Monday, April 2, 2012

Dream vs. reality

Last week, I painted the library in our house. The realtor who showed us the house called it a formal dining room, but what can I say? We like books better than dining sets that get used about twice a year.

Okay, this isn't our library, but I wish it were!

It was supposed to be easy--good quality paint, a single coat, and voila: the library of our dreams. Er, well, not exactly. You see, over the past several days, I've discovered that painting is a lot like writing.
  • The hardest part is to get that first draft coat.
  • Sometimes, when you take a step back, you'll realize that what you thought would be an incredible, amazing story color turns out to be god-awful, and you'll start from scratch with something new.
  • When you think you're done and take a step back to admire your work, you'll find it's full of holes. Some places just need a little touch-up, while others are big enough to drive a truck through. Time to revise apply a second coat.
  • The hardest part is getting the details just right.
  • Sometimes, that brilliant idea that will finish it all off turns out to make the whole thing wrong. So you revert to a previous version of the document paint over it. Unless you run out of paint. (What? It could happen. I'm just saying ...)
  • When the above happens, you can't just throw an alligator through the transom* stick a plant in front of the spot to fix it.
  • All the advice in the world doesn't teach you the craft as well as just doing it. (And redoing it.) 
* chapter 23 of Jack M. Bickman's The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes

What has life taught you about writing? And what would your personal dream library look like, if you could build it?


  1. Wow - I love that dream library too! What I find about painting is that the prep work (taping off trim, filling holes, etc) is almost as time consuming as the actual painting. Probably the way my writing should be, too.

    1. Good point, I'd forgotten about the prep work. I no longer tape, but use a good angled brush. With a steady hand, I actually find I wind up with fewer globs of paint along the edges.

  2. So true. Geez, I guess writing is a lot like painting. Makes sense. I love that library, too. I'd just need someone to dust it for me. lol

  3. Almost all our painting projects never get 100 percent finished. Does that say something about my writing? LOL great comparison.

    1. Lol! This painting adventure was humbling--I learned that it's better to accept something that's really good than to keep messing with it in search of perfection. I think it's a lesson I should apply to my writing. So I guess it comes down to your definition of 100% finished!