Reading Old Manuscripts

Just about every Monday night, I meet with my writing buddy, Bob Evenhouse. We take a few minutes to catch up on life stuff. We discuss our goals for the evening and what we’ll be working on. We write.

Usually, I work on a blog post to stay ahead of the curve. Invariably, something will come up during the week to make it difficult to write a post for the following day, so it’s handy to have an extra post in the hopper. But this past Monday night, I didn’t write a post.

I didn’t write at all.

I read.

Are these the demons from my Daniel O'Ryan story or are they my unfinished novels coming to torment me?

Are these the demons from my Daniel O’Ryan story or are they my unfinished novels coming to torment me?

I read through one of my unfinished fiction manuscripts. The book is called Daniel O’Ryan and the Tree of Life. It’s my homage to magical orphans novels.

The main character, Daniel, is a Nephilim (half-demon, half-human) who has been kept in the dark about his supernatural identity. But when he and fellow orphan, Ian, are placed into a school for the wealthy and gifted children by a mysterious benefactor, Daniel’s abilities begin to emerge. Mentored by an angel disguised as a teacher, Daniel is tasked with rescuing his fallen-angel father. For a boy who wants a family above all else, is this opportunity too good to be true?

I read about forty pages of the story and I noticed a few things. One, even though I put a lot of work into it after its inception, it still reads like a 3-day novel (literally written in three days). Two, some of the characters are a bit one-dimensional. Three, I still really like the story and want to see it finished.

The reason I went back and read it was because I have been struggling lately with my identity as a writer. Not that I doubt that I’m a writer, rather that I don’t know what I’m supposed to be writing. To date, I have: a full series of short stories aimed at young adults and primed for a graphic novelist’s assistance; an unfinished dystopian novel; an unfinished YA fantasy series; an unfinished YA time-travel series; a few finished flash stories waiting for publication; a blog; and a memoir or two waiting to be written. That’s kind of a lot to be working on.

I know that what I need to do is just pick something and finish it. I need to be submitting the things that are finished. And I need to keep reading in order to be familiar with trends and to fill my own inspirational well. But it’s been a while since I’ve worked on any of my unfinished projects, and I struggle with being pulled back into something that has already led to dead ends. Of course, the only way to not have them be dead ends is to write my way to a satisfactory ending.

I think I’m ready for that. Or anyway, I’m getting there.

Are there things in your life that you’ve put down for a while because the task of picking them back up seems too daunting?


5 thoughts on “Reading Old Manuscripts

  1. House paper filing. Not only does it never seem to end, but truly the only time you need to reference the crap is often, in and of itself, unpleasant. Such as doing taxes, filing legal guardianship reports, looking for medical history for either a government report (again) or a pending unpleasant medical procedure. Sorry if this sounds like a downer – but it is. That is not only why I procrastinate about it, but why I’ve learned small doses go a long way and setting aside for a little while is enough of a respite to make great strides in the next week or two.

    Good efforts ahead and wind in our sails for both of us!

  2. I see so much of myself in this post. There are at least three projects that I’m horrified about starting again, just because they seem so very scary. And I’ve been at them for so, so long. Part of me wants to draw a line under them and say ‘sod it,’ but I know that I’d be unable to forgive myself if I did.

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