Sunday, May 3, 2009


Last week I swept the screen porch floor for two hours. I thought the task was only going to take ten minutes, but two seasons of Panhandle wind had blown in thick layers of dirt. From the start it felt like I was merely stirring the grime. I stuck with it for awhile. My motivation--a new indoor/outdoor rug.

An hour into the chore, I dropped the broom. Then I pulled the linens off the daybed and threw them into the washing machine. I took the toss pillows into the yard and beat them against the pergola posts. After surviving the dust clouds, I picked up the broom and went at the floor again. Swish, swish, swish. But even a new rug couldn't keep me working past the two hour mark.

When the bed linens finished drying I dressed the daybed, plopped the pillows in place and declared the floor, "Good enough!" I positioned the new rug in front of the daybed and escaped inside the house.

Later when Jerry came home from work, he said, "Hey, the porch looks great! After I change from my work clothes, I'll sweep it."

Is there a better way to say she looked at him with fire blazing from her eyeballs?

The truth is the task wasn't complete. I had given up before every bit of dirt had been swept off the floor.

About fourteen years ago I started sending out My Louisiana Sky to perspective publishers. I'd invested seven drafts in the manuscript, at that time, more drafts than I'd ever completed on a project. So I'd foolishly thought, "That's good enough."

The truth is the story wasn't ready.

Back then it probably was the best I could do, but I was just learning to write. I'm still learning. That's not to say I don't send work to my editor before it is ready, but now it's because I need her guidance to assist me through to the next draft.

Even when I was foolishly licking envelopes with my first manuscript tucked inside, I knew in my gut that my story wasn't ready yet. I could see it as plainly as I could see that layer of dirt covering my screen porch floor.

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