I’m working on old writing, which, like old money, accumulates, only unlike old money the something it accumulates is not value but problems.
Every time I read over an old story, one I set aside on the advice of writing tutors and writing guides, I see more things that make it imperfect, its plot line faint or jumbled, its characters distant or lacking padding. Sometimes, it’s the voice that needs work, sometimes it’s the dialogue, or the underlying urgency needs to be fleshed out.
Either way, beating down the door to their laid after several months, sometimes years, old stories rarely reveal themselves as ripened, easy treasure. They always appear a little rickety, a shack with promise but otherwise in disrepair. True potential, no matter how many drafts in, always requires deeper thinking, yet more engagement, and another layer of paint, another structural redo. If they are to be valuable, the work needs to be done; thus, work lies between me and their submission to a magazine.
And right now, that work feels too demanding. It is easier to spend my time on work that provides more immediate gratification, such as teaching, and teaching prep, or research. Work that reaches outward rather than inward, that deals with people and their very immediate needs, rather than with a dark and dusty tangle of abstract concerns I seem to have forgotten how to unravel. Hopefully, more energy and focus for writing will manifest in the future.
But, hopefully, more energy and focus for writing will manifest in the future. There are deadlines to meet, and part of me. despite all of my whining and digging of heels, misses the process.