WARNING: MIXED METAPHORS (or possibly even analogies) AHEAD:
You know that stage in revision, when things are FINALLY coming together? When you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel (and it’s NOT a train)? I have struggled for years to come up with a good way to describe. Something concise, cohesive, and coherent that really hits the nail on the head. See? There’s already that whole nail/hammer imagery going on, and we haven’t got to the contest yet!
I’m heading off to yet another workshop where I will be talking about this moment WITHOUT a metaphor. Without one that really says it all. Oh, sure, I’ll talk about weeding out the stuff that doesn’t belong, I’ll describe sanding off the rough spots. I’ll tell them how the puzzle pieces start to fit, even fall into place on their very own. I’ll mention Michelangelo’s (or was it daVinci? Someone else altogether?) idea that the statue is already in the chunk of rock, and that if you (only he?!) chip away long enough, the complete thing will emerge. If I’m crazy enough, I might even mention the idea that it’s kind of like carving something out of soap and watching all the spare flakes fall to the ground (and hoping that the darned thing doesn’t snap into pieces).
Okay, no, I won’t talk about all these things. The workshop is only an hour, for pete’s sake. Plus, I don’t want the people who come to listen thinking I’m completely crazy.
Wouldn’t it be nice, though, to come back to the answer. A description of one or two (okay, MAYBE three) sentences that just…says it? You all know what I’m talking about–if you haven’t hit it yet, yourselves, you’ve heard other people talk about it and you’ve dreamed about it happening to you. Yes, you have. I’m not saying it’s the moment of “done.” But it’s that time when all the work you’ve done starts to feel worthwhile. When you see a glimmer of resemblance between the words on the page and the vision in your mind. When you at least start to believe that you may possibly create something that holds together, stands on its own, doesn’t–as my husband is fond of saying–roll on square wheels.
So, while I’m gone: A contest.
Normally, I am a totally random contest-winner chooser. I put all the names in the hat, and I draw one out. Not this time. This time, I will be…A JUDGE.
Here’s what I want. Post your entry in the comment section of this post. I’ll give you UP TO 3 sentences to come up with a metaphor (or an analogy or a simile or a comparison or a whatever) that gets these elements across:
- That feeling that you’ve gotten rid of most, if not all, of those big extras you THOUGHT you’d need but that you now see have no place in the story.
- That feeling that, when you make a change in one chapter, you (almost) instantly think of one or two more places in the book that you need to change, and you’ve got a pretty clear idea of what change is going to work.
- That feeling that, as you revise, you’re connecting your characters at a deeper level, that everybody’s story is starting to link up with everybody else’s. In a good way.
- And, finally, that feeling that you may still have a long way to go, but that–right now–you’re very busy turning this story into something.
Wait, what? Oh, a prize? Yes, there is a prize.
If you win, and you don’t already have it, I’ll send you a signed copy of my book, The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide. But I don’t want to cut out ideas from anybody who already has the book. SO…if you win and you do already have the book and don’t want a copy for a friend, I’ll send you, INSTEAD, a copy of Colin Cotterill’s The Coroner’s Lunch. Just because this series is my newest happy reading discovery, and I like to share. Basically, your choice!
I’m going to run the contest for a week, and I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday, May 18th. I’m going to make no claims about knowing the BEST entry; I’m just going to pick the one that feels the most right with the way I feel when I get to this point in revising. I’m still working on an early draft of my WIP, so all these entries are going to be nice reminders of what I have to look forward to–good motivation for writing along, so I get to revise.
Enter away. And have fun!