In less than a week, I hope to send Bone Girl to my editor, Maudeen Wachsmith. Now comes the hard part. It’s time to fix the widgets. Or more aptly, to describe them.
I’ve got about six scenes I need to fill out in the manuscript and because I’m awful at writing description, I’ve procrastinated this task.
I blame my journalism background. When you work for newspapers, you learn to keep descriptions brief. Only the facts, ma’am. So, when my journalism professor critiqued my manuscript and wrote, “Describe Missouri during winter here,” he touched upon my biggest weakness: writing description.
The problem is, I can see it. I know exactly what Missouri looks like in the winter. Patches of dirty snow cover dead grass. The trees are bare, their branches encased in ice. Sleeping crop fields lay covered in snow, like great vats of chocolate chip ice cream. See. I’ve been there.
Or when he asks what Josey’s house looks like, I want to tell him: like my Grandmother Obermeier’s house outside of Lucas, Iowa. You know, you’ve been there lots of time.
But he hasn’t. I’m willing to bet that for all the millions (Hey, I can dream!) of people who read my book, maybe three will have been in that house: Aunt Mary Rose, Uncle Jack and my brother, Kevin.
Meanwhile, I see my author friends post on Facebook, “I wrote 5,000 words today! Woo-hoo.” And here I sit, searching for the words to describe a beginning band Christmas concert.
This reminds me of the annual inventory of my father’s lumberyard when I was a kid. Talk about the devil being in the details. Everything, I mean everything, had to be tallied once a year.
Like writing this novel, it started great. I was paid the grand sum of $1 an hour, and we had doughnuts on the first day. But it quickly tumbled downhill from there. Because you would be amazed at how much stuff is in a lumberyard. Screws, tools, nuts and bolts, light fixtures, paint, paintbrushes, wooden dowel rods, nails…you get the idea. Lots and lots of stuff. All of it to be counted. By day 2, I looked for a place to hide. $1 an hour just wasn’t worth it. Alas, I was found and encouraged to return to task.
My father’s business is no more. The last time I visited my hometown, Drake Lumberyard was a payday loan office. But this need to focus, to stay on task, remains. And this time, there are no doughnuts or lucrative wages. Just a fierce determination to make this book the best it can be and send it out into the world.
Hands and arms inside the cart, please. Next: I go undercover at Mirror Lake Middle School.