Last night, while I was working on my new project (the one I mentioned yesterday that I started because the project I’m supposed to be working on just wasn’t coming together), I started rethinking two recently completed projects that I will refer to as “A.G.” and “I.P.” The project I stalled out on will be called “O.L.” and the project I’m working on now is called “M.A.” So I was working on M.A. and the story was going well. I ended up writing about 4,000 words which I wasn’t expecting. As I wrote, I thought about those prior projects and the uncertainty I felt when I finally finished them.
I realized something big. I didn’t like them. Every writer has a reject drawer/pile/cabinet/whatever. “A.G.” and “I.P.” just weren’t what I wanted them to be. And yes, I finished them and thought I could forget about them. But they were still part of my master file and I only want writing I’m happy with to be part of that master file. I scribbled in my idea notebook “consider rewriting A.G. and I.P.” Did I want to rewrite them? Not really. There were parts in the writing that I was happy with. But the more I thought about the stories as a whole. the less impressed I was by them.
Committing yourself to a project is like a romantic relationship. When you look back upon your relationship/project, you don’t want to realize that you’ve settled. And considering those projects the culmination of what I could have done with them was settling. Granted, settling is easy. It’s essentially a sure thing. But most of the time, the sure thing isn’t what you really need. And those projects, while they have some interesting ideas, aren’t what I need. So I’m going back through them and finding the parts I believe work so that I can weave them into the new material, thus creating a finished work that is considerably stronger than the prior incarnation.
As I was wrote the prior projects, I kept jumping around in the narrative. I was one place, then I was elsewhere. The story was confused. There was too much happening that made no sense. Even I was confused at times and if the writer is confused, then the reader most likely has no hope of figure out what’s happening. I can’t let that complacency stand. So what if I finished the projects? They aren’t what I wanted. And even more than that, when I think of someone else reading them, I’m not happy with the idea. Like I said before, there are parts that work but the parts I hate seem to distract from the positive elements.
I’m pretty sure I can keep about 1/4 – 1/2 of the manuscripts and just build upon them until they make more sense. I’m not necessarily starting from scratch but I am trying to restructure the manuscripts so that they make more sense and have a more cohesive narrative arc.
Part of the issue I was having with the writing is my love of single paragraphs. I just don’t like breaking up a single narrative into shorter sections. I find it distracting. As I was working on “M.A.” last night, I formatted the file so that there were designated chapter headings, something I’ve only done sporadically in my writing. There was something about being able to visually see the layout that helped the writing alone. I felt more organized. The story seemed to flow. Instead of worrying about continuing a narrative that was over because the paragraph seemed too short, I stopped when the narrative wanted to stop. Somehow, just that little change helped me write five chapters. I’m formatting the revisited projects in the same way so that I can have a clearer idea of how the story is working.
So that’s my new task. I’m looking forward to it. Granted, there’s some hesitance because I’m not fond of revisiting manuscripts I already filed away but I am pretty excited to see how I can enhance the narratives into manuscripts I’m proud of.
On another note, April is coming up in a matter of weeks and you know what that means… NAPOWRIMO! Yes, friends, it’s going to be another year of National Poetry Month and I’ll be posting bits of my daily writing. Am I necessarily writing poetry? Eh. Not really. It’s a loose interpretation if you will. But it’s writing. And it’s a month dedicated to writing. The fun starts on April 1st and if you want to keep up with the prompts, then visit http://napowrimo.net. I’ll be back tomorrow, friends.