End of Summer: Project Review

As Joelle Charbonneau has reminded us, summer is almost over.

My goals for the summer were to study, figure out what to do after next year, and edit that stupid book I’ve been telling myself I’d get to for years.

I mean, I’ve written and rewritten the thing about twelve times. It’s not remotely the same story it started out as. I’ve scribbled a lot of other ideas and crappy short stories along the way. I’ve also quit writing off and on for a variety of reasons ranging from grad school to deciding it was like baseball and just something I was rotten at and should avoid. Except, I never have an urge to play baseball. When I’m working through something, when I’m processing something, when I’m bored, when I’m driving…my brain decides to tell itself stories and sometimes I just have to write them (or part of them down). Later I toss it all in a box, a drawer, the shredder. Usually, the shredder. Worms have made poop of a lot of my word poop.

I also realize the beloved Chuck Wendig questions those who’ve worked on the same thing as long as I have. Something tells me he believes in his work more than I’ve been prone to. Or maybe he just has a weaker shredder.

So, why have I gone back to the same thing (sort of) again and again after all these years? Am I mental? Likely. But more than that, I really like the characters who grew out of that earlier mess. I just hated their story. So I stuck them in different stories, tried them out in different settings, moved them all over the Eastern Seaboard. Worm poop.

I wrote about six hundred pages of two other “things.” Worm poop.

I tried some idiotic naval-gazing suburbia-is-crap sort of stories. You know, the kind you get encouraged to write in college writing classes with teachers who only read literary journals. You know, the ones you can find on the magazine rack at Barnes & Noble. Except, they also tell¬† you to write¬† what you know and I’m neither a gang member nor a bored house husband so I came to the conclusion that if that was “writing,” I’d pass on expecting payment and go back to scribbling down stuff for my own amusement.

Which is how I’ve lost some really good stories. There was one I wrote in my head on a treadmill. I was at the gym. A news story came on that got turned around in my oxygen-deprived head and was a terrific little tale of small town revenge. The right mix of violence and pathos. Except, instead of running back out to my car and writing it down, I finished doing weights first. And I have not been able to recapture it in a hundred tries since.

So, you know, I just suck.

I did, however, finish editing the novel. And I have the following notes on a Post-it:

  • boat thing probably too crazy/stupid
  • what the hell happened to AW?
  • the thing with E is dumb – just dumb
  • end is too pat – probably retarded