Sitting in front of my desktop, nursing the inspiration that comes, slowly, I try to keep focused. I crawl into my characters heads, and step once more into their lives, their world. Way back, when I was in school my drama teacher told us students a rule to not forget about acting. The actor first needs to spend about ten minutes, focused on the character they play, then step into his or her’s life and live it on stage or screen. They become that person, not themselves or anyone else.
In writing fiction, I think it is much the same, or rule that works. From a few words, a few sentences, to paragraph, to page, chapter, revision, rewriting, to edited draft and manuscript, and on to a finished product, hopefully. A sigh of relief. And then what? What to do with it. Cover letter, synopsis, proposal? Submit? Where, and to whom? Traditional print markets, or electronic or self publishing markets? I had my share of rejections letters in the past as any writer would who continues to submit what he/she cannot give up on, believing it has merit and promise. Instructors told me don’t give up. Keep it going. Send it back out. Encouragement, one needs. But, disappointment is inevitable. Rejections come for every writer who submits with traditional markets. Whatever the genre, I have had my share. So, at times I buried the story, and let it quietly fade into the background behind all other more promising projects. When I got back into that old file again, and read what I’d written the characters were like strangers to me, and the story like a ‘cold case’ needing to be resurrected.
It has been that way with two long story projects, working between the two, switching between locations, characters and stories. Building plots, character profiles, adding page after page, editing along the way, to the end, then back again, almost too many times until finally I have it the way I want. When things seem too slow on the current story, I move to the other one for a while to break the monotony, or repetitive pattern. Then, it becomes fresh again, and I am back in my characters’ lives again, like an old friend stopping in for a visit, deciding to stay for a while. At times, when I want to put them both aside, I pull out some of my little flash fiction 100 word stories and begin developing a plot and story from them, or get a new idea altogether.
What have I learned from all of this? First and foremost: stay with the one current project till it is finally finished, then move on to number #2, and so on, working my way through the archives of ‘cold cases.’ But, don’t be surprised to find another new string of chapters popping up sometime under another ‘cold case’, but with a new title. 🙂
Joyce E. Johnson (2013)