September 15, 2010


Every year my mother-in-law and I collect orders for peaches and pears, drive with our husbands to Idaho, rent a U-haul, and load it up with boxes of fresh, tasty fruit (as opposed to not-fresh, un-tasty fruit we can buy here in Wyoming for an arm and a leg). We drive home through Yellowstone and load up our garage. Then we wait for the happy faces to come get their orders. It's the best my garage smells all year.
Sometimes the numbers are a little off, and I get nervous about being able to fill everyone's order. After all, loading a truck full of crates, and then unloading half of them (185 peaches and 87 pears this year) at my house, there is bound to be a discrepancy here and there. But for the most part, with a little shuffling of boxes between my mother-in-law's house and mine, we work it out and everyone is happy.

Except, if I am short a box or two, I usually give my own order away. Last year I ordered 4 boxes of each. I think I was able to keep 1 1/2 boxes of peaches and 2 boxes of pears. My kids were sad.
This year, about 2/3 of the way through distributing the orders, I took a count, and guessed I would be able to keep all my pears, but only 1 box of peaches. I expressed my concern to my mother-in-law over the phone.
"You go and separate your order out right now. You set your boxes aside. Those are sacred. You did all the work, you get your fruit."
My mother-in-law holds nothing back. And it's great. I fret about making others unhappy, and she often puts things in perspective. I picked my boxes and set them aside. I even went ahead and canned 3 batches of ripening peaches, and still the worry of using my order before the rest had been picked up nagged at me. But I kept telling myself, "I did all the work, I get my fruit."
It turned out that my mother-in-law had a few cancellations, so the discrepancy was covered, and I can relax about everyone's orders, uncluding my own.
What does this have to do with writing?

When I was given revisions on THE ORCHARD, I was asked to hack off the last 30 pages. Literally, the story did end at that cut-off. I knew it. But there were a few tasty bits in those last 30 pages, and the setting for the new ending was not in the right place. I did as I was asked, and then wrote a short "tie-up" chapter for The End. I sent it back and the publishers were pleased. Good.


Those few tasty bits tugged at me. The setting for that tie-up chapter was still not right. It should be THIS way, with THIS happening. The reader will want THIS.
I was given a chance, when I was assigned my own editor, to run through the story again. I made edits like changing awkward sentences, making clarifications, better wording, etc. I am still learning so much, every time I re-read I am able to see more ways to make the novel better. I love it. Then, I got to the final tie-up chapter.


I returned to my original 30 pages, picked out my few tasty bits, re-distributed them where they fit smoothly into the story, and re-wrote the final scene, putting the characters where they needed to be, the right setting, giving them the right things to do.

I was so excited about that short little re-write, only a couple pages. But those few elements of the story, they were sacred to me. I did all the work. I get the fruit.

After all, the book is called THE ORCHARD.

In what ways are you "giving away your fruit"? Have you learned to compromise? Save the tasty bits?


Kimberly said...

What a beautiful (and tasty!) comparison. I love that your MIL pointed out the hard work you'd put in and didn't let you shortchange yourself, and I love even more how smoothly things worked out in the end. Both for the fruit distribution and your book.

Gramma Spice said...

Such enjoyable reading...loved our visit via phone today, hon. Wish I could have helped with the peaches.

Krista said...

Thanks, Kym! I think we shortchange ourselves in other ways... forgoing the needed nap to get the housework done, taking care of everyone else without taking a break for ourselves, eating the dark piece of toast... for years we thought Mom loved her toast dark, so we'd make it dark on purpose for her Mother's Day breakfast!

Mom, loved the phone call. And I have 3 boxes left, not to mention 4 boxes of pears. It's only 11 hours, so if you leave tonight... ;)

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