I’m trying to pry dirt from under my fingernails, so of course I run into the door to my writing office before I turn the knob. Damn. It’s a good thing I was distracted, because the moment I open the door the odor of fried food and stale beer, like the kind you can’t get out of your clothes after watching the game at a sports bar (I know, it’s been a while, but you still remember, right?), wafts past me. Part of me wants to turn around and go back to weeding, but I resist.
Yeah, I probably should have listened to that part.
“I understand a ‘Job Well Done’ is in order, love.” My Muse is standing in front of the whiteboard covering one wall of my office. His fried food cologne must be emanating from the rugby jersey he’s wearing. His khaki cargo shorts have a stain on one thigh I hesitate to identify. Deck shoes complete his ensemble. No socks. Nice calves.
“Where have you been?”
He adds a note to the homework criteria I wrote on the board. “Things are opening up. Outdoor seating, and now some indoor seating, but the weather’s too nice to be inside.”
“So, you and Mr. E went on a pub crawl. If you were sitting outside, why do you smell like a sports bar?”
He adds another note. “Do you know fryers smoke? Even outdoors.”
I swallow a snarky comment about fryers and Camels or Marlboros. “Let me guess. You and Mr. E sat downwind. Didn’t think to move?”
He hit me with his brilliant blue eyes, a brow arched. “You make it sound like there was somewhere else to sit. It was like everyone was coming out of hibernation. We had to wait in line at a couple places.”
That sounds about right. “I can’t believe you had to sit downwind of the fryer at every bar you hit.”
“Well, there was one where they didn’t set up the fryers outside.” He adds one more note, then snaps the cover on the dry-erase marker. “Well done, love. You finished your first round of revision.”
I stand beside him in front of the board. “Um, thanks, I guess.”
“You sound disappointed.”
“I wasn’t, until I dug into my homework assignment.” Plotting. This assignment, my last for the class, looks at the story plot points. I’ve been feeling a major lack of satisfaction with the story, even after I figured out the plot to begin with. When I dug into my homework, I realized why. “I need to adjust the plot. Like, a significant change.”
My Muse swaps the marker in his hand for a different color, and adds another note. “That’s a good thing. You found the problem now, rather than two revisions from now.”
“You could have said something earlier, like before I finished the first draft–correction, finished the first draft after seven false starts. Maybe I would have gotten through it faster. Like after only five false starts.”
He rests an arm around my shoulders. The smell of French fries assaults my nose. “You forget one thing, love.”
“You don’t always listen to me.” Before I can respond, he continues. “Besides, you got to feel like you accomplished something by finishing the first round of revision. There’s a lot to be said about feeling like you’ve made progress. It’s important for all writers, but especially for one who tossed out seven partially-finished first drafts.”
“So, you didn’t hammer me with the revelation until I finished the first revision? Do you know how much further I’d be if I’d figured this out sooner?” I’m so glad I’m taking this class, because I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to see the glaring weak spot otherwise.
“How much have you learned because you analyzed the plot for your homework?” He tosses the marker onto the sill of the board. “You know the story will be stronger because of it.” He squeezes my shoulders, then heads to the mini-fridge and pulls out a brewski. He points the bottle at me then the board before twisting off the cap and slinging it into the trash. “Get your homework finished so we can work on that other story. I have a few ideas.”
I’m sure you do. He’s right, I can see the places where the plot needs work, which is part of the process. I do find it frustrating to get through one round of revision before I have that head-slapping “DUH!” moment.
Come to think of it, I’ve had a lot of those “DUH!” moments with this story. Sheesh.
Now that I’m done with my first round of revision, once I finish my homework, I’ll move on to a different story for a few weeks to let Book 2 rest. After this class, I have one more to take to get my second badge and move one step closer to my writing certificate.
How is your writing coming along? Enjoy this last week of Spring before the solstice next week!