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Change is Hard – In Life and in Writing

Posted by mcm0704 on August 24, 2011 |

This morning after my shower I dried off with a towel that is the last of a stack of about 30 towels my uncle gave my husband and I for a wedding present. To put this in context, we just celebrated our46th wedding anniversary. These towels were a mis-matched assortment, some with flowers, some with geometric designs, and a number of them were plain. But they were all different colors.

For years my more decorative-minded kids laughed at the combination of towels in the bathroom that might include one blue washcloth, a yellow hand-towel, and a row of bath towels hanging over the shower bar of wildly clashing colors and designs. Mind you, there were seven of us taking showers.

Back to this morning. I got dressed and realized I was wearing a pair of white shorts that I have had for probably 20 years. Then I walked into the living room and stopped for a moment. The couch and loveseat are at least 30 years old, and since we have lived in this house – 10 years – they have not moved except for cleaning underneath and behind. After the cleaning, they go right back in the same place.

So then I went to throw a load of laundry in the washer and stopped again for a moment.  This washing machine is almost 40 years old. Of course, of all the old things in this house, including my husband and me, this one will stay if I act on any wild urge to update everything.

By now, I’m sure you’ve caught on to the fact that I am reluctant to change. So is my husband. We have our things, and our routines, and we like them very much, so it is hard for us to start stirring  it all up.Just leave us in our comfort zone.

In thinking about all this as a possible blog topic, I realized that this reluctance to change affects my writing, too. I remember early in my career when a trusted critique partner suggested I change an entire book from first person to third, I almost went into full panic mode. Granted, it was a children’s book, so it was only about 200 pages, but still. Change the whole thing?

While my living room might still look the same as it did ten years ago, and I wear clothes I have had forever, I have gotten better about changing what needs to be changed in my writing. I still don’t like it. I’d rather start something new than go through that rewriting and editing process, but it is a necessary process.

Writers, what about you? How easy is it for you to tear into a manuscript and nip and tuck to make it better?

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