Stories in Storage, (Re)discovered

storage2 Among other summer projects, I’m revising a script I’ve been working on for years and years — in between other projects and life events, of course, but longer than any other.

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.

conservatorynotecard

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!)

endofep

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.

katewalcott

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.

neilvisitsmaggieSeeing my original notes in storage really touched me, because it affirmed that:

  • 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.

Onward!

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6 thoughts on “Stories in Storage, (Re)discovered

  1. Got y’all beat, as I wrote my doctoral dissertation on a Xerox 820 microcomputer – pre IBM PC – with 8 1/2 floppy discs. It wasn’t a work of fiction, but it was about a fiction and fantasy writer who had a great influence on me, George MacDonald. And though I never did teach in a college in anything other than an adjunct capacity, MacDonald has an influence on me still… http://paulareednancarrow.com/tag/george-macdonald/.

    • Wow, 8-1/2 certainly wins!

      Love, love, love George MacDonald, Paula – my dad raised us on him, incl. At the Back of the North Wind as kids. What a fine choice to focus on. Totally unrelated but the “George” reminded me of another fine writer/poet/minister I love, George Herbert. Thanks for reading!

  2. I loved this story! (: I truly believe we must write the stories we want to read, and any story that grabs your attention and never lets go is the one worth writing. Who cares what agents or publishers may say as long as you know the project is your passion? I revisit old plots on my computer all the time. All that matters is that you still feel passionate about your story; the readers will follow your passion. Best of luck to finishing your project! If it’s captured your attention this much, it must be a winner.

  3. I am a little behind the curve on building up my collection (I am envious), but I do remember the floppy disks (both the 3.5 in variety which weren’t very floppy, and the 5.25 in ones that were glorious in all its floppiness).

    I have only recently begun to dabble in fiction and your message is certainly directed in that genre (I believe). But, I would take it a step further and never forget to take the time to mine the treasure trove of non-fiction experiences in our lives that also serve as inspiration for fiction and non-fiction alike. Onward indeed, thanks for sharing 😉

    • Ah yes, Dave, I was referring to the glorious 5.25’s! Although I didn’t mention it, the story I refer to in the blog does happen to have some basis in nonfiction (loosely inspired by my personal experience as a violinist and with a backgroup of some historical events). So, yes — the idea of never giving up on our old outlined ideas certainly applies to long-held nonfiction projects as well! Thanks again for reading and commenting.

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