Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Junk in the Trunk

As the last couple of posts have mentioned, I did not finish the zero draft of Guardian by the end of last year as I had intended. And I made the decision not to give myself a new deadline on the project either. I've set it aside, stuck the manuscript in my trunk, and moved on to other things.

It's a very difficult thing, deciding to set aside a project rather than finish it. Particularly for someone like me, who has compulsions in the mix making me feel like I have to focus on this one project until it is completed. As a serious writer, a professional one even (I'm never going to get tired of saying that, just so you know), I am supposed to FINISH THINGS.

I know this, because Chuck Wendig says so and I believe him.

But there's also this little pearl of writerly wisdom to consider, from Ira Glass:

Guardian, I think, fell into that taste gap that Mr. Glass talks about. It was good. It had potential. I wouldn't have spent a year working on it if I didn't think it had potential. The characters were strong and the plot ticked right along and the world I built was interesting. But at the end of the year, sitting there having written and rewritten half a novel, I realized that there was something missing. I'm not sure what, but something just wasn't there.

It needed. . . I don't know. But whatever it is, and I can't quite put my finger on it, the lack is keeping that novel from being what it could be. What it needs to be.

I could keep beating my head up against it. I'm not stopping because some shiny new idea has caught fire in my head and I don't have the discipline to keep myself on track. I'm very certain that I could keep flinging words at that manuscript, scraping them out of my skull with a worn rusty spoon, until I shove the characters across the finish line.

But I don't want to because I know, know, that someday I'm going to find whatever it is my storytelling needs, and I'm not going to find it in this project. I'm getting closer with everything I write, I can feel it, but I'm not there yet.

So I put Guardian in a drawer. It's a trunk novel now, along with Familiar and the Epic Fantasy Trilogy of Doom, and a couple of other bits and pieces of things I've fiddled with along the way. My guardian will join the other lost characters floating around in disconnected worlds I made up in my head, not quite ghosts yet but no really alive for me anymore either.

Someday, when I find my missing whatever, I might pick it back up again and be able to fix it. Or at least chop it up and use the pieces to build something better. As I said, I know the potential is there and that is what trunk novels are for.

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