False Thaw by Janine M. Donoho

Icicles, which began feeling like family members, melted away this week. Actually, they first liquefied, then slid from the roof into shattered crystalline heaps. It felt like spring as temperatures reached the low 40’s. Heavy coats peeled away, Yak Trax found no traction in slush, and the hounds shifted to light vests during their walks. And yet…

We had another 3″ fall of snow. You see, while vernal equinox officially arrives on March 20th, we don’t plant bulbs until after Mother’s Day in May. I start my seeds in the blue-light-flashing-special greenhouses in the garage this week with heating pads on the lowest shelves. Eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, melons–those vegetables and fruits that take longer than our short growing season to mature–begin each season this way. There will be hardy grapevines and arctic kiwis this year along with more perennials suited to this high desert.

Last week, I also finished another edit of my MISTBORN CHRONICLES. Printed out, the entire manuscript was 8″ tall, a high fantasy indeed. MISTBORN went to Peter Stampfel at DAW books, home to many of my favorite fantasy authors: Jennifer Roberson, C. J. Cherryh, Mercedes Lackey and Melanie Rawn. Of course, whenever I address a manuscript to New York, an echo of Black Hole ricochets back to me.

But wait! Another edit? Yes. This one surfaced after finishing the 3rd novel, when another revision became necessary to bring elements into alignment. After nearly 1575+ manuscript pages and 375,000+ words, a story still can take a writer in new directions, which is one of the great joys of building worlds, after all. Besides, aren’t all artistic endeavors works-in-progress? Each time, we take our piece as far as we know how, then release it into the universe.

Then like a thaw, growth as an artist occurs. Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers believes, then supports his claims, that it takes 10,000 hours to master such a process. He draws from fields of hockey through piano virtuosity to computing excellence. Think Bill Gates. Of course, Malcolm also discusses the uniting legs of commitment and opportunity, which regrettably can hinge on birth month. Ah, synchronicity.

Hence as writers progress, we move through precipitous curves onto plateaus, then continue toward mastery by putting time in the chair. Periodically, a thaw happens. Shoots of megacreativity take root, then reach toward the sun. When we revisit previous endeavors, we find ways to clarify our vision and strengthen the work. So we edit.

With each edit, we realize a composition as whole and light-filled as we can make it…at that time. Like early thaws in the Okanogan Highlands, thaws that come with greater frequency as global climate changes persist, we tell ourselves, “This is the moment. This will be the last time this year that the trucks sink into slushy mud up to their wheel wells. Spring has come.” We have taken our work as far as we can.

Every time, that is true for now. Accordingly, MISTBORN CHRONICLES goes into the Mecca of publishing that is New York. Will the novels fill my chosen editor’s needs? Perhaps. Yet when the manuscript comes back, you can be sure there will be ways to improve the work. On balance, isn’t that what this writing profession is about? We seek to bring our unique vision, story, and voice to readers in ways that change their perceptions. Thus do thaws arise. 

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Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27th, 2015
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