Monday, December 2, 2013

Digging Up Your Dead

Hallstatt Germany, its defiantly one of the most AMAZING places to visit. BREATHTAKINGLY GORGEOUS! 

Last May/June my husband and I had the opportunity to go to Europe. We visited Hallstatt, a little village in the Austrian Alps.  This quant little hillside/lakeside town has a church with a cemetery that is a bit overcrowded. In order to make room for the recent dead they dig up their “old dead” after the bodies had been in the ground for 25 years.  To honor the exhumed they paint the skulls with flowers and other ornamental art. They then place the bones in a bone chapel for people to visit. It is really quite cool.
I know! I look a bit freaked out. I really was not. This whole idea of skull art was actually kinda beautiful.

View from the church yard down to another church. I love how they decorate their plots.

This made me think of my own dead, no, not my loved ones, but the manuscripts I have buried in a drawer, long forgotten.  I dug up my first just recently and it was a bit of an eye opener. First of all, there is something about that first novel that brings a warm feeling to your heart. It’s your first born! It’s the first time you felt those additive juices flowing. It’s the first time you realized you could sit down and write a complete novel from start to finish. And, it’s the first time you saw the characters that had previously only existed in your head come alive on the page. Your first book is a magical thing.
Then, hopefully you moved on to bigger and better writing. For several reasons it’s helpful to dig up the old once in a while. It’s fun just to remember that first rush and the old sentimentality of it all, but second, it’s good to remind ourselves just how far we have grown in our writing. I agree with Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner here. It does take several novels under your belt before you can say you are legit, before you really know you can produce multiple storylines and have an idea of how long it takes you to write your first draft. Writing takes practice, lots of it. There are only a lucky few who are struck by lighting and are able to have their first picked up by a publisher. For the rest of us, its years of hard work, and the creation of multiple manuscripts, that will hopefully someday pay off. But in the mean time it’s important to dig up your dead from time to time, examine your own hit and misses, what worked and what did not, and along the way enjoy the adventures only you can create.