Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Back Burner

A writer friend recently finished a story with a really cool concept. She decided that it wasn't quite what she wanted it to be, so she is going to let it sit for awhile and then come back to it. Maybe.

I would change that maybe to a definitely. No matter how long she lets it sit. I am currently rewriting a short story that I wrote almost twenty years ago. It was good back then, one of my writing group buddies read it aloud to the group and started crying in the middle of it, but I couldn't find a buyer. It was good enough that I received a handwritten note from one of the editors at Redbook attached to their form rejection - something almost unheard of in those days. So I eventually shelved the story.

The intervening years have broadened my experiences with life and enhanced my writing skills. I've spent significant time as a journalist, columnist, and poet. Recently I pulled out the story again with plans to publish it myself on Amazon.com. Now, as I go over the story again I see that there is a lot of good to it and some things that need work. I've added a new part one, kept parts two and three with minor alterations and completely scrapped part four. I am now totally rewriting the last part.

What I discovered from those intervening years is that there was a progression that was happening early on in the story that I did not continue through the story. I had put too much of myself and my own ego into the final part of the story. So now, I am taking a step back and removing it from the personal. By adding a new part onto the front of the story I am making this progression more evident. The couple in the story now have a longer history to get them to the final stage of triumph.

There have been a few days where I wrote nothing at all on the story. I didn't exactly have writer's block because I have been able to write other things. After a couple of those days I realized that I was still working on the story, that it was simmering on the back burner in my mind. Then, yesterday, it was time for the story to begin to be written out fully again. I quickly finished the new part one. Planned the idea for an entirely new finale. I changed names, ages and events. Hell, I even changed races. The story has now started to come together on a more real level - as real as it can get for a story about reincarnation. Today and tomorrow should see the story finished and I will pass it on to someone else to go over it for me.

So my point is that not finishing your story right now is not an issue. You may not have lived long enough to get it quite right. Leave it on the back burner as long as you need to so that it will be fully cooked when the time is right. Some of the best recipes out there are better once they have had time to sit and let all the flavors come together. The same may be true of that story you aren't quite happy with for now. So let it sit. It may work out better later,

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