In a few days we’ll be tossing 2009 off like an old pair of shoes and slipping into 2010. Blinded by all its shinny newness we forget you have to break it in, wear it a bit before it becomes comfortable. We’ll even glance longingly at the old year, but there’s no going back.
This sudden feeling of nostalgia is brought on by a conversation I had with one of my co-Saturday Writers, Natalie. We were discussing her latest work, something she’d written ages ago and decided to refine. I’ll let her fill you in on the specifics, if and when she’s ready.
Just like time, stories evolve. Something once thought a lost cause can evolve into something workable. My own longing for the past as well as my pack-rat habits have worked to my advantage. Many of my failed starts and old research have evolved into my current work.
Disenchanted started out as an epic fantasy. My main character just wasn’t into the whole awe inspiring history I’d built or the breathtaking landscape I’d set the story in. I won’t even mention her less than enthusiastic feelings toward the lack of modern conveniences.
I tried–I really tried–to make it work but it just didn’t fit. There was no hope of breaking it in, making it comfortable. I tried new viewpoint characters, but my original main just kept pacing around in my head. I tried new ‘bad guys’ but she still wasn’t interested. I tried new plot lines but she would just stand there checking out her nails. I tried new settings but all she would do is lament about Iowa. The day I caught her fiddling with another character’s hair was when it clicked.
“It’s about time you clued in,” she said. “Write what you know.”
I was able to use most of my research and character notes. Only two original characters survived, others were added or changed to fit. The setting and basic plot were changed. My epic fantasy became a contemporary fantasy.
This would have never been possible if I hadn’t kept the first attempts and all my research. Natalie’s current work would never have become what it is if she had trashed the first story.
With 2010 right around the corner it’s time for something new, but don’t toss out the old. As you begin breaking it in look back fondly at 2009 and hoard those memories and experiences. You never know when you’ll have need of them.