The writer you are vs. the writer you will be vs. the writer you were

Published on Jun 13, 2019

I've been dabbling around with fiction for about a year and a half now (unless you count the stories I wrote when I was eight or nine that were blatantly plagiarized by Disney animated films—I literally wrote the meadow scene in Bambi almost word for word except my character was Zebby the Zebra). 

There's a character I created that I sometimes write scenes for, just for fun. They're usually a snapshot of his thoughts in a moment in time. So I decided to write a short story around him for a writing workshop I attended last year. I wrote half of one, but couldn't finish it. Not for any other reason except I felt I hadn't become the person I needed to be to write a convincing ending to that story. Have you ever felt that way?

At the short story writing workshop I'm in now (yeah, I've attended quite a few in the past year without really producing anything solid. I've promised myself I won't attend any more unless I have something to show for it), we were asked to practice descriptive writing from the point of view of a character, or even ourselves. To describe what they'd see out of a window. I thought I'd dig up that abandoned story and create a descriptive scene for my character.

I couldn't even bear to read the first page, it made me cringe so much.

Because now, I'm no longer the person that started that story. And I'm not the person that can or even wants to finish it. I had received fairly positive feedback on it, so I'm not sure why I hate it now, because it still holds some promise. What changed?

Now I just want to rip it apart and start afresh. Add more layers to it. Go beyond the cliched emotions. Dig deeper. And if I do that, I wonder how I'll feel about this draft next year. Do published writers ever feel that way about their work years later? Like they want to burn all the copies ever printed?

On that note, I've been having trouble creating a range of well-rounded (additional) characters besides the one I enjoy writing about. A friend who reviewed my writing assignment said she saw me in a character, which was completely not what I intended. It's challenging to try to think of what they might be thinking or how they should act so they're believable. Maybe an approach is to think about and decide what each of them REALLY wants and see how far they're willing to go for it.