I hadn't worked on my novel "Heart Strings" for nearly two years. I knew how I wanted to change the ending of the book I hope will be my next published work, but I couldn't think of a creative way to set the stage to get there. Too many life changes at work, too many bicycle rides to train for, too many commitments to keep the existing story details straight and existing characters in character.
So the project has been stewing for nearly 22 months now. Like an unfinished quilt. Every once in a while, the book would tug on me, and every once in a while, a reader would ask me how the next book is coming along.
This continued until I read a Pat Hatt blog post about writers who claim they don't have time to write. OUCH!
I pulled the book out one more time, revised my publishing goal, retouched an unpublished blog post I'd composed two years ago about finishing the book (which of course did not happen then), rescheduled the blog post about finishing the book, then began reading "Heart Strings" all over again. Because I'd forgotten much of the fine details. Plus, I've found taking a long break is the best way to proofread.
When I proofread, unfortunately, sometimes my brain sees what it wants to see and not what's really there. My eyes see what I thought I wrote and not what I really wrote. That's why a good second set of eyes is ALWAYS recommended.
I did follow the proofreading route with this very same book when I finished it the first time about eight years ago. I paid a professional proofreader. Three months later, I decided to take a look at the book one more time, before I sent it off, and I was horrified by the typos the proofreader had missed! I was horrified I made those typos and didn't catch them before paying someone to proofread, but mostly, I was ticked because I'd shelled out good money – for nothing!
(The book had a tragic ending back then, and when confronted, the proofreader said he got so caught up in the story, he didn't see the errors at all. He asked if I planned a sequel, and I don't think he was asking just about future proofreading opportunities. The company I'd hoped might publish the book, LONG, LONG before self-publishing became so easy, returned my book with a hand-written note apologizing for whatever I'd experienced that inspired the book. Ouch! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why "Heart Strings" sat like an unfinished quilt so long. Deep down in my heart, I knew I had to change the ending, even though I liked the way I'd left the story hanging. It reflected what happens in real life; no fairy tale endings for me!)
Once I finished reading the book again (and finding even more mistakes, yikes) in February, I stalled for a whole day because I still couldn't think of how to transport my characters from the uncomfortable spot in which I'd left them to a happier place.
The next day, I decided I'm not going to let procrastination and writer's block block me again. I'm just going to start typing, and whatever comes out of my fingertips, that's how I'll find a way to move my characters to the new ending. I didn't have a plan. I didn't have any inspiration. There were no existing dangling plotlines I could pick up and weave into fantasy.
So what was the first thing that came to mind? The transition I hoped would roll easily off my fingertips and into the pages of the book?
Making a quilt. Imagine that. And it fits the story beautifully!
Now, let's see how long it takes for me to finish the fabric of this book this time...