Like a half-eaten sandwich, half-finished stories used to pose as a problem. Much like the sandwich that slowly goes soggy thanks to a generous amount of mustard and mayo, I wonder to myself if I really want to keep around a half-finished story.
It wasn’t until this past year that I came to embrace the idea of accepting a story that didn’t have an ending. It all started thanks to this one mannequin story that I wrote without an ending. It had been years since I had worked on it, and suddenly, this fresh perspective came in. I discovered my ending, and I never thought I’d get to that point with this story.
Prior to this experience, I used to feel bad for not finishing. I felt like I had failed and somehow, felt like I was less of a writer because I couldn’t get to the ending. Granted, I write short stories which is an entirely different experience than writing a novel. Not without its problems, but it’s far different having a half-finished 16-page story than a half-finished 500-page novel.
I remember this advice once that said if you desire to return to a story that you couldn’t complete that you should start fresh. This advice said to not try and go back and continue where you left off because you just want to capture that same momentum.
To a point, I agree. Except I have realized lately that my instincts sometimes were right before. I realized I did know the ending but somehow didn’t see it or doubted myself.
Earlier this year, I had an idea for a company sponsoring an executive trip with a health and wellness spa that turns out to have dangerous ulterior motives. Well, it didn’t have an ending, and I stopped at a certain point. This time, I didn’t let it get me down. I moved on. I didn’t fret or fight with the story. Instead, I accepted that this was as far as I could get and moved on. Since I’ve finished 3 more stories.
Turns out, I trust that my future self may see something in this that I didn’t. I saw some things in stories written years ago that my past self didn’t see, and I expect I’ll have this experience again.
Don’t be afraid of half-finished work. Unlike a soggy half-eaten sandwich, it can be saved for years without getting moldy.
Never Stale! The Muffin provides daily writing tips, inspiration, and news from the bakers of WOW! Women On Writing.
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