Daily Archives: August 18, 2009

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Just Sucking the Pavement

August 18, 2009 by in category Archives

By Nancy Farrier

My daughter loved all kinds of critters as a child. She loved toads and lizards, often thinking they were her very own pets. When she was four, our area had an infestation of caterpillars. They were everywhere—on the roads, the outside walls of the house, and everywhere on the ground. My daughter delighted in the abundance of new “pets” at her house.

One afternoon, my husband and I noticed our daughter being quiet on the back steps. The sight of our whirling dervish sitting still had us both heading outside to see what she was up to. As we listened through the door, we could hear her low soothing tone as she talked. On the step next to her was a caterpillar that had seen better days. The poor thing was dead, but our daughter continued to stroke it and talk to him as if they were best friends.

When we stepped out, our daughter looked up with excitement, eager to show us her friend. As we tried to convince her to leave the dead caterpillar alone, she became upset. Finally, after my husband told her the caterpillar was dead, she narrowed her eyes, and said, “It’s not dead, it’s just sucking the pavement.”

I am sad to report that I have some caterpillars “just sucking the pavement” in my book files. These are story ideas that I love, but they’ve never interested a publisher. I talk to the characters, polish again, and send them off to another publisher to no avail.

I am not alone in this. I’ve judged many contests for unpublished authors in the last few years. I can’t count the times I’ve seen a mediocre story appear time after time with very little improvement. The author refuses to put aside the stale manuscript in favor of something new and fresh, with life in it.

The memory escapes me of how we distracted our daughter so the caterpillar could conveniently disappear. We probably distracted her with a cuddly kitten that she would love. It wasn’t easy, since she was so determined, but we accomplished the feat. As an author, I’ve found it difficult to let go of those ideas that weren’t as appealing to others as they were to me, but I’ve persevered. I’m determined to trade in those dead “pets” for ones that are full of life and bring excitement to the page. No more “just sucking the pavement” for me.

Nancy’s new book PAINTED DESERT will be released September 1st. You can find out more about both Nancy and her books at http://www.nancyfarrier.com/
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