I’ve lived in my new house for a little more than a month now, and I feel like for the first time, the dust is starting to settle a bit. I spent these past few weeks unpacking boxes, looking at the contents and trying to figure out where they would go in my new space. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’ve moved a few times, so I know this is not a process that can be rushed.
Depending on the day, I am either trilled with the progress made so far, or I am weighed down by the idea that I may never find the normal that must be in a box somewhere, still packed. All of my furniture is in place, but half of it doesn’t work here. Rooms will have to be reimagined as new routines emerge. The couch we sometimes sat on in the fancy sitting room has now somehow become the old sofa that we lay all over in the family room when there is TV to watch. The kitchen table that has spent its life under the protection of padded tablecloths and brightly colored placemats is now making a bold statement as the rich and bold wood centerpiece of a new dining room. Rooms have been painted, but the artwork has yet to be sorted out. The fork and spoon that made for fanciful artwork in my old kitchen looks oversized and out of place in the new one. The bold pop of red my husband was so fond of in the sea of Gobi Desert walls at our old house stands out like unwelcomed clown art in my new traditional, and very bright, white palace.
I have managed to hang up one piece of art. A piece I picked up in very dirty and smelly alleyway of Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok, Thailand. When I look at it, it reminds me that life is only as small as you want it to be. Once upon a time, this small town girl had a very grand adventure. Maybe one day she will again.
I wasn’t looking to find a spectacular place to hang my spectacular souvenir. I know from experience that I am not in charge of these sorts of things.
But when I walked into this house, and I saw this particular wall, I knew.
That’s where it goes.
I have no curtains, I have no rugs, and the chandelier would be better used in my office. I could rinse, recycle and repeat that statement for just about every room we have.
I am not stressed about any of this because I know as long as I have the ONE thing that anchors the room, everything else will eventually fall into place. It always has, it always will.
This past February, I finished a very good first draft of a new contemporary called Waiting for Autumn. It was polished enough that I was able to shop it around to publishers and I got some good feedback. As publishers do, I got some requests. Change this, move that, throw in a secret baby. One publisher stated that they wanted me to wait six months before I sent it back in with my changes.
I can make the changes they wanted in a weekend if I needed to.
They said – to give you time to think. Writing is ever evolving.
Ultimately, this story is mine. I don’t have to change one word. I spent months and months with characters and I fell in love with them in only the way a writer can. If I so chose, I could introduce you to the world I created last fall, and hope that you’d fall in love with them too.
Despite the excitement that surrounds finishing up what you think is the best version of the book you can write, I did take that time.
Writing is ever evolving.
I thought about my main character’s journey and realized she needed to be pushed far harder than I pushed her.
I thought about the man who walked into (and in this case out of) her life, and understood that he is far more broken than even I realized.
The friend that she depended on is not as perfect as she’d like to admit. The new faces in town needed to have deeper connections.
Standing in my shower a week ago, while I was minding my own business, the wild thought ran through my head that I could not let go of.
– He was there. He didn’t wake up to the news, he lived it. He survived it.
What remained was the core of my story. The history that put my two characters into each other’s lives, the thing that tore them apart, and the moment that brought them together.
Ultimately, this boils down to one mighty line in the book.
The one line said by the particular character at a particular time, I knew.
That’s where it goes.
I don’t know why I can easily accept the fact that when I move I have to unpack everything and let the things find the places they are supposed to be. Let the house decide what it wants to hold. Yet, I do not allow myself the time to discover the same about a story I have written.
In this forced break, I have discovered something that I have already known for years.
This is not a process that can be rushed.
I will spend the next few weeks following instead of leading. I will let my characters tell me where they want their story to go, and I will let the artwork call to the walls it want to be on.
I will not stress because I know I’ve got the one thing that will be the anchor for all others.
Eventually I will walk the halls of this house and be pleased with how all the little things fell into place.
I’m hoping that will be right around the same time when you find yourself sitting down with Autumn and Nick, where just like the house, all of the little things have fallen into place.