Don’t Rush the Finishing Touches

My dad is a contractor. I spent many of my summer days, and sometimes after school during other seasons working on construction sites. Most of the time it was helping with small tasks, but I know how to help stand walls, provide support when hanging cabinets, muck out a house before drywall, and even help with some concrete pours.

I learned a lot of lessons on that job site, and it is probably where I figured out that being a girl didn’t matter when it came to a job needing to be done. But as I’m thinking about the work I’m engaged in now, the lesson that transfers over the most is the importance of finishing details.

The initial process of building a house is big and messy. Digging for a foundation, putting in footings that need to be secure but not pretty (they will be buried several feet below ground – no one will see them), concrete walls, etc. When framing a house, the wood needs to be straight but blemishes aren’t detractors.

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So to it is in the case of most people who write. We are drafting, laying the groundwork, getting the stuff mostly where it goes, etc. Especially in the case of NaNoWriMo, pretty tends to take a back seat.

When my dad walks by a cabinet job, or a trim job (baseboard, casing around a door, etc.), he can’t help but run his calloused fingers over it. He is looking for seams that aren’t even, if the angles cut align perfectly – so much so that touching can’t feel a bump in any part of the connection.

This is the kind of respect for detail that revisions deserve. I know there are different kinds of revisions, and that many people focus on different things when they revise, but the key is that focus. After the drafting, we get the chance to take the story we started and build it into the story we envisioned. Granting ourselves time, encouraging ourselves to pay attention to the small details  – this is the way we honor our craft, and invites our readers to pay attention to the details because they won’t disappoint.

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Tasha Seegmiller is a mom to three kids and high school English teacher in Southern Utah. She writes contemporary women’s fiction with a dash of magic. Her loves include Diet Coke, owls, chocolate and cinnamon bears. She is an editor for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association quarterly newsletter and can be found here.

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