As I ponder what to write for my very first blog, I keep getting distracted by the insulation contractor thudding up and down the ramp to my addition. Construction has consumed all my energy of late, and at the moment its hard not to be resentful of the time it has taken away from my manuscripts.
But even with all the physical activity, my mind is never far from writing. Take “pantsing” versus plotting and my recent experience installing windows. Windows require framing the opening just so. If you just wing things, you might need some serious rearranging before you can actually display to the world your shiny new glass. On my addition, when I lifted the first pane into place, I discovered the opening was an inch and a half too short.
It really stinks to put in a whole lot of effort only to discover that what you created doesn’t work and has to be chopped and hacked. Think sawzalls and chisels and the awful squeak of galvanized nails coming out of boards you were just sure would be stout enough to withstand the strongest Alaskan earthquake. They probably would have, but I had to rip them out. I still used the same opening, but it was a lot of work to rearrange king studs and cripples and header boards and the OSB siding I’d already installed. And my beautiful framing is now a mess. If only I’d plotted that window beforehand!
No one will ever know I went through all this by looking at the window. The trim and siding cover up errors on the outside, while sheetrock will eventually hide all the mistakes on the inside. But much like my first novel, I wish I had saved myself the effort.
On the other hand, each window you install gets easier and better. The second window I planned better, and it went much more smoothly, with only minor bubbles in the flashing and a few bent nails in the lip. By the time I got to my fifth and largest window, I was darn proud to have it on the front of the house.
And just like those windows, my fifth manuscript, February Trust, was pretty enough to place second in the Emerald City Writer’s Conference.
So I will keep writing. I will think of it like installing windows into imaginary lives. And someday, my manuscript will be skillful enough to be a pane of shiny new glass with a publishing house.
Until then, it’s back to the addition on my own house.