Why it’s okay to set a story aside

wpid-20140603_101102.jpg  I firmly believe that there are more stories lurking in our heads than we (as in writers) will ever be able to write.

If that seems like a strange statement to you, then let me welcome you into my head for just a moment.

I get ideas for stories all the time. For me, it doesn’t take much to trigger an avalanche of plot bunnies. The guy walking down the street with a limp?- he’s a secret agent watching for trouble in the neighborhood. The car dealership up the road? – it’s a secret hide out for vigilantes. The article I read the other day about new worlds?- how many space stories are jumbled in my head now?

Anything, even something innocent, can become a story, it just takes a few things such as characters, settings, an plot to put it all together.  But not every idea will get written.

Simply put, I don’t have time or the energy to write down everything. If I did, I’d never get anything else done. I’d simply be at the keyboard every day for hours on end with a bunch of ideas. So to save my sanity, I don’t write them down immediately unless it’s an idea on something I’m already working on.

You see, in the back of my head is a battle. Plot bunnies gear up and go to battle to determine what ideas are the strongest. It’s a slaughter most of the time as so many ideas simply fade away into nothing. But that is a good thing, at least for me. If they aren’t strong enough to stand up to other plot bunnies, then they won’t stand up to a slush reader or an editor.

Even then, after battle stories don’t survive.  Sometimes they get written, revised, and sent out only to collect a pile of rejections.  It’s okay to set those aside or to trunk them. Because they made it though the plotbunny battle (ohhh new idea!) there is at least a kernel of something great in those stories. Perhaps, something in them can be reused at some point.

Some of my best stories are ones that I’ve written, didn’t like some aspect, trunked for a while, then come back and completely re-written. The story that will be in Abyss and Apex in October, is one of those, along with a story that’s currently shortlisted.  These were originally flash pieces that sat around until they woke up to their full potential.  I figure that several plot bunnies in the back of my head mutated and grew while I wasn’t looking.

But some stories just aren’t going to get far–especially those that you write at the beginning of your writing career. And that’s okay too. Those are the stories you can go back to later when  you are feeling down. Believe me, you will cringe at what you write, perhaps laugh that you thought this was the best thing since butter on toast, and perhaps find a new idea that you can use on your next story.





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