Sliding Otter News 12-17-2011

Sliding Otter News

December 17, 2011

Knowing When It’s Time for a New Path

Incan Road- Cozumel

Incan Road- Cozumel

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could

~Robert Frost~

Several years ago, I completed my first novel, The Pastor’s Inferno. Another project popped into my mind and I started jotting my second novel, Marital Property. The draft finished and polished to the best of my ability, I asked two trusted friends for their comments. Both told me they learned some things they did not know about marriage, but found the characters dull and the narrative flat.

Not what I wanted to hear. But I thank both for their honesty at the risk of tarnishing our friendship. I have written long enough to know that I am not always the best judge of my writing. I let the manuscript ferment for a while and then embarked on a revision. Although working on it encouraged me, the end result proved less than satisfying. More fermentation. Then I made another foray, several times in fact. Still no progress.

After much ado, I set it aside yet again and threw myself into books about fiction style and bringing characters to life. Then out popped the manuscript again. Poring over it and changing description and dialog failed to bring it to life. However, I noticed improvements in my nonfiction writing. Hmmm.

After another period of reflection, it dawned on me that I might be laboring in the wrong vineyard. Perhaps I was not destined to write fiction or perhaps life brought me into a new field of endeavor. Putting my prospective novel to pasture brought me sadness and a sense of having wasted quite a bit of time. But then maybe it was necessary to work for a while on a manuscript not destined for publication to arrive at a project with more promise.

Lately I have started researching a nonfiction project, quite different from anything I have written before. Whether I fare any better this time remains to be seen. At least I have not given up on my writing and have the sense of adventure and promise I always find with a new writing challenge. Where it will end I don’t know but am ready for a new path.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

~Robert Frost~

Life Lab Lessons

  • Are you spinning your wheels?

  • What makes you feel stuck?

  • Is it time for a new path?

  • What is it?

  • Take the first step.



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