Waiting for the paint to dry…


As some of you may know, last week I finished my polished draft of the latest in the adventures of that intrepid 19th century lady professor, Concordia Wells. I’ve just sent it off to the beta readers to shred to ribbons critique. While that’s going on, I’m taking a break from writing to catch up on all those little “life things” that my family members insist on having in their day-to-day existence: clean dishes, clean clothes, food in the fridge, and a path to the bathroom at night.

In addition to those, there has been one house project that we’ve been putting off for much too long: repainting the bedroom of son #2, soon to be a live-at-home college student. It has been 18 years since we put up a cute, kiddo-oriented jungle-print wallpaper border, in what was then son #1’s room.

I’m lousy at remembering to shoot “before” pics, but here’s an early photo of son #1, at 3 years old, just when the wallpaper border was brand-new:

Pat Wallpaper 1997 (1)
Cute wallpaper…for a 3-year-old…

The general consensus is that we’ve all outgrown the “jungle” theme, not to mention the holes/scuffs/dings and other indignities the walls have suffered that need attention.

And yet, as I type this with paint-stained fingers (and stained elbows, knees, and even a foot), I can’t seem to get away from seeing the painting process in terms of my writing journey.

Want to hear what they have in common? I thought you’d never ask! 😉


Kathy’s analogy of how writing is like painting:


paint1Step 1: Picking the colors.

Our son likes red. That’s the color he originally wanted. Every wall. *shudder*

Finally, I talked him out of turning his bedroom into a CSI snowglobe. We settled on pale gray for the walls, with red trim. The mantra: “a little red goes a LONG way.” I think we’ll all sleep better now.

WRITING PARALLEL: There are features I love adding to my stories: feats of derring-do, snarky characters, handsome love-interests, clever puzzle-twists in the mystery…a little of each goes a LONG way. Don’t get too clever, Kathy. Your readers will fling their Kindles across the room and rain down ancient Egyptian curses on your head.

paint2Step 2: Prep work.

As we all know, this is the worst part of painting. Even folks who like to paint hate this part. First, you have to take everything out of the room – except the big furniture pieces, which makes you wonder how they got in there to begin with.

When you’re dealing with the assorted property of an 18-year-old, it’s sort of a Hoarder’s Anonymous moment, where every pencil sketch since the age of two and every Lego set from the age of four are crammed in drawers along with Air Force recruitment keychains and Old Spice antiperspirant.

And then there’s the TAPING and DRAPING, a real necessity in our house when we paint. Let us just say I am not a dainty painter. Read: klutz. But I’ll get to that in step 4.

WRITING PARALLEL: Now, this is just me, so you pantsers out there, don’t grab your pitchforks and lynch me…when I start a novel, I have to PREP. Big time. Outline, Story A, Story B, Story C, research…some of it’s fun (definitely more fun than TAPING & DRAPING), and all of it is time-consuming.

paint3Step 3: You missed a spot (or a LOT of them).

Paint looks different as it goes on vs. when it’s dry, and looks really funky in-between, like the wall has a disturbing skin disease. I try not to watch paint dry for many reasons, but that’s one of the biggies. Today we had plenty of sunlight, a blind-less double window, two wall lamps…and we still missed lots of places where the roller didn’t cover evenly. We’ll be touching up tomorrow. Sigh.

WRITING PARALLEL:  You know what I’m going to say, right? Yep, EDITING. Sometimes you even need a “second coat,” aka a “total rewrite.”



paint4Step 4: Stepping in it.

This may not be a usual painting “step” for most folks, but it seems de rigeur for me. This could also be called: “You’re not as skinny in getting around furniture as you’d like to think.” I started today by falling off a stool, and by mid-afternoon, while trying to climb over furniture, I’d spilled a cup of trim paint all over my foot. Sort of a cool, slimy sensation, in case you’re wondering. Since everything was draped within an inch of its life no harm was done, although my 18-year-old had to rescue me with paper towels and help me hop to the bathtub to wash off my foot.

WRITING PARALLEL: Sometimes you’re going to get into a tight spot that you can’t write yourself out of, without some help. Editors, beta readers, and fellow writers can be of fab support in those moments.

Got any paper towels? I’m running out…

paint5Step 5: Waiting for the paint to dry.

You’re tempted…oh, so tempted…to go back in there before it’s dry, just to see how it’s turning out. Don’t. Do. It. It’s not going to look good at all. Some patches will be darker than others; there will be weird streaks; and you’ll probably brush up against a spot that’s still wet and mess it up. Let it be, and then look when it’s dry. You’ll be better able to see whatever needs touching up.

WRITING PARALLEL: Right now, this is me with my current book. While I’m waiting for the readers to get back to me, I’m so tempted to look it over again. But I won’t, because I need time and the feedback of others before I touch it up. It’s not dry yet. 😉

Besides, I have to get back to painting…

Do you have painting projects around your house? Do you make weird analogies between your life’s work and mundane tasks you have to do? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,


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13 thoughts on “Waiting for the paint to dry…”

  1. Jenny HansenJenny Hansen

    What a wonderful post, Kathy! And yes, I do this all the time. Not the painting…the parallels. 🙂

  2. Paul KennaPaul Kenna

    Painting I actually enjoy. And I enjoy writing. But the aftermath of writing (critiquing, editing, waiting on reviews, self-promotion, self-doubts, a plethora of disappointments, etc.) provide vexations to the spirit that are gratefully lacking in painting–not to mention in gardening and woodcutting and other mundane yet soothing tasks.
    Thank you for an entertaining blog filled with truths.

  3. PatriciaPatricia

    Oh Kathy, I feel your pain. I’m not opposed to painting, but my better half H-A-T-E-S it. He refuses to paint. Painting has become my job. Now I don’t mind the painting part, but I can’t move the furniture by myself or sometimes reach those really high places even on the ladder (not so much for painting but taping off corners, etc.

    I am a dainty painter – hubby – not so much. It never fails, he’ll drip trim paint on my pretty walls, every single time. Needless to say, we – I mean – I don’t paint much.

    I do like how you likened painting to writing. Everything you said is so true.

    Take care, be careful, and enjoy your writing time off.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  4. Karen McFarlandKaren McFarland

    Congrats on your polished draft Kathy. May the force be with your beta readers. Or should I say you! And oh yes do I remember the wallpaper “border.” Um, yeah, you might replace that. But where does the time go? It’s like you just put that up, right? 🙂

  5. Deborah MakariosDeborah Makarios

    I’m still at the stage with my WIP of thinking ‘yay, nearly there!’ as I approach a corner and then realising there are still two walls to go. I swear, this room multiplies walls when I’m not looking!

  6. BrendaBrenda

    Can’t wait. For next book!!!!


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