My apologies for not visiting, but I've been in my cave with my computer and Diet Pepsi. Sunday evening, I typed "The End," hit 'save,' and pushed back from the desk. "Rings of Trust" was born. What a great feeling! Once I tidy up this fourth draft (search for the dreaded typo, etc.) my baby can go out into the world.
Before I shredded the first draft's print copy last night, I scanned the pages. I could see where I wanted to go but hadn't gotten there, even with an outline for a roadmap. Other than lots of little problems (!), the second chapter was the real disaster.
The problem wasn't the outline. Except for one tweak, that held true. The problem was my approach. Southern-speak is layered, especially in South Louisiana. At one time, Cajun French was the dominant language in many of the rural parishes. During the 1950s, schools clamped down on kids speaking the language, even on the playground in many cases, and often with penalties if caught. So, with kids immersed in English and with parents coping with limited English, what evolved was a middle-ground English where verbs didn't move among the tenses as elsewhere. Combine that with the Southern penchant for layering one's thoughts (either to conceal, not offend, or test the waters) and you pretty much have my second chapter. It danced around every alligator in the bayou.
So, okay, once identified, the second draft emerged. That was better, but still didn't cut it. Same chapter, same problem, but not as bad.
The problem was also me. I was too intense. So, I moved on to the remaining chapters for fine-tuning, then returned to the second chapter. I smiled before I shredded the third draft. Close, very close to where I wanted to go.
Before I'd typed 'The End" on the fourth draft, I'd printed several copies ('Rings' is a novella, nine chapters) and, with each print, could feel that adrenaline surge one gets when one sees the light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, almost there . . . closer . . . closer . . . oh, my God, it was worth going through all of that to get here. Actually, I'm not sure where here is, except that it's a place that feels good.