Wed 23 Sep 2009
It’s time to discuss “The Drawer.” Oh, don’t play coy. You know what I mean. I’m talking the drawer that should house your first baby steps in the writing world. This is the work that’s not quite ready for the light of day, the stories that should be put away and forgotten. It’s a test run. Dress rehearsal. Of course, the things you mess up in that first project should pave the way for future success.
I don’t mind sharing–I have a drawer. The first time I took a fiction class was in graduate school, and the first short story I wrote was about a guy, unlucky in love, who falls for the perfect woman: she’s beautiful, strong, confident, and she never thinks what he says is trite or boring. Too bad she’s also a statue, a marble Helen of Troy he found in the park.
Of course, we never realize what we’re writing belongs in a drawer until we’re finished and have some distance. At the time, I thought my statue story was deep and ironic, and that the cute ladies in the class would totally dig me. “Did you read that story with the statue?” they’d whisper. “He’s so contemplative!” Not surprisingly, these conversations didn’t happen, as I missed not only the boat but also the whole Eastern seaboard.
The sad truth is that you may well be writing a drawer novel right now. But that’s okay! We all learn by doing, by revising, and by perfecting. In fact, between the other Upstart Crows, I’m sure we’ll have plenty of blog posts that will cover all different stages of revision.
But for today, I’m talking about those projects that are beyond help. Some of the lucky ones have a very shallow drawer; others have whole filing cabinets. It’s important both to be willing to put a project that’s not working aside to focus on newer pursuits, and to make sure that each piece is stronger than the next.
So how about it? Do YOU have a project that wound up in the drawer? If so, “pitch” it in 25 words or less in the comments. Bonus points for truly bad ideas. Don’t be shy!