Think of it like one of our many weather delays as we tried to make our way to Florida from Maine aboard “Little Prince”. I’ve accumulated 55,000 words and 18 chapters. That was the easy part. Now the hard part, making it something other people will want to read. At least that’s how Ernest Hemingway described this process.
“Don’t get discouraged because there’s a lot of mechanical work to writing. There is, and you can’t get out of it. I rewrote the first part of A Farewell to Arms at least fifty times. You’ve got to work it over. The first draft of anything is s***. When you first start to write you get all the kick and the reader gets none, but after you learn to work it’s your object to convey everything to the reader so that he remembers it not as a story he had read but something that happened to himself.”
At least I’m in good company as I start the re-write of the beginning of my story, again. I have at least forty-five more tries to go before I’ve worked it as hard as Hemingway. Given this is my first book, that’s probably wishful thinking on my part. Regardless, my goal is to write the best book I can and I’m going to “work it over” as many times as I have to to get there.
I recently joined the Florida Writers Association and am now participating in critiquing session with a group in Bradenton. They’ve been a huge help. Because of COVID 19 we meet virtually and read what we want critiqued to the group of between four and six participants. I have gotten up to Chapter 3 with the group and after that session I’m returning to Chapter 1.
Knowing where to start has been one of the hardest parts of this process. I had put off writing until I figured out where to start. When a streak of brilliance didn’t alight my project I just started. I wasn’t particularly happy with the start but it allowed me to get past that first stumbling block. Now I need to really get it right.
I’m almost finished reading my fifth memoir and about an equal number of books on writing creative non-fiction, or memoir, or new autobiography, or whatever you want to call it. I’ve also read books on the Mayflower, pirates and the history of various ship wrecks and ship building. I’m all in on this project, but like all good things, it’s going to take some time to get it right (no pun intended).
The year that was had its share of challenges for everyone. For some it was just impossible and heartbreaking. New Year’s makes it feel like we get a do-over, that we get to Reboot and start again without causing the system to crash. Life isn’t that easy or simple. Some things you can’t fix but there is always hope if you look for it. Right now, we need to look hard and long at the future and what is ahead with a greater understanding of the fragility of those things we’ve always held dear.
I’m an optimist but I know things can fall apart. I also know that when they do, all you can do is put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. I’m hoping for a better 2021, though I know it won’t be all better once the ball drops in Times Square. I’m targeting 2021 as the year I have my first book published. I’m not sure how, but I’m going to give it my all to make sure it has every chance at success. Like painting, working at making my book the best it can possibly be is my first goal. When I’m satisfied with it, which will probably be never, the editing ends and the publishing begins.
Creating paintings of our boat trip from Maine has been a fun respite from my writing endeavors. Sometimes you have to step away and take a breather before returning with fresh eyes. Painting has allowed me to do that.
From Chapter 16:
“It was 8:30 a.m. when we left Barefoot Marina, and another pretty day on the water. The weather was finally cooperating, four sunny days in a row and more sunshine to come. Once the ICW fed into the Waccamaw River, the water was deeper and wider and beautiful. We made our way up to the fly bridge to enjoy the sunshine and the mild temperatures. Ahead of us was a row of sailboats. The sunlight pushed past a row of sumptuous clouds, creating a glistening spotlight for the middle sailboat with its sails unfurled. That was a picture that would definitely make a fine painting someday. Up ahead was the Ocean Highway Bridge which connects Pawleys Island to Georgetown, South Carolina’s third oldest city after Beaufort and Charleston. When we reached mile marker 400 where the Waccamaw River meets the Great Pee Dee River, Georgetown Landing Marina, awaited us, a perfect place to stay.”
Happy New Year, and let’s all resolve to be kinder to one another. If we try to understand someone else’s point of view instead of insisting on our own infallibility that which divided us only grows wider. Look for common ground and understanding and you’ll find it.