Though I wouldn’t change a thing, according to the standards espoused by shows like Say Yes to the Dress, the ToolMaster and I had a wedding of comparative deprivation. I wore an off-shoulder summer dress purchased in a regular women’s clothing store. I’d sewn my sister’s bridesmaid dress, which was similarly styled. Both my husband and his best man wore unmatched suits already purchased for work. We held the reception in my parents’ living room and served department store sandwiches and crudites, soda in plastic glasses. If not for the B-52 cake provided by my girlfriend as a wedding gift, we’d have done without. The externalities were that unimportant.
This sounds like an informal celebration, wouldn’t you say? Quirky? Down-to-earth?
Even so, I don’t believe my wedding vows included the following promise: I will love, honor and cherish you, and in the event of uncontrolled landings, will tramp through canola fields in search of your downed radio-controlled aircraft.
On a hot, airless July day, however, the morning after the ToolMaster lost his beloved Twin Star plane, that’s precisely what I did. The photo above should give you an idea of the scale of the challenge, the orange dot being my actual husband.
Why talk of weddings and radio-controlled planes on a writing blog? I have two major reasons.
First, the search itself makes a great writing metaphor, cementing my understanding of the artistic process. I’ll need that reinforcement when I return to my novel after a month of enforced hiatus. (Today, if all goes as planned!) Like many of you, my performance anxiety builds the longer I’m away from the page.
Second, I count that flower-strewn day as one of my few unequivocal moments of spousal generosity, and in an odd way, a direct consequence of my writing. More on this in a minute.
While I knew two intelligent men had already spent four man-hours looking for the Twin Star, their previous evening’s search interrupted by the arrival of dusk, I privately believed I’d be some kind of plane-finding savant. (In my defense, I’ve demonstrated my wallet- and key-finding genius on many occasions.) I’d plunge into the field in the general direction of last sighting and spot the slight depression of the crash site, the tip of a wing.
“Guess who found it?” I’d call. Then I’d get to watch relief wash over the ToolMaster’s face, followed by a blush of eternal gratitude.
This fantasy lasted for a good forty minutes, during which time I discovered that crop depressions arise for many reasons: dry patches, deer stands, etc. Also, it’s challenging to walk through chest-high canola when you’re trying to protect the crop and when the preceding night’s rain means you have to wear rubber boots, rendering your feet the size of portaging canoes.
Is this not exactly what it’s like to begin writing a novel? Perhaps you have a killer idea, or a captivating character. Maybe you’re only chasing a fragment of witty dialogue or you have a full outline. But you believe. The dream is within reach—precious, paradisaical, and all-too-soon sullied by the limitations of reality. [Read more…]