Welcome to My Official Web Page!

Welcome to My Official Web Page!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Rising from the Ashes



Some say the glass is half-full, others say it's half-empty. Really, there's just a glass with some liquid in it. (Preferably a full-bodied shiraz).

I'm a realist. And I've been thinking (bad habit) about people who have novels stuffed in a drawer somewhere. I'm of the opinion that most stories can be salvaged in some form or another, but it might takes years to get that novel to the point where an agent would really look at it. By then the story might be (maybe should be) unrecognizable from its first draft, but it was saved from the drawer.

Now I want to know- what makes a person decide a novel really can't see the light of day? Can most books be reborn from the ashes?

Painting by me, inspired by the throne room of the palace at Knossos.

17 comments:

Vicki Tremper said...

Beautiful painting! I loved Knossos - what a wonderful inspiration.

I don't like to stuff any manuscript in a drawer for good. I always think I'll come back to it some day when I have time. And maybe I will.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Vicki- I wanted to paint the Phoenix on our wall, but my husband convinced me to put it on canvas. I loved the murals at Knossos!

I've got one MS stuffed in a file on my laptop, but know I'll go back to it someday- it's not even finished.

Anne Gallagher said...

I think stuffed-drawer ms.'s can be resurrected, providing you've grown as a writer and can see and find all the flaws in it. I have 2 under the bed (because the drawers are full of old clothes I may someday be able to resurrect. You know how everything comes back into fashion after 20 years or so.)lol

J. L. Jackson said...

Nice painting Stephanie!

I shelved my first novel, but I do plan to come back to it one day. I love the characters and the story, but my skills are still being developed.

Liza said...

My first novel hasn't made it to a drawer yet...though it is resting patiently at the side of my desk. I'm going to try to get through #2 before going back to it. Then the hard work begins. Is it salvageable? We'll see.

Sarah McCabe said...

Everything is salvageable. I think the "common wisdom" that your first efforts will always be terrible and must therefore be trunked is a stupid and damaging assumption.

VR Barkowski said...

Stunning image!

I agree with you, most manuscripts can be reborn. I can't imagine shoving a full ms in a drawer and forgetting about it unless I could no longer bear the sight of it, or it wasn't the right time for the market. I don't write casually. Every word is scrutinized, every sentence examined under a magnifier, every CP comment carefully considered. I trust if there were fundamental structural problems, I'd know long before typing The End.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I agree with you. I have no novels in a drawer, but I struggle to imagine what would lead me to believe a story is unsalvageable. :-)

Taryn Tyler said...

Shiraz! yum.

I think a manuscript can no longer be salvaged when the writer's heart is no longer in it. Someimes its just time to move on. Still, that doesn't mean it should be thrown away. Sometimes you're just not ready to write that particular book yet.

Amalia T. said...

For me, when it comes to old stuff, I find that I've rewritten it, in pieces and parts, in other books-- so there's no real point in going back to the original story and rewriting it again into its own book because I've already covered that territory. My first novel was a variation on a theme that I'd been exploring since high school-- and it came out just fine, but it isn't perfect. I don't think it's good enough to compel me to go back to it and make it strong enough to sell, at this point. Partly because it is outside of the genre I am focusing on trying to write, and partly because I'm already addressing a lot of the same themes in other books. Do I still love to go back and read it? Yeah! And there are some scenes in that novel that will always haunt me. But maybe I'll find a way to translate them into something else later!

Nate Wilson said...

I don't care if the glass is half-full or half-empty, as long as the half that remains still has rum in it.

Novel-wise, I think some are too far gone to be salvaged, but it's rare. I do have one (unfinished) tale where the plot (in retrospect) is a horrendous mess, and it's not original enough (or good enough, compared to my other ideas) to try to work out the kinks. When I find the right story for them I'll pluck two of the characters from the ashes, but nothing else is worth saving. Not every bird can be a phoenix.

Valerie Geary said...

Beautiful picture!

I think the only person who can really decide whether a novel should ever see the light of day is the writer who wrote that novel. Most books can be reborn, but they might need a lot more effort than the writer's willing to put in. Thus, no light of day. I have 1 novel like that...I'm not passionate enough about it to want to work hard. The others, I sill dream about every now and again...how they might some day be gloriously resurrected.

Paul Greci said...

If you love the premise of your story you can always take that and start completely over with it.
(I did this with my first WIP.)

WritingNut said...

Beautiful painting! :) I'm still working on revisions of my first novel... I hope I don't have to shelve this one. But I think it's a gut feeling... it depends on the individual--you usually know if something is working or not.

Lynda R Young said...

I think if the writer has a passion for the novel, then it can be saved. I have two novels sitting in the drawer and I probably won't try to save them. There are other stories calling me, begging to be born into the world.

Lydia K said...

I'm going to probably salvage something from my shelved novel (#1). I think that most novels could see the light of day, it just depends on how much work the writer is willing or not to do to make it so.

Libbie H. said...

GORGEOUS painting!

I do think that books which have a solid core of story at their heart can be saved as craft improves. Some stories are inherently flawed in their structure (usually by not having a compelling conflict) but most, I think, are sound. What's typically lacking is the just-right combination of prose, technical structuring, and characterization. Which one learns to do by reading a LOT of very good writing, and studying it. :)