Sometimes you have to go back to go forward…

…and sometimes you don’t.

The other day I was parked in some heinous traffic. Rain had been dumping for hours, the roads were slogged, car accidents were in abundance.

Lucky for my kids (and for me too) our car is equipped with a DVD player. Gavin and Laynie were content watching their show, and I listened to Underdog for the 7,000th time.

As I twiddled my thumbs, I noticed a large work truck lodged in a ditch. (Note: Ditches in Virginia are really just ditches, not the Texas-sized gullies that double as ditches in Houston). Three guys stood behind the truck and a fourth tried to back out of the ditch and onto the road.

The ground was sodden and I tried to contain my laughter as I watched the wheels flip mud onto the bystanders (That’s such a lie. I was laughing out loud a their stupidity, and yelling “Call a tow truck, you idiots!). The tires spun, and spun, and spun. The ruts got deeper and the truck became thoroughly mired in the mess.

Mind you, I’m still parked waiting for something so far ahead that I couldn’t even see what it was to clear. People in Virgina do not know how to drive in rain – or snow for that matter.
So I watched the dirty, tired men and laughed at their plight. A light suddenly brightened one of the men’s faces. He crawled into the back of the truck and pulled out a half dozen 2 x 4s. Then he and his compadres built a bridge and drove forward over it.

To get out of the ditch, they didn’t go backward. They built a bridge over the gap, drove up the embankment and nearly caused a car accident driving over the curb.

After spinning my wheels mentally for the past six weeks, I decided to build a bridge in my plot. I put the information that has to be in the story into the chapter I’ve been working on. It’s not pretty, several paragraphs strung together with quotation marks and conjunctions. But now that the particular scene is written, I can move forward with the rest of the story.

First drafts are first attempts. The workers in the ditch were stuck; their first attempt at getting out stunk. I figure my first attempt sucks, but I’m going to get past the miring point (I’m pretty sure miring is a real word) and finish this draft. When it’s all done, I can go back and beautify my bridge. Or tear it down.


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