So the first draft of the middle grade novel is done and the results are back: it needs work. Well, duh. No, that isn’t what my advisor said. She didn’t say it needed work either. What she did was give me a very thorough rundown of where she saw problems and some general reactions to things.
Like the fact that all the girl characters are mean. Oops. That wasn’t my intention. Even since finishing this draft I’ve learned a few things about writing mean characters (make them likable, or nice, so their acts of badness are really striking; make nice characters capable of irrational acts of meanness) so I know I have some work to do there. And even this one character who I conceived of as the main catalyst for a lot of trouble has rendered herself unnecessary, so out she goes.
Which means some heavy rewrites. But, like I said, I consider that part of the process. I co-opted an old quote (by Edison? Huh. Deja vu, I feel like I’ve blogged about this already) and said that writing is 10% vision and 90% revision. So as good as it feels to be done with the draft — just to have a completed draft at all! — I know I’m in for the hard work. I’ve gone down the mine shaft, it’s time to work the seam.
Which is why I did nothing this weekend. Hey, it’s a holiday weekend. Except for that wicked virus that took me out of commission a while back I had been writing seven days a week. If ever there was a time to recharge for the next phase, this weekend was perfectly timed.
So I made apple butter.
I found this wickedly easy and awesome recipe for pear butter and was going to make it, but we didn’t have the pears. What we did have was a lot of apples. A lot of bruised apples. My youngest went apple picking with some friends last weekend with the hope that they would make caramel apples but that plan fizzled. And since the apples were picked and lugged by girls they took a bit of bruising.
As an adult, as most adults do I suspect, I don’t see a bruised piece of produce as an untouchable. Granted, if I’m shopping for it in the store I’d rather buy unblemished – it doesn’t cost any different. But once it’s home, it’s mine. The girls will look askance at a banana that has some minor dark spots on it, even if you open it up and show a perfectly edible, creamy banana inside. They react to such offerings as if being fed live insects. Kids.
But cored, sliced and tossed into a crock pot for 24 hours, smoothed out with an immersion blender, and spread on a bagel with cream cheese and those left-for-dead apples are suddenly manna from heaven.
As I was cleaning up the crock this morning I told Suze that if I had known it was this easy to make apple butter I would have been making it for years. It even has me temporarily inspired to rethink canning (that and the economy turning us all into homesteaders within the next couple of months) so the diversion from the writing wasn’t a loss of any kind. Not that I needed any excuses; I can always find an excuse.
Technical details: So the recipe above is for pear butter, but it was similar to other recipes for apple butter, so I followed it. I didn’t have mace, it doesn’t seem to have made a difference. I used agave syrup instead of sugar because it’s a natural sweetener with the lowest glicemic index of any sweetener, and I just don’t want to be feeding kids lots of extra sugar. I ended up with a nice, dark brown apple butter that tastes great. I think I’m going to hit the farmers market this week (last week of the season!) and see about getting me some pears. And maybe some glass jars with clamp-down lids.
Writing? Revisions? Huh?