Do you ever get a great idea for a story, begin writing it only to discover it is total crap? I’ve done it. The idea is inspired, the bones of the story are there but the narration and dialogue are complete garbage. I refuse to throw it away though. Did I hear you ask why not?
Well, I’ve got stories of total crap that go back to when I was 8 or 9 years old. At the time I was sure they were brilliant. I’m glad I kept them now. Although they weren’t intended to be humorous, they’re downright hilarious. Hey, I was 8 attempting to write a literary masterpiece about a family struggling to survive in a cottage in the Irish countryside. Sounds promising. However, I had no concept of time or geography. I picked some random year in the 1800s and somehow the family managed to have a bathroom inside, and their cottage was surrounded by ‘massive cornfields,’ because we all know how prolific corn fields are in Ireland. Hmmm, maybe I should have considered the potato.
I’ve learned a lot from looking back at stories I wrote that didn’t quite work out. I can look at them with a more objective eye now and say, “Hey, there’s where you went wrong.” I have thrown some things away but not much. These less-than-successful stories serve as a gauge for progress.
When I truly feel an idea is inspired and the bones are good, but the rest of it is lousy, I’ll put it aside for another time. After all, maybe I’m having a bad day or one too many distractions – I have a lot of those. Sometimes I write real stinkers, but I’ve decided not to give up on those piles of crap until I see dung beetles hauling them off.
How about you? When you write something you know is pretty awful, do you throw it away without a second thought or keep it for comic relief?