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I had a good writing week — a surprise to me, since there was lots of life kerfuffle and I figured it would get in the way. But though it slowed me, it didn’t stop me, and at week’s end I’m over 3,500 words to the good.

(At least I hope it’s to the good. It’s so hard to know when you’re writing a first draft. But I’ve learned it’s best not to get too caught up with making judgements in that first go-round, or else you’ll spend a year rewriting the first lines ten billion times and never get anywhere else. At any rate, you will if you’re built like me. Which is not to say I don’t revise — plenty — during a first draft. I just try to keep it in check.)

I’m now very near the book’s climax, and I’m amazed by that, and grateful, because there was a time when it wasn’t clear whether I would ever be able to finish this book — or any other. But while I’m excited to be at this point, I’m also a bit fearful, too: The climax is where all the threads of plot and emotion should come together in a believable way, knotting in almost impossible tension and then resolving. It tests the mettle of every writer, and I can’t help worrying if I will be found wanting.

Which of course I will. That’s how first drafts work (and second and third drafts, like as not…). For a perfectionist like me, this is one of the hardest lessons of writing: That a work in progress is always a messy thing. Even the “finished” work is bound to fall short in a hundred ways from the vision I have in my head. It won’t have the full beauty and balance my head is looking for; like a garden gone wild, it has a mind of its own.

But that is also what makes me a writer: The wildness of writing draws me in, the mystery of events and emotions spilling onto the page. A messy process, yes, but it helps keep the impulse for perfection from deadening my life. It helps keep me alive.

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