Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Latedom

This was the verification word when I made a comment on a blog this morning and it might as well have been flashing neon in 12-foot letters. Latedom describes the world I live in. It is the state of always being behind with projects, this month's book club selection, dinner preparation, whatever. For example, we just sent Father's Day cards to our son and son-in-law today. It takes less than two minutes to drive to church but why can't we ever get to choir practice on time?

Latedom is a good way to describe the foot-dragging I've been doing on my latest writing project. It's a fictionalized Book of Mormon story that I first wrote as a play more than 25 years ago, and although it was later revised as a novel--after all, nobody reads plays--it was rejected about five years ago, even with great reviews and high praise by the editor because her company wasn't giving contracts to new authors at the time.

Latedom manifests itself in many ways for me. I can avoid writing because my fingernails are too long, so I have to stop and clip them. I can avoid it by looking up stuff on google, reading the catalogs that came in yesterday's mail (that's my best trick--have you checked your mailbox lately?) or by answering emails, checking my friends' blogs or Facebook, or in my extremity even cooking. If you've checked my blog lately, you know I'm a genius at latedom here.

Nevertheless, all things work together for our good. In the ensuing years since I wrote the Book of Mormon play, and as I've concentrated on fiction instead of the other kinds of writing I've always done--journalism, essays, poetry--I know this piece is much stronger now as a novel. I still love the story and characters and the new understanding I get of the Book of Mormon as I scrutinize it again and again for additional insights.

So why am I so strangled by "latedom" with this project even though I love it so much? It isn't that I can't meet a deadline. I've done that satisfactorily all my life. I think it's that in the revision process I--the renowned queen of tweak--found a plot twist that enriched the main character so much I made a major plot change, which had a ripple effect through the whole manuscript, and then I found another twist that bumped into that ripple, and I'm driving myself crazy trying to keep everything consistent.

What I have learned from this frustrating experience is that I'm strictly a write-from-an-outline kind of writer. I've been at writing conferences where speakers talked about free writing without an outline. I stand in awe of those who can write by the seat of their pants. To me that's like a trapeze artist performing without a net. Because I haven't taken the time to revise my outline along with my manuscript, I'm in a perpetual state of topsy-turvy. Blinding flash of self-knowledge: I'm a person who needs fences.

Well, I'm here to announce that this morning I made a break-through. Like a child whining "I don't wanna," I finally struggled my way to the end of the manuscript, then did the sensibly useful thing at the moment--printed it out. I often do that at this point in the process, so maybe I've caught up with myself. Now I'll red pen it, make the changes on the computer file and send it off for its "summer camp," i.e. line-and-content edit, on August 1. Barring some unforeseen plot twist lurking in the corners of my imagination, its two companion pieces will be ready as well. And all's right with the world again. Ta-da!

3 comments:

jww said...

Latedom seems to be something that is harder and harder for me the older I get. Same here--it's not that I can't keep a deadline. I always do. But I just cut it closer and closer. I, too, have a perpetual tweak. I spend a lot of time on things (I'm thinking Heritage Makers projects at the moment) that ARE, for all intents and purposes, DONE. The perfectionist in me can't let it go, though, until I am SURE! Enter, Latedom.

Jeff King said...

It seems to inflict us writers more than most.
We always put more on our plate than we can handle.

when we are trying to complete a piece of work, we often flounder with so many project we can't get back to our work, (whether it’s our subconscious design or not) so it’s no doubt you suffer from this aliment.

Shakespeare said...

I just LOVE this word! I feel as if I live in this perpetual world, too. Heck, we're probably neighbors...

Here, I've brought some muffins. They're a little dark on the bottom (since I was late pulling them out), but they should still taste good.

Jeff's blog sent me here, and this post was really wonderful!