Over the weekend, I was cleaning up my Stories folder, because I decided to finally and officially move “Discord” and another story called “How Deep Is My Darkness” to the Story Graveyard. If I’m not going to publish them, as is, and I’m not, then there’s no reason to keep them in the same folder as stories that are actually finished.
The reason it took me so long to move them is twofold:
First: They weren’t in horrible shape, and at the time, I had literally trashed every single story I had ever written, and I don’t know. I guess I just thought it was sad. So I didn’t trash HDIMD because I wanted to get out of the habit of trashing EVERYthing. The second reason is because putting so many projects in the graveyard made me feel like a failure, and I carried all of that “failure” for years.
But a couple of months ago, I did a post talking about how I wrote all these projects down on paper and burned them as a way of releasing the stress associated with them. And well, it worked. It’s not that I don’t love them. I just don’t want to carry them around anymore.
On October 1st, I’ll have four published novels, a work-in-progress I’m actively working on, and countless ideas for other projects, in addition to anything in the graveyard that can be resurrected (which is much cooler than saying I’m rooting through the trash). There is no reason to carry guilt or stress myself out over past messes.
So, while I was in my story folder, I found this document called “story rant” from August 3, 2008. TEN years ago, guys. In it, I ramble for 1652 words about how I was having a hard time letting go of a story with the title of “Sudden Fury.” It was the last thing I finished in high school, and it’s also known as finished novel number 8, and the second to last story I wrote before picking up a writing book and realizing that there was help out there for aspiring novelists.
This document started off as an email to my critique partner at the time, but after I finished ranting, I realized that I just needed to let that story go. So, I cut and pasted the email into a word document for me to read later, for some reason. LOL!
Here’s a snippet from that document:
I’m in a perfectly good mood otherwise, I swear. It’s just going through this is making me doubt that my last story is any good. Yeah I originally wrote this like 6 years ago or something, but I’ve gone through it at least 5 times. I don’t understand how it could still be so bad. And then I think about the one I just finished and I think, okay, what if I can’t fix it? What if I really suck as an editor? That’s what’s bothering me the most. Because if I suck, then I need to figure out how to write out an entire story really good and complete in the first place which I can’t do because it’s just not possible.
The main thing this shows me is how hard it was for me to let that story go. But the other thing I see is my struggle to edit, and the hilarious realization that first drafts aren’t publishable. I didn’t edit anything until I got to college. I didn’t know how to edit outside of basic proofreading. Looking back, I can’t help but laugh a little at how dire this situation was to me at the time. Plus I was being way too hard on myself. Novels 8 and 9 were literally my first attempts at editing a novel.
Other parts of that document include me lamenting over some characterization issues, my now defunct vampire series, and general confidence issues. Back then, I just wanted stories that didn’t fall apart all over the place, characters who “acted right”, and enough confidence to write and edit a book to completion without having an existential crisis.
Ten years later, I still have stories that fall apart, characters who won’t “act right”, and confidence issues. The difference is, these issues no longer cause me to question my entire existence and quit writing for three years. I’ve mentioned how editing HOUSE OF FALLING EMBERS was a lot more difficult than normal. But not once during that process did I question my ability to actually edit that book. I just dug in and did it.
That’s growth. And it’s interesting to be able to see it so clearly like that. It makes me happy. 🙂
The most interesting thing overall, to me, is how I was supposedly working on a series in 2009 (according to an old email). Further digging showed me that it was a rewrite of novel number 9 (that I never finished). Which means, my last vampire story from 2012 wasn’t my second attempt at that series. It was my third. Geez.