by Felicia Donovan
I need a new roof over my head. Literally. The roof on my house is the original and in dire need of replacement. It's a "now or wetter" situation. Thus, I have spent the last week in the company of contractors getting estimates and learning "roof lingo."
"Do you want me to quote you three-tab or architectural?"
"You need to balance the air-flow, fifty-fifty."
"I was shocked to see there already was a cricket." (I have crickets on my roof? Not to worry, it's a built-up part of the chimney to aid in water diversion.)
"We're talking trim boards, drip edges and ice shields."
It was supposed to be a simple roof.
Who knew there were so many intricacies to putting on a new roof? On the other hand, it has given me a new appreciation for the quality and workmanship that goes into a roof. I can drive around my neighborhood and name the type of tile and color (not "black" but "charcoal black"). That's what being educated will get you.
Equally so, most people think that when you sit down to write a book, you go from "Chapter One" to "The End" effortlessly. Unless you've attempted a novel or two, most have no idea how difficult a process it can be as we attempt to layer and intertwine characters, plot, settings and themes.
It also occurred to me after listening to an hour-long sales pitch by one contractor that left me feeling more like I was being recruited into a cult, that this house project is very much like my latest book. What started off as a simple tale, now has multiple layers. The plot has peaks and valleys that seem to go off in directions I never expected. I've measured and cut, mostly cut. For all I know, there may even be a few "crickets" thrown in here and there. A character is nailed down and off they fly into a completely different direction. Measure twice, cut once. As writers, we're prone to cut six times until we get it right. See what I mean?