The other day I picked my first roses from the garden. This one was particularly stunning and yet it wasn’t perfect. Two of the petals were slightly sunburned, but I didn’t for a moment think about tossing this flower. Instead, those brown tinges were a part of its beauty. And it occurred to me that here was a perfect metaphor for those stories that are unfolding in my head.
I want to put them on the page so they’re as beautiful and as colorful and exciting as possible.
Will they ever be perfect?
Should I stew about each word or phrase or plot point?
Should I get it done?
That first draft needs to be down, then with each rewrite, the story can unfold and become the almost perfect story if not the perfect one I want it to be.
So I returned to my desk, set this rose next to my computer and wrote. When I finished what I hope will be one more chapter, I’d connected my ghost with my MC. Here she is, a draft, a line of words, not perfect, but started.
“I close my eyes and wish I could sleep and not think about anything for a while, but that doesn’t happen. Instead, I wind up on my back staring at the ceiling until, outside, the light shifts from afternoon to early evening, and shadows slip down the walls and creep across the floor.
When the last flicker of light dips behind the mountains, my bedroom windows darken to mirrors and reflect the jumble of boxes I still haven’t touched.
When I’d put my manuscript to bed for the night I picked up The Writing Life by Annie Dillard. Here’s what I found on page one. “When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner’s pick, a wood carver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year.”
Ah, yes. There’s hope that tomorrow or the next day or the next year I’ll find out how close I was to getting that scene right.