Bag Of Treats

About two weeks ago I packed up, and we headed for what some call the deep south.  The land of cotton, catfish, Ole Miss Rebels, William Faulkner, fried okra and green pickled tomatoes.

The trip takes about fourteen hours.  The first ten hours or so aren’t bad.  Towards the end though, the constant movement of the vehicle, the passing landscape, the “road food,” and the signs telling you how far you still have to go, begins to wear one down.  Once there, all that is forgotten.

My in laws have a house built on a hill.  Beyond a grove of hardwood trees, and down that hill, there is an area of flat green acreage known as the “bottom,” that seems to attract a lot of wildlife. There are deer, armadillo (saw a dead one buzzards were picking over, yuck) turkey and coyote.  We can hear the coyote at night, their keening and howling coming up the hill is eerie.   If you stand outside after dark, you can imagine there are eyes staring back at you.  I don’t linger outside after the sun goes down.  Nope.

The house was built as a replica of a house in Virginia.  My father in law’s ancestors fought in the Revolutionary war and he said the house in Virginia was once called “The General’s House,” because a bunch of generals met there a few times – or something like that.  There is a picture of it hanging on the wall in this home, and the only difference as far as the outside goes is the plan is in the reverse.

Before we left I popped off about 110 pages to my editor and then, immediately went into vacation mode.  I didn’t blog, I didn’t write, – not one brand new word in that latest work in progress, and I barely even kept up with the blogs I read.  I tried not to think about my editor’s review and what she might say.  An occasional sneaky worrisome thought would pop into my head, but for the most part, I didn’t dwell on it, because when I did, I would think the worst.  Things like, “she hasn’t emailed me yet because she hates it,” or, “she’s decided I’m so bad at this, she has no idea how to respond,” or the worst one (with me picturing her pulling her hair out), “what the hell is this story even about??  This is truly THE worst crap I’ve ever read.”

No.  It was best I didn’t think about it.  And I didn’t, well…, not too much.

Until…, I got an email from her on Halloween.   I stared for a full minute at the subject line – which told me nothing.  I  finally opened the email with one eye closed, and sort of leaning away from my laptop, like a hand might reach out (it was Halloween after all) to throttle my neck.  I would have felt like that had I read anything bad.  BUT.  She liked what I’d done, liked it enough to tell me to send it off to my agent for his opinion.  No changes.  It was like having someone hand me a big bag of treats, those words of hers, not one trick involved.  It had been four months since her last critique – the one where I had to trash everything and start over…, but, after many false starts since then, and the “magician” getting me to focus, it seems the story may finally have a chance.  To say I’m relieved is one thing, but mostly, I’m just anxious to get back to writing without the worry of what I’m doing not being worth the effort.  My husband couldn’t drive back fast enough.

Now, I’m here…, and I’m looking at my ms differently, all because of that good feedback.  Funny, how that works, isn’t it?


COMMENTS

  • harryipants

    November 3, 2013

    Reply

    It was never in doubt. But the way you work, you need to doubt, to take the risks, to find the pearl formed from the gritty grain.
    So keep doubting a little on the surface, and knowing it’ll be fine in the deep, and your best work will always get done.

    • donnaeve

      November 4, 2013

      Reply

      I am the Queen of Doubt…, without a doubt. 🙂 A while back (you may recall) I was struggling with my protagonist and who she was…and you said she would reveal herself eventually. She did, and the editor pointed out something about her she really liked. I thought about you when I read that. Thank you for always being so encouraging. Hope all is going well for you too, down under.

  • Carolynnwith2Ns

    November 3, 2013

    Reply

    Ah… the exhale, gets all the bad air out and opens up the lungs for fresh.
    There’s nothing quite like it?
    Glad you’re back, missed ya.

    • donnaeve

      November 4, 2013

      Reply

      It was just like that. A big sigh. The excitement of being able to keep on with this story. The idea of not having to re-invent this story, once again. Glad to be back – missed everyone too. PLUS, JR had another contest and I missed it!

      • Carolynnwith2Ns

        November 5, 2013

        Reply

        I so wanted to win JR’s last contest. I would have loved a signed copy of King’s book. My husband’s cousin taught King’s son and I have driven by the house often. Oh well.

        When I didn’t see an entry from you I knew you must have been away. There’s always next time. How grand to have such good news.

  • Jennine G.

    November 3, 2013

    Reply

    Yay! Good job. I did read advice lately that said good writers need to doubt themselves. It’s what keeps them trying for better instead of settling.

    • donnaeve

      November 4, 2013

      Reply

      Considering my comment to Mr. Harryi above, I ought to have that covered…and then there’s the stuff I’ve read about letting it go…(i.e. when one has finished, but still continues to tweak and tweak). Recently I read the best advice for knowing when to hit “SEND.”: I think it was on Averil’s blog…and someone said something like, “I know it’s time to send it when I move a comma, and two hours later, I put it back.”

  • Averil Dean

    November 4, 2013

    Reply

    Yay! Yayyyy!!!!! You nailed it, Donna! Well done.

    • donnaeve

      November 5, 2013

      Reply

      Yayyyyy!!!! Is right. (jumps up and down) So relieved. I’m hoping you get a great review from your editor/agent as well on BLACKBIRD.

  • Paul Lamb

    November 5, 2013

    Reply

    Yeah, I had a similar experience with a story I submitted. The editor wanted a bit of a rewrite, and after I struggled with it I sent it back. Then I waited. Amazing how long two days can feel. Trying to read into the non-response, and then afraid to open the response when it comes. (She liked it.)

    I’m glad yours had a happy ending. When do we get to read the story?

    • donnaeve

      November 5, 2013

      Reply

      It is hard, and by the end of the wait, I almost don’t care. (she lies)

      I wish I could get beyond their response being an affirmation, like that one opinion is the be all, end all. I suppose it’s b/c I can imagine how much material they read.

      I still have a long way to go…it’s only about a 1/3 of the way through, although now that she’s given a thumbs up, I’m itching to get it done..I might throw up an excerpt in here on the blog at some point when it’s closer to the end.


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