Posted by: jeannineatkins | October 19, 2009

Axes under the Tea Table

Lovely Melodye newport2newport pulled up soft chairs, put on tea, and invited us to join her while revising this weekend. And when Lorraine lorrainemt and I showed up in hip boots and hauling axes this remarkable hostess let us in. Though gently suggesting the axes might go in the closet, lest the gunk on them scare away fledgling ideas.

She’s right: there’s a time for axes and a time to stash them. I had to wait very quietly and patiently for all the ideas on my pages: now many need to be cut, but some I’m very happy to have. And the sight of that axe indeed would have meant some would never have seen the light of day.

But now it’s time for lumberjack work. I make it gentler by saving a draft. Telling myself these sentences, paragraphs, chapters are not totally gone. Just stored. Like clothes I know will never fit again, but maybe…

Last Thursday my writing group told me what I kind of knew: I’ve got characters, details, history, even some plot, but not the overriding arc. So I’m cutting much of what’s there, trying to clear a path for something that rises and falls and ends in a satisfying way. I’m working today, and those with or without axes are welcome. Just expect to smell some rough fresh-cut thatch along with the pot of Irish Breakfast. You can wear a dress or plaid flannel, a fancy hat or something with a net to protect you from storms of insects we might disturb with our hacking. Hey storming insects: could they be what I need? What’s that sting on my neck? Let’s begin.



  1. Coming over, axe in hand! And I’ll have a cup of that Irish breakfast, too, please.

  2. Oh, Amy, I’m so happy to have you here. I think we need another pot. Swinging those axes takes a lot of muscle and caffeine.

  3. Oh Jeannine, this just made me laugh! Poor Melodye, hosting us axe haulers. 😉 And I may have threatened with the axe, but chapter 14 seduced me into adding rather than chopping. I’ll save that gruesome deed for another time.
    I have this picture in my mind of you taking a delicate sip of tea and then swinging your axe. Chop! You’re an inspiring trail blazer, and I’m following right behind. (First I have to take out the dog and get son started on his schooling.) And then I’ll take a seat, have a cup of Irish breakfast (I can bring a warm up,) and get to work. Thanks!

  4. We really have to know so many phases: sipping and staring into space one minute, scribbling the next, then hauling out the axe under the table. The trick is to know what to do when.
    Glad you were able to forge ahead yesterday, and I’ll look forward to your company whichever direction you go after you tend to dog and son! We’re going to get through this!

  5. Another pot steeping as I write! I’m spending the day clearing brush and opening up long vistas, too. I’ve had two tangled subplots, and I think I see a good way to straighten them. Fingers crossed!

  6. I laughed right along with you. I’m glad you’ve set out the tea pot, ’cause I love working along side you, even though I’m still planting ideas–no scythes or axes required, as of yet. 🙂

  7. You had me until the stinging insects! Aargh!!!!
    This is such a fun post and if it’s any indication of the writing in your wip, you’re well on your way to something spectacular!

  8. No worries. Just an odd buzzing noise. The air is clear of creatures. Even the axes as surprisingly quiet.
    So come on over with your timeline.

  9. Looks like I’d best be careful if I ever come to tea. Sounds like you’re in good company, though, even if they’re armed with axes.

  10. Okay. I’m there.

  11. Lots of really good thoughts here. By the way, the post’s title would be a good name for a rock group–indie folk, maybe?

  12. I’ve brought my playdoh–trying to shape the form that I’ll repeat in several more pieces, with necessary variations. I’m getting close–the bunny rabbits are looking less like something from Monty Python!
    I like the gentling, saving of the older draft. I do this, too. Can’t stand not to have it as backup. Happy revising!

  13. No living being was hurt in this production, as they say. I guess I need a more vicious state of mind than usual to get this sort of clearing done. Then it will be all tea tables and just the click click of china.

  14. Maybe the title would be a bit too gruesome for the indie folk I’d like. But yes, it’s some kind of rock n roll: I’ve got the music turned up louder than usual here.

  15. Playdoh! Thank you, Becky. That’s just what we need. I am enjoying the clearing out…

  16. Sad to have missed the revising party. Hope you made good progress.

  17. Vivian, sorry you missed Monday, but I’m brewing more tea today. Hope you can join us before school gets out.

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