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Learning in the early morning stillness March 29, 2010

Posted by Christine Coleman in Writing.

I’m not a morning person. Yet for eight years, my alarm clock has awakened me very early on weekdays (now, thanks to my Twitter friends, known as “stupid o’clock”) and I spend a couple hours before I go to my job on the real me – ideally writing.

Early morning is peaceful, almost reverential. Clear mornings like today are the best: a bright full moon overhead with tiny stars dotting the sky. This blog design was perfect for me, since it illustrates my morning time. Yet it’s more than just the sky. When the weather is warm and the windows are open, the sounds are from nature, with crickets and other insects singing their nightly songs. Traffic sounds can occasionally be heard, and sometimes a train whistle that carries all the way from the Mississippi riverfront. Now that spring is here, the lengthening days mean the birds will awaken and the sky will lighten earlier and earlier. Those elements energize me all the more.

During today’s early time, I’m clarifying all my thoughts from over the weekend about “Summer of ’94.” I re-read the latest draft, re-read all the blog comments and e-mails and Facebook responses about last week’s writing dilemma. Thank you for your feedback – it’s helped me. And I’ve come to some realizations about the story. I love Sara and her never-give-up attitude. I love that the first thing Sara does once her parents and brother leave after moving her into an apartment down the street from Wrigley Field is walk to the ballpark. It’s not a game day – which is why she moved in that day – but she has to see it for herself, revel in the fact she’s there, before she even unpacks a single box. I love how she totally breaks down crying hours into her first day on her new job when she finds out that Ryne Sandberg, her baseball idol forever, just up and retires on a Monday in June. I love her next-door neighbor Miriam. But that’s about it.

The flaws with the story are many, even after three rewrites. There’s too much going on – the changing post-college friendships with her college roommates, adjusting to a new job (that never seems as bad as Sara talks about it being), Kyle and his not-really jerkiness, the guy Ben at the train station who I threw into the latest version to prove to myself that she wasn’t interested in Kyle, the wisdom and experiences of Miriam, the memories of her Grandpa and – oh yeah – all the baseball stuff, with the growing labor disputes throughout June and July 1994 that lead to the strike in August. Whew …

“Summer of ‘94” is done. No more rewrites, no more anything.

But there’s so much I’ve learned from the process of writing its various drafts in these early morning hours. It’s time to move on now, take what I’ve learned and devote it to new writing projects that energize me. And maybe the entire thing won’t end up in the proverbial bottom drawer forever. An idea that came to mind last week was writing a series of shorts stories (after my friend Linda asked if I’d considered writing short stories, which I haven’t) that all have something to do with baseball. After more thinking, ideas for several stories developed – and I might as well use some of the insight and experiences I gained during my baseball stadium tour in 2008. (I have an entire blog on that here!) Maybe the first chapter of “Summer of ‘94” – which is one of the things I love – could be a stand-alone story. (That’s not a new idea, as an Iowa workshop instructor in 2004 who only read that chapter suggested it.) In addition to these ideas, I have many swirling around for a new novel, a different version of the National Novel Writing Month story from last November. I spent time thinking about and jotting some of those down over the weekend too.

So there’s plenty to look forward to in my early-morning time, and many new projects to start on tomorrow. And, as I hear the birds chirping outside, I realize the worst thing about this early morning time: how quickly it passes by.



1. linda suring - March 29, 2010

wow. big things transpire in the quiet of the morning.

2. LS Murphy - March 29, 2010

It’s hard to put aside something you worked so hard on but only you know that right decision. Plus, it will always be there if you ever decide to revise one more time. And the IDEA will always be there. You may just start from scratch. The possibilities are endless.

More power to you for getting up early. LOL I wish I had the power to do it. I can barely get up in time to go to work. 🙂

3. Christine Coleman - March 29, 2010

Thank you to both Lindas for being so supportive!

Yes, the idea will always be there — good point. If I start from scratch again, though, I should make Sara a Cardinals fan. Maybe I just got tired of writing about the Cubs and gushing over Wrigley Field! 😉

4. KG NY - April 3, 2010

Linda’s suggestion is great. Plus, as your Iowa instructor suggested, you may already have one story more or less completed, that you just polish a bit. I, for one, look forward to reading whatever you come up with — whether the short story project or chapters from a novel.

5. Ready to start again « Christine Coleman - August 1, 2010

[…] by Christine Coleman in Novel-writing month, Writing. Tags: writing trackback Back in late March, I wrote that I was giving up on my novel “Summer of ‘94” after rewriting it several times and still […]

6. It’s almost November … « Christine Coleman - October 28, 2010

[…] a familiar one: writing another draft of “Summer of ’94,” that novel I’ve written about on this blog many times (and the novel I planned to rewrite again a few months ago, but then didn’t). […]

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