Sunday, December 8, 2013

Changed from a draft into light and snowflakes

I like the transformation my book is taking right now. I wrote the first draft several years ago. It was fun. But then I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t know if it was good, or bad or how to make the bad parts good. So I did nothing with it. But it sat working on my mind, playing tricks on me. One day it would be a winning lottery ticket I just hadn’t the courage to cash in. Another it was just additional proof of my future of just above mediocrity.

So I started my master’s program and I worked and I tried and Iasked people to be critical and more critical. Make it hard. Give me a B. I’ll work harder. I’ll get better. It’s how I work. It’s in my blood. I wanted to know if I could be good at writing. Good enough to make it? It turns out I can. It’s not that I’ve made it. I haven’t. I still might not. But if I don’t, it’s not because I’m not good enough. If I don’t make it, it’ll be because I gave up on trying or because I just never got that lucky break that even talented people still need. But I think it’ll be good. I think I’m doing what I need to be doing and it’ll work out.

I’m telling the story that came, the story I felt needed to be told. The story of Seffra. She is me, and not me. She is abused children I’ve known who needed a story. The story is for the children who need it and for the public who needs it. I know how to fix it into the story it needs to be to be all that. Maybe not at the level of greatness I’d like but at a level good enough to start with. Good enough to be worthy of a read.

But it’s hard work. I had to take the original work and read it which was a painful look at myself and my abilities and my lack of direction in the first draft. I had to narrow the scope and decide on a purpose and focus. Focus is hard. Especially for this wiggly girl right here.

But I work on it and it’s steadily getting better and better. I get a little ways and then I get stuck. I get this sense that something isn’t working or that the story isn’t going anywhere and I have to stop and fight with it for a few days. I feel shitty then. I feel like it’s not going to work. I think about giving up. But then the answer comes and I know how to move forward. It’s shaping up nicely.

One thing I worked at learning to do in my program was trying to use less paper. Part of my writing process has always been printing and editing before finalizing. But the prospect of printing hundreds of pages I would just recycle away hurts my heart. So I tried to stop doing it so much.

But sometimes for the necessary perspective, I have to print. So I printed a whole bunch and it gave me the answer to the problem I’ve been grappling with. And it gave me 50 pages of paper I needed to do something with. So yesterday, I had my nieces and my son take scissors to all that paper. We folded and cut and folded and cut and then unfolded snowflakes galore. We taped them to the windows and sprayed snow and pulled the stencils off to make the sunshine snow dance on my living room floor.

And my heart is whole and happy and full. The story of children I’ve known who have been seemingly hopelessly damaged by the people who were supposed to love them has been transformed. It’s been churned and marinated in my mind and stored and repurposed to words and shapes on a page. Never a scrap wasted, it’s been turned to sunshine and snow dancing on my living room floor. That’s what can be done with a story. Any story can be scribbled on or cut up. It can be read and loved and celebrated. It can be crunched and crushed and repurposed. It can be beautiful.