Wednesday, April 9, 2014

H is for Harvest: How Do You Decide What to Keep?

Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the backyard hovering around our grapevines and plucking grapes to eat. I guess this was before the world came to the general agreement that eating unwashed fruit would result in your certain and immediate demise. Or at least it was before I cared about such things.

We had about three varieties of grapes, and I realize now that it would be nice to name the specifics here. If you're on the edge of your seat waiting to find out about the grape varieties, please allow me to let you down gently right up front: I'm not exactly sure. 

I do know that at one point, one of the varieties was the blue concord grape. I know this because of the label on an old bottle of homemade wine in my pantry, made from the blue concord grapes harvested from my childhood home.

When my family decided to try their hand at making wine, I was itching to help out. Mostly this was because I imagined it would involve stomping around in an enormous barrel of grapes like I had seen on a particularly funny episode of I Love Lucy. I was mildly disappointed by the fact that the actual chosen method for squashing grapes was squeezing them by hand through a mesh straining bag. As it turned out, this was a very un-funny process. But it was effective, and eventually there were several bottles of wine lining the basement shelves to commemorate countless hours of research and labor. (I should emphasize that this was before you could just Google "how to make wine" - so there were actual books from the library involved in the research phase. Books. From the library. It was all pretty mind blowing.)

I've never asked why the blue concord grape was the chosen variety for the Rice family's stint in winemaking. I'm sure there was a reason for it. I find myself wondering about it now because for the very first time, I have three manuscripts started, and I have no idea which one to harvest, squash, and bottle into a finished product. The first is 9,855 words, the second is 1,810 words, and the third is 909 words. All started, some more than others, and all left abandoned. I'd like to think they're aging, but the truth is I'm simply at a loss with respect to which idea I'm most excited about.

The one thing I do know is that I need to make a choice; to buckle down and commit to just one manuscript at a time. Otherwise, the ideas will turn out like the homemade bottle of wine in my pantry: dusty, unopened, and probably past its prime - full of potential, but never poured out and enjoyed the way it was meant to be.

I would love to hear from some fellow writers today about how you navigate through this situation. Leave your comments below if you'd like to join the discussion. 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting analogy...I always finish everything, but I don't recommend that!