Saturday, March 23, 2013

Half-finished work: a writer's dilemma

Charles Deemer has a new blog called A Writerly Retirement. I found a post there that was right up my alley. You see, I've written entire books that are simply sitting around, waiting for me to work them into final form. Finding the willingness to launch into this extensive rewrite has proven elusive. Deemer gives some advice in Two projects I never finished, and two more important ones I did.
In the long run, the work gets done that needs to get done, I suppose. I try to encourage young writers not to be too hard on themselves when a project stalls or fails. Bumps in the road, even periods of abandonment, are part of the process. If you are writing inside-out, which is to say, writing as an act of exploration and self-discovery, your unconscious will deliver the goods when it's time -- and no sooner. Find your process and learn to trust it. I did, many times over.
I was relieved to read this. Because that's the way I think about it: "it'll happen when it's time -- and no sooner." The period of inactivity, of putting aside a writing project, is a hard thing to live through but the decision makes sense. I can only write when it's time to write. And then it's so simple, it's like falling naked into warm water.

Mind you, Deemer's done so much in his life (as you'll see if you read the post; jeez, music too!). But I'm 64 and just started to write fiction. Different story. Still, I think this rule is sound. I'll get to work on the right project at some point -- and only I will know when I reach that critical juncture. For now, I'm going to calm down. Thanks, CD.