In a previous blog post I drew the parallel between gardening and writing. The effort we make in untangling the overgrowth only to be surprised by some hidden gem. At times when I’m nearing completion of the first draft of a story there’s just some tiny thing lacking. And I can’t see exactly what it is. It eludes me; dangling in my peripheral vision tantalizingly out of reach. The frustration is not knowing what I’m looking for until I find it. Perhaps its an idea for the ending, or the beginning. A simile, metaphor, word or phrase that will be the exact fit for the work in progress.
The only way to find it is prune and mulch, cut back, uproot, reseed, propagate, protect from frost. By writing, then reading, (not my own work), write again, edit again, read again. Work-shopping the work in an experienced group who’re not shy at the old ‘slash and burn’ technique. You know who you are!
And for each piece of work this is how it matures, in fits and spurts, at one moment showing great promise, perhaps the elusive gem, the next moment, burnt in the first frosts or only fit for the compost heap. The helps along the way are others sharing their experience and expertise, a critique here or a comment there. Words from the great classics, poetry or perhaps modern short story writers.
The trick is to keep watch, alert for when the wow moment happens. And what satisfaction when something falls into place as if effortlessly. But nothing is effortless. All is a result of plodding one word after another. Keep on plodding on.