Posted by: jeannineatkins | November 30, 2014

Grateful at Second Glance

While sleep evaded me last night, I set my thoughts back to the novel I’m writing. I sat up four or five times to scribble, and woke to see five pink index cards scattered near my slippers. The single sentence that I wrote seemed to shine, though not brightly. The other thoughts didn’t have the sheen of ripe fruit, but were mottled, brown around the edges. Still, I typed them up, fluffing them into sentences, and will mull over them in the daylight. My dim takeaway was about the tone of my novel, which the nighttime suggested might be a little darker. I didn’t want to hear that. This is an adventure for eleven or twelve year old readers. But maybe the cheer isn’t earned. Maybe the voice needs to change.


Few writers who aren’t amateurs are pleased with every sentence. Few stack up good chapter after good chapter, like a row of prettily wrapped boxes. Instead, many of us rack up mistakes, then get surprised now and then by a bit of half-hidden dazzle. Writing means grace and soldiering. Now and then we find a prize, but more often we’re pulling up our bootstraps or socks or whatever’s slipping over our feet. There’s more stopping than going. The trick is to remember the grace while in the midst of plain old marching.

There’s no hand waving, no quick steps, no music in most of my writing day, but I count on arriving sometime at a place that makes me want to sing. The bruised phrases may start to shine. Shuffled in new ways, they’ll turn into something worth another glance. I forge ahead, trying to be grateful for all my words, not just the ones that tell a tale, but the messy ones that get me closer to a shape with a beginning and end that seems as perfect as a tree. Maybe one I walk by almost daily, and forget to look.



  1. This is one of my favorites – especially as I mull a novel and scribble and toss.

    • I am happy to have your company in the mulling, scribbling, and tossing!

  2. “Writing means grace and soldiering.” Yes, it does!

    I love to walk in your orchard of thought and stop to admire the bright fruit that dances from each branch.

    A lovely post — words of encouragement to tuck in the heart. Thank you, Jeannine! xo

  3. Love this, SO true! The pleasure is in the molding, sifting and pruning, sometimes word by word. I didn’t get to that point until the last two rounds of edits on my manuscript; I didn’t think I’d get to that point where each word mattered. That’s when writing is magic to me.

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