Putting Your Story Aside

Saturday, August 12, 2017
It’s no secret. I have a tendency to bounce between projects. In part, this is because I do work-for-hire and it may very well interrupt a “fun” project. Yeah, that’s what I call my own writing – my fun work. But it isn’t all that fun when you can’t make it work. 

About three weeks ago, I started playing around with a new preschool poem. It was originally a Golden Shovel poem in which you use one line from a poem you love for inspiration and to supply the first word in each line of your own poem. Mine first attempt was a riff on a Poe’s Eldorado. Kindly put, it was awful.

Version 2, written the next day, was longer and worked better except that it still contained blank lines. Version 3 had everything filled in but the rhythm was off. On Day 4, I’d change one word and then change it back. Then I’d do that with a different word. Fortunately, I recognized the signs and turned my back on this particular project.

After a break of about a week, I got it back out. Coffee cup in hand, it took about 10 minutes to fix. Why?  Because I was smart enough to turn my back on the project. 

Unfortunately, it sometimes takes intervention to make me do this. I've been working on a picture book. I LOVE the premise. LOVE IT. Really. But something wasn’t working. I added a secondary character, but things still weren’t quite right.  I took the secondary character back out. Then I printed the manuscript for my critique group.

But I kept hearing this little voice.  “Don’t let them read it. It isn’t ready.”  I brought the manuscript home and handed it to my husband. Then I ran and jumped in the shower. Lots of water would mask the sound of him turning pages. 

I didn’t bother to dry off completely before I hunted him down. “Well?”

“Yeah. It doesn’t work.”

“What? What do you mean it doesn’t work?” It’s one thing for me to think it doesn’t work but where does this non-writer get off?

“You’ve got way too much going on. Yeti. Yoga. Cats. Too much.”

“But . . . yeti!”

“Too much.”

He was right, of course. I’d known something wasn’t working but apparently this time I needed someone else to tell me to set it aside. Hopefully a solution will come in time, because -- yeti! Seriously, how can I not write about yeti?


To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards' writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins August 14th. 


Sioux Roslawski said...


That threesome--yoga, yeti and cats--has me intrigued.

Perhaps it is time to bring it to your writing group. They might see a solution right away.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Hi Sioux.
Smile. Yeah. Not quite ready for critique but that's okay. It is evolving and growing. Step 1 - it is no longer a picture book. Step 2 - The main character is now a pair of cousins. Step 3 - Series? (Help!)

Anonymous said...

I actually find that juggling multiple projects can be helpful. When I get stuck (or tired) of one, I can move on to another. This keeps me unproductive or, sometimes, like a failure.

Mary Horner said...

Many writers work on more than one project at a time, which I think can help bring a fresh perspective every time you open the document to work on it, because your brain has had time to think about something else, which gives you some distance.

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