Posted by: jeannineatkins | June 1, 2009

Waiting on Second Chances

A friend here on LJ recently wrote about a leery relationship with works in progress. I began to wonder if this may be because she has a small kindergarten, or at least triplets, of projects. When several noisy books-to-be are tugging on your trousers, how do you choose? Sometimes do you just shut the door on all to stop the noise?

I’m feeling the temptation now to shut the door as I pull together a few years of notes on my novel-with-poems. I’m raking pieces together, plugging in holes, trying to pull together a few finished chapters I can bring to my writing group. I want something pretty in my life, something that at least at first glance appears to be finished.

But I get distracted typing notes for another project that calls. I collect ideas and put them in very messy folders. Should I be giving these my focus instead? In some ways, the Voices of the New are always louder. There’s all that possibility, the salty taste of what’s unknown which, let’s face it, is attractive. We hear the promises, and don’t yet know the problems.

But with just a bit of pinching I can remind myself I love my older project, too. For better or for worse, in sickness or in health, to swipe a line. There are fewer surprises, but there are surprises. And while I like being dreamy, trying out this and that, spilling out uncommitted scenes riddled with gaps, if I ever want an adorable child – or even a loud rascal – to pick up a new book with my name on it, I’ll have to go through the big clean up at the end, wrestling fragments and run-ons into proper sentences.

So I’m keeping on with the old. Trying to celebrate the small beauty of a new sentence and have faith in time as something that will give me more chances once I finish what I started.

Azalea, blue-star flowers, and iris by my porch:



  1. For me, the best part of that older stuff is the feeling of it actually coming together, seeing it more as a cohesive whole, with a few more things that need to be tucked in. Okay, maybe I’m just missing that right now! Enjoy it, though. 🙂

  2. Such words I needed to hear this morning.
    Thanks as always.
    The flowers are beautiful!

  3. Oh why is the grass always greener? I so long to be playing in the mud again. But yes, tucking in is good.
    and I’m seeing how though there are these big parts of the creative cycle, within each one, there are moments of mud play, moments of tucking together, to mix metaphors, as I so love to do.

  4. Let’s pretend…. we love every stage of the creative process!
    We’ll get there, buddy.

  5. Gorgeous pix!
    I recently started a complete rewrite of an old project…it’s fun and not-so-fun all at once 😉

  6. I know what you mean about the allure of New. Last spring I was struggling with this and finally realized I needed to finish Older in order to feel okay about myself as a writer. And I’m so glad I did. I believe you’ll feel that way, too, although it’s a bumpy road.
    As for those New projects tugging on your trousers, try wearing shorts!

  7. The Voices of the New are always louder, but sometimes they are siren songs, meant to crash you on the rocks. Only rarely does the New turn out to have actual staying power.

  8. Gorgeous flowers!
    This morning, after spending a couple of weeks revising two older stories, I took out my WIP and froze. Too messy, too many unknowns, too…undone. Went outside to weed and clean up side yard instead. Your perspective is perfect for me right now. 🙂

  9. Yes, I’m very fond of the more dawdling parts, but it is a pleasure when something looks smart and tidy! Good luck! Sometimes we have to just look at the swept corners.

  10. Yes, feeling okay about yourself as a writer is a good thing to aim at. I feel better at the end of today: able to look at some pages with out ominous holes in the middle.
    A wee bit cold for shorts in Massachusetts, but I managed to ignore the tuggers. Getting there!

  11. Well I hope the new does in fact have some pretty songs, but they’ve got to stay in line. And I will definitely watch for the dark cliffs. Yikes. Here I was just imagining annoying youngsters, when you’ve conjured Sirens.

  12. Of course then you… over-weeded,yes?
    Better the neighbor’s fledglings, then little word-gems though, I’ll say. The corner will be overgrown with green by next month.
    But I hope my perspective did help!

  13. “noisy books-to-be are tugging on your trousers” – how perfectly put.
    Awesome photos.

  14. Well crud, I missed this a few days ago. I think I need to go through and cleanup my list.
    It is so hard for me to deal with the struggle of all those projects yapping in my head. I want to finish something. I want to send something out again. I want to have the hope that comes with something being out there making the rounds.
    And yet I am easily distracted by the thought of walking down a new road and following a new trail of whispered words from a new character. Sigh.

  15. Thanks, Angela. Hope your start of summer is feeling productive!

  16. Susan, those are good things to want.
    And of course the distractions are a big part of what makes us writers.
    It’s hard to balance, but I’m cheering for you.

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