Posted by: jeannineatkins | June 19, 2009

Looking for a Shiny Speck of Truth Amid it All

First there was that shiny gem of an idea. It became a picture book manuscript that went through lots of drafts, made a few eyes glimmer, but ultimately, turn dull again. I put the manuscript away for a few years, then, after selling my first book of poems, thought of my story again: could it be a novel in verse? Weren’t the themes of imagination and identity more geared to readers older than ten or twelve?

I wrote a first chapter. My writing group said – something. They didn’t gush, but I’d gotten enough across for them to say try again. I did.

Better, but not quite.

My third go-round with chapter one, I got yes, yes, and yes, from all three of my writing group members. I felt I had a way in.

For the past half a year, maybe more, but who’s counting, I’ve been drafting a novel-with-verse. I just sent the new first chapter and two others to my writing group and we met last night. Problems were pointed out, but none of the enormous kind. I’ve got detours and signs pointing the wrong day, but those can be hacked back or off when I’m further along. I think I’m on the right or right-ish track.

Today I’m taking some notes about what must be fixed, but going on to pull together my messy drafts of chapter four, watching for the buried story that needs to get out. And looking, from time to time at the rain.

Then I’ll pack my umbrella and camera to visit my cousin who just made the trip from Irvine, CA to Brooklyn, NY to see her daughter, Rachel. We hope to smell some wet roses in the Botanical Gardens or visit Prospect Park, which Rachel points out was designed after Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux practiced on Central Park, and so could fix their mistakes. We’ll see Gods of Carnage and go bowling, with the underlying theme of meet the boyfriend. My job is to take an edge off mom-meets-boyfriend and not make Rachel feel like two moms are breathing down necks. Can I do it? And on Monday, just before heading home, I’m excited to meet my editor!



  1. Have a wonderful trip, Jeannine!!!!

  2. You CAN do it.
    And you can do this story, too. 🙂

  3. I like the idea of being on the right-ish track. That’s where I am, too. Be sure to wave if you see me!
    Have a good trip, Jeannine.

  4. Thanks, Jo.
    And I’ll think of you breathing in salty air, breathing, breathing; let those waves be your friends.

  5. Thanks, Linda!
    Yes, we can. (you knew I had to say that, didn’t you?)

  6. Right-ish is very good. You don’t want to try to stay too right or you might miss something good, even if you have to hack back all the prickers from the detour.
    But I think we may be getting too far off if we bump into each other. I’m back about 4000 years. So I’ll just wave from here!

  7. Yay on finding that right-ish road! I love it when writerly patience pays off.
    And have a lovely time in NYC! I’ve been watching the rain on my own roses here — so delicious. (I’m a fan of rain.)

  8. I love this: My writing group said – something. They didn’t gush, but I’d gotten enough across for them to say try again. I did.
    This is so why I need my group. To remind me to keep going, that there’s a good reason to do so. 🙂
    Have a wonderful time in NY.

  9. That’s a nice way to put it: writerly patience paying off. I knew we needed that patience thing, but, oh yes, this is why!
    Thank you for the warm send off! Yes, rain can be nice. I think it’s one of the things, besides our dogs, Emily misses in L.A. She’s happy when she’s here and curl in bed and listen to it beat the roof.

  10. Yes, we need both things: there’s your book in a nutshell!
    I am excited about New York, and it looks like the rain may stop for a bit. Rain is good, but I’ll be packhorse enough, try as I did to trim (only two books!) without being a soggy one.

  11. i bet you added just the right amount of levity to a stressful mom-meets-boyfriend situation.
    Hope your meeting with your editor gives you plenty of inspiration for your novel.

  12. Actually, thankfully, meet-the-parent went well. Phew! And meet-the-editor was lovely in its own way. Thanks for your good thoughts!

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