#243: Grown Wild

First I have to apologize for two weeks of radio silence. When I last wrote to you, I said I was nearing the deadline for the initial draft of the new book. That deadline has passed; the draft is submitted. I’m sitting here now, drinking an Oberon, writing again for the first time in two days. Life is good.

Five years ago, in a Kickstarter update, I said:

I’ve become very aware this week of improvements in my craft since the previous draft. Sentences and phrases that I never had a problem with before are now jumping out at me, striking me as awkward or overused. I suppose this is natural when you’re learning anything, but I find that the time scale of writing a novel and the serial nature in which I tackle edits (page by page from the first to the last) make the sensation especially apparent. It feels as though it’s taking me two months to mow the lawn, and by the time I’ve covered the entire yard, the grass where I started has grown wild again.

I forget this analogy every winter and remember it again the following summer, when the mowers start. Reading those old words now, I want to rewrite them (naturally), but the metaphor still stands. Not only that: the metaphor feels richer. It’s not just my craft improving – the story itself grows wild. By the time I get to the end, I see all the initial setup and exposition that will have to be trimmed. I see a voice that’s uneven to start, that hasn’t settled yet, takes a while to get comfortable with itself. I change, but the story changes too. We both exist in time – we are both alive.

One day I’m going to make a little book of all the writing metaphors I keep coming back to. It’ll be an unassuming thing, one you might read in the time it takes to drink your morning coffee, then stick on a windowsill next to a cactus. It’ll sit there for years, forgotten, until, deep in the throes of a project, you’ll happen to look at it, and notice it, and reach for it, and wipe away the dust, and flip it open, and see, perhaps, something you didn’t see before.

One day. Until then, I’ll just keep writing about them here.