Thursday, April 21, 2011


When I graduated from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, I wanted to write something different. I was inspired by my friends and classmates Carol Lynch Williams, Jandy Nelson, and Trent Reedy, who were all writing very passionate, compelling stories. I wanted to write something passionate and compelling, too. I could do it--I knew I could.

The day after I graduated, I started writing. I was still on vacation! No matter--this story wanted to come out. Over the next 2 years, I wrote and revised my current work-in-progress (WIP), Angel, Baby. I've written about this many times, as it's consumed my free time and my thoughts and my blog posts for what feels like eons. I'm proud of it. It's passionate, compelling, and moving. My writer friends tell me so.

Now it's in the 'circulating' stage. It's in the hands of some capable people who I hope will love it. I'm not revising it again unless one of those capable persons specifies what needs changing. That leaves me with a blank page in front of me!

I have many choices about what I can work on. I left a ghost story unfinished, after working on it for months with two of my four wonderful advisors. I started a new ghost story last fall and never made it through my first draft. I have ideas for new stories, too, that I would love to write. And then there's the old stand-by... the story about the witch's daughter.

I've blogged about this story a million times, too. It won an award, received high praise in a manuscript review, and gosh, so many people have loved it over the years. (Especially Katia Raina, my writing partner!) But as I opened up my most recent edition of this story, I was so unenthusiastic. What do I have to offer this story? What do I have to make it new and better at this point? Am I just going back to the same old struggles I've had with making this story try to come together and stay together once again? That's been an ongoing problem for me. Something just isn't working, and I just can't figure out what it is.

I brain-stormed with Katia last week, and I found a new angle for this story. I read some YA fantasy fiction to put me back in the fantasy mindset. I wrote in my journal to set details and clarify some of the finer points of this story for myself. I put on creepy music and put myself in a fantasy frame of mind. Finally, I tried out my new angle. I wrote a chapter, and I was shocked. Shocked, I tell you!

First person, present tense... wait a minute. I wasn't writing the same old witchy story... I was writing Angel, Baby! I was writing passion, emotions... a compelling story! Yes, the subject is fantasy, the story line is one-hundred-eighty degrees different from the story about the girl with cancer. But, but, but! The emotions are there. The angst is there. The drama is there. The feeling is there.

I sit back and wonder what I just did with the last 2 1/2 years of my writing life. Did I just have an elaborate practice exercise for this story? It's very possible. It's a completely real possibility that everything I just dredged out of the depths of my soul to put into Angel, Baby will be tapped again for the witch story. I think that's okay. No, in fact, I think that's great!

I only wrote one chapter so far. I realized that I need to outline a little further before I can go on. But I feel like I'm now chartering familiar territory with this story. I can make it gel--I made the last story come together. I even added kissing in that story. Maybe I'll add some kissing to this story, too. After all, I've been there, done that. And I can do it again!



Patti L Brown said...

It must be a springtime ritual for me... ideas in bloom, dredge out some old works and give them a fresh face. I wrote a very similar post last spring, too!

May, 2010: Chop, Chop, Chop

Katia Raina said...

Go Patti! Soooo excited! Only one chapter and alrady I can't wait to read it, ha! :)
I too can't seem to stay away from present tense -- first person.

Patti L Brown said...

Thanks for the encouragement, David & Katia. I have to get back into the habit of "BIC"--butt in chair, writing daily. It's easy to let life get in the way, but I feel rejuvenated, probably related to the warmer weather (which can be a hindrance since I want to go outside...).

David--what are you working on now? Have I read any of it?

Let's go forth and let our ideas bloom--all of us--and write! :)