The Endless Drawer


How deep is your idea drawer? That place where you keep those ideas that were jotted down on scrap paper, the edited-to-death perfect scenes with no story attached, and the false starts?

After I finished Julia and started shopping her around, I went digging through my drawer (most of which lives on my computer) and found an old story. Well, the first pages of an old story. I still remembered, quite clearly, how I wanted the story to end. I hadn’t been sure how to get there, so I’d parked the story. With a novel recently lifted off my shoulder, picking up a short story seemed like the thing to do.

Jumping back into it wasn’t as hard as I feared it might be. Since I’d been struggling so much with the ending when I abandoned it, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to crack it even after so many years. Luckily, years had given me some distance, perspective and writing practice. Writing the story wasn’t easy, but it was easier.

I’m still wrangling a few points on my to-be-novel-length WIP and I’m thinking of dipping back into my older, abandoned works. There is one finished manuscript that wasn’t quite gelling. Two characters who lived across the street from each other were both going through their own quarter life crisis. They could see into each other’s apartments, but this was the extent of their interaction with each other. It was nowhere near Rear Window, but I was aiming slightly in that direction.

One of my beta readers asked why I was trying to make it into a novel. Why didn’t they each have their own short story? Of course I was stupid and got huffy; she didn’t get my amazing artistic vision. Ships passing in the night…or something.

Of course she was right.

I don’t think I can use any of the scenes that I wrote, but the manuscript was certainly a nice way to learn all about my characters.

Do you ever revisit old works?


6 thoughts on “The Endless Drawer

  1. bethfinke

    Whadd’ya mean, she was right? I *like* the idea of Two characters living across the street from each other both going through their own quarter life crisis.

  2. I wish I could revisit old stories. Sadly, I threw them all out when I was younger because I was too embarrassed by how mediocre they were. I regret it quite a lot now. =[

  3. Yes, yes, yes! Sometimes I drag out old pieces and carve the scenes up to use in other projects. Other times I rewrite them with better skills. I’ve even sold some of those.

    So sorry Zen. I did the same with all of my teenage poetry. I haven’t grown to regret that yet, though. It was pretty terrible. 😉

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