Sunday, June 30, 2013

this old story

I spent a couple of days in Pittsburgh last week lending a hand with some touch-ups to my son's new house. Well, okay--we did more than just a few minor touch-ups. Because, even though the house is new to's actually quite old, and sadly it hasn't been well-tended over the years. There's quite a bit of work to be done--cleaning and painting and decorating. Still, it's a sturdy house and he's off to a good start with it.

While I was working, it occurred to me that revising the first draft of a novel is a lot like renovating an old house. Your manuscript may have been collecting dust for years.

And, even though the basic structure is solid, there may still be a lot of work ahead...especially if you didn't tend to things as you went along. You have to clean it up before you can share it with your friends. There may be problems with the plot to hammer out and holes to fill in. Parts of it may need to be torn out and discarded, or re-imagined with an eye toward creating something better. It may need a splash of color here and there and a few personal touches to make it your own... chapter at a time. One room at a time. Both projects can be exhausting and overwhelming in scope. Time-consuming. Downright discouraging at times. Still, if you take your time, do the necessary dirty work, pay attention to the details, and add your own creative touches, you can be proud of what you've done.

Happily, revising a novel can be done in air-conditioned comfort at your laptop with a cold beverage at your side. Renovating a house in the summer heat and humidity wrings the sweat out of you and leaves you limp. 

Just don't give up on it. And don't be afraid to ask for help. You may need it.

If you don't finish your house, where will you live? If you don't finish your story, what will you do?

Good news! My short story, "Absolution", has been accepted for publication by U.S. Catholic...which really surprises me because it's a humorous and fairly sarcastic look at the Sacrament of Reconciliation...which is sacred ground for traditional Catholics. 


  1. Congrats on your story. I hope I get a chance to read it.
    I love the comparison to the old house. I have two dusty stories I want to get to sometime.

    1. Thanks, Susan. There's no time like the present...

  2. Congratulations.....

    1. Thanks, Delores. Every little piece counts.