So many stories, but so little time. That seems to be the theme song of my life. Because I still maintain a full-time day job, writing, sadly, must remain a sideline. I recently decided my “little writing hobby” was worth some real time, so I took a full week’s vacation to finish my latest work-in-progress–one that’s only been in the works for over a year! And I did it. I wrote those two, little words a writer longs to type: The End.
What a glorious fantasy, to pretend for one, full week that writing was my only job. I could really get used to that routine, and fast. *sigh*
So now I’m rummaging through my notes to decide which story idea I will take off with next. I’m amazed, and pleased, at the number of choices I have. I have at least a half-dozen either sketched out on a page, or semi-sort-of outlined, or actually partially written. For some reason, all of these stories lost steam and fizzled.
What happened? And what can I do to revive an idea that I lost enthusiasm for and tucked away, unfinished?
In a few cases, it’s easy to see what went wrong. Sometimes a great story idea, a premise, is only a seed. But like a seed, without all the other elements for growth, it doesn’t get very far. Maybe my characters’ motivations were lacking, or their goals fuzzy and uncertain. Perhaps the conflicts weren’t sufficiently intense, the stakes not high enough. I couldn’t see what was missing back then, but now, after time has passed and I’ve gained some perspective, I hope I’ll be able to identify what has to happen for the story seed to germinate, take root, and grow.
In one case, a well-meaning editor/friend inadvertently put a novel of mine to death. Sad to say, her intentions were good. Her vision of my story and mine were at odds. I tried to steer it onto the new path, but in so doing, I completely lost enthusiasm for the book. It became her story, not mine. This one will be a challenge to revive because when the story stalled, I was 54,000 words in. Yikes.
And then there’s the very first idea I ever had for a novel. It came to me in a dream on a sunny, Sunday morning about 15 years ago. The idea was so exciting and so rich in detail that I clambered out of bed and dashed to my laptop to hurriedly sketch out the idea. There are at least four “versions” of that novel, in various stages of development, floating around in my Carbonite cloud (thank God for Carbonite!).
I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m just not good enough a writer to write that book. Yet.
So many stories, so little time. I’ll keep plugging away in the wee hours of the morning, before my “real” day begins, until maybe, someday soon, I will find the time to dig all of those stalled stories out of storage and bring them back to life.