Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time is a wonderful little magazine for children's authors. I had an article published in the Spring 2009 issue. Editor Audrey Baird is looking for submissions, so if you have wisdom or encouragement to offer other writers, send her your work.

I originally began this blog for my children who are scattered across the country. I wanted to keep them up to date on the remodeling project next door that my husband and I took on. The article published in Once Upon a Time resulted from watching the process. Here's my article and some pictures to add a little interest.

Remodel, Revise, Reinvent
by Doraine Bennett

My husband and I recently bought the house next door to us. The shallow-roofed, fifties style house sagged like a worn out volume of Good Old Archibald that no one had picked up for years. It might have been a good idea in the fifties, but today, it looked like a really bad first draft.

We began remodeling with the idea that we would remain within the original footprint of the house. Structural damage forced us to boost the foundation with helical piers. We tore off the roof and added a second story. We rearranged the interior walls to make fewer, but larger, rooms.

One day our Hispanic brick mason pointed to the exterior brick wall. “No good,” he said shaking his head. The bricks were not tied to the house structure. The whole wall could collapse at any moment.

I have a few first drafts, stuck away in drawers or buried in computer folders, with as many structural problems as the house next door.

Sometimes, I get stuck in the footprint of the original draft, not realizing if I just pulled the roof off or moved the bricks, I could expand my story, find room for ideas that I hadn’t considered, or add a new dimension with subplots, stronger characters, and deeper themes.

It doesn’t necessarily mean throwing out the whole thing, just looking at it with new eyes, finding what is of value, and not being afraid to tear down a few walls or words.

We named our revised house next door “The Resting Place.” One day, when the work is done, it will be a place of solace for friends and family who need to be refreshed and reminded that joy can be found in difficult places.

I would like for my stories to do that, too. Refresh a reader. Offer a small reminder of peace. A glimmer of hope.

Revision is challenging. We tend to see what is there instead of what could be there. But when the finished product brings joy, the time and effort is well spent.

1 comment:

  1. Doraine, I love this! What a transformation!! I think for me revision is about trying to find my way to what I KNOW is there -- I just have to keep working my way around in the labrynth. Or something. Probably I shouldn't think about this too much or I will get completely distracted from my current 1k a word diet. :)