Be the egg encrusted fork!


Writing a novel is like doing the dishes. Just when you think they’re done, just when the last of the grimy sudsy water gets sucked down the drain, just when you’ve wiped dry your water logged hands – someone shows up with an egg encrusted fork they found in the basement. You can either choose to ignore it or you stop up the sink, run the water, get some suds going, plunge your prune-like hands in, and start all over again. 

A manuscript is like that. It’s never done until it’s between two covers. 

While you’re still doing the dishes, writing the novel – you be the egg encrusted fork to your writing. That problem that you know is there, but want to ignore - that's the last fork.  Don’t just put it in the sink and forget about. You pick off that egg with your nail, scrub it with the little scrunchy-wash pad thingy, and wipe it clean. Sure you feel like leaving it in the sink, for next time, for someone else to clean up. Like a member of your critique group. Like the agent or editor you don’t yet have. No one is going to get the gunk out between the prongs of your manuscript but you.

Be the egg encrusted fork to your writing. Just when you think your manuscript is done, put your mechanical pencil on the line and apply everything you’ve learned in every book, in every workshop, and in every blue pencil session. Apply what you’re learned about tension on every page, showing – not telling, realistic dialogue, flawed, yet human characters, plot, setting, pacing, grammar, and scrub - scrub until we the reader, not only don’t see any encrusted egg, we never knew it was there.

That’s your job as a writer. Doing the dishes … get someone else to do them!   

  

Comments

Solvang Sherrie said…
Ha! My husband usually does the dishes :) But what a great metaphor!
Talli Roland said…
I love this analogy, Jan! Those egg-encrusted forks are the worst to clean.

You're right about the MS - the work is never done until it's between the two covers!
Jan Markley said…
Thanks Sherrie! Good to get him to do the dishes! Thanks Talli! You're right about the forks and the MS - it's not done until it's done and then some!
Dawn said…
Clever analogy :-) Sadly, no opportunity for egg-encrusted forks in my house - my hubby is anal about dishes. I barely finish dinner before he's scooping my plate away and rinsing it off. I know, this should not bother me :-)
Heh heh, I loooved this (including the photo)! I completely relate to it -- and I'm guessing that more than one author has found something she wanted to tweak even after the MS was published...

jenniferharrellscott.blogspot.com
LTM said…
good good stuff, Jan! Get that egg off! And the scratchy tongue cycle... LOL! :D
Jan Markley said…
Dawn: I have a brother-in-law like that, can't put a glass down for a second without losing it to the dishwasher. Jennifer, you're right, the urge to edit never ends, even when the book is published. Leigh, nothing like cats and their sand paper tongues!

Thanks all - feel free to tweet this blog post out. I think I really nailed this one!
I am so glad I talked my husband into buying a dishwasher. I refer to my MS as tarnished silver---you've got to put in some elbow grease to make it shine.
Jan Markley said…
Hi Samantha and welcome to the blog! That's a great analogy - tarnished silver! Love it!
Angela Ackerman said…
Great analogy :)

So nice to meet you in person last night, too! :)

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse
Jan Markley said…
Thanks Angela! It was great to meet you as well! Glad my introduction was a splash!
;-j

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