Q: Have you ever stopped abruptly and taken up a different project and never gone back to the old one?
We’re talking about the craft of writing, so I’ll leave out the partially painted closet and my effort at needlepoint.
I can’t say “abruptly,” but I did give up on the very first attempt I made to write a crime fiction novel, long before I got serious and quit my day job to work hard at writing mysteries. Long before computers, in fact, which is why I threw up my hands. I’m a terrible typist and I like to see the writing on the screen or on paper as I go. No handwriting. In those ancient days of the Selectric typewriter, a typo or a poor word choice, or the need to move three lines of dialogue to a different position in the story meant re-typing the page or pages. This, to me, was a sisyphean nightmare, and after a few weeks of laborious effort, I found I was willing to overlook typos, poor word choices, and awkward dialogue. The story I was putting on paper, at 120 pages, was not the story I wanted to tell.
But…I didn’t throw out the manuscript and it sits, neglected certainly, in a file cabinet somewhere. Maybe some day I’ll find it and dare to look at it again, although I think its day has passed. It had two pretty good ideas, both now mainstream although they weren’t so much then: cyber crime, and a Latina woman in a police department where she wasn’t exactly welcome. Cyber crime is of an exponential magnitude of added sophistication now, and I’d have to find a contemporary Latina detective to find out what’s changed – and I hope that would be on an order of magnitude also – since the early 1980s.
The chances of finishing the closet walls are a lot greater than getting back into the old manuscript. Besides, I’m too busy with what is working for me now. Love & Death in Burgundy launches at Malice Domestic and the couple months after that are shaping up to be fun!