The Best Laid Plans, or, The Tao of Want

The no current project desk, much messier than the working desk.

The no current project desk, much messier than the working desk.

It’s a thinking out loud post today, Fringelings, because yesterday, this thing, this moment, this feeling happened.

This is the feeling I get with certain story ideas.  It’s an all-in-one jumble of a dangerous high; excitement, nerves, stomach flipping, blood pressure rising, false clarity–the lie of meeting someone in a bar and being certain this is the one.

Not everyone who writes gets this feeling, I’m told.  That said, I’m not special, because I know a few others who do.

Why is this a problem?  Because this isn’t a short story idea.  If you’re a regular follower/reader, you know I don’t want to write any more full length manuscripts.  I’ve spent the last how-many-months trying to make peace with acceptance, with the need to accept that it is never going to happen.  Too many dreams, too much want, these things make it so damned hard to accept now, to accept what it is.  Even the ideal is nonsensical, “I don’t want to want.”

One way or the other, writing is hard work, and it’s all about want.  For me.  Yes, I know, there are those who are completely content writing for themselves, don’t care if they ever get published, but as I’ve said many times before, that isn’t me.  I write to be read.  Which is why I don’t want to write any more full length manuscripts.  It’s a huge investment.  I don’t have the means to make huge investments.  I haven’t been putting any effort into thinking of novel ideas, I don’t want them.

But I have this idea, and it’s giving me the feeling.  So here’s where I have to decide, do I take yet another chance, sink months, maybe years, fucking hope! into yet another manuscript that will ultimately be another fun house mirror reflecting my delusions of people-will-want-to-read-my-words? More significantly, the delusion that a publishing professional will believe my words can earn them money?  I’m sorry, but yes, I care about that end of writing.  I’m not pure, haven’t discovered and embraced the Tao of the words themselves.  I would like to be that evolved, but I’m not.  And I’m exhausted thinking about this, putting these thoughts into a blog post.

Just in case having this idea giving me this feeling isn’t shit enough, the idea isn’t even original.  It would be taking the manuscript I wrote before Astonishing and ripping it apart, removing the romance, keeping the bits I like and then completely rewriting and restructuring it.  I’m not sure I have the skill to do such a thing.

Remember those tomato seeds I planted in my little terrace garden?  Two types, Roma and Cherries.  They didn’t turn out as expected.  The ones that grow to full size have blossom end rot.  I get all excited, seeing those full green fruits as they turn red, and then, when I pick them, the undersides are clearly too damaged to eat.  But most aren’t reaching their full size, they stop growing when they’re about the size of blueberries.  I’ve been picking and eating a few every morning, right off the plants, with my coffee on the terrace.  They’re sweet, tiny but lush.

Art Child and I have taken to calling them tomato berries.

Art Child and I have taken to calling them tomato berries.

If I allow this seed of an idea to germinate, give it time, water, sun, and sweat into my keyboard until it bears fruit, what will I get?  One of the tomatoes that looks perfect until you get close, see the results of calcium deficient soil, bones that aren’t strong enough to support a full manuscript?  Or will I get that little pop of warm perfection, not what’s expected but right in and of itself.  Is it worth trying?

At the moment, I just don’t know.  Every brain cell is telling me not to do this, swallow the idea and push it further down my digestive tract.

For the moment, I’ll do nothing.  I’ll leave it alone, see if not feeding it makes this idea disappear, lets my guts return to a normal pace.  A week, two weeks, a few months, a year.  If it stays, though, well, maybe I’ll open that old file, see what does or doesn’t come to mind when I reread, if I find myself reaching for the composition book with the original notes for the story (oddly enough, it isn’t packed away, but still in a top cubby of my desk), writing a few new ones.




  1. Pretty quiet in Fringeland today. Just the way I like it, sometimes I don’t wanna share.


    I was outside with mr kk, under the apple tree, nice little breeze, thinking about this post.

    I’m curious to know where that little seed of inspiration came from, and what fruit it will bear. If any. You wrote something once, tucked it away . . . but not too far away. Because something about it, something. . .

    The road to publication isn’t easy, we both know that. It’s an effort, for sure. Just writing the damn thing. Making it good. Good enough. I won’t even get into the revising and querying and all that. Just writing a novel that’s good enough to maybe have a shot is a true commitment, as well you know.

    But, you have a framework sitting in that drawer. Or, at least, a possibility. Maybe it will warrant another look, a closer look.

    Something sparked for you, mrs fringe. Something got you thinking about that story. Tugging a little bit. It’ll be there, when and if.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually, it’s a good day for it to have been quiet in Fringeland. After posting, I took the girl to an art thing, while I hung with her friend’s mom, and a lovely strange man bought us wine and lunch–but that will be another post. 😀 I honestly don’t know where the seed came from, I hadn’t been thinking about the story, or even anything specific about writing, and bam! That feeling. But no, none of this is easy, not even walking away. ❤


  2. Sweetheart, I don’t know how other writers feel because they’re not in my head. But your thoughts are reflected internally on my end. Not all, mind you.. no one’s a true carbon copy of another. But those twinges of doubt that turn into drops of water that lick at the very edges of insecurity to tease an end to the flames of doubt.. Yep. Got ’em.. in spades.

    Those drops never really turn into more than a trickle. While the trickles can keep the flames from causing a brush fire, they’re never truly under control. It’s the curse of being creative and emotionally attached to an end result. That damn Wantitis. Of course, how you handle it is up to you. You can walk away, giving up a lifelong dream – or hold on, insisting you’re just steps away from an acceptable result.

    We all know those miracle stories.. the ones where authors or other creative pros got their saving grace in their darkest hour. As HEA as that sounds, there are far more who never reach that stage.. who give up far before reaching the halfway point. Nope, for most of us writing is not an easy thing to do. The action, maybe. But the expectations tend to destroy us before the smallest goals can be achieved. You’re not a quitter anymore than I am. But it’s OK not to reach your top expectations. I have no doubt you will achieve some of your goals, even if you never become a household name. Change your path if necessary. Just let those flames fuel you and not hinder you. Easier said than done, I know. But your readers have faith in you.. and so do your friends. I happen to be both, so you have double the positive energy on my end.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I honestly don’t know what the best choice is for me now. I’ll take my time, see if I can locate the Tao of my scribbles. Or dreams. Or something. 😉 Yes, the expectations, the goddamned hope, is killer. Necessary if you’re going to try, but then when it doesn’t pan out…. Blah. Household name, hah! Not a goal. Dream, sure, but not a goal. Publication, validation, that’s always been my goal. Flames or no flames, I know you’re going to get there. My faith in me is shaky, but for you? ❤ Thank you, hon. Always, thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Lovely post. The thing is, those tomatoes grow or not without thinking about how delicious they’ll be. I think writing is the same way. The story is there or not, is telling itself or not: you write, or not. But let the publishing be the other thing that happens, after seed has done what it needed to do. A tomato can’t be worrying about how it will look on the plate. It can only – well – it can only tomato.

    (I just verbed a noun 🙂 My day is complete.)

    Liked by 3 people

  4. False hope and hope unrealized are two terrible, discouraging things. And if people are making reasonable decisions for themselves, especially about Creative Things, I don’t like to try and undermine them.

    But….(and you knew that was coming) if I were you, I’d try it. I mean, I kind of am trying it, winnowing good passages from not 1 but 2! partially finished manuscripts into another novel that I’m writing, changing names, adding some characters, removing others, etc. I’d put it off for a long time; the idea of just how many new words I had to write and how many old words I couldn’t use was discouraging. But the spirit of the main character wouldn’t let me go.

    And based on what words of yours I have read, I feel like you could do it. I understand why you wouldn’t, definitely. And if that resolve remains unwavered, then it is the right decision for you, and kudos. But….if you do put your toes in, and take the plunge, I’m here for you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “False hope and hope unrealized are two terrible, discouraging things.” So, so true. They do feel like the original big bad, no?
      Wow, you’re using two partials to create a new, third? Kudos to you, so much juggling, and sculpting! If, if, if. If I get to a point where I was to try playing with this idea, I think I’m more freaked by the idea of using some of the old mss than I’ve ever been starting from scratch. Thank you for the good thoughts, and the support. I’m going to take my time, one way or the other. ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. If writing were easy anyone could do it. It’s not easy and that what makes it such an exquisite torture. The words on the page rarely square with the ones dancing in your head. Give it some time and the idea will bloom.

    Or if it doesn’t start all over again and plant the seed for something that does.


    1. Exquisite torture, indeed. I’m taking some breaths and giving it time, trying to decide if I’m ready for anything to take root. Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation, Jeff! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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