Posted by: jeannineatkins | September 14, 2010

Creeping Cautiously Toward an End

Mostly this looks like any other day. I’m still on the porch, but added fleece to my wardrobe. I meddle with a poem I typed, crossing out words and adding some new ones that seem clearer. I draw lines to try phrases in new places. I make big slashes through stanzas, then type the changes on my computer.

But once in a while I get the rush of feeling like I’m a downward slope. I’m sliding toward the end of a revision I’ll show to my husband and send to my writing group in the next few days. I’ve met the goal I set in July, as I wanted this draft done before two people in the group take vacations one right after the other, meaning we may not meet for a month or two. I wanted their responses with me as I revise toward a draft I like to call final. This draft is fun because I want it to be as good as I can get it, but know I’ll get another chance for fixing before I send it to the city. There’s more sense of forgiveness around my fingers, less anxiety. It’s like cleaning the house for an easy guest: say my sister, who grew up with our mother’s strong tolerance for clutter. I want clear places to sit and prefer piles that don’t teeter, but I don’t yet have to worry about dust on high shelves or whatever may be under the beds.

I’ve focused on keeping a narrative thread through about 150 pages of poetry, and next time through I’ll sit longer with each poem, and each line of it, hoping to make it not just a good stepping stone to the next, but shiny in itself. I’ll bring out the big broom and peer at the ceiling corners. Is that an end? Once you go through say five, ten, a hundred drafts of something, you’re pretty sure this is all about process. Once in a while I glimpse a beautiful thing. More often I’m catching mistakes, reeling in vagueness.

Still it’s a kind of festive week and my husband and I are planning a long weekend in Vermont, where I’ll be pulling out my notebook, ever making changes, but can have the satisfaction of a good-enough-for-now draft sitting at home. I can bring along the top of a stack of books I’ve been waiting to read. I’m excited, but also aware that even as I’m blogging, there’s work ahead. So I’ll go back to being what the dogs see as the me of everyday — scribbling, tapping – but there will be a grin on my face when I hit: send.



  1. Woot–the home stretch! Even if there are miles to go before the proverbial sleep, you’re so close. That’s so exciting.
    BTW, I absolutely LOVED the metaphor about cleaning house! I’m not big on housekeeping, mind you, but the way you describe it here, it almost sounds fun. Almost. 🙂

  2. Great things! YAY! xoxoxox

  3. Sounds like a wonderful place to be at–enjoy!

  4. Very nice 🙂

  5. Yes, miles to go, but why not dance a bit, so thank you for your happy icon!
    And yes, housekeeping can sound more fun than it is. (loved reading about it in Little Women)

  6. Thanks for the x’s, o’s, and cheers, Debbi. Back to you!

  7. I am a little giddy — thanks!

  8. Thank you for the smile, and best wishes for your busy fall.

  9. Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Hello, I have stumbled across your website in my search to find out if the Little House books are truth or fiction. I am a literary studies major at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, MO. Recently in a writing class we had to discuss a book that we felt was considered “Ultimate Writing” in our lives. I chose the Little House books. When I wrote in my essay that they books were Laura’s autobiography my professor scribbled through it “fiction.” I grew up in the 70s having these books read to me by my grandma. Then I read them to my kids and my kids read them back to me when they began reading and I know I will read them to my grandchildren. I have been on a quest to prove to my professor that the stories are true. Where can I find proof that the stories are based on fact, not just because they lived in certain places, but because of real life experiences? I am sorry to post to your journal about a different topic. I would appreciate your help.
    Senior at MSSU

  10. Great post–love “There’s more sense of forgiveness around my fingers, less anxiety.” Have fun and congrats! You’re in the home stretch!

  11. Re: Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Hi, Peggy, I’m afraid I’d agree with your professor that they are fiction, though they are heavily based on fact. I also agree with you that they’re wonderful books, and so cool that they are being passed along through your family. I don’t truly think that you and your professor are far apart here. You can find any biography of Laura that will show that much of what she is experience is recorded in the Little House books. But they are usually classified as fiction because dialogue is invented, based on what might have been said decades before, and some other things. What really happened and some differences are outlined in The Ghost in the Little House. Maybe you’re disagreeing about a definition of truth; the label of fiction isn’t meant to put down the bigger sense that the books paralleled an amazing life and speaks from heart to hearts. Thanks for writing!

  12. Thanks, Laura — loving the home stretch!
    And so glad to hear the poetry panel at the blogger’s convention is a go! I can’t yet commit, but fingers crossed very hard that I will make it. I’d love to meet you in person!

  13. I am grinning for you as you prepare to hit “send.” 🙂

  14. Re: Laura Ingalls Wilder
    Thanks so much for your reply. I will be looking for a copy of The Ghost in the Little House. I appreciate your time and expertise during such an anxious moment in your writing.

  15. Chiming in late because our ISP went down this week, but sending lots more cheers your way. So wonderful to hear you’re on that downward slope! Yay!!!

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