Dredging the Shipwrecks

photo by Cecelia

I’ve got a main WIP and a Fun Side Project™ on the front burners right now, as well as the Re-Editing of First Novel.  The WIP requires research, time, and a self-imposed section deadline.  FSP™ requires time and a chapter to two chapters a week for the duration.   The Re-Editing requires a serious application of determination, time, and chocolate.    And then there’s this blog, which I’d like to update with real content at least three times a week . . .

And then there’s the kids, the library, the cat, and the husband, all of whom for inexplicable reasons would like to see me once in a while.

So, naturally, I pulled out one of my shipwrecks for review.

According to Mark Twain,*A shipwreck is a story that sets sail with full pomp, excitement, and hope, only to sink before it clears the harbor.  Some shipwrecks just need a new hull, maybe a sail or two, or a new crew** before they can continue their journey.  Some put to sea before (or after) their time.  Some got lost and need a new compass.  And some will never be seaworthy. 

Mark Twain often visited his stalled stories to see if any of them were salvageable.  One of these took several visits and, apparently, a lot of work, but it finally made it to publication. 

You might have heard of it: Tom Sawyer.

Who am I to argue with that example?***

So I dug out my favorite shipwreck, which is a sort of hard luck Danny Ocean^ in King Arthur’s Court—if King Arthur had been of Berber descent and ruled a Moorish Spain that ran on magic.  It’s also, incidentally, the MS that I was reading from when a member of my former writing group told me I was “trying too hard.”

It didn’t sink because she was right, though she was—first drafts are all about trying too hard—but because the rudder fell off around chapter five and I didn’t know how to fix  it.  To be absolutely honest, I got bored.  And when the writer is bored, the readers won’t bother.  And neither will the writer, if she’s not under contract.^^

But I do love the premise of this story and I love the first thirty pages —or did after I cut the first five.  So I go back every once in a while and read and think and edit.  Maybe write some new material or flesh out a bit of the outline.  And then let it sink back, a little higher in the water than it was .  .  .

I’m hoping that if I tinker enough, it will float someday.  But even if it doesn’t, I’m learning how to build and repair a good, solid boat .

And I got a blog post out of it, so there you go . . .


*I have the article somewhere and will cite it as soon as I can lay hands on it.

**Or a new captain, but Mark Twain didn’t mention that—because he’s freakin’ Mark Twain—and I prefer not to dwell . . .  

***”Someone under deadline who isn’t Mark freakin’ Twain.”  Point taken. 

^The original, thanks.  I enjoy the remake of Ocean’s Eleven, but the MC is more Rat Packish than Clooneyish.   If you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, hie thee to Netflicks—you’ve got a double treat in store.

^^ When I’m reading my own stuff and I realize I’ve skipped over a paragraph, I’ve learned to circle that paragraph.  ‘Cause it obviously isn’t working.

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