Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Tortoise and The Little Engine That Could

Last month I challenged Bonnie to see which one of us could finish our story first. Obviously hers was shorter and she hadn’t been working it as long as I had been mine, but I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Then as the month was drawing to a close, she discovered she had a glaring error in hers which needed corrected before she could move on so she conceded. I also realized I wouldn’t make the goal of finishing by the end of the month so I tried to keep her in it.
In every post since she conceded, when she mentioned it, she said I won merely because she faced an obstacle and wasn’t going to finish before the end of last month. I pointed out I wouldn’t finish in October either. Between family obligations and figuring out I needed a couple of scenes I hadn’t considered, and one event I had planned took seven chapters to cover it, so it took more than I’d thought I’d need when I made the challenge.
Then her last post she wrote about the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race. And I thought, the tortoise wasn’t only slow and steady, he DID NOT GIVE UP. No matter how many time he trudged past the dawdling hare, or it zoomed past him afterwards, the tortoise kept going.
Be the tortoise, and the little engine that could.
I started my opus, the story I was working on for this challenge, in November of 2008. It was a dream I had and I worked like a mad woman that month trying to get it all on paper before I forgot any of it. By the end of the month I had somewhere between 65 and 70K words, so if I’d entered the NANO that year, I would have won. It was in a nut shell a sci-fi romance with two POV characters, though I could easily see the other stories in it.
Shortly after that I started writing another “companion” story, then another. As I started the third one I realized they all ran concurrently and needed to be told in the same story, especially since they ended up in the same place and time. Thus my opus was born, with a full seven POV’s.
Now, this month, a full seven years after I started, I finally reached ‘The End’. Or at least got back to where the first story ended. My opus now has 150 chapters, 1644 pages, and over 405,000 words and still covers the same time span.
I didn’t give up. I kept plodding along. I kept trying. Several times I had to backtrack and redo scenes because they just weren’t working, or I got a detail wrong, or I didn’t put in something that was needed. I can’t tell you how many times over the course of the last seven years I had to go back to the beginning and change details of my story because I decided something wasn’t going to work the way I had it.
But I didn’t give up. And I’m not giving up. Now I’m ready for the fun and torture of editing.
But before I start that, I’m going to make sure my fantasy is finished. The one I started back in high school, about 33 years ago, as a short story.
The race goes to the tortoise and the little engine that could.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

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