Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Trunk

It could be that I have filled each of these with
unfinished stories. Imagine that. Image borrowed from here.
The novel I'm working on, the one I wrote a Zero Draft of for NaNoWriMo last year, isn't my first. It's actually my third completed and my fifth attempted.

So what happened to the others? I hear you asking. I'm here to tell you.

They're Trunked.

Well, three of them are. There's one unfinished that still lives on my desktop because I love it too much to put it away and stop thinking about it. I'll tell you about it in a second here.

First let's tell the story of The Trunk.

This is the place where manuscripts go to languish in a kind of Author's Limbo. These manuscripts in various states of 'finished' are sometimes just stories that needed to get out of a writer's system, sometimes completed and sometimes not. I don't know who created the term but some cursory (read: lazy) searching on the internet may make it attributable to Stephen King. Oh, yeah, HIM. I recall that he's the first person I saw using the term, so for the sake of the rest of this post I'll lay the term at his feet. I'm sure he won't mind. (Please correct me if I'm wrong on this, okay?)

These stacks of paper are tossed into the Trunk and forgotten. The point of the Trunk Novel is that it's something that tickled a writer enough to start on the project but maybe it needed more thought or a heavy round of editing that the writer just wasn't up to. I suspect that the one thing that most Trunk Novels have in common is that the author just wasn't ready to write the stories or to give them the attention they needed in order to be ready.

I've talked about the novels I've Trunked with a friend or two and one of them (a full-time freelance writer) was incredulous. "You know what I'd do with unpublished scripts? I don't have any. I can't write something that I don't get paid for."

So the Trunk Novel is a luxury to someone like me with a day job and time to write in the evenings, mornings, and weekends. Does that make me a less serious writer? I don't think so. I think it just means that I'm still learning my craft.

Actually, that's exactly what it DOES mean. I'm not a full-time writer but everything I've learned previously about writing is brought to bear on each current project and hopefully each one is better than the last.

And that brings me to the novel that's sitting unfinished on my desktop. It's well over 50,000 words (I wrote it during November 2010) and that's only about half-done. I'd written myself into a corner and had a pressing deadline to start another project that took months to complete and when I had the energy and wherewithal to go back to it, other things were crowding my brain for attention. Including the novel I'm revising now.

It's an ambitious SF novel, and truth to tell, it was a little over my head as I was writing it. I needed to learn things that I got out of writing, finishing, and continuing to revise my now-current work. I think that when I finish this one, I'll get back to the 2010 book. However there's a story that's begging to be told for this year's NaNo run and it's pretty good. I'm afraid that the unfinished manuscript may end up in The Trunk.

I'm not saying that everything I write for NaNoWriMo is going to be a good novel. It probably won't be. And if The Trunk fills up with aborted efforts that end up making the stories I DO finish better, then it's a worthy vessel filled with ideas that I can always go back to when I am a full-time writer. Since I own my home and have no plans to move ever again, it also means that I don't have to move the sucker, either.

And that makes me as happy as having written all these stories that may never see the light of day. Each is a treasure and a learning experience and I value each of them.


Mike Sullivan said...

As now I am jobless, after so many years (although I didn't have a trunk, I have storage drawers) I'm utilizing those unfinished stories, story ideas and drawings (many, MANY drawings) to hopefully become wildly rich and famous.

Well, maybe just rich.

Pay a few bills?

Jason Arnett said...

Sorry to hear you're unemployed, Mike. Hopefully you have some prospects and it won't be for long. Definitely take advantage of the time to write and draw. The money will follow. Eventually.

Thinking good thoughts for you.