The Ghost of Projects Past

Messy Desk Talking about National Novel Writing Month brings up feelings of guilt for me. I powered through last year, only to let my words rest, then slumber, then hibernate, in a document on my computer.

Contemplating participating this year was as much about that unfinished project as it was about the story rattling around in my head. I wanted to vanquish the ghost of last year’s project, to prove to myself that I could not only complete my 50,000 words in 30 days but that I could do something with them in the upcoming months.

In a flash I realized that’s the Catholic guilt rising to work against what should be at the top of my list right now. Writing another 50,000 words won’t magically complete and edit my unfinished novel from last November. In fact, the opposite would likely happen. The shiny, new project would catapult to the top of my priority list, pushing down the other things already crowding my desk.

Editing my short stories, which is both exhilarating and excruciating would be pushed to the bottom of my to-do list, not on purpose, but because my new characters would insist on maximum amounts of time and my family would insist on dinner and clean clothes. (What’s THAT about? Don’t they know what November means to writers?)

Instead I’m trying to harness that energy, that feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about all of those words buried in my computer, and I’m making editing a priority this month. And hopefully by the end of the month, the rough pages I hold in my hands (literally, I like to edit on paper) will be polished and ready to see the world outside of my home.

One day, writing’s version of Prince Phillip will waltz into my brain and awaken the Sleeping Beauty of my first NaNoWriMo project. Until that day, there are works to be edited, words to be strung together in new and compelling ways.

I don’t have time for guilt … at least not today.

Do you ever write something new just so you don’t have to edit? Perhaps more importantly, am I the only one with such a messy desk?

5 Responses to The Ghost of Projects Past
  1. Victoria KP
    November 5, 2012 | 3:18 am

    Oh yes! I had the exact same experience with NaNoWriMo last year. I have 50k words that amount to a lump of clay at this point. I vowed to shape it into something more but haven’t managed it yet. As hard as NaNoWriMo is, it’s a breeze compared to editing huge work in progress.

  2. Brianna
    November 5, 2012 | 11:34 am

    Every November I write something new so I don’t have to edit. 2013, up until November at least, will be about editing and self-publishing some projects that are thisclose to being ready to go.

  3. Kathleen Basi
    November 5, 2012 | 11:54 am

    I love your take on this. I think I need to jump on the “edit” bandwagon, so I have a marketable project shortly after New Year!

  4. Mary @ A Teachable Mom
    November 5, 2012 | 7:47 pm

    Nope, you’re not alone! If it’s time to edit, I want to write something new. If it’s time to write something new, I’m dying to edit. I’m adorable that way! Great reminder that guilt won’t help anything! Good luck!

  5. barbara @ de rebus
    November 6, 2012 | 7:37 am

    Same! I made an effort to edit my 50K from nano last year and move it from a word document to scrivner (there were some scene order problems and I thought scrivner would help me conceptualize and re-order).

    i got about 2/3rds of the way through!

    Truth is, I learned a lot from the writing experience, but am not sure it is the story I want to focus on and complete. I have entered again, though I’ve fallen a bit behind…hopefully I will catch up soon!

    :)