I want to write like Hemingway. Or Fitzgerald. Guys who seemed to have complete command of the English language, who could say perfectly the things other writers say (and see) imperfectly.
Of course, then I learn that neither of them could spell worth a damn, and that Scribner editor Maxwell Perkins heavily line-edited their work. That makes me smile. Even literary geniuses need help, too. And folks, believe me when I tell you that I’m far from a literary genius. I’m a good writer. I’m a good storyteller. These things I know are true.
But I’m basically your utility infielder in baseball — not quite good enough to start consistently at any position, but able (and willing!) to fill in when your starting shortstop (or second baseman, or whomever) needs a day or a week off. A good guy to keep around, in other words. I can write a little of everything, and write it competently. There are times, however, when I feel golden. Writing Prodigal has been like that. There have been moments when I’ve looked up from the laptop and gone “Wow. This is good.” And because I read a lot and write a lot, I know it’s true. The book is good. Not publishable yet, but it is good.
Which brings me to this coming Monday. Monday morning I’m starting the second draft of the novel. I’ll read it first, all the way through. I’ve let it lie fallow, like a field waiting to be plowed. I’ve got that antsy feeling — ready to go, ready to get to it — that I was looking for when I set the first draft aside.
I can’t wait.