So, one of the things I’m doing while I wait for my book to find representation is organize my computer.Â It needs organizing in the worst way.Â I have all sorts of documents floating around in all sorts of folders, some of which date from the time when I still thought Courier was the only acceptable font.
That’s a long time.
It’s been interesting stuff to comb through.Â In a big, unorganized, chaotic kind of a way, it’s a record of my progress as a writer.Â You’ve got gems like this:
A family witnesses the death of their grandmother.Â Their emotions about it are varied and complex.
From my literary days.Â Can I just say, mega-bleh?
(I mean, I’m not claiming it’s an examplar of the literary genre, ok?Â It’s a mega-bleh in its own right).
Then there’s Series Ideas.doc, which I put together when I was trying to decide which of several ideas to actually work on.Â Eventually I decided 1920’s Chicago was where I wanted to go, and settled into my current book, The Big Life.Â But there were lots of candidates in the running, including:
Skylar Vaughn runs a company that specializes in creating high-immersion gaming experiences for parties– solve-a-mystery weekends, etc.Â When one of her clients winds up dead, Skylar must solve the murder in order to keep her company afloat.
Here’s the intro:
â€œOh, my God!Â Sheâ€™s been shot!â€
My best friend, Polly Polonsky, lay on the kitchen floor in a slowly widening puddle of blood.Â I shouldnâ€™t have been upset.Â After all, I had known this would happen.Â I had planned every step.Â But I couldnâ€™t help but be moved to uneasiness by her still pallor.Â And reminded of how fragile life really is.
Pollyâ€™s a genius at shallow breathing.
This one is interesting to me because although it’s in the same light-hearted sub-genre as my current book, it feels so much… frothier.Â Cuter.Â It’s fun and all, but it just doesn’t feel like a serious idea to me anymore.Â It doesn’t feel like a book that would have any Story apart from the actual plot.Â It is, to be blunt, not up to my current standards.
And we’ve even got a few nonfiction ideas:
Each chapter focuses on a different event a family might have to go through: the death of a loved one, the long absence of a spouse, a serious illness.Â Each chapter is short and easily digestible, and full of simple, practical tips for dealing with the chosen situation.
Of all the ideas in my big mess of files, this is the one I most regret not having the interest to pursue.Â I think it would be something people could really use, because, you know, shit happens.Â And shit tends to be complicated and expensive.Â And when shit happens, people rarely have the timeâ€”or the emotional fortitudeâ€”required for a long Google search to figure out how to handle it.
What they might have time for is reading a brief 10-20 pages that tell you how to get a casket without paying an insane markup, or how to acquire your partners’ power of attorney so that you can make decisions in his absence, or how to apply for charitable aid.
But realistically, I am not going to pursue that book.Â As much as I like the idea of it, it’s just not a project I’d enjoy.
So there you have it: one idea I hate, one idea I like, one idea I kind of love.Â None of which I am ever going to pursue.Â I’m not vain enough to think that anyone reading this blog actually wants one of these ideas; I presume that other writers have their own truckloads of discarded ideas to plumb.Â But if anyone wants one, have at.
As for me, I am wondering how many of these old files to keep, how many to consolidate, and how many to just pitch.Â It’s always hard letting go of stuff completely.Â But for the sake of grok-ability, that may be what I need to do.