Posted by: jeannineatkins | February 10, 2012

Sometimes a Day Goes Like This

The chapter I’m set to revise has some good sentences. Hey, it has some sentences. I’m trying to focus on that, instead of the jumble of notes that clod most of the pages. There are some images that seem tired, and I’ll need to wake them up. There are clumps and knots of half or quarter sentences, bits of dialogue looking for a home, and lots of directions: Fix this! Straighten out that! Those sort of exhortations that make me slump my shoulders. I know! Looking at all there is to do, I drop myself into the chair with the thought that it’s time to get a ##*&^%$ draft done and get it to my writing group. Just finish the thing.

But I need to get the car inspected. It’s not even the last day of the month. There’s milk and lettuce to be fetched. Isn’t there always? All of us can see where this train of thought is going. Away from the computer. Just finish the thing, I repeat to my whiny self.

And lo and behold, starting out slogging, by the end of the morning, one of the dusty images starts to look a wee bit shiny. Seeing things moving into new places, I’m ready to take a break to do a necessary errand. I leave my character just before a kiss. Walking across the parking lot, I realize that kiss of hers can wait. The novel will have more feeling if she ducks away.

Stepping away can have its writerly rewards, but first we have to have something moving to step away from, and properly time the drive or walk. What matters now is that I’m excited about a new turn in the chapter. Never mind that I’m further from finishing as I jot down more knotty sentences, broken dialogue, and images in need of polish in a notebook I always carry, and hurry through my errand, eager to get back to my desk.




  1. Great description of how this feels–and works. I bet you did your errands in a happier mood, too!

    • Oh, happiness. Yes, that’s a good thing, too!

      I realize when I give assignments to my students, that I can add — and it’s okay if this happens to be fun.

  2. So right on.

    • Wishing you the best with your own words and lettuce-gathering excursions, Sarah!

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