Unfulfilled Promises

Once again, I eagerly signed up for a task. This time it snow shoveling. Once again, tired and bored, I had not fulfilled my promise. My mother, washing dishes at our sink in Fairport, New York, wears a vivid red, short-sleeved shirt, damp kitchen towel over one shoulder.  Her long hair, gray strands woven through black, is smoothed back with a flowing scarf. Paraphrasing St. Bernard (the person, not the dog), she says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

What is worse, I wonder? Having good intentions and leaving them unfulfilled? Or never having the good intention in the first place? I like to think it is the former. Having good intentions, even unmet, means that there is hope and potential. Thus I opt for the good intentions and at times, I surprise myself and follow through.

There are two good intentions I had in December. One was to do a shout-out for New Hampshire authors that follow me on Twitter. I was to do this early in the month in honor of NH Writers’ Week, but to use a different cliché ,  better late than never.  Please visit my Twitter Authors page to see who’s who in NH Writing. If you are an author and you don’t see your name on my list, follow me on Twitter and let me know you write for NH.

My other good intention was to finish my first draft of my first-ever novel by December 15th. For writers, this is a hurdle that must be accomplished to move forward.  While I missed the deadline, I did finish on December 20th at 9:10 AM.  Just in time to open my eyes and realize Christmas was only five days away.  I blinked several times, figuratively set my pen down, and dove head first into the holiday season. Seven days later, the hard work of revision begins.

For those who have been following my journey, here’s a list of what’s in store for this novice author for the months of January and February:

  1. Read my story as a reader. Does it make sense? Is it interesting? Would I want to read it? What longing does it fulfill in the reader? Why does this story exist?
  2. Writing is a craft. It’s time to sharpen the tools that I need for the craft.  To do that I need to reread books about writing. I have a stack, but having never read Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, I have chosen to start there.Writer Tool Kit
  3. Start a list of where my novel falls short of the craft. I have included:
    1. Tense, grammar, punctuation.
    2. Don’t hint at where you won’t go. For example, I have a bridge slashing shadows across a face. Do I really want to go there? If not, remove the imagery. If so, get brave and write the scene.
    3. Are my characters being too safe? Even though I have grown to love these characters, they need to make poor choices.
    4. Write the hard scenes.
  4. Know my characters. What makes them act the way the do? Write character sketches for the main characters. For all others, at a bare minimum, know what does he/she wants. Every character needs to want something.
  5. Reread my novel as a writer. Keep a list of where it falls short and where it sings.

Within weeks I will begin my revisions. I am overwhelmed and excited. My goal: to keep this novel in the category of fulfilled good intentions and to avoid the plague of unfulfilled promise. I’ll keep you posted.

If you are a writer and have any advise on how to revise a novel, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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About Barbara Rath

Enjoy reading, writing, hiking, hangin' with family, friends and my dogs, watching soccer (Go Breakers), baseball, football. Favorite foods are coffee, chocolate, and artichokes. Always thinking of new stuff to do and then not doing it.
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8 Responses to Unfulfilled Promises

  1. MaryR says:

    Congratulations on finishing your first draft! It sounds like you have a good (aka reasonable) plan to keep moving forward. King’s memoir is on my reading list for the coming year as well.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations on completing your first draft of your first novel! What an accomplishment! One thing I find helpful is to let my first draft breathe for a week or two, before touching it. Time and distance is a writer’s best friend. Also it does help to share a few chapters with readers you trust to get some initial feedback and guidance for revisions. When you get feedback, good or not so good, it will provide the necessary fuel for revisions. Can’t wait to hear more about your journey! Also thank you for the mention on Twitter Authors page! It’s greatly appreciated. I look forward to returning the favor.

    • Barbara Rath says:

      Thank you for your comment! I am fortunate to be part of a writing critique group. They’ve reviewed the first two chapters and have asked for the third. I think giving the time and space is a great idea. Thoughts can peculate a bit that way!

      • Masheri says:

        Hi Barbara, It’s Masheri. I didn’t mean to be anonymous, I just forgot to include my name. Time is really important-time to leave it alone for a while and then the time to make revisions without interruption from our daily life-LOL. Proud of you! Again, hearty congratulations!

      • Barbara Rath says:

        Thanks again! It’s so nice to have your support.

  3. danicapiche says:

    Congratulations on finishing your draft! I haven’t read Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, but it’s on my list. I’m looking forward to your updates. Very best wishes!

    • Barbara Rath says:

      Thank you for your comment. King’s book starts as a memoir of writing and now I believe it is shifting into information about the craft. It’s been a fascinating ride so far.

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