Good news from the nursery: an ugly baby of a story that grew into a problem child is finally moving out of the awkward stage. This is a story that began with a very strong voice but not much plot. With some quality help, I came to see where it could go plot-wise, and finally got the courage to start cutting here and adding there.
This is news because of my continual struggle to see writing as a long process, in which where you begin might not be where you end. I have no trouble writing the first draft. It is staying with the piece while it's not working, persisting in writing it until it does begin to work, and bringing it all the way into that new place that I struggle with.
But at least with this story, I've done it. Almost. The story is far from where it began, and almost to where it needs to be. In this last rewrite, I had to remind myself that despite my over-familiarity with it, I should work to make it new, work to make it something I would want to read in a magazine, work to make it something that I would be proud to call my own.
That seems basic, I know. But I want to finish it with pleasure and excitement, rather than with relief at never having to work on it again. That's the same goal that parents have with their real babies, isn't it: to face parenting with confidence and delight, rather than grim determination to make it through the day.