Sunday, June 20, 2010

Inch by Inch

One of my all-time favorite songs is "The Garden Song." We have it on a CD sung by Peter, Paul, and Mary. It begins:

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make my garden grow.
All you need is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground.
Inch by inch, row by row,
Someone bless these seeds I sow.
Someone warm them from below
Till the rain comes tumbling down.

This has been the theme music for my whole entire life. I do my writing, I do my job, I raised my children, all inch by inch, row by row, hour by hour, day by day, doing a little bit at a time, blindly, faithfully, hoping for that blessing and warming of my efforts. Not all seeds germinate. Sometimes the rain doesn't come tumbling down. But many seeds do sprout, and the rain has come for the most part when I've needed it.

I have major revisions to do on Mason Dixon: Pet Disasters, the first book of my new three-book series for Random House. I submitted a 70-page manuscript; I was then asked to turn it into a 100-page manuscript; and I was then asked (apologetically) to turn it into a 125-page manuscript. It is hard to grow a manuscript that much, especially as I've always prided myself on being able to write to a specified length, carefully crafting a story to fit within a certain size and shape.

I wasn't sure I'd be able to add that last 25 pages. But then I put my inch-by-inch philosophy into play. I sat down three days ago with my manuscript, and the editor's very helpful notes, and made my own notes for exactly what I would add and where I would add it. That took almost three hours. Then I spent two hours the next day doing much of the adding. Today I spent two hours editing and polishing what I added. I've gone through nine chapters of thirteen: just four more to go (including one major scene). But I think that's probably only another four hours.

Then I'll be done, comfortably before my June 30 deadline. What looked so hard turned out to be so easy. It's always easy just to plant one inch, just to weed one row.

No comments:

Post a Comment