Over on the Book View Cafe Blog I found this post on When A Story Isn’t Ready, by Deborah J Ross.
Most writers who have been at it for any length of time have the experience of a story not being truly finished. It may come to an end, but it has not yet come into itself…
…Working on something else gives “the back” of our brains time to work, for ideas to ferment and percolate and for new patterns and solutions to emerge. Alas, this process can take years, which is why it’s a good idea to dive into the next project and then the next.
…Sometimes it’s me, the writer, who’s not ready to tell that story. Usually this is because my writing craft isn’t adequate to the challenge. This is particularly true if the story is a “high wire act,” requiring great skill and subtlety.
I felt that way about my most recent novel, “The Last Rhinemaiden”. It took three years just to develop to a stage where I wrote it; then I kept adding to it, layer by layer. It’s done now. I dare say if I left it alone for another ten years I might make it a better story, but maybe not.
I want to move on, to leave it as it stands and improve my writing. I saw The Last Rhinemaiden as my Big Idea (and it was while I wrote it); now it’s just a story. I’ve done the best I can, with the skills I have, but my development as a writer won’t come through mucking about with it, or starting again from scratch, or pulling it apart to stitch back together in a different pattern. The story is done with me, more so than I am with it, and we both need to grow.
I have another novel to finish before the summer. This one began as a simple narrative, but it is growing… More characters appear and demand to tell their story. Twists have developed in the plot which I never envisaged when I sat down with my opening scene and wrote it down.
I have a feeling it will be larger than the previous one.
And then, I have three or four to write before the NEXT Big Idea.
That one’s starting to snowball at the back of my mind. It’s another Rhinemaiden story. I’m starting to gather ideas, information, background and connections; starting to find points on a landscape for which I must build a map.
I can’t write that one now. I need to learn. Those three novels in between (also Rhinemaiden stories) will develop my skills to a point where I’m ready to tackle the big one. And after that…