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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Taking the Right Path

Taking the Right Path

To everyone who reached out to me and sent me well wishes last week – thank you! I did recover from the sinus infection, and I got all my grades turned in on time. I also completed my first pass through THE INQUISITOR’S MARK, making the revisions requested in just over a week … thanks to the patience of my family and a couple snow days. That leaves me another week and a half to read through the manuscript a couple times, tweaking, smoothing, and making sure I addressed all my editor’s issues.
I even got to ski opening day at Jack Frost Mountain with my family this past Saturday. Not all trails were open, and we were confronted more than once with a scene like this:
Hmm … Which trail should we take?
I had to laugh when I saw this, and of course my first thought was how this related to writing. (Everything in life is a metaphor for writing, as far as I’m concerned.)
I worry a lot about my first drafts. I’ve been worrying for months about the first draft of the third book in my series – which keeps getting interrupted for work on the other two books. Any time I build up momentum on it and start getting enthusiastic, I have to put it aside to meet deadlines for proofing Book 1 or revising Book 2. The longer I’m away from it, the more insecure about it I feel. Is it going the right way? Did I make the right choices?
But ultimately, I look at this intersection of ski trails, and I see only one way to go. There’s no taking the other path. (“Maybe, but only with rental skis,” says my husband jokingly.)
My first draft is like that too. For each of my characters, there is only one way to go. It may seem as if they have choices, but they don’t. Not if the story is to move forward. They (and I) have to keep following the path that’s open until we all get to the bottom of the hill.
Later on, the ski resort will open more trails, and there will be alternate routes down this hill. The same goes for revisions on that draft. If I need to change the route a little, I’ll have the opportunity to do so later.
But for now, I need to trust in the process. And gravity. And the fun of getting there.

16 Responses to Taking the Right Path

  1. Yes! At the time, we have to write the story the way it needs to be told. Making bigger changes can come later. I really had to trust in the process with my last first draft. 🙂 Glad you’re getting everything done!

  2. Awesome that you’re getting everything done. And with the holiday break, hopefully you’ll get time to focus on book 3.

  3. This is a perfectly timed post. And I know the feeling of having to stop a first draft to work on edits with a short deadline. I have to get back into the flow today after taking two weeks off from my first draft. Which means rereading what I’ve written so far (and not edit!!!).

  4. Glad it all came together for you! And I’ll take the first, non-snowy path at a nice sedate walk, plz. I’m horrible at skiing!

  5. Tiana Smith says:

    Totally agree 🙂 First drafts are hard, but I’m sure once you can devote some real time to it, things will start to come together for you!

  6. This is the first time I’ve had to repeatedly stop working on a first draft to address edits and I agree. It’s so hard to get back into the flow, but I keep telling myself the same thing. Relax. It’ll happen. Stop stressing!!

  7. Robin says:

    Yes! The fun is in the Getting There!!! I am still writing the first draft for my book (yeah, I am slow) and I know what you mean about choices. Sometimes it SEEMS like there are tons of them, but when you get right down to it, not so much. The story needs to move forward and the characters all must remain true to who they are.

    So glad you are feeling better!!!

    Last week I read The Caged Graves. It was so much fun to read something from someone I “knew.” I heartily enjoyed it!!!

  8. J E Oneil says:

    Sinus infections are no fun. I hope it doesn’t linger.

    When there’s more snow, it’s easier to ski. When there’s more words, it’s easier to travel there, too.

  9. Love your metaphors 🙂
    That would drive me crazy switching between manuscript that way. Hello ritalin!

  10. Chris Fries says:

    Glad you’re over the infection and making great progress on the editing!

    And I love your picture, even if I’m not a skier. 🙂


    Sometimes, what seems like a blocked path is really just an invitation to change the way you look at things. As a ski trail, that left path might seem blocked and uninviting, but as a hiking trail, it might never look better. 😉

  11. I like your metaphor. I think first drafts are painful at certain moments for everyone. You’ll get there, even if you need to take off your skis and walk!

  12. Lexa Cain says:

    I love your metaphors for writing – keep them coming. They make the rest of us feel included in your writing process and that we’re not alone in our struggles. We think,It must be OK if Dianne is having the same problems. Otherwise, we feel we’re the first person in the history of writing to have a hard time! lol I’m glad you feel better this week! 🙂

  13. Steven says:

    This is why I like revisions and don’t try to dwell on rough drafts!

  14. Julie Dao says:

    Trusting in the process is a scary thing, but necessary! I think a little time away can actually help a first draft become stronger, because you see things you didn’t the first time around. Good luck! And glad you’ve recovered – sinus infections stink!

  15. Hi Diane .. so pleased you’re feeling better, and now have some snow to play with.

    Going with the flow makes life so much easier …I’m not the world’s best skier – so that makes that decision easy!

    Enjoy the snow time .. cheers Hilary

  16. Pk Hrezo says:

    I agree! Everythings a metaphor for writing! I feel like this a lot. Worried, and indecisive. Time away to think and ponder usually helps me. 🙂