Old friends, book amends

I am thinking of returning to a novel I started to write a couple of years ago, but have not looked at in over a year. Around forty-five thousand words of a draft plus a bunch of notes on topics as diverse as building an eco-friendly home to college towns in New England to Virginia Woolf.

I am still fond of it, this draft novel, perhaps in some nostalgic way. With misty eyes I remember being in love with the characters, with their story, location—so in love that I resented returning from my screen to reality. Also, shallow that I am, I really want to use the title—I am not good at titles, so finding a good one is a hard thing to let go of. The draft is also a little different from the genre I have been writing in recently, which would make an interesting change.

Like an old friendship or love, this work could, I suppose, our connection be rekindled. I am working on something I plan to complete next month, and after that, a choice of the next project. Perhaps I could use National Novel Writing Month in November to create a structure for the process?

However, the draft needs a radical overhaul in every possible way. And like anyone who writes, I cringe a little upon re-reading this early attempt. The parts I can stand to read, that is, between fingers spread before my eyes. First books have been likened to making pancakes, i.e. you should throw away your initial attempt… Perhaps they are also like first love, you won’t forget them, and they may change you (such as making you think that yes, I do what to write), but that doesn’t mean you should continue with them. Or go back to them.

Like a relationship, it would be easier to continue seeking the new and more exciting than to slog through with a major re-draft of writing that may prove too stale to revive. What if I go back to find my memories do not match the reality?

It’s a tendency I have, moving on and not looking back. I’ve lived in the same place a number of years now, tied down (far from against my will) by children, mortgage, a regular job. But for years I moved from place to place, even country to country. And after I leave somewhere, I am terrible at keeping in touch with people, people I liked, made friends with, shared closeness with. I intend to, I really do, but it almost never happens.

An article in Medical Daily[1] might give me a few pointers to bear in mind as I consider whether to reconcile with the old flame of my draft.

Hold a candle for my first draft or snuff it out?

Closure – I need a final decision, am I moving on or not? If I am not going to return to the piece, there may be some material in it I can ‘mine’ for other work.

Reconciliation – If I am going back to it, I need to commit this time. No more on-again off-again relationship. Last time, I had too many ideas on the go at once and got easily distracted.

Loneliness – that is to say ‘new-situation loneliness’: I must make sure I am not returning to my long-neglected draft as a rebound, adrift from finishing with something else.

Ex-sex (or make that ‘Chemical reconnection’) – there may be a lot I like about my old draft, but I need to be objective. I cannot simply take comfort in seeing the bits I liked about it; that’s not the way to improvement. As the article says, “Just remember, not everyone deserves a second chance.”

And while I am deciding what to do with my old draft, I will make one promise. An old friend contacted me a few months ago. Was I at the same email address? If so, it would be nice to hear from me. I will get in touch this time, reconnect.

[1] Lizette Boreli, ‘Re-kindling an old flame with ex-sex: The Psychology Behind Why We Engage In Post-Relationship Hookups 2017’ in Medical Daily https://www.medicaldaily.com/rekindling-old-flame-ex-sex-psychology-behind-why-we-engage-post-relationship-414082. Retrieved 15 September 2018.

Photo credits
Candle, Milivanily via Pixabay
blur book candle Pexels.

5 thoughts on “Old friends, book amends

  1. I love how you describe this relationship with your draft novel. It makes a lot of sense to me, this feeling of nostalgia and love and yet some caution. I will be interested to learn how you approach it, and whether it may fan the flames to evolve into something new. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’ll see; I don’t feel ready to let it go. I guess a lot of things are like that in life.

      Like

  2. I have that same problem it’s a draft at 72k words, and i’m really fond of it. It lacks only an ending, of which i have several, none of which feel right. I have the urge to rekindle my passion for this book, and once i went as far as pick it up, my hans covered my mouth – not my eyes – to keep the scream of mortification in.the title isn’t a good one either, but i have hope for this story, so it’ll keep until my muse decides it”s time for the polish and clean up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s hard to give up on past loves 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not giving up. I’m just….. waiting for the right time.

        Like

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