Wednesday, January 6, 2010

One Ring

Disclaimer: This post is not at all related to anything even remotely Tolkien. My apologies for misleading any googlers.

Instead, this post is about my family's odd traditions.

One is the banging on pots and pans when a family member departs. The family gathers (post hugs and kisses) on the front lawn, hands behind backs, as if the departing members don't know what is behind them. Surprise! Banging commences, as the car backs out of the driveway, and continues, until the car and departing family members are safely out of sight (and embarrassment range). It is always a weird moment of celebration and sadness. Or, maybe, a sad moment that we are trying to convince to be celebratory. For me, the noise of pots and pans banging always triggers feelings of goodbye.

Another tradition, a more constructive one, is the one ring. When departing family members arrive at home, it is customary to call to the pot banging relatives, and let the phone ring once. A signal that you have journeyed safely all the way back home.

A writing friend of mine is on the road. And I'm waiting for that electric one ring--that e-mail--that tells me that he got home safely.

I'm also waiting for another kind of one ring. The kind that signals the end of a revision. The one that says that my main characters got where they were going safely. It may be a while, but I'll be listening. Their pots and pans banged such a long time ago--I think it's about time for a one ring.

What kind of signals are you listening for, in your writing, or in your life?

18 comments:

  1. I love these markers for the journey. They are intriguing family rituals(as a mom I like the idea of establishing such things) and work very nicely as a metaphor of your novel's journey. They are even so sensory(auditory mostly I guess, but there's something cold and shiny too about the pots and pans). Nice post.

    I hope I know when I'm done by what my crit readers tell me. Probably it will sound like joyous shouting from the rooftops to my ears.

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  2. What sweet rituals! That is so cool.

    I wish we did the one ring. Then you wouldn't have to talk on the phone!

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  3. That's sweet. And so should go into a book. :)

    When you first said departed I thought you meant when a family member passed away. I didn't get it until you said when they arrived home they called. Duh.

    To know when I'm close to being done revising I look at the feedback I'm getting. If the crits have boiled down to nitpicky line edits, I'm getting closer. If I don't have that thought in the back of my mind saying - that chapter needs work or that line is kind of corny or that characters is only 2 dimensional...those kinds of things. I hope I'm close to being done.

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  4. Tina--I'm wishing for you lots of joyous shouting from the rooftops in 2010.

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  5. Natasha--It's actually fantastic. After a long car ride, the last thing I ever want to do is answer any questions. It's a good system. And, I never worry about waking anyone up. It's just one ring.

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  6. Laura--Sorry--I should have thought of that meaning when I chose those words. Pots and pans banging would probably be too jarring in that scenerio.

    Someone once said (an author at a conference, I think) that they loved getting hugely long editorial letters about a ms, because it meant that the edits were all line items. Instead of a short letter that said that there was a huge plot problem, or something. The longer the letter the less work actually had to be done on the ms. I thought that was interesting.

    Good luck on getting done!

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  7. I agree with Laura that these fantastic rituals should definitely go into a book. I might have to start pulling out the pots and pans next time I'm saying goodbye to someone. :-)

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  8. How cute are you guys? I love it! My family just stands at the corner and waves until the departing family member is out of sight. Still embarrassing in public. :)

    Since I'm in the middle of writing a new novel, I suppose my signal will be typing "The End." And then the revisions begin...

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  9. I'll have to remember that, Heather, if I'm ever lucky enough to get an editorial letter. Here's to hoping.

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  10. im looking for the thumbs up that my agent likes my revisions and we are good to go.

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  11. I'm listening for something loud and clear.

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  12. Anna-- I agree with you and Laura--it's good stuff, and I'm sure I'll use it at some point. And, yes, you should try it!

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  13. Lizzy--Fun, if somewhat loud and embarrassing to a child. But I know I'll continue the tradition, anyway...

    Good luck with the completion of the novel!

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  14. Shelli--Thumbs up are always great. Then on to the next step, and hopefully thumbs up all along the way!

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  15. Tracy--Loud and clear, like a foghorn? I hope you hear one soon!

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  16. I came to your blog through the Comment Challenge and enjoyed your interview with Tracy...then I wandered further down and found this great family traditions post...I LOVE the pot banging, it sounds like something my late grandmother would have "cooked up"! I am going to remember this for my grandchildren (I only have one at the moment, he is a baby.) And the one ring used to be a tradition during college days in our family when we girls made it back to campus after a trip home...like others have mentioned, the LAST thing I wanted to do was talk at that point after days at home. Thanks again for sharing these family times.

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  17. Welcome, Rasco! Glad you poked around. I love these traditions, and I'm sure that it was my fabulous grandmother that started the pot banging--she was a hoot.

    I'm glad you enjoyed this post!

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