The Balancing Act Continues

Posted by Rob on 11th November 2014 in Writing |

I’m writing novel stuff.  And I’m writing short fiction stuff.  And so far, at least, it seems to be working.

I read a note by another writer — Robin Hobb, I think? — who mentioned that she often has new ideas, or ideas for new first lines of a story, while she’s working on a larger project.  And to get those things away, and prevent them from interfering with their novel, they would simply write that idea or line on a piece of paper to get it out, then fold it up and set it aside for later.

I tried to do that, or something similar.  No paper, but otherwise much the same thing.  But in this one case, the story felt like I had to write it.  I worked it through, polished it up, and sent it out this weekend just gone (another postal submission, which is something I just love doing).  The title of the story came to mind late in the evening, and then before I woke the next day, much of the story’s form had taken root in my head.  Instead of a first line, or an idea, I had the whole story half-formed in my head.  And that’s not something that’s easy to just scribble down on a piece of paper and set aside.

Fortunately, it’s not usually that way.  This has been the only story like that, and the other ideas I have been able to just jot down, as concepts waiting for me to explore them later.  However, it still leaves the other stories that I have simmering.  There are several pieces of short fiction that need editing, or tweaking, and a couple that I have yet to finish, which I had started before the novel project began.  And I worry that if I let them sit for too long without finishing them, they’ll fall by the wayside, and sit incomplete for a very long time, if they’re ever completed at all.

(I wonder, as I sit and write this — how many of our favourite, great writers, had many more stories set aside yet to write, or stories only half-written?  I would imagine it’s most of them — and even amongst that limited group of authors, there must have been thousands of new stories seeded, the ideas and shape half-formed for tales that they never got to tell, stories that were known only to them, and that we’ll never get to read.  I know that I will never write all the stories I think of — even now, I have around fifty short stories lingering and half-finished, and many more that I would like to revisit and rewrite with fresh eyes and mind.)

In the end, I know I could have written more on my novel by now.  But if I had, then I’d also not have finished this short story, or put the last touches to a couple of others.  And I’m not sure I would be so much happier with that.  Still, with this one story now finished, I expect that the novel will start to get more of my attention — at least, until the next story gets inside my head and refuses to let go.  Fortunately, right now, that story seems to be the novel…


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