Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Of Seasons and Snags

When I woke up this morning, I decided I would like to live in Hawaii. Why today? Because it was 25 degrees outside our house, and my beautiful summer flowers came to the end of their lives. The first hard freeze of the winter is always a sad milestone for me because I love my flowers. Fortunately, I’ll have a few more days, maybe weeks, because I have five portable pots with lovely New Guinea impatiens. They have been in the house the last three nights and will get to go out again for the end of this week because the weather is going to be nice again.

Every year I have to remind myself afresh that the seasons are a totally scriptural thing. God ordained them, and they have their purpose in our world and our environment. Since I’ve spent two segments of my life in the tropics, I’m not always sure what those purposes are, but I accept that God mandated seasons for certain parts of our world. In addition, this is a good time to remind myself that I’m glad I don’t live northern Minnesota or Canada.

Today most of my time on Tangled Strands was spent going back and trying to work out the little riddles and knots I had left along the way. I always write notes to myself as I write fiction. I’ve usually done it in bright blue text (I imagine one of the reasons I like flowers so much is because I like color so much). But this week I’ve discovered how to use the Comments feature in my Microsoft Word software. With a couple of clicks, I can write my notes so they appear in the margin rather than as part of the text, and they don’t effect the word count of my text.

So when I’m writing away and I come to a snag, it works better to leave a note about the snag and get back to it later. I find that more effective than stopping my train of thought to work out a kink when it first happens. Some of those today were “simple”—as in “not complex,” but not necessarily easy to solve. One of them, for example, was about the phone in the story. In a couple of places I had the phone in the kitchen, but in another scene, I have a main character working in the kitchen, deliberately making noise so she didn’t eavesdrop on the phone conversation in another room. Remember, this is the 1950s when we didn’t have phones in multiple rooms like we do today. Like I said, it wasn’t complex, but that didn’t make it easy to resolve. It turned out to be, not a matter of figuring it out, but rather of deciding which I was willing to give up. I gave up the phone in the kitchen.

Others snags were about word choice. One was needing to look up the history of trucking to see if over-the-road truck driving was a viable career in those days. Another was a whole section I needed to rewrite.

Whatever it was, it was progress.

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