I started a short story a few days ago to try to dig my way out of this rut I’ve fallen into figuring if I had something that I could submit I’d feel a lot better (okay, until the rejection letters start rolling in). I got through about 4 pages… then this morning I was thinking about my story and realized my original climax was not going to make sense. Given the context and the people, it would just never happen.
So now I’m left with what feels like a rotten piece of wood, crumbling away from my fingers. Back to square one. I wonder if I should try to salvage my story. It’s tempting to do so, yet I feel there’s danger in settling or forcing something that shouldn’t be.
This feeling underscores a more general resistance I have with rewriting. When rewriting, I no longer see all the possibilities of plot or character development. I’ve already chosen a set path, and breaking out of it becomes increasingly difficult the more I’ve written. Part of it is the physical work that happens. If I alter this scene I’ve set off a cascade of plot and character inconsistencies that I now have to go and fix. And if I change those I’ve potentially set off a new batch. But the worse part is that I no longer can see as many alternatives. So I end up tinkering with what I have, and end up with something in between the original and what a proper rewrite should be.
I’d much rather start fresh, nothing but a blank page and an infinity of possibilities before you. Hence the drive to constantly start new projects, and maybe that’s where writers are forged, in the moment between giving up on a manuscript to start a new one and deciding, while battling nausea at the thought, to take on an existing piece for the second last time.