Things have been feeling... oddly familiar as of late. Not deja vu, per say, more like God hit the reset button on the videogame of my life and I forgot to save. So now I'm repeating levels, trying to figure out a more perfect way to conquer a task - looking for a more ammo-effective means of slaughtering the El Gigante, if you will.
(If you understood that reference without clicking the link, you and I are now best friends.)
What I'm saying is that many things in my life feel like they're starting over. I have another son now, just 1 month old, who is beautiful and wonderful and looks in many ways like my first son, who is beautiful and wonderful and old enough now to spend most of his day talking our ears off, singing Elmo's Song, and asking to watch Toy Story 1 or 2 for the 800th time (man, I really gotta buy the third one...) Newborn Nolan feels a lot like Newborn Carter. Of course, there's a Big Brother in the equation now, but things seem similar. Same song, second verse.
At the same time I've hit a point of regeneration in my writing. See, my co-author and I were on the verge of publication, but we knew we wanted to first get some professional words of advice. We never thought some of those words would be not really connecting to your main character and probably wouldn't pick up the second volume... but the world you've built is stunning! Why don't you tell that story?
Why don't you tell that story? This question is a reset button, at least it has been for me. See, I thought my story was about one thing... but the critiques we've been getting as of late spell out something else. They see a story they'd love to see as the focal point. They see a story unrealized in the background of what we're doing now. And so I find myself asking all those deadly questions: What would the book look like if this happened? What if we started our story at this point on the timeline instead of this point? Resets. Same game, same rules, same level. Only we're trying it again, to see if we can do it better.
This is a wonderful thing, honestly; I know it in my heart of hearts. I feel really pumped about the future of the book. It's just that I've already done this level and feel an overwhelming sense of been-there-done-that with my story. And yet I would never dream of viewing Nolan as a simple redo. I lovingly take note of every nuance - see each tiny difference and cherish each little moment, even if the whole newborn baby thing is water already tread. Can't I do this with my creative "children" as well? I'd like to have a heart that embraces the creative work ahead in the same way I embrace the fatherly work ahead. So that's what I hope and pray to do. After all, what are babies without a bit of a mess. And what are stories without a few drafts.
So as Mr. Willy Wonka would say:
|You've got to go forwards to go back, better press on.|
What about you? Have you hit points in your writing where the best option is to start again? To start somewhere else? How do you combat the negative feelings that can come from what could eventually be a positive thing - a better understanding and more satisfying presentation of your work?