Back in the days before GPS and Google Maps and iPhones, you often had to pull out a paper map and use it to navigate. Find the street from the index in the back, locate it on the map, and trace your route with your finger, trying to figure out where to turn left, which road was one way, and hope nothing hand changed since the map had been published.
Sometimes, things would go wrong. You’d take the wrong turn, miss an exit, or be suddenly confronted with several options that required an immediate decision. And then you’d be off down a side lane, or curving up an on-ramp onto the highway again, or on a street whose name was unclear and that was leading you in the wrong direction.
And sometimes, you’d get really close to your destination, and wind up circling around it, trying to find a way in. You’d pull over onto the shoulder of the road to stare at the map, retrace your route, mutter and murmur to yourself, knowing you were close, but not quite there. That somewhere perhaps you’d gone wrong, and that you could either backtrack, try to see what your mistake had been, or plunge on ahead and hope to meet up with your original route by either luck or skill.
Well. Writing is like that. I just finished writing an extended scene which feels about 75% right. But the tone is off, I need to go back and rework the premise, perhaps change the memory that sparks off an important decision, make it shorter, perhaps. I’m close, but it’s not right. Now, this is first draft territory. Thus, as Stephen King put it, you have to burn a savage trail as fast as you can till you find The End, and then go back and do you edits.
Which I’ll do. I’ll leave this scene behind, move on. Try and reconnect with my original route up ahead, and forge on toward my destination. Still. I came tantalizingly close, and sometimes that’s the worst. When you know you came within a stone’s throw, but just missed it.