I don’t know about any of you, but I write all my novels/stories/poems longhand.
That’s right. Old school.
So naturally my insides churn and I become increasingly disgruntled when I near the end of a journal/notebook in which I am writing a story and I do not have a subsequent journal in which I can continue said story. What will I do when I run out of room? What if I’m in a middle of a particularly dramatic scene? What if I’m in the middle of a sentence? What if I have to leave my protagonists hanging (literally as is happening right now) in the clutches of the villain? How will I extract them from it?
Because you see, even though I do outline and plan my stories, if I let them sit for too long, little details in the outline and plan alters. Sometimes it only means changing the initial idea for a scene or two. Other times, as the days and weeks go by and a particular story is left unwritten for longer and longer and longer, the small scene changes add up to a small chapter change which escalates to a medium few chapter alterations and snowballs into a giant different ending.
Needless to say, though exciting, this can cause one a bit of stress.
You see, now that I’ve completely changed the ending, I’ve got a totally different story on my hands. This is not a bad thing. Where I get worried is when I try to incorporate the old idea into a subsequent story. Here is when I trip up. More often than not the old idea does not fit the new characters. Then the new characters seem too much like the other characters, and I feel like I’m writing the same book over again. And what reader wants to read the same plot and characters every time? Answer: no reader. So then the only way I feel like I can make the old plot work is to return to the original story and change the new ending back to the old one.
And hence I have not yet been published for I have not yet truly finished anything.
Most of this stems from the inevitable feeling every writer feels that their work is never complete. I’m sure published authors sometimes pick up their published book and feel that certain things could be altered. A man could have said something different to his woman. The woman could have responded differently to the man. That character shouldn’t have died, or if he was still meant to, the scene could be reworked and improved.
But I have to stop this. No, nothing I am working on is finished and ready for submission and publication yet, but I know that there will be a part of me that will never think my work is done. There comes a point where I need to stop thinking of scenarios for characters in a story that’s finished and apply them to new characters. I need to stop giving myself time to second-guessing myself and just write what I’ve planned and what’s in my head.
The only way to do that is make sure I have a new journal at the ready.
Don’t worry. I do 😉