Monday, September 20, 2010

Getting Away

My husband and I just spent a much-needed getaway weekend to celebrate our anniversary.  We drove about 150 miles from home, through picturesque farming country in rolling hills, and discovered the historic town of Galena, Illinois.  It's a destination we've talked about visiting for several years, and we certainly weren't disappointed.

The town's importance is centered around the fact that Ulysses S. Grant lived there at one time (his house is a museum), and the Main Street reflects the architecture and time of the mid- to late-1800's.  It winds for several blocks and its shops and restaurants and other places of historical interest are plentiful and charming.

A foot bridge away, over the Galena River, we found the bed and breakfast that was to be our overnight rest, and we weren't disappointed there, either.  The hostess was delightful, and very knowledgeable about the history of her home, and other guests became instant friends as we shared stories while seated on the wraparound porch of the 14-room mansion.

A romantic, candlelit dinner at a multi-story Italian restaurant suited us perfectly, and back at the bed and breakfast, we stayed up late chatting with our new friends in the Victorian parlor.  Next morning was the same at a large trestle table in the kitchen while we enjoyed a sumptious meal.  We had lunch in the tavern of the hotel where Grant had his presidential campaign headquarters.  Then, we walked, shopped and explored some more.  By mid-afternoon, we were on our way home, revitalized and full of tales to tell everyone about Galena.

I recount all of this in order to suggest that these flights from our everyday stress and demands are more important than ever in our current society.  Throughout the two days, we were met with constant reminders of gentility, kindness,  and just plain fun -  that we either ignore or find absent in our daily lives.  Just revelling in the beauty and history around us gave us a new outlook for returning to "the norm".

Bottom line: everyone should do this - on a regular basis.  I believe we're all too involved in a milieu of distractions (many of which I personally consider unnecessary) that remove us from the beautiful and simple pleasures that still abound in our complex world.  Please: seek one out - and relax!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Unnecessary Pressure

During the summer, I got constant inquiries about when my novel would be finished.  Those close to me knew it was nearing the end of its final revision, so I'm sure they were championing my intent to get the manuscript into the hands of possible agents ASAP.  Others, I'm sure, were just being polite, knowing how long I've been at this project and wondering if it would ever be done.

I had already placed pressure on myself to finish the revision by a certain date.  That would have been a good working plan, had I just been editing what I'd already written.  However!  The last ten chapters of the book are actually being almost totally re-written.  New dialogue, total chapters deleted, a couple of new ones added, characters have been more carefully defined, and a different ending has already formed in my head.  That takes much more time but it is all to the good as I now feel the book works (and I didn't have that belief before).

The result of all this is that I've made the decision to just keep at it, and stay on the path that I know is going to give me the best end result.  I realized that I was succumbing to all this unnecessary pressure that had nothing to do with producing the work I've imagined.  I know I'm nearing the end, and the impulse to hurry and be done is a normal one - but not the best one.

When I'm not at my keyboard pursuing that eventual finish, I'm already forming my next book in my head.  I have a folder for it where I keep filing notes and ideas, and I'm excited to start it.  But, for now, my working time is well spent on this first effort.  I'll be sure and let you know when I've typed The End.