Wistfulness alert: This past week marked ten years that we’ve lived in this house.
It is the longest I’ve lived in any one place.
We had celebrations and memorials, holidays and illness. We’ve welcomed our third child, said goodbye to our beloved first dog and hello to our goofball second dog.
We’ve changed careers. We’ve struggled and we’ve prospered. We’ve suffered and we’ve triumphed. It’s been the home of my midlife.
Still, I have feelings and thoughts about it all that will have to wait.
Now, about that book I’ve been writing…remember the one I so smugly thought I’d be practically done with by now, since I started it in autumn of 2018?
The more I do, the further from the The End it feels.
Rewrite of Act 1 is done and it’s gloppy. I have the characters’ wants and needs for each scene put in there, and this next go around is to make sure the actual story makes sense…that it works. The next round(s) of edits after that will involve focusing on description, setting, and dialog, then a last go-through for grammar and word choice.
I’m missing a few key elements in the story overall, mostly a sense of clarity about big-picture items. Theme. Over-all, book-long wants. An entire character or two and just maybe a more-fully-fleshed-out political system within the world of the story…important because the story has a lot of politics in it.
So this week I stop rewriting and refocus. It’s time to outline again and answer those questions. What does my hero really want? What does she really need? What stands in her way? How will she grow by the end?
I mean, I have a general sense of it. The wants and needs and themes and obstacles rumble and roar throughout the book, but I need to be able to put it into words – a sentence or two max – to act as a compass. This will help clear up the muddy middle of Act Two and will make my Act Three that much more satisfying.
Then it’s just prettying up the words.
It’s not a lot of clarification (maybe taking me a few days?), but it’s needed and will quite soon speed up the entire process. I think I’m just afraid that it will mean a lot of reworking, that I’ve wasted time. Then I remember that I can either rework the book into something great, or not rework it and have a big puddle of words that sort of try to get at something that no one will ever want to read.
And the work continues.
Still, I feel lost here.
And it occurs to me that perhaps the right questions to ask for my book are also the right questions to ask for in midlife. What do I want? What do I need? What stands in my way? How can I grow by the end?
The rest is just prettying up the words.