Yesterday afternoon, I got a new idea for a book.
Like most ideas, it came to me in the middle of doing something else, something that just so happened to be rather important. I suppose it didn’t come from nowhere; it’s more of a loosely woven thread of feelings and experiences that all of a sudden became worthy of a story.
Like most ideas, it wants my attention. Desperately.
But as you may or may not know, I’m already writing a book, one now over three years in the making.
If there is ever a time to follow my own advice, friends, it is now.
Remember: ideas have a life cycle
Sort of. They begin as microscopic fragments of names and dialogue and events. They slowly, very slowly, mature into storylines suited enough to write (or at least attempt to). They need time to grow before they’re ready to work with you. It is a partnership, your relation to your ideas. Neither of you can function all too well without the other. I might even dare to say it’s dangerous to start developing them too early.
So why am I so tempted to?
July 1 is approaching
This is the main source of my conflict and worry. After all, what better time to leap into a new story than a WriMo? Camp NaNoWriMo is supposed to motivate us to take our ideas and put them to paper (word processor?). Why not this one?
I’m not a huge supporter of abandoning current projects to start new ones on a whim. I never have been. After years of practice, I’ve become one of those people that finishes what she starts (I wasn’t born with the instinct, trust me). My biggest fear is that, if I put my current project aside, even for 10,000 words, I won’t want to go back to it once this new, shiny story starts unfolding.
I know it’s too early to run with it
The idea, the kind you can hold in your hand and begin shaping into a plot with characters and climaxes and mysteries and words, only became so clear in my mind yesterday. Not even 24 hours ago. I’ve told all of you plenty of times not to jump into something new without giving it time to solidify in the depths of your mind.
It might not even be a book idea; it might be a short story idea or a poem or a haiku, for all I know. The thing is, this early on in the process, you don’t know. You can’t know right away. So closing out my current Word document and starting a new file, starting a new book, would be foolish. Reckless. I’d pretty much be going against everything I have ever taught you about idea management.
Yet it’s keeping me awake at night
Okay, only one night. But if you’ve been there, you know how awfully long those nights can be. It isn’t that I’m itching to write down my thoughts as much as I’m dying to know if the idea will ever become something more than this.
I’m still so committed to my initial project; that motivation has not left. Yet I have toyed with the idea of working on both at once, in smaller pieces each, to see if I could handle it. I don’t think I could. Our brains are powerful, but I’m not sure mine can keep track of two stories at once. I don’t want to diminish the quality of both because I’m trying too hard to make them both come to life.
I didn’t ask for this, you know. We never do. Ideas appear when we least expect them to. Sometimes they are unwanted. Yet they stay.
I am grieving a loss, and I really think giving this idea a chance could really help me—help me get the closure I need and at the same time honor the life of someone I really cared about.
I think it’s this—knowing it could change me, knowing it could give him a voice even now—that has given me the answers I needed today.
It’s a good idea. Good ideas never leave you. I think I have an obligation to my current project. And I think, if I keep pushing forward and finish it to the best of my ability, this newer idea will still be there waiting.
At least, I sincerely hope it will be.
Have you been here before? Have you survived this? Have your ideas stuck with you even after putting them to the side?
I’d love to know I’m not alone.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.
A recent graduate with a B.A. in English and a completed major in nutrition, currently seeking a graduate degree in health communication, Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and dietetics. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist and Grammar Nazi (and the mastermind behind this site), Meg is an editor for College Lifestyles magazine and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine’s Stone Soup. She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has written several creative pieces for Teen Ink magazine. Follow Meg on Twitter.