Raising the Dead (Projects, that is)

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeInsecure Writer’s Support Group

The first Wednesday is again upon us. Today members of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group share of thoughts about writing on our blogs. This is an amazing group of writers, published and unpublished, at various stages of their writing careers, coming together to support each other in their creative endeavors. I am thrilled to be part of it.

Each month our fearless leader, Alex J. Cavanaugh, poses a pithy question for our consideration. The March 1 Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Short answers: yes and yes.

Because I can’t leave well enough alone, further elucidation.

I never throw anything away. I have all manner of notes on scraps of paper, partial outlines, scene cards, newspaper articles and pictures jammed in various folders. So it is not unusual for me to come across a long forgotten, abandoned project, at which time my muse will shout, “I loved that story! We have to finish it!”

I have had occasion to succumb to this enthusiasm. Whether it “worked out” is a rather nuanced concept.

I rewrote a couple of abandoned short stories to conclusion (a “worked out” for me). I also have a partial manuscript for a 1920’s historical cozy mystery that had been laying around for about 10 years. During the Downton Abbey craze, I worked on it like mad again for a few months through an on-line writing class. Predictably, the class ended and the project languished.

I had a recent occasion to skim some of the reworked pages of that project again. My immediate reaction was, OMG, this is absolutely dreadful! Was I drunk when I wrote this? Sadly, I cannot blame the wine. I am not sure any of it is even salvageable. But what “worked out” in that instance was that I sat my butt in a chair and consistently put several thousand words on the page, every day, for several weeks.

Even if a reworked piece isn’t viable commercially, the time spent improving a story is certainly valuable in terms of growth as a writer. And that works out for me.

Many thanks to the awesome co-hosts for this month’s blog hop:

Tamara Narayan,
Patsy Collins,
M.J. Fifield, and
Nicohle Christopherson!

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20 Responses to Raising the Dead (Projects, that is)

  1. I don’t think I’ve tried writing whilst drunk… hmm…

  2. I think that’s a great point about the story working out because you sat down and worked on it, progressed, completed it. The result is not publication but growth as a writer.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Madeline! Yes, for me, getting the damn thing written is still the goal for me. That is the only way to grow as a writer.

  3. M.J. Fifield says:

    “Even if a reworked piece isn’t viable commercially, the time spent improving a story is certainly valuable in terms of growth as a writer. And that works out for me.” <—Love this! It's so true.

    • Lee says:

      Thanks M.J. We all have to set our own parameters for success. I love reworking a piece and finding that the end result is highly improved. Thanks for hosting today!

  4. I agree completely–each hour in the chair makes me an ever-so-slightly-better writer. Onward!

  5. VR Barkowski says:

    Reading and editing have taught me more about writing than I ever learned from drafting a story or novel. Words are like the clay on a pottery wheel. It’s what you do with them that counts.

    • Lee says:

      I love the analogy to the clay and potter’s wheel. Our stories are, indeed, a lump of words until they are lovingly crafted by the author. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Suzanne Furness says:

    Agree that nothing we write is ever wasted because (hopefully!) we are learning all the time and becoming better at what we do. That’s got to be a good thing whether or not the finished piece is commercially viable or not.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Suzanne. I hope that as writers, we are also enjoying the journey while we are learning. Even though my historical cozy foray was something of a bust, I had a blast working on it!

  7. Cynthia says:

    I enjoy historical cozies. I think that’s why I read so much of Agatha Christie’s work during my earlier years. I agree that time spent on improving a story isn’t ever wasted, especially when you get to learn something new along the way.

    • Lee says:

      I loved reading Agatha Christie! She was my first significant influence in the historical cozy arena. I pined for a little English cottage in a village with a vicar. I have so many pleasurable memories of curling up with those books.

  8. That’s a good way to look at unpublished projects: another step towards better writing. Sometimes the journey seems endless though. 😉

    • Lee says:

      Hi Tamara. I think you have hit on an important point. It is an endless journey, and I want to enjoy it as much as possible. Even if it means rolling my eyes and laughing out loud at my own writing.

  9. Lee! Sorry I didn’t make it here until now. Goodness, did that take long enough? I completely agree with you. No exercise in writing is wasted. We learn something new from each and every endeavor, whether we count it as a success or failure.

    • Lee says:

      You are welcome anytime! As for writing, I try to find success in any effort – even a colossal failure. Something there about delusions of competence, possibly? 🙂 Congratulations on your fabulously happy news!

  10. jmh says:

    Great point, Lee. I hadn’t looked at it that way before, but you’re so right! Every word we put down on the page (or the screen) improves our craft.

  11. Lee says:

    Well at least that is my story, and I’m sticking to it! Thanks for stopping by.