At the Texas Book Festival a week or so ago, Cinda Williams Chima joked that she was a “green writer,” one who never lets any of her writing/worldbuilding/characters go to waste. Then last week, I had a critique partner remark in her notes that she noticed a similarity in two of my manuscripts (which turned out to be superficial), and I wondered if I had inadvertently “gone green.”
It started me thinking: How many of you find yourselves revisiting the same themes, the same character types – heck, the same jokes! – in your writing? And, if you notice this, do you get nervous, or go with it? (I’m about to rewrite an old middle grade manuscript, the one that won the Writer’s League of Texas prize in 2009, and I’m planning to cannibalize another manuscript to do it, so I really have been thinking about whether I should be nervous. We’ll see.)
Anyhoo… I wrote a picture book manuscript two years ago that I loved, one that some of my friends and family insist needs to be sent out. I did send it out to one editor, but then sat on it, because there was something that wasn’t there yet.
But that story wants to be upcycled. I can tell, because it grew into a novel somewhen during the last few months, and now the story is unspooling – with me taking just enough notes so I can go back after Holy Toast and make it come together. I’m having dreams about it, hearing voices, all that crazy writer stuff. It’s magical realism, a sub-genre I haven’t exactly written yet, but I’ve come close with my latest MG. This will be even closer.
The Maya Angelou quote up on my monitor this week says, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” I wonder, how far will those untold stories (or our subconscious selves) go to make certain they get told? This story is (suitably for the season) haunting me.
Are you haunted by any of your stories? Are your untold stories an agony to you?
Write something poignant, something hair-raising, something haunting… write your untold stories, Friends.