Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Manuscript or a Full-On Monet?

close up of a Monet
Tai: Do you think she's pretty?
Cher: No, she's a full-on Monet.
Tai: What's a Monet?
Cher: It's like the painting, see? From far away, it's OK, but up close, it's a big old mess.

Can you guess the movie? It might be a little on the silly side for some of you, or it might be a little "5 minutes ago" for others...but whether or not you or I gave the movie, Clueless a two thumbs up when it came out last century (ack!), I can never get the above analogy out of my head--and it's not for scrutinizing a person's looks! It pretty much runs through my brain for lots of scenarios I find MYSELF in.

One example, when I get that unexpected compliment for my parenting style or that I am so "together" regardless of my busy life with four kids.

Um, yeah...

THAT is so Monet compared to the mess that I truly am deep down with my many mistakes, my unwashed hair sprayed down with dry shampoo, and the fact that I hadn't brushed my teeth in the rush--that minty smell is from the Orbitz gum I'd stuffed in my mouth on the drive to an appointment that minutes ago.

So Monet.

In my writer's mind, I find this dialogue pops up, too. Like, when a blog post tells me the list of things I must do to be a successful writer and I appear to be right on target but really I am just a big when I am told success is reading book after book in my genre. I am that perfect little writer when I give you a list of books I have...ahem.."read". But, in reality, that list of books also consists of a big ol' mess of half-read books. If I get right down to it, some of the "to do" lists thrown at me to get published can make me feel like I just showed up for the finals in a course I didn't know that I had signed up for. I hope that I am not the only one who feels like a "full-on Monet"...and not in the Louvre-quality masterpiece definition of the phrase, but in the very human, very not completely together, pixelated kinda way.

So, this past week I held a "Monet" in my hands. It was my first draft of my latest manuscript. To the average layman it was a thick stack of paper, nicely formatted, full of prose, dialogue, and properly placed paragraph indents. Even I caught myself admiring the view.

But then...I pulled out my pen, and I started to read, and...oh my...up close...

IT  WAS sooooo MONET--a BIG OLD mess.

 And like a person dragging their finger through a freshly painted Monet (yikes), I took my pen and scratched up that big old mess to an obvious sketchpad-only kinda masterpiece ready to look at!

The thing is though, unlike the harsh criticism of the teens in the movie Clueless, my manuscript's appearance up close was EXACTLY what it should look like. It might have been a big old mess...but it was a big old BEAUTIFUL mess. It was where it should have been at this stage, and it was not randomly placed brush strokes, but good intentioned splatters of potential.

As I marked it up, every once in a while I'd find my heart race at the magnitude of the task to brush away the mess and truly reveal the masterpiece from the very fiber of each brushstroke. And I'd catch myself worrying about the "what if" so and so saw it in this state, just like a teenage girl worries about going outside without makeup on.

IF you've seen the whole movie of Clueless, (and let me say, it has been a while for me!) you'll recall that the moral of the movie negates the scrutiny of the gals in snippet of dialogue I mentioned. They  discover that good looks are truly skin-deep and if they looked beyond the big-old the person's heart...they would find a masterpiece.
Water Lilies by Claude Monet
And just like in writing, if the author can scrape away the big-old mess by refining and polishing the words, they would reveal a beautiful story. A true Monet. A masterpiece.

Don't get discouraged at your "full-on Monets"...remember, they are just masterpieces-in-waiting.


Angie Dicken is a full-time mom and lives in the Midwest with her Texas Aggie sweetheart. An ACFW member since 2010, she has written five Historical Romance novels, has a Historical underway, and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. Angie also spends her time designing one-sheets, selling Jamberry Nail Wraps, and drinking good coffee with great friends. Check out her author page at and her personal blog at 


Susan Anne Mason said...

What a beautiful analogy, Angie! And so true!
Congrats on finishing your "Monet"!


Angie Dicken said...

Thanks, Sue! I appreciate you stopping by! You have already started your own "gallery" haven't you! So excited for you!!!:)

Julia M. Reffner said...

Wow, I love this post! I am going to reread this again later, with restarting writing I really needed to hear this!

Angie Dicken said...

Yay, so glad it might be some inspiration for you, Julia!! It was fun to write too!