Thursday, May 29, 2014
THE ECSTASY AND THE AGONY (No, Irving Stone has not become dyslexic. And my apologies to him.)
I emailed my manuscript of MOONBEAMS IN A JAR Wednesday night. You all know that ecstasy. After months of trying to pull together characters and plot as I see them brilliantly entwined in my head, I've sent off something I'm pleased with but is more like a lawn sculpture done with a chain saw than a Rodin.
I love it, it's just that it's morphed so much from conception to completion that I hardly recognize my original notes. I guess that's good. It means it took on a life of its own, and in exploring the depths of my characters, I found more joy and pain than I knew was there in the beginning.
You'd think I could just enjoy the thrill of a project completed on time despite the house painter arriving two months early, and my sister visiting Memorial Day weekend - and I do - but in the back of my mind is the nagging knowledge that the book isn't perfect and that the way to get it closer is going to involve agony for me and my characters, Jack and Sarah.
Jack had a crack-head mother, was separated from his two little sisters which he is now trying to find, did two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He's plagued by nightmares that place his awful mother with him in a Humvee in Afghanistan.
Sarah was a pediatric nurse who burned out while watching children suffer and die. She lost it completely when one of them was her only niece and her sister blamed her because she couldn't save her. She lives a sort of half-life, not using her skills and training, refusing a proposal from Jack's brother, Ben, because she doesn't want to have a family.
At this point, Jack and Sarah join Ron and me at the dinner table, wander at will through the house, and share the futon in my office with Cheyenne as they thumb through old magazines and wait to learn their fates. What will editorial want them to do - change their pasts? Change their behaviors? Alter their dreams?
I've left the office to do other things. After a deadline, my house usually looks like one of the worst episodes of Hoarders, but this time, with my sister's visit, I was forced to clean, so that's done. But Ron's been pleading for peanut butter cookies, I have a few trees to plant, clothes to take to Goodwill, and scores of little errands waiting for me to have time.
Meanwhile, Jack and Sarah inhabit my office and wait. I love them, a lot of the last four months of my life are invested in them, and I so want them to be happy. So I peer into my office now and then and remind them to be patient and hopeful. I wonder if Jack would take out the garbage?
How do you deal with the time spent waiting for a revision letter?