I first conceived of it 30 years ago, as a teenager. I outlined it that year and drafted it as a screenplay five years later, in college. After graduation, I decided to re-write it as a television miniseries. Since then I’ve written it as a novel (currently under editorial review) and have re-written the miniseries countless times (including a current rewrite I just submitted to an industry professional this week). I have outlined and drafted two sequels.
We all have a project we don’t want to give up on — but we still wonder what the heck is ever going to happen with it.
Taking a break from a few writing deadlines this past week, I visited our storage space over the weekend to do some overdue summer purging of ‘stuff’ in general — yes, I’m ashamed to say we have a storage space for endless old files, supplies, decorations, tools, and household items.
It’s also where I keep a lot of old writing drafts, manuscripts and notes. Some of the papers I uncovered this weekend were of outlines and ideas I had completely forgotten about — and I was excited to think about their possibilities going forward.
Then I found something else.
I stumbled upon a dusty set of script index cards dated June 3, 1994: exactly 20 years ago.
They are the original blueprint for the miniseries I’m working on right now.
And I found the old ‘floppy disk’ that houses my original screenplay file. (Remember those floppies? I couldn’t find a computer to put my disk into, even if I wanted to!)
The property, in all its forms, has been retitled four times over the years. The paper drafts — screenplay, teleplay, novel — fill several accounting boxes. But the story still grabs me like nothing else I’ve done.
I scanned the notecards and all the scribbles outlining scene sequences — some of which have survived years of revision, and some laughable ones which have not.
It excited me to see, in my awful handwriting, how the characters were so alive to me even then — and are even more so now.
- This story is my true passion project — it still sits deep in my heart, my bones, my cells, my soul — a huge part of who I am.
- I am still working on it and I haven’t given up on it. I love the story and characters that much.
- And I won’t ever stop until this story is told to its intended audience.
Standing there in storage — wearing a dirty t-shirt and holding my dusty old story folders with grimy hands — also reminded me that:
- Good stories will stand the test of time.
- Good stories will keep eating at you, if you’re meant to stick with them.
- Good stories can withstand significant changes from the original vision.
- Good stories can survive adaptations across different forms.
- Good stories are like a long-term relationship: you’re in it for the long haul and have to do the hard work and ask the tough questions. And the benefits far outweigh the difficulties.
With that in mind: don’t forget what treasures may be sitting in your old files or storage spaces. And once you discover — or rediscover — your stories, don’t ever, ever, give up on them.