Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Constructing a Story

This past weekend, my husband and I installed new interior doors in our house. I, having ‘slim to none’ construction experience, thought we could simply pop the old doors off and hang the new ones up and we’d be done in an hour or so, right?
Did you know that you actually have to remove the entire frame of the door, which requires things like a crowbar and reciprocating saw? And then you have to measure the opening for the new door and use a level and nail gun and a whole bunch of other power tools to make the new door fit into place. And when they don’t fit, you have to take the whole thing back out again and re-measure and use more power tools and pray a little that this time the door will open and close with ease. And you might as well forget about your other weekend plans because installing four new doors will take you two full days and then they’ll still need to be painted! (I have a point here about writing, just stick with me.)
On the plus side, we have beautiful new doors that make our hall much brighter. I also learned something about myself and about my marriage this weekend. I learned that I LOVE power tools! And that my husband and I really do make a great team, even when we’re both frustrated and exhausted and in need of ice cream (or whatever you might be in need of, but this is geared toward YA so I’m sticking with ice cream).
Now to my point about writing. When you first start a novel you’re excited about how the finished project will look. You have grand ideas of how the story will flow out of you, and your words will be like diamonds on the page. And then reality sets in, and the words don’t flow, and they feel more like coal than diamonds. You will write and re-write. You will build a story by changing words and moving whole sections around. You may at some point want to use a reciprocating saw on your story. You may pray a little. You will work until the wee hours of the morning and you’ll spend a perfect spring weekend inside slaving away until you’re frustrated, exhausted and in need of ice cream (see, I told you I had a point to the whole door story).
Eventually though, you will sit back and realize you have written a book. It may not be perfect, level and plumb in all the right spots. It may still need a few more descriptions, a good coat of paint. But the words are there. You did the work to write them down and you probably learned something along the way.