Today I have a wonderful day off; they don’t come around too often. But we all know that a day off isn’t really a day off. There’s laundry to do, carpets to vacuum, cats to feed, etc, etc. Not to mention books to read and stories to write and drugs to take. So much to do in one day.
I’ve been spending this day off largely doing spring cleaning, and as I was sorting through my book collection, re-organizing them by both category and status (whether I’ve read them or not) I stumbled upon an old book I hadn’t picked up for a long time. It was the first draft of the first book I ever wrote: A Divine Dementia. I’ve buried it away for so long that it had a thick layer of dust coated on all sides. I picked it up, fanned it out, and read some passages. The writing is terrible, the grammar is atrocious, the story is thin, but I couldn’t stop reading. It was like seeing into my past, thinking the same thoughts and remembering the same memories. It was a portal into the former me. It got me thinking of the former me.
The former me used to think that writing was so easy. That anybody could do it and it amazed me that not everybody did do it. Writing A Divine Dementia my plan was to have it finished in six months, published in a year, and to be able to retire in two years. That was six years ago and I’m almost to the point where I can publish my debut novel which is actually my second book. I’ve learned a lot along the way, primarily that this writing thing is harder than it looks, but also a lot more about myself. I’ve learned that the more I study and learn about the craft of writing the more I realize I don’t know dick about it. I sat on my un-vacuumed floor, listening to my clothes not being washed downstairs, and got lost in A Divine Dementia.
A part of me wants to take the book and really work it again. Create a new outline, diagnose the character struggles, and all around clean it up. Maybe create a better conflict, or maybe re-write the ending. I ended up spending two years on it, it deserves more than just a thick layer of dust on the bottom of my book shelf, right?
But then again it’s perfection is in it’s imperfection. As I learn and grow as a writer I’m going to acquire better techniques for storytelling and, in turn, tell better stories. But just because the path I take will become paved, cleaned, and well traveled doesn’t mean I should go back and clean the dirty path that got me here. I think what I wrote in the past was perfect for it’s time and should otherwise go unchanged. Just like my current soon-to-be-published book. Once it’s done, it’s done. It’s on the shelf and permanently etched in stone. Ten years from now I may come up with a better ending, but that doesn’t mean I need to change it.
Or does it? I think I’ve changed my mind on this ten times while writing this post. Not a good sign.