The shelved stories…(dramatic pause) I think about mine sometimes when I can’t sleep, in the hopes that I’ll eventually lull my overactive brain into dream land or learn something from them. Sometimes I think, “What are my reasons for trashing stuff?” Surely there is a method to the madness. Yes. I would like to pick up the mic and present you with this monologue I wrote to explain. 🙂
Back in the day, no one looked at me cross-eyed when I trashed something. Very rarely, someone might say, “Hey, what happened with that story you were writing about the time traveler?” And I’d be like, “What?…Oh, yeah! Dude, no, I gave up on that months ago. It like didn’t have a plot or whatever, but listen to this!” Otherwise, most of the time, they had no idea if I was talking about the same story or not.
Nowadays, there exists a person or two who might say something like, “Why are you starting something new? What happened to the story you were editing?” And I’m like, “I trashed that. It sucks….why are you looking at me like that?”
On one hand it’s like: Everything can’t suck! Some of it MUST be in my head? But on the other hand it’s like: well…some of them really do suck. And with the state of the publishing industry, you have to love something a whole lot if you’re going to make it in any capacity. There isn’t an easy route to this thing. There’s blurb writing and querying and rejection and submissions and rejections and reviews and rejections and marketing and rejections. If I don’t love the story enough to suffer for it, isn’t it better I bail now then wish I had bailed later?
So, here is my top ten list of reasons why Krystal trashes perfectly good stories (ahem):
número uno: the concept is terrible. sometimes there is nothing you can do. it’s like when you have a plant with diseased roots – you just have to dig it up and throw out the entire plant.
número dos: poor planning. i’m a planner. i can’t run away from it. poor planning will lead to all kinds of gratuitous, gross, and heinous problems.
numéro trois: i started the story too soon and now i realize i don’t like it so much anymore or ruined it because it wasn’t ready.
numéro quatre: i’m having to force myself to finish it or i had to force myself to finish it. never a good sign.
numero cinque: i’m tired of writing about vampires and/or some other device I’m overusing and would desperately like to write about something else.
numero sei: the story is making me miserable.
nummer sieben: the story is a lost cause and just isn’t working – for whatever reason.
nummer acht: the characters are a pain to work with. no. thank. you. characters are a penny a dozen.
number nine: i was just writing the story because i was bored and/or wanted something productive and purposeful to do while my brain finds me a story i actually want to write.
number ten: i over-outlined due to ill confidence in the story and stuck too it too rigidly to said outline because i didn’t really want to write the story in the first place for whatever reason and now the story sucks because it’s too flat and colorless and one-dimensional.
There – all perfectly legitimate reasons to bail. 🙂 It may look like I’m sometimes bordering on perfectionism, but really, I just want to write something that I love and feel good about putting out into the world. A lot of writers have entertaining ideas, great ideas, and even freakishly amazing ideas. But not everything is exciting AND well-written. And that is where I want to be.
I’m just cocky enough to think I have the well-written part down. 😉 My problem is that I rush things because I get impatient and force things when I’m stuck because I’m afraid of setting the story aside while I think and never picking it back up again. (This happens all the freaking time!) This has to change if I’m going to write anything good. Not to say that I haven’t written anything good, because I believe I have. And I have those stories as my means of comparison when deciding if I should shelve something or not. I just want to stop writing things that make me feel like I suck and need to quit because that is no fun at all.
I try to learn from everything. Between this year and last year, I learned that I mess a lot of stories up when I put too much pressure on myself – usually with some kind of crazy time restraint or by comparing myself to too many other people. I also learned that I cannot pants a story. I don’t need a fully formed or completed outline before I start, but I do need a good GPS to keep me on track. 🙂
I admit, sometimes I’m just looking for a reason to dump a story I don’t want to deal with anymore. On those, I am making excuses. And I am totally okay with that. If I’m looking for a reason to dump a story, I just need to dump it and get it over with. Whatever will help me move on. Because I don’t make excuses when I’m crazy about something. (#sentencefragmentsarethebest)
Making mistakes is okay. Making the same ones over and over again is not. Once is once, but twice or more is a pattern.
(drops mic) 😛