Ideas are fickle things

Writing is very different from basketball. Aiming for a perfect season, undefeated, all the way through the tournament, finally topping off the season’s victory with an NCAA championship title and shiny trophy and net cutting, is not at all like writing.

Except it kind of is, in a way.

I have reached the stage in my story where the first scene wrote itself. In fact, it wasn’t even the first scene. I don’t know how to get past the first scene. I wrote about  60% of it (actually it’s probably more like 25%) and now I realize, I don’t know my characters, I don’t know their flaws, their personalities, or even how they talk. So, I gave up on that and started doing character sheets.

That gave me a chance to delve into their personalities.

What I think, I am now realizing, is that I was afraid to finalize things. I was–still am, I think, now that I finally am able to identify what it was that was holding me back–I might be able to address it and hopefully overcome it.

I don’t want to finalize the story, like I said earlier. I don’t want to set it in stone because then it won’t be this grand idea anymore. It will be words on a paper. And words on a paper are never as grand as grand ideas in my head. Ideas in my head are limitless and boundless and are like little butterflies that you see for a moment and then lose for the rest of your life. But maybe you have a greenhouse so you might see that butterfly again. But who knows? What if you see its sister or mother or third cousin or great aunt? It might not be that same butterfly. You might have bunches of ideas floating around in your head and they might all be “disguised” as one idea, making the one idea seem “much bigger than it is” because of the fact that it is many ideas.

That was really weird and abstract and not really what I wanted to say.

Basically, ideas are wispy and tricky and changeable and you can pretend that they are things that they aren’t really, and that’s dangerous. It’s also very different from actually writing something.

Writing something down, even though logically I know that this is a rough draft and it’s going to change a lot, changes the idea. Stuff gets lost in translation. Stuff gets changed. Stuff gets added. Wild amounts of stuff gets added. The entire idea gets changed when it’s put on paper, sometimes. Often. At least for me. I may have mentioned this before, but my final drafts are so different from my rough drafts.

I think that is very normal though. Rough drafts are when I have no idea what I am doing. I am grasping for straws and putting down anything that comes to my head, hoping that something will be good. That’s why there are millions (okay maybe like four or five) themes and elements in a rough draft, but all inklings of them, because if I fully developed each idea, I would have 5 stories, not 1, so I have to choose which themes go into my story when I edit my rough draft.

Ideas are pretty crazy things. But, they are necessary for writing, so I like them. And I would like them to keep coming to me! I’ll figure out how to organize them one day. And I’ll figure out how to wrangle them into submissions, sometime, too. I have to work my ideas, make them work for me, not the other way around. That is a writer’s never ending task.


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