Well, my new experiment is already off to a roaring stop. This was such a busy week that I couldn’t even think of writing a blog post until today, and now I actually have something to write about. That’s a “problem” I can deal with, though.
Recently, I jumped into some old files on my back-up drive and was reading my earliest work. Some people might cringe at that thought, and sometimes it makes me cringe, too. But typically it’s a humbling experience.
My very first novel that I ever wrote to completion was called The Dragon Slayer War (or rather, that was the title of the series; I can’t recall what I named the first book). At the time, I was proud of it. I shopped it around to agents and received a number of rejection letters (which I still have in a binder as trophies of a bygone era). After a while, I decided to take another pass at it and polish it up, as well as change up a few things that started to bug me about it.
Thus began a chain of uncompleted rewrites that ultimately resulted in the hard decision to scrap the project altogether. I just could not get it to a point where I was happy with it. I was depressed about the decision, but at the same time it felt good to untether myself from it and to move on to other things.
However, as I was reading my old pages this past week, I began to feel very wistful about the project. Sure, the writing is terrible. It was a story I started writing at the beginning of high school and completed by the end of college (with the ensuing rewrites taking place over the course of several years after). I’ve gotten much better and more self-aware of what I’m doing since then. But the story…
Yes, it’s overcomplicated and convoluted. Yes, there are one or two Mary Sue characters, as well as characters that don’t need to take up page space. Yes, the dialogue is hokey and unbelievable. But I found myself sucked into it. Sucked into my own story. And that’s when it hit me.
I spent much of my time during the rewrites trying to make it less of a traditional fantasy. I had elves and dwarves and an evil villain in there, and I was worried that it wouldn’t be taken seriously, that it needed to be original and different. And I was so worried about that, that I forgot how fun the original version with the elves and dwarves and evil villain in it was. I had written a story that I wanted to read, something like the Dragonlance books that I had grown up reading (sometimes over and over again). And I realized that its a book – and a series – that I want to see completed.
It may not be the next book I work on, but I think I’ve decided that it’s time to once again take a pass at this monster that I created nearly two decades ago. Because, seriously, I think at its core it’s a story that’s worth sharing. I just need to mold it into something that works and that I’m proud of. And I need to just say “Who cares?” to the fact that I’m putting traditional fantasy elements into it.
I’ve spent so much time trying to write “different” stories that I think I’ve earned the right to be self-indulgent for once.