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   May


      I planted potatoes yesterday.  This morning I looked and they weren't up yet. 
       That little vignette tells you something about my character.  I hate waiting.  I especially hate waiting in limbo.  Experience and mother nature tell me that my potatoes will come up but they'll need a couple of weeks in the ground first.  So while I'm in the seeding stage of the garden, I wait, impatiently, but with reasonable expectation of fulfillment.
        There is also
waiting without reasonable expectation of fulfillment, for the   utility company to return a phone call, for example.  Who knows when or if the powers that be in these places will deign to answer my plea?  Last week I spent two days waiting for a return phone call from a lawyer's office.  It never came.  Two days of being afraid to leave the house in case I missed the call.  Two days of carrying my cordless phone in my pocket (I don't have a cell).  Two days of stomach churning stress.  Two days of waiting in limbo, the very worst kind of waiting.
         In real life, such situations cannot be avoided.  But in my reading life, I never wait like that.  After reading the first couple of chapters in a book, I nearly always flip to the end.  If the story has a satisfying ending, I go back and read all the parts in the middle.  If the ending is so-so, the book gets tossed.
        I know some will think I cheat.  A story is meant to unfold from scene to scene in the order the author wrote it.  Skipping to the end breaks the rules.  Maybe . . . but a story is meant to satisfy the reader too, so if it fails in that respect, the author has cheated as well.  I don't apologize for reading the end before the middle.  I love solving sudoko and crossword puzzles but I want the author to hurry up and answer the story questions for me.
         So impatience is my own personal quirk, usually harmless.  As a writer however, impatience can be a real problem.  Given my druthers I'd just blurt out everything I know at the beginning of the book and in ten pages or less the story would be over.  Now, that is cheating.  A reader who has bought a book expects more than a rough summary.  The reader expects character development, plot complications, struggle and conflict and the hint of a universal truth before she closes the book with a satisfied sigh.  My ten page blurt denies her all that.
        Yet, if I hold off revealing all the details, send my characters off on prickly paths or drag some red herrings through the plot, I can lose track of where I'm going with the tale or, worse, get bored with the whole thing and toss it away.  So, I've developed a secret weapon.  I write the blurt thing for myself.  It isn't even a proper outline, beloved by the "plotting  author."  It's just a blurt, with lots of holes and improbable leaps of logic but it gets me through the beginning, the black moment and on to the end while I'm still feeling the rush of creative excitement I had when I first conceived the story.  No one but me ever sees those blurts, they are not good writing, but they ease my impatience, reassure me that I do know the ending of the story and allow me the freedom to play with the characters, fine-tune the pacing and take the reader on a journey where she can't wait to learn how it turns out.  With any luck, she'll even skip to the end first, then go back and read the rest.
      My mom always said I was born in a hurry and I've ben hurrying ever since.  Now, I'm going out to see if the potatoes are up yet.

       
        

         
   
   
   
                                                        
                                 
                                                    
                       




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