We’ve all heard the old saying, find a penny, pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck. I’m a firm believer in picking up found pennies. Probably because I am notoriously cheap and there have been several occasions when I had to pay for milk or other necessities with change I have stashed away. Part of it also is that hope for a little bit of good luck even though I tend to dismiss luck for the most part. For whatever reason, I pick up pennies.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I drove into the parking lot before Christmas and there was a penny shining up at me when I opened the car door. I automatically lock the door as soon as I open it to ensure I don’t forget, since several cars have been burglarized here. I leaned down to pick the penny up and noticed another one. I got out of the car and the ground was littered with change of all kinds. I figured someone in an apartment was watching that crazy old woman squatted down, picking up money, but I didn’t care. Somewhere in the back of my mind I’m sure I thought, if one penny buys a day of luck, there are enough here to buy a whole year.
Then a breeze came up and blew the car door shut. Oops. Keys are still in the car.
An hour and $37.95 later, I had my car open. On the plus side, the Pop-A-Lock guy was really nice and commented on my cool old highway patrol car.
I went in the apartment and dumped my lucky change in the five-gallon water jug I keep for change. Yes, I’m an optimist. In case you’re wondering, there was $5.27 in lucky change. Just think how rotten the day might have been if I hadn’t found my lucky pennies!
I’ve been thinking about luck a lot. I’ve never been very lucky. I won a $10,000 race horse once who turned out to be worth $500 and I owed $2,800 in taxes on him, but that’s another story. I used to win a little money at the horse races, but only because I’m a chintzy bettor and nickel-and-dime all day.
Perhaps that’s one reason I am going back over Paladin again. I don’t think luck will get me an agent or sell the book. I think it’s going to take a very strong story and voice, which I think I have. It’s also going to take some stellar writing. Ah, therein lies the rub. I’m a natural storyteller, but I am not a natural writer. It’s work for me. I can see the story in my mind like a DeMille epic, but getting it out of my head and onto the paper is another thing.
That’s why I have to keep going back over it. I know some agents will do some editorial, but that doesn’t give me an excuse to be lazy. I have to go as far as I can with it and then listen when the agent makes suggestions. Even so, I am getting close to the end of what I can do on my own. I could fiddle with it from now until doomsday, but substantial improvements are getting short. At some point a writer has to say, “enough,” and set it free.
How do you, as a writer, know when it’s time to set your child free? When do you close that last chapter and lean back with a feeling of relief? How do you know it’s time to stop fiddling?