If you’re going to go back and give an existing story a second draft/rewrite then it should at least be a story you like.
I’m not going to admit that I like all my stories. In that respects I’m actually a terrible “parent” to my literary creations, because I do have my favourites that I like putting time and energy in to.
As for some of the others…
Well, there’s a damn good reason all writers have a graveyard they don’t like to talk about. You know the place I mean: The place where stories and ideas go to die. It’s a place in the back of our mind’s eye, a place – not exactly hidden – but one we rarely go to visit, because… Well, because it’s where all the dead stories are, where all the half written, unfinished prose has been lain to rest, where forgotten ideas have become overgrown with weeds and vines and are slowly vanishing from sight… Some may refer to it as a creative wasteland, others a dead-zone. For me it is, in very real sense, a graveyard. Because it’s where I lay ideas to rest that are never going to be. It’s where my unfinished stories end up.
It’s not a quiet graveyard either.
Sometimes things don’t go quietly, sometimes I have to, well, “murder” them. But only because I know deep down that they will never be, they will never go anywhere and become anything. If I do “murder” an idea or story of mine, it’s always for its own good (and for that matter, mine).
But damn it, some of them do not go quietly – sometimes they fight back. And don’t get me started on the ghosts…
Just because an idea has been laid to rest, or an unfinished story has been buried, doesn’t mean it’s going to stay forgotten. Some of them like to haunt you, remind you, tease you. And sometimes – sometimes – it’s possible to resurrect an idea/half-finished story and breathe new life into it. I’ll leave that imagery to your own imaginations (Frankenstein and Igor raising a monster story/idea from the dead… Or, a god like being literally breathing new life into it. Take your pick, or even add your own).
A story I thought I was going to bury has kind of surprised me by not being dead at all. In fact, it’s very alive (kicking, screaming and all the rest. Not sure how I missed those signs, lol).
So I’m abusing NaNo this year and writing a second draft of an existing story. In no way shape or form will I promise that it will all be brand new words. If something in the original draft is good, it’s going into the new one. For once I’m not interested in writing fifty-thousand new words – I already have that for this piece. I’m interested in improving and polishing up what is a not bad story and kneading it into a shape I am more happy with.
I know, I know… A second draft should be used to write a second take on something, a redo. Yeah, pretty much that’s what I’m doing, although I am referencing the first draft in places and copy the odd paragraph over as and when. The rest is so far new words. Which is all good.
So this year for NaNo, I’m writing a second draft of a story called “Nothing Perfect” – which falls into my usual type of prose; romance. It’s about a thirty-something year old called Matthew who is a little insecure about a few things (maybe he has a right to be) and the trouble he has accepting that he can be loved for who he is.
Speaking as a disabled person myself, I find it very difficult being told that the reason my partner loves me is because of who I am. I’m a forty-three year old man who has to use a walking stick to get around, riddled with arthritis, and a fun born-with cardiac problem to boot.
Someone loves me because of that?
Ok, well I know there’s more to me than all that, it’s a part of the tapestry – not all of it (I’m not THAT screwed up, lol). But there was a time when it was hard to see past it and the idea that I was going to be alone in my life seemed very real. I drew on that somewhat last year when I started writing Matthew’s story. Although the big difference between myself and Matthew is that I was born with my problems; his disability came via a car accident. There are a lot of other difference as well, but the point is: I had fun writing it. There was a large element of comedy (believe me, taking socks off when you’re trying to have sex can be a mood killer – trying to take a leg brace off?). I had some fun with it.
In fact, “Nothing Perfect” burned so bright in my creative eye last year that I didn’t wait for November to come round. I didn’t want to wait for NaNo to start it, so I started at the end of September 2013. “Nothing Perfect” became a sort of NotNaNo project and led to an almost melt-down about the way people were doing NaNo, and why should I wait if I have a good idea now.
So having had a crap few months with my health, and having been “told” (does being yelled at count?) to do it this year – what the hell, why not give this story a second take and see what more I can do with it.
In fact, as some of the more keen eyed of you might have spotted with my use of tense I’ve already started… No don’t shoot me, or ask “what the fuck James?” As I’ve already said, the NaNo format is a good one, but not the only one. I am a disabled person with a limit on how much time I can spend in front of a keyboard, so doing it over forty days rather than thirty days is something I can achieve. If I stick to the letter of how to do NaNo, I’m screwed, because I can’t cope with that much typing in one day.
It’s a fine format, but you have to adapt to fit your ability. In 2009 when I first took part, it was no problem. Things have changed. Hell, this journal took me two days to write.
NaNo purists will argue that what I am doing is far removed from what NaNoWriMo is supposed to be.
But, you know what? I seriously don’t care. I know far too many people who are doing something similar this year. Hell, the ML for my own region is abusing the format to finish his NaNo novel from last year. So I guess I’m in good company.
So, there you go. My cards are on the table. Who’s going to call me on them?
PS: My NaNoWriMo profile can be found by clicking here -> LINK
PPS: Please, please, please don’t leap all over my “confession” regarding my health. It’s a part of the tapestry, a few threads – not all of it. There is so much more to me, like the artwork heading this blog, and my NaNo cover-art (my handy work) 😉 Those are things I prefer to talk about.