Every season has a rhythm, an underlying purpose that drives the land and we who inhabit it. Take a moment to think about the rhythms you bring to each change, the cleaning and organizing, the planning and preparations. Just as the land scours itself in spring and fall, so do I. Just this week I finished the grand reorganization of my library, alphabetizing all the books shoved on top of the existing volumes and culling from the shelves those that wish to migrate to other hands.
Some tomes are easy to part with. The handbook on MLA style for research papers has outlived its welcome. So, too, those stories that engaged me once but are unlikely to call me back for repeat reads. I thought to send off with regret my father’s western collection (42 by Zane Grey and one by Max Brand), but at the moment of arranging them in order of publication dates, I realized I couldn’t do it. The stories contain a fair amount of stereotypical descriptions of Mormons and Native Americans, but the sheer amount of productivity in this specific genre is astounding. More importantly, my father, gone now these twelve years, loved them since childhood and grew stronger during his training in Texas as a World War II pilot. When he suffered the stroke that finally ended his life, I sat by his bedside and read the opening chapter of “Riders of the Purple Sage.” Unable to move but with a mind still clear, he listened with tears in his eyes and whispered, “Ah. Lassiter.” The novel’s hero had not disappeared from his memory.
Working on my library reminds me of the revision process. The draft exists as a catch-all for the ideas that cling to our basic story. They can accumulate over time, inserting themselves wherever space allows. It is my job to polish that draft over and over until everything aligns and all the unnecessary or no-longer-needed pieces are set aside. Of course, I never feel like a story is finished, but at some point, one must call a halt to the process. The mind needs to rest and consider the next step. This month I have a great deal of revising to do. I intend to do it to the best of my ability, which is all we can ask of anyone. 🙂