Today I like: School uniforms
Not so much: Paying for them! Wow, pricy.
This is my first post since my family officially relocated to Charleston, South Carolina, home of my alma mater, C of C. Anyone who’s read this blog knows of my undying love for this city, and if you’re so inclined you can see check out this post on the reasons for my devotion. I’ve dreamed of getting back here, permanently, for about five years. Somehow, within the span of roughly three months, that notion went from daydream to reality. So naturally, I’m thrilled.
I’ll admit, however, that when the move first looked like it might really happen, I panicked. Second thoughts swamped me. We had a nice house. Tons of friends. The kids were settled in school and loved our community. My mom lived a few towns over.
I loved Charleston, but did I want to rock this little boat? Send it down a creek we’ve not yet navigated?
Friends asked us why we were moving, and I struggled for a reason that would sound practical. We weren’t moving for my husband’s job, or my job (Hello! As a yet unpaid novelist…I can do that pretty much anywhere). We don’t have family in Charleston. I came up with this vague reasoning…quality of life. Hmm…clear as pluff mud, I know.
The logistics were daunting, from packing to gathering umpteen financial documents, from sorting out new schools to getting our DC house ready to sell…not to mention keeping it in show-able shape at all times with three kids home for the summer. In the meantime I was working on a rewrite for my agent…putting the final touches on The Cracked Slipper in preparation for submission.
It felt like too much. As much as I wanted to get back to Charleston, a little voice in my head kept up a running commentary. The voice sounded sort of like Steve Buscemi playing Nucky Thompson on Boardwalk Empire. Minus copious amounts of bootleg gin and hip retro Prohibition suits.
“Too much…too much. Let’s just keep comfortable. We have a swell setup here.”
In the end I told Steve to shut his pie hole and dug in. And once I got going, it wasn’t so bad. Focus, time. Move from one thing to the next and check the box. It all fell into place, and started to feel good. Driving over the Cooper River Bridge this morning, I had this thought: “Thank God. I’m home. What took me so long?”
I couldn’t help but compare my pre-move jitters to similar feelings I’ve had throughout the process of writing and (hopefully!) publishing The Cracked Slipper. Last summer a published novelist read my manuscript, and while she loved the characters and the voice, she presented me with a seemingly insurmountable point-of-view challenge.
She suggested I rewrite the entire MS, at the time written in a multiple closed third person POV. She wanted a single POV. She even suggested first person.
My first thought: “No freakin’ way. I can’t! I know this story backwards and forwards! I can recite it by heart! I love some of those scenes!”
Case in point, I was comfortable with the story as it was.
But Steve started in again. This time, he was right. “C’mon, kid. It’s good now. It’s a real hum dinger. But it could be great.”
And I saw the problems…my multiple POV’s diluted the plot, and in turn un-empowered my protagonist. I knew I had to take the advice. So I took a deep breath and, yup, I dug in. In the end I chose to keep the third person, and tell the story from the perspectives of both my heroine and her love interest, but it was still a massive effort. I slogged it out over six sweltering August weeks.
Just like with the move, once I got my head around what I needed to do it started flowing. It all came together, and even as I wrote it I could see the story getting stronger with each revision, new scene, and yes…even deletion of that beloved old material.
Once I finished I reread the entire novel. “Thank God I listened to her,” I thought. “Why didn’t I do this before?”
So, that’s my lesson for today. Get beyond comfortable, in life and writing. Dive in and make the change happen. Don’t settle for the okay, when you can have fabulous with a bit of effort. I’m guessing you’ll wonder why it took you so long.