How is Writing like Fixing the Stairs?

I think everyone had an abysmal winter (show of hands, pleaseSusan-Mermaid-avatar?).  If we used a plow service (hand up here), in spite of having a nifty snowblower in the garage (hand raised again), we have to be ready to face the consequences of the yahoos who ride those trucks and wield those plows.

Which is how I ended up with a staircase at the end of my driveway, smashed on one side, and completely unsafe.  Had the plow guys told me of the damage?  No.  They tossed the broken post behind the house, hi-tailed it back home and sent me the bill.

what my stairs should look like

Will they be plowing my driveway next winter?  Uh…  you guessed it, I’m looking for a new lawn service.

But I digress.  I watched Brilliant Writer Husband and Fabulous Engineer Son work on and repair the stairs over Easter weekend.  What did I learn?

I would love to have a drill like this

The damage has to be assessed for what is usable (read over your manuscript with close attention to gaps and mistakes, forgiving yourself along the way).

attractive rusty nails, ours weren’t

Old nails have to be pulled (cut the fat and unimportant details).

Decide if you will use the tools at hand, or make a run to the hardware store (are you going to work with what you have?  Or start all over again?).

Re-assemble the parts, checking for usability and strength (decide if your story has enough sass to survive a serious edit).

Attempt the first screw, and adjust technique as you go (ditto, but with words).

Test each re-assembled part for durability, then move on (as with the stairs, you MUST continue working forward in order to finish).

Finally, take a walk up the stairs, holding on to the railing, and celebrate your good work (huzzah!  you stuck with it! a hearty pat on the back for you!)

Close enough – just 34 years old!

Of course, the repairs didn’t go exactly like that.   Mark broke one hammer, the best hammer is missing, the middle hammer has one of the claws broken.  The battery-operated drill needs its battery pack replaced, and we had to pull out my father’s old Sears model, which doesn’t have the features of my DeWalt 9v.  I stood to one side, collecting bent nails in a soda can for disposal and looking helpful.  Finally, I left father and son to their own brilliance, and returned to celebrate the wonders of the repair.

And, in writing, it’s the same a lot of the time.  Discovering that two scenes of my manuscript can’t be used because I killed off the father before the book starts,  another chapter has a scene missing that has to be written.  There’s not enough energy between hero and heroine yet.  I’ve run through the easy parts and it’s getting harder.

Outside, the stairs are still put together – they have been for two days.  There has to be a lesson in that!

How do YOU find inspiration to keep going?


About Susan Jeffery

I am loving the challenge (sometimes) of re-entering the contemporary romance market after a lifetime of raising two fantastic children (it never ends, btw). Just when I thought I was done with kids, I accepted a position as librarian to 900 boys in a Bronx private school. I'm a vintage published author, Harlequin American #206 Fair Game (1987). Winner of the Golden Heart, 1986. Currently exploring the possibility of indie publishing under my new pseudonym (see fresh name, above).

6 thoughts on “How is Writing like Fixing the Stairs?

  1. Sounds just like what our critique partners do for us on our writing projects! I was starting to peter out on my current WIP when I remembered telling the sweet bass player I interviewed for help that I planned to have this baby written by the end of April! So there you go. For inspiration, tell others so there are expectations for the final product out in the world and not just tucked inside our heads. 🙂 Great post, Susan Mermaid!

    1. Thank you, Carlene — and if I can throw this together in under an hour, why am I whining that I overthinking my writing now? I also have a mentor who is waiting for the next chapter. Seems someone around here needs to pull some nails out of her (ahem) and get moving!

  2. Love this post, Susan-Mermaid!!! It actually gave me inspiration to return to my WIP! 😉

  3. Susan, you are brilliant! Thank you for the reminder to scrap what doesn’t work, use what does and keep moving forward. Happy writing!

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