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Squids, quicksand, and the baby chicks apeeping

I am refilling a manuscript with a contest I entered last year at this time. To do so, I must justify the refilling, describing how the manuscript has changed. Thus, I’ve had occasion to review what last year I thought was a nearly complete version of The Bone Trench, this novel I can’t seem to give up on. This earlier version of the manuscript is terrible. This, as my husband would say, makes me happy as a squid.

So much of the time, writing to me seems like slogging through quicksand: lots of hard work with no discernible progress. in this light, encountering something I thought was nearly finished, only to read how thoroughly unfinished it was, could have been very depressing.

Instead, I read the chunks of exposition, the dearth of scene detail, the unnecessary switchbacks in narration, and I rejoiced: I’m making progress!

This euphoria was immediately squelched when I began a simple, final review. How could the character know this person’s name? What was the tiny professor really trying to say? Why on earth did a reference to the Renaissance Project pop up 41 pages in?

Three days later, I (again) felt the manuscript much improved.

Now, here’s the bad news: last year, the terrible version of The Bone Trench was named a short-list finalist in the contest. While this might lead one to conclude I’ve got a really good shot at going higher with a better manuscript, therein lies the problem. I’m secretly a “chicken-counter.” As in, don’t count your chickens before they hatch. I do. I count my biddies before the mama hen has settled her butt on the nest.

So I’m hoping to file the manuscript and forget about it. Just put it out of my mind. Ignore those little peeps. Go work on something else—wasn’t I supposed to be recording my short stories for podcasting?

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

annual, contest, exposition, literature, narrative, novel-in-progress, revision

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