Wait a minute--this isn’t the novel I was planning on revising next.
That’s what I said to myself all of five minutes ago, after opening up the rough draft of one of my novels. And it’s true. Editing that particular manuscript was about as far down on my list of priorities as it gets.
Up until about half an hour ago, I’d had it all planned out. First, I was going to complete one final wave of revisions on my mainstream novel and then begin the querying process in the hopes of leveraging my win in this year’s Family Circle fiction contest to attract an agent for that book. Then I wanted to dig into the edit of my urban fantasy novel, the one that’s been wallowing for years, neglected, on my hard drive. I’d decided that now was the time to dust it off and work on it because it would fit in perfectly with what’s hot in the market today.
But this novel... the novel I just opened... my seriously flawed science fiction novel... the novel I am finding myself now seriously wanting to dive into next... well, this novel was not even in my long-range forecast.
I wrote this particular novel during National Novel Writing Month in 2008. It was one of my more ambitious NaNo projects, and also one of my more extreme writing-without-a-roadmap endeavors. I remember starting that year with three entirely unconnected images and the knowledge that I wanted to write a novel around them.
I did manage to do it, winding up the month with over 75,000 words and a novel that felt as if it had come out of nowhere. It was probably one of my most enjoyable, inspired months of writing. But come December 1st, I also realized that I probably had an unsalvageable manuscript.
Because you could fly a 747 through the plot holes (and that might be a gentle assessment).
Now, one of the great things about participating in National Novel Writing Month each year is that if that year’s novel sucks, I can trunk it without guilt. So I filed away the hard copy of my novel, buried the electronic copy deep in my Writing files, and wrote off that manuscript as a learning experience.
Still, every now and again I’m drawn back to it. I couldn’t say exactly why, except that I keep feeling like there’s something there. And I’m realizing I still have passion for that novel: for the characters and settings, for the whole damn concept. Because, as unsalvageable as I’ve deemed it, it’s also, in some strange way, my favorite of all the NaNo novels I’ve written. I know that doesn’t make a lick of sense, but there it is.
So though it might feel like chasing a whim, I think I’m going to trust my instincts and go for it. I don’t know how I’m going to approach it yet. I don’t know how I’m going to even begin to figure out how to make the story make sense. I don’t even know if it’s possible.
What’s the worst that can happen though? That at the end of the process I’ll still have an unsalvageable manuscript? I can live with that. Because on the flip side, well, you never know…
So let me ask you this: Have you ever salvaged something you’d originally deemed unsalvageable? Do you tend to trust your “writing” instincts even when they go against your common sense? Have you ever loved a project enough to pursue it even when you thought it was futile?