Saturday, April 28, 2007

Old vs. New

The Pocket Muse: Endless Inspiration by Monica Wood said the following on page 93 that got me thinking.
And sometimes, when I see my students reaching back through the misty years (to the stuff they wrote in college, usually), I want to grab their hands and beg them to stop. Retrieving an old subject, one that still haunts you, will work only if you begin afresh without looking back. Otherwise, you will waste energy troubleshooting some other writer's work--because you are no longer that writer.
So on April 18th, I looked at my list of stories in first draft stage.
  • Zy's Novel
  • Strix beginning story
  • Canterbury murder mystery
  • Acadiana Medieval Faire 2008 Educators' Guide
  • Underneath the Colored Lights
  • Zy's vacation story
  • The Chosen
  • Strix: Forget the Sun
  • Evil Jack: For Worse
  • Wars Are Won By Those Who Dare: Turbo
Just four items were not begun in the 1990s. Of those four, two are fanfiction (that I won't work on without finishing more original stuff) and one is non-fiction. And fiction is what I'm having issues with.

This realization fought badly with my "must-finish-the-story" drive. I had at some point gone back and edited fanfiction created at the same time or earlier. That's okay, that's what my fanfiction projects are for--trying out techniques that aren't ready for original fiction. Some how this continuous rewriting got moved to the original fiction. So why is my "must-finish-the-story" drive being triggered? Why did the idea of setting aside stuff I can't do anything more with--especially after I finished it a decade ago--make part of me throw an inner tantrum?

Zy's Novel doesn't count: it was never finished at any point I worked on it. Zy's vacation short story likewise doesn't count. Rewriting "The Case of the Hideous Medallion" started it, but now it has a new crime and place in that universe's timeline.

Strix doesn't count because I'm reworking the universe and changing formats to a webcomic if I ever find an artist.

"The Chosen" counts. I finished that novel and it was bad. Not horrible idea bad, but a-first-attempt-hide-it-under-the-bed bad. Yes, I could keep it on the list to completely rewrite it, but the rewrite never grasped hold of my brain with new characters and new situations like Strix did. Time to put it away.

"Underneath the Colored Lights" I feel more conflicted about. I finished the story, loved the imagery and characters, should be a strong regional piece and sellable, but it flopped in the beta reading stage. At that point, you are supposed to rewrite. But have I waited too long? Am I better off filing it away as a good practice attempt? Can I afford to?

I'm looking at the "Need to Submit" List, which I should change to the "Need to Retire" List. If I throw everything into the filing cabinet, what will be left to mail out in June? Okay so I'm going to let those three go out and earn rejections in June.

And to deal with the ambivalance over "Underneath the Colored Lights," here it is, published through Google Docs. Read it and answer the poll. I'll give the poll a month while I go file "The Chosen" away.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Possible topics

Commuting hell
Finding time to write vs. everything else
Freelance gigs
Taking time off

Leave a comment if you have a suggestion for a topic.