Recently my days have been consumed by watching my third-born stumble her way through the world. Literally. She just started walking last month. She rotates between a slow Frankenstein march and the rushing, tumbling, falling, goose-egg-producing kind of travel.
My writing is like that.
Sometimes I plod carefully; picking my way through books, classes and blog posts in a slow, steady march. I am almost afraid to put more than a few words onto the page at a time, because I want them to be perfect. Each. Step. Perfect. This kind of writing moves me. Slowly.
Other times I rush ahead, scribbling without abandon, characters and plot lines jumping off the page. I feel so fantastic that I send a first draft off to my critique group. And then comes the goose-egg. The fatal flaw. The ‘something’ in my story that doesn’t quite work. And I have a choice. I could throw the draft away. Or I could cry for a minute, pick myself up, and try again. The “goose-egg” becomes a catalyst to move my story, and myself, forward.
I’ve learned that both styles of writing serve their purpose. The goose-egg kind of writing is great for first drafts. I need to get the words out of my soul without over-analyzing each one. Then, once they are out, I can slowly and carefully revise: digging deeper into my characters and figuring out how to balance plot lines with page turns and problems with solutions. It has been hard for me to realize that I need both types of writing in my life when what I really want is to confidently stroll my way through my stories. But with each painstaking trial, and especially with each painful error, I learn. Maybe one day I’ll master that stroll, but even if I don’t, I’m going to keep writing anyway.
This post was written by Maria Oka, a mother of three very busy girls whose reading and writing spans from books for the very young to older picture books. Besides being interested in rollicking laugh-aloud books with her girls, Maria is also interested in children's books with a spiritual element. She reads, writes, and tries to juggle dinnertime, school schedules, and doing the dishes one-handed in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and munchkins.
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