Sometimes I grab myself (metaphorically speaking) or turn to my wife (literally) and say: “What the hell were we thinking?” or “What the hell was I thinking?”
This can be about many things. Sometimes about something as seemingly simple and harmless as giving Sam a medium sized glass of juice or water shortly before bedtime, or something as big and life-changing as a second kid or writing another damn novel.
The hardest part is finding the balance, for me. I’m good at being the solitary pre-dawn writer, the doting father, the homemaker, the husband, the not-quite-burly and taciturn dockworker, the boozy raconteur…
Some of those aspects fit well with others. The hardest part is finding the balance.
Right now finding the quiet within to edit, truly fine-tooth comb edit, the first chapter of the “mostly ready” novel in order to enter a contest (thanks, Nova) and to further move along the whole “soliciting an Agent” phase of my career- well, that is the bitch of the bunch.
Sam and Bettie will be heading down South in just over a week for an extended house-sit/vacation, and I am eagerly anticipating the potential quiet time to edit within.
Oh, and a nice bit: my father read my novel. I know, my parents expressed interest in reading it and I was all: “Okay!”
Like that didn’t make me overly nervous.
He liked it a lot. My mother read it too- but I didn’t expect her to really “get” it. Try and picture a Shelley Duvall or Jane Lynch or Mary Tyler Moore kind of obliviousness. I’m thrilled my mother read it, and more or less enjoyed it, but she is entirely the wrong audience. My father is a bit more accurate as a potential audience for the story. His notes were great, purely a readers notes, and each one resonated with concerns I had for the various areas. But more than suggestions, he had questions for a few things- not questions that made me realize I’d written something badly, but questions that made me realize the world and its characters had sunk their hooks into him and he wanted to know more…
Hooks that I crafted, hooks that I made. That is a pretty exciting feeling.
“The characters are great, I want to spend time with these characters- even the bad guys, and some of them are truly horrible people, or not-people, but I liked them anyways, I enjoyed them,” he said.
I’m no wordsmith. At best, my writing is passable. I’m okay with that. But if the characters sing, and the world is fascinating and the story leaves you hungry for more… well shit, I did my job. And that is better than good.
This has little to do with the frustration of the Edit, which I am horrible at, conflicting with playing with my son or hanging out with my wife. But it was a real high point, a real shining moment.
The little moments help a lot.