Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Aftermath of Irene

We made it through.  Our house didn't take on too much water (we're on a hill), but there was unprecedented flooding on nearby roads and we did lose power for three and a half days.  After surviving without electricity, reading by booklight or flashlight, eating take-out food, going without hot showers (ick!) and being cut off from the internet, I realized one thing.

It could have been worse.

For instance, thousands in Vermont are still without power, still battling floods.  And many bridges in that state have been swept away.  So Pennsylvania got off easy.

After Irene stormed through my area, uprooted trees and downed wires were a common sight.


Along with a very swollen and muddy Brandywine Creek.  My son took the following photos:

The picnic park was a complete wash-out on Sunday. For the first time I can remember, the water went over Rt 52! 

If you look closely, you'll see a basketball hoop nearly submerged!

But we didn't lose the bridge!

After two days, we'd had enough, and fled to a relative's house for hot showers and recharging of phones.  When we got back today, the worst part, for me, was cleaning out my fridge and freezer and throwing away all that spoiled food. The bags of ice we'd added didn't help. Everything had to go.  

It reminded me that sometimes in writing you need to toss it all out and start fresh.  Not just kill your darlings, but deep six the whole chapter -- or the whole manuscript!  I've been stalled for months now on a young adult novel which is going nowhere. I can't quite bring myself to actually delete it from Word, so I'm saving it for now, but it's definitely going into the deep freeze while I start something new.

Have you ever thrown out a work in progress?  Did you rewrite it from scratch or start something new?  And if you were affected by Hurricane Irene, how are you now?


  1. Thank goodness you are all safe. The photos are mind-boggling and, as you say, things are even worse in Vermont.

    The first novel I ever wrote I basically threw out (although I kept several of the characters.) The second novel I wrote I started in diary form (way before Bridget Jones' Diary made that sort of thing popular.) The young guns in my then-critique group scoffed and I rewrote that too, though not so drastically. A couple of novels have expired half-way... It certainly has been a long and winding road, littered with corpses.

  2. I'm so glad you're okay and that you have power again. And I love that you have a Brandywine. LOVE.

    I save most of the stuff I write, even if I decide not to finish it. I've had lots of darlings that I've decided not to finish or (especially with PBs) decided they weren't brilliant enough to sell even when they were finished. The first novel I started writing would have been part of a fantasy series. I wrote nearly half of it before I decided that I wasn't a good enough writer yet to tell the story in my head. So, I started a stand alone novel. ;)

    Yeah, you read my blog, so you know how that turned out. At least I finished it though. And I finished the prequel. Finishing is good.

  3. Oh my goodness, you guys had it bad!!! But you are right, you are so right, it could have been worse. So much worse. I am so glad you are emerging from this mess throwing out your leftovers, ready to start something new. Your parallels to throwing out a manuscript you're stuck on are so apt, it's uncanny. That's exactly where I am. My second manuscript, I thought I finished it, and yet more revisions always seem to come back and haunt me -- my agent wants more changes before she's ready to send it out to editors, and of course she's right. Oh I am trying to rebel and just do what you did -- just put it aside, forget about it, work on one of my million other ideas!! But I HATE, hate, hate the very thought of not finishing something, and so I keep torturing myself. I make a decision -- that's it, good bye manuscrript two -- and start brainstorming another one -- then a week later, here I am, revising dozens of pages of that old hated thing, maybe even having some fun, maybe even starting to fall back in love a little, only to get stuck and return to the same crossroads all over again. I'll keep you posted on how I get out of this one :)


  4. So glad you're okay. And you have such a good perspective on it all.

    I haven't cut a whole manuscript but I did have to cut big parts of mine to cut 20,000 words. It meant cutting a lot of chapters and some characters to get the story to an acceptable word count and a tighter plot. I'm still not sure this story will make it out of my drawer even though I spent years trying to make it better.

  5. So glad you're okay.

  6. I'll echo Frankie - WOW! That is the route I take to my sister's in Kennett. I can't believe the picnic park - wild. Glad you are okay! And I can relate the pain in throwing away a fridge (and coolers) full of food - ouch. I just went shopping today - I couldn't bear re-buying everything I had just bought.

  7. Thanks, everyone. We're glad it's over.

    Michael, I hear you about the long and winding road littered with corpses! I've abandoned several novels in the past (though I always seem to finish my PBs). I hate being this way, but I've got to write what I'm excited about writing. At least I've finished one novel so far. If I can finish another one, I'll feel better. Hope you can too.

    Myrna, yes! Brandywine! But so far it hasn't inspired me to write like Tolkien, ha ha. And good for you for finishing more than one novel.

    Katia, gosh that sounds like torture. All the back and forth. Hope you can work it out. I'm happy for you that you have an agent, though. I haven't managed that goal yet.

    Natalie, you're amazing. Years on one novel. Hope you can start querying soon!

    Frankie: yeah, it was pretty wild.

    Kate, you're absolutely right about the food. I hated throwing it away (such a waste!) and hated even more having to replace it. But my fridge is now emptier than usual, because I just didn't want to spend that much refilling it.

  8. Wow! That picture of the basketball hoop!!??! Glad you're okay.

    Amazing how much perspective you can gain from a storm and cleaning out your fridge after it. =)

    I threw out an entire novel (well, kept three characters I loved and some parts of their story). They now live in a new novel that's so different from the original. I've also thrown out chapters. But it's different than the food in your fridge because we always learn something new from whatever we write, even if end up throwing it away.

  9. Thanks, Barbara.

    I actually learned one thing from throwing out all that food. I learned not to buy so much at once! You should see my fridge now. It's never been this empty.

    But you're right that we learn from the words we throw away. Sid Fleischman said, "Nothing is wasted except the paper." (Or, well, the hard drive.) I think it's so cool that you kept three characters you loved and gave them a new home in a different novel!


I've disabled comments on this blog. I may be back at some time in the future, but for now, please visit my website:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.