Make it or break it.

Make it or break it. Succeed or fail. Either way, there’s something to learn, even if failure and bad breaks teach unpleasant lessons. Unless the bad break comes solely from someone else’s decision or a natural disaster, most times changing a decision will change the outcome—next time. I would like to turn my bad breaks into good ones. Who wouldn’t?

Of course, sometimes bad breaks pile up so fast it’s hard to find the good breaks—not so much “can’t see the forest for the trees” as “can’t see the end of the tunnel because it’s filled with wrecked cars”. Today I can’t see to the end of my kitchen because I have two fridges in it and I can’t see my laundry room floor because it’s piled with dirty laundry. No complaints about the fridge, which broke after many years of good service. The second fridge, a temporary I bought while I fixed the first, is about to be donated. My old fridge is working like a charm again.

Not so, the fairly new washing machine. It never cleaned clothes well. It broke the first time at less than one year, then again at three, and at four and a half. This time the balance system went wonky, or should I say walky? Now the machine thumps halfway across the room rather than spin circles. Spinning in circles isn’t good for people, but it is for washers. Someone please tell the designers. I’m too busy researching what not to buy this time. Never mind Consumer Reports. Now I’m reading,, etc.

My washer’s poor design was out of my control. The reviews that labeled it the top performing top-load washer were out of my control. The price of the broken part is out of my control, $90 for a “rotor position sensor”, Greek for “I’ll jump up and down because that’s my senseless disposition”. The break’s timing, right after the fridge, was out of my control.

Whether I throw good money after bad to fix a clothes eating monster, a Kenmore Oasis, is in my control. I won’t buy the Whirlpool Cabrio either. It’s the same thing under original manufacturer’s name. Consumers of the internet have spoken. Both tangle, wrinkle, and eat clothes. Both allow small things to escape the washer and ruin the pump. Both have bad control boards and end up with broken balance systems.

Too bad I love the dryer, doomed for a dumping by association. I’m color blind for people, but appliances are different. Can’t have a blue dryer with a white washer, right?

So, why am I complaining about appliances breaking in a writer’s blog? It’s all about pieces that unbalance peace as a whole. My book’s current 5th chapter was the first I wrote, dumping my protagonist into a hostile dessert, not desert, territory. My supposed high efficiency washer was my first bought since we moved to Florida, hostile laundry territory due to desserts like blueberry and mud pie, plus muddy bayous, sandy beaches, camping and hurricanes. Neither my book’s first chapter nor my washer could cut the mustard, let alone the blueberry stains.

A few years ago, I found out Emerald Coast Writers’ critique group could help me fix my book without stealing my story ideas. I ended up writing a new first chapter, setting up the later chapters. By the time I realized neither new beginning nor new washer were problem free, it was too late to go back. I’d sold my old washer and learned too much about writing to revert to the original first chapter. It was necessary, like my washer, but unlike my washer, not the place to begin.

I tried to work around both problems—both bucked and stomped around. I can’t begin to tell how many times I rearranged clothes in the washer and scenes in my book to get a perfect balance, until I realized I was using the wrong repairman. A book meant for young teens to read needed middle grade reviewers, not adults. At last I got them, a whole class of 7th graders. So unlike the never-ending wash cycle, my book is now finished, balanced. Old and new scenes blended into a climax the whole class loved. How do I know? The teacher said so.

Beep-beep, all done—the school year is over. I made that break, but not without a lot of help. Now it’s time to shop for a washer. Any ideas? If not, I’m all washed up. No, this time I’m going to clean up.

Share A Heart

Indie author-friendly freelance editor, children's book blogger for picture books through YA, kid lit, SF/fantasy lover with special fondness for middle grade, pun-loving SCBWI member, meter-maid for poetry and rhyming picture books.

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