Think back to the first time you asked out a girl or boy you really liked. Remember that feeling of anticipation and excitement, as you got ready to begin a journey with someone. Remember that nervous feeling in your stomach that warned you things might end disastrously for both of you. Well, every time I embark on a new writing endeavor, I–and most likely other writers at large–experience a similar mixture of elation, fear, concern and hopefulness.
So while I have not had to dive in the the real life dating world since I met my wonderful wife, I am currently–and have done so many times in the past–dating a new story idea. And like all first dates, the emotions are running high and I am very excited about all the possibilities that are presented before me. I imagine a future in which me and my idea grow so close that I know its thoughts like my own, can sense its moods and guide it, effortlessly, toward mutual satisfaction. Maybe, if I’m very lucky, the two of us will make the decision to produce sequels, smaller, little version of our first coupling, that will keep our love and our story growing, ensuring that we stay together longer.
That’s one possible future. But like real first dates–as least as of the last time I engaged in one almost two decades ago–there’s also the potential for disaster. The excitement could turn to anxiety, the connection felt could shrivel up and become toxic, or the flow of communication could degrade into a bramble-infested, broken cobblestone road of frustration. It could produce nothing but stress, a gnawing sense of failure and a lack of self-worth.
And then there’s the small problem of cheating. At this point, I feel it necessary to separate the analogy from the subject at hand, for I do not advocate cheating on one’s spouse or significant other. However, when speaking of the creative process, it is not always easy for every artist to stay on the straight and narrow with their craft. Each artist thrives in a different environment, and this is just my opinion.
When a you start a romantic attachment to one story it’s usually customary to stay focused on that story. After all, you don’t want to take the attention away from the first story so you can canoodle with a newer, shinier story, sneaking brainstorm sessions, jotting little notes in between chapters of your older, more established story. It’s important to stay virtuous and true to that first story…but the new story is so appealing and fun, and it gets you like no other story ever got you before.
When faced with that situation, you must sit down with your first story and do some honest evaluating of your relationship. Does it need constant attention, or is it okay with a scaling down that time? Can you satisfy both stories properly or will one have to fade into the background? In some cases, and I hope it is true in this case, spending time with a new story can be a great pallet cleanser, washing away old literary habits and the staleness of one’s relationship in order to come back to it with a new prospective.
Ultimately, only time with tell, but until I find out, I intend to treat both stories with the dignity and respect they deserve, and hope they’ll take good care of me in return.