12 Days -- Filling In

Don't look too closely. This attractive space was home to my toilet for 37 years. (How that for a lead?)

Today was all about creating and filling in.

To bed at 1am, woke at 4 -- excited about today's presidential inauguration, a bit anxious because I know daughter Hannah will be in the thick of things, and eager to get back to my story. So I got up and started right in.

I've finished a second draft of the Harry Truman piece that acts as a bridge between the fifites and the sixties and explains the scary mood that opens the Sixties Trilogy, with the Cold War about to peak.

If you've read the John Dos Passos trilogy U.S.A., you'll know what I mean about "opinionated biographies." I'm working on several of these, and this one comes first. I had left it blank and had written around it, now I'm writing it. I have several of these blanks -- I've had to figure out how to make them work best for the story.

When I wrote LITTLE BIRD, the Life Notices and newspaper articles and recipes came last. I had to concentrate on the narrative first. That's what I've done here, too. I've left blanks to fill in, and those blanks -- song lyrics, newspaper clippings, ads, recipes and more -- all have work to do. They have purpose. As I make them do their work, I rework the narrative -- I don't have to explain so much, I can smooth and cut and tweak.

I also don't have an ending to the story yet. Well, not completely true -- I know how it ends. It's getting there that's plaguing me. Once again I have thrown out a huge chunk -- I removed an entire subplot after talking with my editor last week and having that light-bulb effect a few hours later -- oh! OH!

Now I'm rearranging my thoughts -- AGAIN -- and it's too much. HOW do I GET there? So I've let it go, and I'm filling in my blanks. And it's hard work. How do you write a biography -- very opinionated at that -- of Harry Truman and explain the origins of the Cold War in under 1000 words?

500 would be better. I'm doing my best, and I'll rely on an editorial eye when I'm done.

And, to be honest, two weeks ago Harry Truman was not on my radar -- I hadn't considered him necessary or appropriate. But he appeared, and he works here, and I have gone to town researching, to get up to speed on Give-'em-hell Harry.

So. Wrote from four to eight this morning. Wrestled that bio to the mat. Took a break and watched the inauguration, went out for lunch with my husband, came back to my desk (er.. pink chair). And now, workers have left for the day. There is no toilet in the master bath, as you can see -- that space needs to be filled in, too. We've got some creating to do.

There's a fire in the fireplace. I'm sipping very hot Throat Coat tea. My voice -- an entire week after the school visit where I lost it -- is still croaky. I need it to be in top form the day after tomorrow, when I'm in schools again. Honey. More honey.

I'll work a late-afternoon session now, then treat myself to inauguration festivities on television while I knit. One can only concentrate for so long (this one, anyway).

Heard from Hannah. She worked for the Obama campaign for months, she swung Ohio, she had a purple ticket to a special section to watch the inauguration... and she never got through the gate and onto the mall, despite the fact that she was there at 6am. If she had been there at four.... maybe.

Still. She's safe. She's got a ball to attend. And it has been a good day today. A good day. And that's saying a lot.


  1. Feel better fast, girl! After drinking my own Throat Coat, combined with Breathe Easy, I'm finally doing better myself -- but I think the Vicks vapors helped the most.

    Y'all take care now, and good luck with those final laps!
    Tana in Tucson

  2. I'm better now, thanks. I was still scritchy at my school visit Thurs., but didn't lose my voice, still have it today, and think I will be fine for next Mon/Tues. in North Georgia schools. And of course, I don't need to vocalize to finish this novel -- I just need to FINISH!

    Still -- I'm gettin' me some Vicks Vapo-rub. How could I have forgotten that? My mother used to give me a bit of it to put under my tongue when I was congested. Years later, when doing the same for my kids, I read the label. "Do Not Take Internally." oops.


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