Monday, September 7, 2009

Paper, Scissors, Rock, Fence



by Felicia Donovan

I recently began planning a fence at my friend's house so I could bring my dogs during my visits. The process began with carefully drawn out plans on paper of a quintessential New England white picket fence. We imagined the flowers to be planted in front of it ala Yankee Magazine. The remaining fenced-in area would be green-colored mesh set back into the woods to not break the visual flow and blend carefully into the landscape.

With careful measurements and a diagram laying the whole area out, I proceeded to my favorite home improvement stores and quickly loaded the back of my van with posts and brackets, rolls of mesh fencing and stakes to support it. I gulped when the total came up, but it was a small price to pay knowing the dogs would be safe and separate from the other members of the animal kingdom who were known to visit including deer, porcupine, skunks, etc.

With much enthusiasm, I began to build the wire fence by driving the metal support posts into the ground. Bang, bang, ping. I felt an odd vibration in my hand as I struck the top of the metal post. Rocking it, I heard the sound of scratching as the metal hit rock. No problem, I thought, I'll just move it over a bit. Bang, bang, ping. Ten feet later, I still had the same results. Turns out, my friend's house was built on bedrock. One solid slab of bedrock that lies about four inches below the ground...consistently.

You know what they say about the best laid plans. The fence is now a dog run with plenty of area for them to exercise and do their business. No visits from Yankee Magazine, but life is full of compromises and this is one of them.

As I pounded away with muscles I'd forgotten existed (but painfully reminded me the next day), it occurred to me that trying to put up a fence is very much like trying to write a book. No matter how big or small the plot may be at the start of your project, sometimes stuff gets in the way. If finishing the job is important, be willing to compromise and keep pounding away. That's what authors do.


Lisa Bork said...

Interesting analogy and good advice.

G.M. Malliet said...

"Be willing to compromise and keep pounding away." I am hitting bedrock myself over here so this resonated.

Julia Buckley said...

How I admire you for being able to take an idea from inspiration to conclusion! I barely know my way around the Home Depot, and I certainly don't think I have the know-how to build anything by myself. Paint, yes. Build, no.

Good for you, and good job adapting to the realities.

Alan Orloff said...

"Keep pounding away" is excellent advice, for writers and for others, as well.

If good fences make good neighbors, then what do good books make?

Good doorstops?