Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Sabotaged by My Own Story
One of the more annoying things that can happen to you as a writer is this: realizing that the thing you’ve been working on for two months is utter crap.
Yeah, it happens sometimes.
In the best circumstances, you’ll have an idea for a story and you’ll sit down to write it and everything just clicks and it comes out pretty damn good.
In the worst circumstances, you’ll have an idea but you just can’t get it to come together right. Very frustrating, that.
I’ve just spent almost two months trying to hammer out this particular story—the second Hawthorne adventure. And two months is a LONG time to write a short piece. It shouldn’t have taken more than a few days, tops. I kept going back to it every morning, trying to make it do what I needed it to do, but the characters just kept mulling around pointlessly, the prose absolutely refused to be anything other than listless and boring. And yet I kept at it, trying to revive what was becoming increasingly more apparent as a corpse.
You notice how I'm refraining from strong language right now? Refraining, because if I start cursing and spouting obscenities I'm likely to keep doing it all day.
It was a decent idea, one that I would be loath to toss away entirely. But my execution of it was just a giant fumble from the get-go. Maybe I over-thought it. Maybe the various elements clashed too much. Or maybe it just wasn’t ready to be born yet. I don’t know. Whatever the case, it was a total disaster.
Some writers (including me, I like to think) have a sort of built-in sensor that tells them when a story isn’t working. Sometimes you won’t even know why, exactly; you’ll just feel it. And once that intuition sets in, it’s almost as if the story is DELIBERATELY keeping you from moving forward. Like it knows better and is trying to sabotage you for your own good.
So what do you do when your intuition finally has enough of you fumbling around in the dark and comes to the surface long enough to tell you to put on the brakes?
Accept it, I guess.
Put it down, move on to something else. Maybe let the idea foment for a while and come back to it later.
So that’s what I’m doing with this particular story. I’m turning it loose, letting it get its shit together. Hopefully we’ll hook up later and work things out.
If you’re one of the four or five readers anxious for the next Hawthorne adventure, don’t worry, another one is on the horizon. Just not the one I’d originally intended.
In the meantime, I have some other projects I need to get to, projects that my frustrating struggle with an obstinate story had been holding up.
Writers: what do YOU do when a story stabs you in the back and refuses to cooperate?