Does square one really exist? I don’t want to sound like a Pollyanna but, do we ever really go back to square one? Surely, the experience that made us metaphorically return to square one is one that has enriched us to some extent, or empowered us with wisdom, knowledge or experience.
Damn! Long words.
To reiterate: what doesn’t kill us only prolongs the inevitable.
Earlier this year I submitted a story to a publisher. A damned good story. I’d got the first 15K written and polished and a synopsis that ticked all the right boxes. Character development and plot were in sync. The pacing varied between measured description and fast action thrills.
I waited for the publisher to accept the story. And they did. I told you it was damned good. And then I returned to finish the MS.
The 15K of existing story remained strong. It could have worked as a decent novella. But the synopsis just struck me as contrived. Each time I tried to approach the piece the character voices weren’t working. Each time I tried to change narrators, to give the piece a different perspective, the presence of a new voice diluted the impact of the original’s strength.
I tried writing key scenes from later in the story. That didn’t work. I tried revising the synopsis. Nada. I tried to rework the opening scenes that were already of publishable quality. It didn’t help. The story had died.
I was embarrassed. For the first time in my writing career I had to contact a publisher and tell them that the story wasn’t going to happen.
Did this put me back on square one? Not really.
Although it’s annoying to have a story curl up and die in such a fashion, I know that the experience has enriched me. I gave it my best shot; I maintained my integrity by ensuring I wasn’t submitting work below my own personal standards; and I found the courage to tell a publisher that I have limitations.
Considering it in that light, I’m probably only back to square two.