Friday, January 15, 2016

It's Dead Jim - When a Book Just Doesn't Work

Full disclosure. This topic was my suggestion. Yes, indeedy, you CAN blame me for this one. I suggested it because at the time, I was struggling with a novel. Still am. It's historical fiction. I *thought* I had a plot, but the more I write, the less momentum within the story there seems to be. The more I wrestled with the themes and the characters, the less sure I was of anything. So I put it aside and wondered if either it or I should be put out of our mutual misery. Thus the question. How do you know when there's no hope?

I ask because I have a forest of file folders filled with abandoned stories. Some are little more than ideas jotted down. Some have half a chapter. Others are several chapters. Only one is past the 25,000 word mark and that one wasn't abandoned because it wasn't working - it is awaiting its day in the sun after having been orphaned by a publishing house that declined the option for it. It WILL get finished and pubbed in some fashion.

So even though I have plenty of stories littering the corners of my brain (and notably, my hard drive) I've discarded not a single one of them. Because of three things:
  1. Hope springs eternal - If I let these stories stew long enough, what ever issues kept me from completing them will be worked out
  2. I'll get better - I have bitten off more than I could chew in any number of stories and I simply do not yet have the storytelling chops to pull these things off, but the more I write, the stronger I'll get and then these difficult story concepts will become approachable
  3. Your time will come - some of the stories I've abandoned in my past are from when I was a kid. I am no longer in the same place as a human being as I was, but la plus ca change, right? I'm not the same person I was yesterday, either. So there may come a time when one of those old stories strikes a chord and I'll finish them.
Why do I not power through my issues with my stories? Because I subscribe to Shakespeare's words:
O time, thou must untangle this, not I.
It is too hard a knot for me to untie!


  1. So, having read all the other posts this week, have you changed your mind?

    1. I'm not sure I can change my mind. It works the way it works, you know? Frustrating as that may be. However. It is possible I'm giving up too soon and/or too easily. So. Back to the plotting board. This story may require an outline. It's complicated enough that I think I'm getting lost in the fine detail. Only I would pick a profession that seems to delight in making me feel like a moron.