signs of community spread.
I have heard of so much bread and art being made and I truly am happy for those who have produced more of either—or both! Kudos and air kisses to you my friend. I want that to be me. In fact, sometimes I wonder if I’m a total slacker that any extra pockets of time have not been spent “producing” more of [insert something delicious or artistic here].
For me, it has been quite the opposite. For my metaphor I rely on television—I’m visual. For those familiar with Stranger Things, I am Seven (or Eleven?—it’s Eleven) after she has made something move with her mind. Instead of my nose bleeding and eating every waffle in sight, I write in my journal. I went through a whole journal in three months recently. Every day. Writing, but only for myself and those unconditionally loving blank pages.
So, why am I compelled to write in this here public diary today, of all the days of November?
Yes, you guessed it. Or maybe you didn’t.
You know—a writer’s best friend. A deadline. The last day of November.
In the absence of real people in person, real deadlines and such—I must cling to those deadlines that come due no matter what is swirling around in the world. Time. Calendars. And they continue to tick on.
I am in disbelief, actually. In fact, I was just telling my journal—the off-line, paper, lined version that I write in with pen (not a special pen, but anything I can find with ink flowing out of it)—how when this pandemic first started the “slowing down” never quite seemed to reach the buzzing within our home. Perhaps it’s the four kids or the penchant for volunteering for so many things, but it seemed that the show still insisted on going on. This new show was a real pain in the patootie, though. Instead of the usual in-person requirements there were several more steps and usually a screen of some sort.
Every time I looked up I was standing in or approaching Friday. Another week gone by. How did that happen? But, who would complain about time flying during a pandemic. This isn’t exactly a moment in history I want to dwell in or let soak too deeply into my skin, so I’ve gone with it.
And, so went the time.
Today, I can truthfully attest to the fact that I am astounded! Absolutely flummoxed. Could it be that just as I was getting used to the fact that November had crossed over my threshold, it is already walking out the front door as I wave goodbye with a bewildered look on my face, whispering to whoever is standing beside me, “Didn’t November just get here—like, yesterday? Was it something I said?”
For those of you familiar with cassette tapes, there’s no doubt I’ve wanted to fast-forward through 2020 for nearly all of 2020, but I didn’t expect it to actually happen. Well, it’s happening.
Let’s hope I am able to sit down with December for tea or some cookies before it’s the last day and I’m squeaking out a Dear Diary entry under duress. And, if you are one of the lucky ones who have been able to bake bread and paint walls during this pandemic—I salute you! As for me, I will be patient knowing that for every ebb there must eventually be a flow. At some point I'll be in the flow.
Until then, stay safe and eat waffles whenever the opportunity presents itself.