A lesson for all of us to never completely give up on your older work.
Trying to take a break for the WWE’s latest attempts to cover their ass and fix their mistakes. Also, not much for me to say about the Super Bowl that hasn’t already been said by people who know football a lot better than I do.
However there was a news item that came out this morning that got my attention and can maybe serve a lesson to those of us who are the creative types, and even those who aren’t.
News came out earlier today that famed author Harper Lee was going to be publishing a “sequel” of sorts to her only published work, To Kill a Mockingbird. The story, for those who have never had the fortune to read it, is a tale of the south in the 1930’s as told from the perspective of a young girl named Scout. A movie starring Gregory Peck as Scout’s father, Atticus, is considered a classic and Peck’s performance is one of the best roles played ever.
The interesting part about this new offering is that it’s not new at all. As it turns out, it was finished before Mockingbird was even written. It’s not a sequel in the traditional sense, it’s Mockingbird’s predecessor. The story is that Lee had written this story, Go Set a Watchman, about a woman who would have flashbacks of the adventures of her childhood. When presented to her editor at the time, he loved the flashback scenes and wanted her to just a write a novel of the younger Scout. Lee did, and that novel ended up being the classic she is known for.
Fast forward to recent times. A friend of Lee, a lawyer named Tonja Carter. Finds the original manuscript for Go Set a Watchman, presenting it back to Lee who had thought it long gone. After some thought and thoughts from her friends, it was decided to publish it as a sequel, taking place with an adult Scout in the 1950s South. As it stands, the book will be published in June and will be Lee’s original script, with no edits or rewrites.
Not only does this provide a new look into a classic story by the original author, but this also serves as a lesson to people like me to never completely toss away your work. Just because something is old, or didn’t work at the time (be it for an editor or whatever), doesn’t mean it won’t serve you in another time, place, or circumstances. Everything you create has some value, even if it’s only personal. It has its use to you as a creator, be it inspiration, a road map for another project, or like in the case of Watchman, it can very well stand on its own.
Another case in point. It’s a story some of you may have heard before. Back in the early 70s, an author not to far from where I call home is working on a short story for a magazine. He’s a struggling writer that has yet to be published and like many others, he is writing things to get both exposure and money. He, like just about every one of us has had happen at some point, is not only frustrated but creatively hit the bottom of the barrel.
Based on a comment from a woman he had met, he was challenged to write about a female protagonist, something he had yet to really do. He sat down and wrote a short story of a girl who is being bullied in a locker room (Figure it out yet?) and how she gets revenge in a pretty terrifying way.
And he hates it.
The short story gets tossed into the trash and he is now even more frustrated with how things are going. His wife doesn’t see it that way. She thinks it has some merit and fishes the story from the trash, gives it back to the author and encourages him to not only stick with it, but to expand it into a full fledged novel.
The novel was Carrie, and the author was Stephen King. It was his first full novel to get published.
It’s an interesting story that rings true to me a little bit. Obviously not on THAT level (at least not yet, here’s hoping) A little while back, sometime last year, just on a whim I decided to sit down and write a short story myself. Not so much to get published, but to post something on a message board I was part of at the time. It was a racy adult story about a female character at a convention. I made it hot and steamy and when I was done I posted it on the board for people to read. Unfortunately the main character had the same name as the wife of the creator of the site and herself was a staff member of the site and board. Well, turns out they both liked the story anyway. But after that there wasn’t much to do with it. A few months later, having life kick my butt a few times over and having been really discouraged with things, I took that story and decided to add to it, expand it, and it’s going to be come my next released novel. Will it sells and make me lots of money? Who knows. But my point is that it’s not a wrong idea to revisit creations of your past to get something out of them, even if you or others think it’s not very good. EVERYTHING you create has some value, sometimes you just need to dig to find it.
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