I've Been Drafted


I’m in the waiting process now. My first novella has been written, revised to death, and edited by my editors-in-residence, and now awaits one final pair of eyes before it goes to formatting. Therefore, I have some time on my hands. I was thinking about catching up on Castle or calling the kids to remind them they actually do have a father, but my backpack was calling me to it, instead.


That sounds good, doesn’t it? My backpack. You think I’m about to set off on a hiking adventure through the Everglades of Florida, fighting alligators and mosquitoes. No, you don’t think that, because you’ve been reading The Mess since its birth and you know I would only hike from my porch to the bathroom and the only thing I ever fight off is the urge to exercise. So, you’re baffled why a sedentary person as myself would even own a backpack. You’re probably thinking it’s one of those coffee table things to initiate conversation at a social party, except I don’t own a coffee table. No. This backpack is my desk. I know that answer is anti-climatic, but I’m a rather boring individual, so you should expect the anti-climatic.


I had an office at one time with a real desk. Actually, I had it three times, but Fate believes I write better out of a backpack. When we moved into our current home, Nathan decided it was his time to leave the nest and moved out. At that point, I received my first full blown office with a door and closet and everything. Then, he moved back in and my office went to the garage. However, he then decided to get married and moved back out again and my office was pulled out of cardboard boxes and restored. Chris was the next to venture out on his own and my office was supersized and moved into the larger room. Alas, that didn’t last long as we decided to move Sarah and Dylan in and I lost even the smaller office option. My office went into a backpack and laptop bag, and I now carry both everywhere, even to the grocery store, just to drive the girls crazy.


It was my pack that was calling me away from catching up on my recorded shows. Inside are my drafts, stories that I have begun because I couldn’t get the story out of my head and the characters were screaming for attention. Fictional characters are like actors and can be such divas, at times, spoiled brats, which make the 8-year old seem like a quiet wallflower. Therefore, like I did with my boys when they were younger, I have to stop and give them some attention, working out the scenes that keep me company as I drift off to sleep. Currently, it is home to nine partial drafts, some further along than others. With Reaping the Harvest almost done, these other storylines are now calling me back to play with them, two in particular.


While waiting for a response from an agent or publisher or while the editor is taking a corrective pen to your prose and plot, the best thing for a writer to do is to begin with the next story. In my case that would be nine stories, but some are collections of essays so it’s not like I’m trying to maintain a timeline or plot. Nine drafts. That doesn’t include the outlines and future plot ideas scribbled into my Day Planner. I’ve been storing up ideas for years and now they all want to be brought forth at the same time. I can hear them screaming for words every time I unzip the pack.


Drafts are my doodling. It is how I get an idea out of my mind before I lose it altogether; the idea, that is, not my mind. I lost that years ago. When I get stuck on one plotline, I have another to work on until the plot or the previous work returns to me. Everything moves forward and as one notebook is completed, another brings forth life.


It might not be the best way to write, but it’s the way that works best for me. The story transforms as I write and I inevitably have to return and correct some pieces and drop or add characters. Basically, it’s my outline and I fill in the missing pieces on the second draft which is what others would call their first. It is how I handle my distractions and keep writing, and I am easily distracted. However, those first attempts at a story continue until I have reached the published piece, constantly being polished along the way, so that, hopefully, my editors won’t waste too much red ink.


One thing is for sure. I’ll never become bored or lack company. There are hundreds of people in my backpack to keep me busy.


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