Toni: Reconstruction Thursdays – The End and The Beginning…

Tuesday night, 2:22 a.m., I wrote my most favorite two words in the English Language:



Which doesn’t actually mean that the book is done, just this draft. But damn, this draft nearly killed me, and I wept through the entire last act. (That’s not a euphemism.) I’m still not sure if I captured what I wanted to capture, and that’s where I will set it aside and have a couple of trusted friends read. I’ve got good Betas in that I’ve done enough with them now that they know what I’m looking for–the type of editing I want–and they also know what I don’t want (someone rewriting something). They’ll give me feedback next week, and I’ll polish it.

Luckily, this draft is many many drafts into the process, so it’s relatively smooth. (Except, maybe, that final act, which was almost all from scratch.)

It is an ending that breaks my heart in a lot of ways, because I can see that the time is coming to let this project go. To say goodbye to this part of the process and move on to the next project, fall in love with the next characters and their story. It’s like watching your children grow up. When they’re first born, there’s all this possibility and potential and you have no idea what they might be. You know… you always know, they won’t be perfect, because no one is. (You kinda wouldn’t mind if they were close, though.) But you know it’s not possible and you do your dead level best to keep them alive, keep them focused, keep them moving forward in a positive way.

Same with a book. It’s not going to be perfect. None are. No way for everyone to love your child–or your book–like you do. Some will hate it, through no fault of its own. Some will hate it and have plenty of reasons why, and maybe some of them are right. Others will love it, because it just speaks to them. You hope you’ve managed more of the latter than the former, and you move on.

Endings. Beginnings. Can’t have one without the other. You can’t start something new and refreshing and challenging without letting go of the old.

So, now I will polish and nudge and shine and then, it’s on to the next one while this one graduates and tries to make it out in the big world.

In the mean time, I’m taking a couple of weeks to do some painting I promised my granddaughter a son. He just bought a new house last March and they’ve been in a while… and her room is beige. All beige. Ceiling, walls, floor. Then there’s the challenge that her furniture had been white, but looked worn out. I’d tried a painting technique that sounded good in theory, and I didn’t like it. (It would have been fine for one small piece, but I didn’t think about how many pieces she has of this set.)


See that sort of blue/gray piece? That’s Annie Sloan Chalk paint, and I was going for an aged effect. I’d seen a version in a magazine, and I stopped a couple of steps away from the final product because I could tell it wasn’t going to be what I wanted. And there are several pieces–it would have never worked in that room to have that many pieces in that color. Plus, no one mentioned that it’s best not to try to do the wax outside in the type of heat and humidity we have in South Louisiana. I was thinking (ha ha ha) that heat would make the wax more pliable, easier to use. Almost melty. That I could wipe it on and work it into the crevices and then wipe it off. I knew I needed to work in sections, but I had no idea that that stuff would solidify as soon as I put it on. The first day, the temps weren’t bad, so it seemed fine. The next time I went back to finish the piece, the temps had risen, and the wax was a nightmare to use.

pinterest bitch

I kept trying, thinking it would turn out okay. I plead complete insanity. I was mid-draft then, and I think all my brain cells had leaked out my ears. If I’d had any working cells, I’d have stepped back, taken one look at that color and realized that a room full of that for a little girl was just not going to look good. The one positive about the Annie Sloan Chalk paint though–that stuff covers anythingso I can go back over it with the white and not worry too much. I’ll age that white with a light wax. (I hope. We’ll see.)

I’m going over there on Tuesday. The walls are going to be a purple (not quite lavender, but not dark, either). All of the furniture will be off-white, and I’ve already got the bedding. Purple is her favorite color, so I think she’s going to be happy. I’m hoping to get the furniture done by the end of the week, and the walls may end up being done the following week. I’ve got a couple of surprises for her for the walls, and a new light fixture, if I can find what I want. Plus a rug, etc.

She started kindergarten Tuesday. Just seems absolutely impossible. Just yesterday, she was this teeeeeeny tiny little thing, not quite five pounds. Now, she’s:

Angie Dahling

Endings and beginnings. What are you starting or finishing up lately?

25 thoughts on “Toni: Reconstruction Thursdays – The End and The Beginning…

  1. I WAS working on the kitchen. Then the home insurance guy said all the window trim had to be painted before anyone would insure the house. Plus there are cracked singles. So I abonded the kitchen for the exterior of the house.

    (Our original home insurance people stopped insuring homes in Vermont. My speculation is that too many homes burn down here because of wood heat, old heating systems, and really old electrical wire.)

    The second company cancelled us because of the aforementioned problems with the house. Which I don’t mind because they wanted to insure it for twice what it was worth. That just doesn’t make any sense to me.

    Anyway, All starting and no finishing at the moment.

  2. Maine Betty says:

    I’m painting all my hallway doors warm white, it’s short but windowless hall, and with the brown wood doors it was very gloomy. Maybe I can get a light tunnel into the end of the hall one day, but for now light doors are a big difference.

    I’m finishing painting an external door Scandinavian Blue, to match the front door and the shutters.

  3. Your daughter is darling! I don’t want to think about how fast time flies. My granddaughter just turned one – I’m terrified to think of her going off to school in just a few years!

    Okay, I need suggestions from all your crafty folks. I’m not very crafty/skilled/artistic and it’s been a long time since I refinished anything. My daughter just moved back to Chicago after living in Florida for several years. She wanted a vanity table – since new ones aren’t cheap, she bought an old sewing machine table at Goodwill for $12. It was painted black at some point – the originally wood shows through in several places – but we don’t really want to strip it. She wants to get going on this project but neither of us are sure where to start. Do we need to strip or sand the piece first or can we paint over it with primer and then get to the fun stuff? Are there certain kinds of paint that work best? Any cool new ones that might be fun to try? (Preferably something two klutzy beginners can’t mess up too badly.)

    Thanks for your help!

    Becke (Martin) Davis

  4. I can’t wait to see the finished bedroom! I’ve never tried a painting technique that required the wax, but I’ve admired it. I hope the next go round works better, now that you’ve had the chance to try it out.

    Your granddaughter is adorable! And she reminds me a bit of Fancy Nancy (have you seen those books? has your granddaughter? they are wonderful!).

  5. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished bedroom as well. Right now I’m pushing to hit this deadline, and I just learned a couple days ago the release of book 2 got moved up three months. So now I have a deadline AND a book to launch in less than 10 weeks.

    As soon as I turn in this book (Sept 1) and get a grip on the launch, I’m determined to start on the house. Painting is first. I’m also going to have a fence put around the front yard, so my cousin’s husband came out and took two skinny but annoying trees away yesterday. It already looks much much better.

  6. Have fun with the room. I know your grandaughter will be thrilled with the result. She’s a cutie.
    I keep looking around at what needs painting, but I know it’s just that I’m looking for a distraction so that I don’t have to finish the WIP. Ha ha. This one started out as a contemporary romance, a nice, sweet love story. A bad guy showed up. How he got in there I don’t know. So the story became a romantic suspense, because you know, the bad guy got all bad and stuff and I had to go back and do some foreshadowing. Part of me cannot make sense of this story and that little sensible voice says trash it and start something else, then the stubborn voice says says finish it and see what you’ve got, and meanwhile my gaze flits around the room looking at walls that need color.

  7. Adorable little girl, Toni! And so exciting that she’s starting her own new beginning with school.

    Funny, the beginnings/endings thing. I have two pics of my son set on the half wall in my kitchen/dining room so I see them every day–one when he started kindergarten and one when he graduated high school. Love the full circle they represent. Only as with all things, what looks like the end of one is really just the transition to yet another beginning.

    I find the same is true for writing. Especially when writing a series like I am where typing The End and closing the curtain on one story still gently tugs the characters forward to their next adventure.

    I’m thinking really the curtains never close on anything in life because there’s always something going on behind them whether we see it straight away or not:)

  8. Bharti says:

    Toni, your post was well timed for me. I am leaving my job of 5 years for a new position. At 40 it seems ridiculous, but I have the same feeling I had when I went to college. I have loved this time of my life and all of the people I have worked with every day. This year I just knew that it was time for a new beginning – I have taken my programs and staff as far as I could and now someone with new ideas and a greater sense of opportunity and possibility needs to step in. Even knowing this, I find it is hard to let go. And like college, I am jumble of excitement and nervousness about the risk and opportunity of this new beginning. My inner bad wolf keeps popping up, making me question if I am smart enough, talented enough for the challenge. I am trying to muzzle her. I guess on some level I just need to have faith and confidence that the universe is on my side with this one. AND I need to embrace the thrill of unknown as I step into this beginning.

  9. I’ve been arguing with my insurance agent for years, because my house is so over-insured that it’s what the industry calls a “moral hazard,” insofar as it’s an incentive to arson. I even tried to get what’s known as a Dwelling Fire policy instead of a standard homeowners policy with replacement cost (b/c all I really care about is catastrophic loss and liability, not the replacement cost which is what makes the face amount on the policy so high — they’re basing the coverage on what it would cost to rebuild, with everything up to code, instead of what it costs to buy a comparable existing house, which is lower than to build it from scratch, as I’m sure Toni will confirm), but they’re not offering this kind of stripped-down policy in my state any longer, except for unoccupied dwellings at even higher rates. Sigh. Sorry. Off-topic. But I thought someone might find it useful to know why the policy amount is way higher than the purchase price. You might see if your state offers policies that do NOT include replacement cost coverage. That’s a risk, too, because if you do have a catastrophic loss, you might not have enough coverage to rebuild.

  10. I’m finishing the first draft of my garlic farm story (by the end of August), and I’m starting (or re-starting, actually) a treatment routine that I went off last year to be in a clinical trial, and it should help with my energy levels, which should help keep me on track to finish the garlic farm story!

  11. Becke, she’s my granddaughter. 🙂 I have two sons, and she’s the daughter of my youngest (who’s almost 27 and is a firefighter).

    The answer depends on how bubbled and flaky the old paint is. If it’s not very flaky/bubbled, you could paint over it. A light sanding wouldn’t hurt, but there’s also a deglazing product you can find at most home improvement stores. Some people call it liquid sandpaper, but a coat of it painted on (like a primer) adheres well to that sort of glazed paint and makes for better coverage. Or a really good primer, if it doesn’t need deglazing. If there’s a lot of flaking / bubbling going on, then you’ll want to do a decent sanding to get that off. If you don’t, the next coat won’t stick for long and it’ll look pretty bad, pretty fast.

  12. I so know the feeling. This one that I just finished started off as a light romantic comedy and then, as you say, the bad guy showed up. And the light voice just didn’t work, especially when I realized how much pain she was really in. Oy.

  13. Absolutely. It’s always scary when we’re doing something new and challenging, but that’s how we grow and don’t stagnate. Embrace it. You’ll live up to the challenge.

  14. Bharti, it’s never ridiculous to have that sense of newness when you are making a major change in your life, no matter your age. I applaud you for deciding to take on a new challenge so you can grow! I hope it is everything you want and need it to be.

  15. MJ says:

    The chalk paint Toni started using is famous for requiring no sanding or stripping–the tradeoff is, you have to seal it with wax or polyurethane. Lots of people use this for a distressed look, but you do not have to distress the chalk paint. Many, many fun projects out there.

    The Annie Sloan and CeCe Caldwell brands are expensive; you can also make your own by mixing unsanded grout or plaster of paris or calcium carbonate powder into paint.

    The very best link I’ve found:

    Have fun!

  16. MJ says:

    I am maybe 3/4 done with repainting kitchen cabinets that are at least 50 years old, taking them from a rusty brick to a buttery yellow, inside and out. It hit me last weekend that I’m gonna have to paint the windows, too. This is the most difficult project I’ve ever done, and I will be thrilled to see “The End.”

  17. Totally get the “how is this possible” with the kids thing. My youngest nephew, darling boy, who was just a baby yesterday, I know it, started High School today. Some of my babies have careers now and my own baby just got offered a job as an assistant manager at the place that she’s working.

    Sigh. I don’t know how any of them are aging this quickly when CLEARLY I am still a young, young woman.

    My mother frequently tells me to shut up about this because she’d like to know how I think she feels about it “Her baby having a 31 year old baby who has a 13 year old baby? How did that happen?”

    Purple is fun and congrats on The End and it being really almost the end.

  18. Sorry, Toni – I didn’t realize you had grandkids!

    Thanks for the tips. We’re going to get the supplies for this project tomorrow or Saturday. The black paint isn’t bubbled or flaky but, just to be safe, I’ll pick up some sandpaper or that sandpaper primer. Thank you!

  19. Maria, that reminds me of the time I was visiting family and saw a picture of my daughter when she was maybe 4. I looked at my dad and said, “My baby isn’t a baby anymore.” Without hesitating, he looked at me and said, “Neither is mine!”

    And mine starts high school in a couple weeks. I’m with you. I don’t know how that happened!

  20. Kelly S says:

    This week with much help I got a website up and running. We reduced 1,500 pages down to 800 with about 100 pages pending. Got the content that didn’t move to the new server back up and running after the URL had changed servers and needed files were no longer findable. Sadly, I’m missing a big quilt show less than an hour away as in-laws are visiting for the weekend. Oh well, I’ll save money.

  21. Micki says:

    Adorable child! I do like the blue a lot, but she’s the boss (-:.

    I feel like I’m in the middle of absolutely everything, and nothing is ever, ever going to get done ever. But, OK. I know it’s just a feeling. The fact is I finished mowing the front lawn before a thunderstorm hit, and I painted four plastic safety pins with a gold sharpie, so now I am ready to make my Bohemian scarf/jacket that I’ve been talking about for weeks. (It’ll take 10 minutes. Just 10 minutes. If I’d done it instead visit the blog, I’d be done.)

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