Every writer I know has a folder on their computer, or a pile of printed out beginning of stories somewhere that they’ve started but never finished. The phenomenon of the half done idea isn’t unique to writers. For comedians, it’s a scribbled premise tucked between set-lists in a forgotten notebook. Painters surely have canvas with blocked out images that never made it to the varnish hiding in the attic.
That’s just the nature of art. Sometimes you start something, and for one reason or another, it dies on the vine.
Today I was searching on my computer for the folder where I should save a draft of a new short story when I found a folder full of almost-stories. Some pretty far along. Thosands of words written–and I’d completely forgotten about the them. One was a mystery about a detective who was convinced his prime suspect was innocent purely on the fact that the man owned a golden retriever and in his 30 years on the force “not once, not never” has a murderer owned a golden retriever. Pit-bulls, Chihuahuas for days. Even corgi owners sometimes…but never Golden Retrievers.
I’ve finished stories with worse premises so it was weird that I just couldn’t remember why I’d let this one drop off. From the quick look I took at it, I was well in to the third act. Had I started something new? Did the piece just not mesh? Who knows! I’ve journaled sporadically over the years and I wish I had a journal entry from around the time I wrote that story. Maybe I’d discover that I was grappling with the realization that the the golden retrievers owner was the killer and I just couldn’t bring myself to burst my fictional detectives worldview bubble? Or maybe I started chasing another shinny object?
Either way, I’ve decided that I’m going to start keeping a journal, of my life, but also of my work. If anything I write there is of merit, it might even get promoted to the blog. At at least in the future when I’m going through my never finished pile and find a story I can’t remember I’ll be able to justify why I had to put the bad dog down.