Dusting off ancient bits of writing vs. Gloving up again.

I must say that my Halloween project kind of wore me out. I’m spent. I don’t feel like writing, the sudden.* This happened last year, too. Something about October fires me up, and then I burn out come November.

I feel bereft of ideas. I have old ideas, but they’re old because they’re not good. Or because I don’t know what to do with them. I have some others, but nothing fully baked. Point is, the last thing I want to do right now is click on blank document and see a bunch of white space that needs filling up. I’ll come around. I always do. But I feel like a brittle, empty husk right now.

When I feel that way, I sometimes retreat to my archives. My archives are housed on old, gunked up computers that I’ve replaced but haven’t had the heart to dispose of. Or on floppy disks requiring old, gunked up computers to be pulled out of closets and hooked up. I like to dig around and see what good I can find in there. It makes me happy to go back and read things I wrote a long time ago that don’t completely suck. Most of them have never been read by anyone else. Sometimes I find things I haven’t read in years, sometimes decades. Last night I came across something not too shabby that I wrote in the 90s. Yes, you read that right. I said “not too shabby,” then mentioned the 90s. Some of you weren’t even alive then. Which is funny because I’m not sure I’m alive right now.

Anyhoo, sometimes I get the hankering to post some of that stuff. And sometimes I do. And sometimes I think better of it. Last night, I came awfully close to posting an excerpt from an unfinished novel, but I stopped myself. Why? Good question. It didn’t seem half bad, and I didn’t have anything else to post. But that’s why. It’s never a good idea to post something because you don’t have anything else to post, now, is it? Or is that what I’m doing right now? It is. Maybe. I think. But this other thing would have been over 2000 words, and very few people read posts that long. And it would have begun in medias res, in the middle of things, and not because of the brilliant decision made by whoever wrote it (whoever I was back then) but because it was an excerpt lifted out of a larger story that the burnt out writer posted because he was burnt out and had nothing new to post. And it would have had no middle and no end.

It would have been a bad decision to post it. I do make bad decisions from time to time, but I would prefer not to. And it could be argued that by posting this, I’m doing just what I should not be doing.

But this is only 500 some-odd words, not over 2000. And it could also be argued that I’m choosing to face that blank screen I didn’t want to face.

____________

*Stole that one from PV.J. Hope you don’t mind, Old Sport.

featured image: wikimedia commons

40 thoughts on “Dusting off ancient bits of writing vs. Gloving up again.

  1. Bits of novels are great. You might get some feed back that triggers a new interest or ideas in/for the piece for you. May give you the ‘jolt’ to complete the story or decide it’s definitely not going any further for now, so you can move on from it.

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    • Oh, I moved on from it some time ago. In fact it started as a screenplay – which I did complete – before I got the hankering to novelize it. But it’s a relic at this point. You’re right about the jolt, though, and the feedback. I’m toying with the idea of working on some episodes to post that would eventually be incorporated into a bigger story. We’ll see how it goes.

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      • Well, I have some ideas for what would be a pretty long work and I’m having trouble breaking ground on it. I thought if I just dove into it with the same approach I use for flash fiction, which usually works out for me, that will be a start. I may end up using the pieces or I may not, but it will help me start realizing the world I’m considering, instead of just considering it, if you know what I mean. Sincere thanks for your interest, Kate. 🙂

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  2. Sounds like you need a blog holiday, Walt. I take a month off and enjoy some long walks, that’s my advice. Having said that, I remember that you were chary of posting the chicken story, and that was my favourite one of all.

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    • A month? Great google moogly that’s a long time! Come to think, I do seem to recall you vanishing into the shadows now and again. Probably a good idea, now that you mention it. But that business about the chickens, that surprises me. You seem too be above such nonsense. I’m glad to hear it, but it surprises me, all the same. 🙂

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  3. You see, there’s always something going on in your head, something that would make a good post. It’s just that when you’re tired you’re not tuned in to it. I’ve done the digging out old stuff thing, sometimes. Sometimes I just read a book or go for a walk. Or go and sit in a park or a shopping mall and watch people for a while.

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  4. I have trouble completing longer stories. Either I run out of ideas or I get bored with either the story or the characters. I find that writing small ‘chunks’ of story works better for me.
    It means that longer stories take a lot longer to complete (I keep getting asked ‘when are you going to finish that bloody story?’) but I go at my pace.
    Sometimes it means that ‘longer’ stories stay short.
    But I have resigned myself to thinking, well if that is all I have to give for that story for now, then that is all it can have.
    I can always revisit it later, like a forgotten cactus – it doesn’t mind if you don’t water it, it just wants to know you haven’t forgotten it.

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    • Interesting take you have there, Kate. I’ve found it can be difficult to get back into a older piece of writing after too much time has passed. Kind of like trying to get back together with an ex after one of you has moved on. That might not be the best analogy, but maybe you get what I mean. Kind of like when Jason Alexander tried to play George again after all this time, and you can tell he’s impersonating himself playing George, as opposed to really connecting with the character like he used to.

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      • Thanks Walt.
        I understand what you mean with the ‘ex’ reference. I don’t know the Jason Alexander ref, but I get the gist. My older bits of stories are like time capsules. I can usually remember (but not always) what triggered that story and when a bit of time has gone by, I can look at it differently.
        It doesn’t mean it always gets further on it’s journey, but I know on re-reading whether I am ready to add to it, or leave it be for now. What I have stopped doing is deleting altogether.
        I used to delete or rip up anything I wasn’t happy with and now I could kick myself as I realise that it may have been good to keep even if just to say ‘Oh now that was awful, why did I write that?’ But we live and learn :0)

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      • Jason Alexander played George on Seinfeld. He’s resurrected the character for a couple of mini-reunions, but it hasn’t been quite the same as it was back in the day.

        I’ve never been one to discard any writing either. Some people advise that, but like you I’d rather hang on to it. I’ll cut and trash in chunks within a piece, but not usually a whole piece. Not finished ones, anyway. 🙂

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      • Ahhh! Seinfeld – context. I haven’t watched it. Perversely, the more people told me how fantastic it was and that I really must watch it, the more I didn’t want to watch it – I didn’t want to be disappointed after all the hype hahaha (I know, a bit odd)

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  5. A good post excavated from burnout, in case that’s what you’re suffering from. I always dip into my archives when lacking in inspiration, but never lift anything wholesale– I use it as the springboard and write something new, if I can.

    All the best with your blogging adventures! I’m wondering if you changed your blog design or if I’m imagining things?

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  6. It can be hard to face that blank screen, but I find I can write myself out of it – okay, most of that writing’s drivel and most is deleted after, but it just warms up my creative muscles, gets the neurons firing.
    And you did blog about three month’s worth of work in October – kick back and drink a mimosa or two 🙂

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    • Well, there’s a new one coming out. So I feel compelled to celebrate in some small way. Even though I’m against the notion of “franchising” something like this. I need to stop before I get started. I’m too old for this, is another thing. But I can’t help getting a little verklempt, and crying manly tears when I see the teaser.

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