I mention on the blog quite frequently that beyond being a blogger and a reader, I’m also a writer. Yet, I rarely discuss writing. Part of it is because for so long writing has been intensely personal for me for a myriad of reasons. Some of those are legitimate, but many are because of writing-related fears about not being “good enough”. So, because I have this tendency to tell myself “Stormy, you need to do things that scare you”(which, by the way, is MOST THINGS. I am an easily scared person), I decided to give myself the freedom to talk about writing on this blog of mine from time to time as part of a new feature: The Writing Desk.
This post(and indeed, the whole feature), was created when I started ruminating on the idea of how sometimes you need to let your stories age.
There’s a story idea that’s been in the back of my mind for awhile, which isn’t unusual. I have no problem coming up with ideas for novels of various genres. SO many things interest me, so I always have writing fodder. However, every one in a while a story just jumps to the forefront of my brain and won’t let me go. I knew it wasn’t going to be my “main” WIP, but there were a few scenes that kept popping up in my head whenever I tried to sleep, so I finally gave in and created a document for random ideas and scenes related to this story.
And you know what? I couldn’t write a single scene that was in my head in full.
I hadn’t let my story age enough. I had the general premise for the story, but I didn’t really have the plot. This particular story idea is for a fantasy novel, and I didn’t grasp the world enough. I had the main character’s name, but not her sister’s(who plays a large role), or the love interest, or the name of the location. I didn’t even have a name for her job(which is highly important in this particular book, as the story revolves around it).
Some of those things only come about through research, true. But a great deal of that sort of information generally only comes when I’ve thought about the story for a bit. The first time I actually got the point where I was able to type THE END on a story, I had thought about the story for a month and a half before I ever wrote a single world. And I don’t mean that I was researching, either. It was just there, stewing. Time can be a writer’s best friend I’ve learned.
Of course, not all stories need the same amount of time. I gave the first novel I finished a month and a half. The last first draft I finished I only let it age about a week before I began writing, but that story came to me much more fully-formed. Each one is different. The novel I worked on for NaNoWriMo 2014 had been in my head for two years before I ever typed a single word, and you know what?
It still hadn’t aged enough.
I don’t regret working on that novel for NaNoWriMo, because I learned a lot, but it was too early for that story. That novel is what I would call “the book of my heart”. It’s intensely personal and important to me, and I’ve always known I needed to mature as a writer and a person before I could do it justice. I’m not sure I’ll ever be “ready” to write it fully, which is why I jumped in and tinkered with it last November. I’m so, so glad I did. . . but I needed to put it back in the cabinet and let it age.
LET’S CHAT: If you’re a writer, do you find you have to let your stories age? Have you ever tried writing a story you DIDN’T sit out? How did it turn out? Even if you’re not a writer, have you felt this same idea in other creative projects?