Giving Up Means Making Way


| 11/20/2009 3:53:55 PM


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A photo of Shannon SaiaWhen I was first asking for the privilege of blogging for GRIT, one of the things that I said I wanted to write about was “the relationship between everyday life and the inner creative life,” by which I meant … well, I’m not entirely sure what I meant, except that as an aspiring novelist I know that I have days where my personal and professional lives dovetail gracefully with my creative work, and days when they … um … don’t. The topic seemed relevant to my suburban homesteading aspirations because being a novelist is all about sustaining oneself – not with shelter and food so much as with courage and creative energy; fortitude and perseverance – although, come to think of it, what is any homesteading effort, however suburban, without these qualities?

It’s been a rough week. There’s been weeping, and wine, and deep sleeps, not to mention five days and counting of cold, bone-chilling, grey autumn rain. Some animal ate the tops off three of my broccoli plants. And to top it all off, I read possibly the best novel I’ve ever read whose author is still alive; a novel so good that it caused me to despair of my own work-in-progress and to resent my upbringing, not to mention many of the life choices that I’ve made up till now. And did I mention that I’m on the very cusp of turning forty?

Sigh.

All of this is my way of saying that something has significant has happened. I broke up with my novel – after 14 years.

That is, I broke up with half of it. I think that the other half and I should just be friends. Like, friends who don’t see each other all that often.

The good news is that I found one story in the manuscript which is complete in itself, and I have hacked away the overgrown thorny vines concealing it, much like the prince battling his way towards the waiting Sleeping Beauty. I have turned this unwieldy, sometimes-upwards-of-200K-word inconclusive monster into what might – just possibly – someday soon be a saleable manuscript; coming in neatly at under 70,000 words, thank you very much.

s.m.r. saia
11/30/2009 8:05:02 AM

Thank you Vickie! Cindy, thanks for sharing your story. I will definitely check out that book. Best of luck in your writing!


vickie
11/24/2009 7:11:05 AM

Shannon, I think you should stick with it also-a break maybe and you'll get a fresh prespective. You work so hard -I'm sure it will be a great book. vickie


cindy murphy
11/24/2009 7:10:58 AM

I knew Friday after reading your first two paragraphs, and then again this weekend when I attempted again to read, that this was going to hit home. Constant interruptions from the kids, the dog, husband, and cats kept me from getting though to the end until now. Which has a lot to do with why it took me so long to get the story I knew by heart in my head into manuscript form. The cusp of forty came and went, and still there was nothing on paper. Finally it happened, and I loved every word of it. I received my first rejection about a month ago. I know it's a good story - I also knew it was too long to be considered for a children's picture book. Damn that love affair with words! Two weeks ago, I read to my daughter's third grade class for RIF Week. The book was choosen by the teacher from a list of age-appropriate recommended reading materials. I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes reading it at home for the first time a few days before I was to read in class. When the time came, with an audience of 25 8-year olds, I was sobbing by the time I got to the last page. "Uncle Jed's Barbershop" by Margaree King Mitchell is a picture book about following your dreams, and never giving up. Days later, I realized why I was so affected by the book. The manuscript in my drawer would remain there until the cusp of 80 came and went, if I didn't follow Uncle Jed's example. Read it to your daughter sometime. Read it for yourself. Best Wishes!


s.m.r. saia
11/23/2009 5:54:17 AM

Thank you Scott!


scott pullins
11/20/2009 5:28:39 PM

Perhaps your novel is not meant to be one book, but a short series of Young Adult books featuring some or all of the characters. Perhaps some of the characters would fit in one books and some in another. Stay with it, your a good writer and I'm not a relative, as far as I know. Peace.





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