Posted by: jeannineatkins | September 3, 2009

One Giant Step Forward, Three Baby Steps Back

Lorraine lorrainemt and I live in different parts of the country, but we’ve been enjoying each other’s company this summer as for one brief moment we worked on chapter 11 of our novels. Then I came across a tangled mess and sent myself back to Chapter One. The thought of reaching the fabled chapter 11 and one day getting back to work side by side with Lorraine again inspired me. She went away from LJ for a little while, then just came back to report things didn’t look too great in the middle of her novel either. She set aside her lovely stack of 87 pages, wrote a new title and new first line, and will begin again.

In a comment, Rose olmue. wrote, “Writing is one big game of chutes and ladders.” Yes, or “Mother, May, I?” which we often played on summer evenings: Mother, can I take one giant step forward? No, but you may take three twirls back. We think we’re getting somewhere when… whoops. I’m so proud of Lorraine for seeing the chance for a new improved beginning even while it hurts. Because while there’s the whole game aspect of struggling to move forward, getting the book right matters more than page count. And that just takes time. And the willingness to fall and get up again and keep true to the underlying story to be told. Leaning on each other’s courage.



  1. This is all so true, Jeannine. I’ve taken a few not-so-graceful twirls backward this week myself. But it was worth it. I’m now baby-stepping forward again … slowly, of course, so that Mother doesn’t spin around and catch me!

  2. This is such a good post, Jeannine. It’s so hard, isn’t it, to push forward for a long while, and then to end up again at Square One. I don’t know what I’d do without the support I get from writer friends like all of you. You understand because you’re been there, and I’m grateful for that (well, not that you’ve endured the same frustrations, but that you are able to empathize). No matter where we are on the journey, we’re in this together. xo

  3. And every now and then something happens that sends you squealing rapidly down the chute! That, for me, is what keeps me climbing back up the ladders–knowing that possibility, really even probability, is out there.
    Good luck to you both as you move forward!

  4. I’m glad to hear about the small sneaky steps forward. Those probably are the safest. Sometimes we have to do the haphazard spins to find where to put our feet.
    Enjoy the fall!

  5. Thanks for the xo. Yes, having good company makes all the difference.

  6. Thanks for the important reminder, Becky!
    And thanks for the good luck — sending it back as you decide to kill off (fictionally of course) today!

  7. Oh boy, I needed to be reminded that I am not alone in this journey. I was so proud of getting 60 pages of Flyboy down but now I realize that it probably closer to 40 when I get things cut. It is such forward, back, back sort of game and yet, it’s the only game I’m any good at so I’ll keep playing.

  8. I can’t tell you how much your support means to me, Jeannine. Um, I’m leaning on your courage now to ask you to go read my recent post. Gulp.

  9. Lots of chutes and ladders here, too, both in writing and in life. But it’s lovely to have your companionship along the way. And your inspiring words. Fall and get up again, indeed…

  10. I’m glad you want to keep playing! And forty pages is nothing to sneeze at. I hope you keep moving forward for a good long while. And we’re happy to keep you company.

  11. Gulp? You scared me Lorrraine. But, been there, done that: it all sounds good to me! Onward, backwards, or sideways, we’ll get through!

  12. Amy, we don’t mean that literally. No chutes or ladders for you, and I hope you’re done in the attic. I’m glad you’ve found a way to write and your back is healing. xo

  13. Oh yes, I’ll keep on playing. Who knows what I will have when I get back to it. I think the next few days are all about articles that are due.

  14. I love this way of thinking…it’s like a game. It certainly brings an aspect of fun into our work, doesn’t it?
    You can’t imagine how many times I’ve started my manuscript over, but, this version is making me proud.
    Hope you have a good writing day!

  15. I could probably imagine how many times you’ve started your ms. over! I don’t think I’ve yet been bowled over either by how many times a ms. has been revised, or how many times it’s been read and turned down before it’s been accepted. Um, part of the fun?
    But how great this version is making your proud! I hope your fall is productive!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: