Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Houses, Books & Other Never Ending Projects

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?


G.M. Malliet said...

Ok, I'll bite. Did the car fall out of the sky, or what?

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I've heard of writing novels compared to giving birth and painful dental work. Then there's my personal analogy: slogging through knee-high mud wearing concrete sneakers. But never to roofing. It's a first.

Happy new roof, Felicia!

Felicia Donovan said...

Gin, I have no idea how the car got there. Just loved the photo and I'm thankful it's not on my roof!

Sue Ann, I'll give you another one... There's moss growing on the roof. How many manuscripts do we all have shoved in a drawer that never got published?

Darrell James said...

I've always said, writing a novel is like "working a Rubics Cube... with oven mitts on!"

Felicia, I have two in the drawer, that will never see the light of day.(Then again... never say never.)

M Pax said...

I had no idea about all that regarding a roof.

Writing a novel. Nope. Not simple. I'm slogging through a rewrite, which feels like waist-high mud.

Keith Raffel said...

I just start writing and see where it takes me. Can you imagine roofing done that way? What a mess!