Magic Trick

92,000 words.  Still, I’ve not typed THE END – just yet.

I re-read an older post from about 2 1/2 months ago where I had 71,000 words.  Because my nature is to analyze (driving my husband crazy) I calculated this is only 280 words a day – if writing every day.  Which I don’t.  But almost.  There are days when family stuff is happening, or you know, I have to clean, cook, do laundry, run errands.

Either way.  there is progress.  It’s slow and steady.  And…, I can live with that.

Years ago when we first purchased this house, I had an idea for the kitchen.  As you can see, the house is old:


We figured it was built around 1906.  The kitchen hadn’t seen any modifications since the 70’s, and that avocado green just didn’t do it for me.  But…, we needed a new roof.  That definitely took precedence.  So did updating the paint inside from white walls and this very strange emerald green trim, to warmer earth tones.  Then came ripping out and replacing all the porches.  And the columns.  See those big ones?  The bases had collapsed and they were about to drop that small A frame shaped overhang into the front yard.  Couldn’t let that happen.

It took a long time to focus on the kitchen.  Years in fact.  During all this other work, I got a chance to think about what I wanted.  That was a good thing.  A really good thing.  Over the course of those years I went from wanting white or cream colored cabinets to desiring dark wood.  From tiled floors to wood.  From apple green paint to a warm milky coffee color.  From tiled counters to granite.  Major, and I mean major changes in taste.  If we had put in the kitchen under my original desires, it wouldn’t have suited this house – at all.  It would have been too light and airy, too modern looking.

It’s similar to what has happened while writing this book.  I’ve taken a lot of time – some of the delay is intentional, and some of it not.  It’s working out better this way.  For instance, since the beginning of this draft, I’ve had this one thought in mind regarding one of my characters. Some “thing” he’s done and why he did it.  And then, about three days ago, it came to me – he shouldn’t be the one who does this.  Another character should.  It’s a subtle change – but a major correction/shift in the overall scheme of the first character’s intentions.  It clarifies the reason for his behavior, makes more sense, and the plot more plausible.  What I love even better?  Most of what is written about him will still work – despite this shift in direction.

I also realize if I had pushed to get the draft finished, I never would have stumbled into this revelation.  An eye opener sort of clarification while writing can be elusive.  You’re so busy moving the story forward that sometimes you can forget a small subtle fact that doesn’t make sense. There certainly are no guarantees an epiphany will strike you out of the blue, but taking your time will help to uncover those moments.  It can help present a twist or turn you never saw.  And, when it does?  It’s like performing a magic trick you didn’t know you could do.

When have you unexpectedly pulled a rabbit out of the hat? 




“*le sigh, le swoon*


I wrote three-quarters of a novel in first person before I realized that I couldn’t do that and still have the ending I needed to have. So I started all over and cast it in third person. My fathers and sons stories have been slowly revealing themselves to me. There was no way I could have rushed them (though there is a fine line between taking the proper time and just taking the time off).


    The first one hundred pages – so not 3/4, but still! – were written in the first person on this WIP for me. But when I switched to 3rd, it was like reading a completely different story – so right.

    I’ve read two of the Fathers And Sons stories…the ones you mentioned on your blog. I’m curious about the relationships…between Curt, his friend, and the observations of his father from a distance.

    Sometimes I get impatient, especially towards the end, when I’m so close. But I’ve learned that’s a mistake. It’s easy to see when it’s rushed though – and I have to let the natural progression of the story take place – even if it ends up at 120,000 words. I’ll know then what to trim and cut. (I hope)


When I first had the idea to do something with some of my columns all I had was a title I really liked and a bunch of ‘old’ tear-sheets. Who the hell would want to read my old stuff, nobody?

Then I got my first column-gig, then the second column-gig and people started telling me they wanted to read some of my other stuff. But who the hell wants to read a bunch of unrelated columns, nobody?

Then my daughter suggested I categorize them.
It works. Time has been my partner.
Out of a bunch of disjointed thoughts, (600 to 1200 words each) plus the force and fallout of each piece, along with newly written transitions, a memoir is being born. But who the hell would want to read a memoir about me?

Okay Donna where’s your hat and your god-damned rabbit?

Side-note regarding your house: Doesn’t every southern lady live in a house with a broad porch and columns? Actually, I would expect nothing less from a southern lady writer. Stunning and beautiful.


    Don’t worry Wry…the logic behind the compilation of your columns sounds right to me…and if by title you mean the same as your blog – perfect.

    I’m sort of chuckling at your last comment…which sounds a lot like Scarlett O’hara syndrome. (i.e. the idea that all southern women live in such houses…eh, not really) We were just lucky the last owner got himself into financial trouble and the bank took the house and we took it off the bank’s hands. It was all about timing – as with writing.


Your house is GORGEOUS! Slow and steady was a good way to take the renovations.

There have been times I delayed a novel and ended up with a little twist like that, something small which had a more significant effect after the ripples settled. Most recently, it happened when I delayed “The end” in my April project; a particular character’s death had to be significant beyond its simple occurrence, and I figured it out.


    Thank you! We love it…been here about 16 years and still renovating – so we are slow and steady for sure.

    Don’t you love it when something clicks into place that makes more sense? Like, why didn’t this come to be me before I worried myself to a nub over it! I’m still debating “to end” or “not to end” a character. Hence the delay on THE END. 🙂


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