Thursday, April 16, 2009
The Eureka Moment
About a year ago, I started a story and made it about thirty pages before it drove me to the point where I had to either trunk it or go nuts. I chose to trunk it. Not literally, of course, since it was only a file on the hard drive, but figuratively.
Now, I never throw a manuscript out until I'm absolutely finished with it. I used to save them even then, but the piles grew so high it created a fire hazard, so they had to go. When I moved two years ago, I literally had six bankers' boxes worth or recyclable manuscripts. Six. They dated back to the very first manuscripts I ever wrote and boy, were they awful. So, out they went.
But, anything that was created on this machine will stay on this machine. So, the story I trunked last year was still there over the weekend, when I pulled it up by accident and began rereading it. Then a funny thing happened -
I had a Eureka! moment.
I knew where I wanted the story to go.
Of course, it's been a slow-going Eureka!, as this is a story that deals with something I haven't tackled before, and it's a lot darker than most of my stories. It's tough getting inside the characters because, at times, I soooo don't want to be in their heads. The hero and the heroine both have dark dark sides, and both are wrestling with demons that tend to make them less than happy people.
But at the same time, inside their heads' are fascinating places even if they can suck the will to live right out of you. Hopefully, that won't be the case once I get them entirely fleshed out in subsequent drafts, but right now, it isn't easy walking in their shoes. I'm averaging about three pages per writing session, which isn't a lot for me, but as I get to know them better and they learn to help themselves, it should get easier. And they will have a happy ending because they will soooo deserve it when the story's all told.
But this is why I never delete the trunked files. You never know when you're going to open one, read through it, and have everything just fall into place. No matter how awful a story is, or how silly, or what kind of train wreck has happened in it (I have another trunked manuscript that derailed in spectacular fashion last summer, and I just let my muse have at it. It's a completed story, but I don't know if it's at all salvageable.) Because you just never know what might happen when you resurrect it months, or even years, later. What started out as a total bomb just might end up becoming the best story you've ever written. And that's the beauty of it. You just. Never. Know.