Coming Back to Old Work With Fresh Eyes
I’ve been working on some longer pieces lately, in particular a book that I started a couple of years ago. It started off as a simple scene with two characters, a young boy and an old librarian having a conversation in a library. Nothing of note happened, and the scene ended.
Then I wrote about what happened when the boy went home. It became another chapter.
Then I wrote a chapter on the librarians next day in work. There was a break in. Someone was injured.
Then another chapter. Things were starting to happen now; menace was starting to creep into the story, and I realised it had been there from the get go- I just didn’t see it. I didn’t have the tools at the time to bring it forth.
I couldn’t see how exactly how the pieces fit together, but the story was growing. A character or two was added here, some backstory there, conflict and heightening tension.
After a while I was left with many different story arcs and characters, seemingly disparate and unrelated. I had all these different threads of various lengths, and I couldn’t see how to weave them into a coherent whole.
I stopped writing it. I couldn’t see how to fit the pieces together, no matter how I tried. I abandoned the story, and went to work on some other pieces.
That was two years ago. The story played on my mind since, a guilty nudge, a whisper that I had abandoned it. It stayed on my to do list.
Next week, I told myself. I’ll get to it next week.
And when I recently went back to it, I found I could fit the threads together. It made sense.
I’d improved somewhat.
I’m far from considering my self a good writer, but compared to two years ago, I’d developed a little more skill at the craft, through dedicated practice and work on lots of different types of stories. Most were terrible, some had moments of good writing in them, and a small few I was proud of.
I’d gotten better at putting the tapestry together.
Writing is like weaving.
It’s like putting together a tapestry.
The ones you used to do in school.
Weaving threads together, forming a bigger picture.
The better you get at it, the more intricate you can make the weave, the finer the threads you can use to accent and hint at images, creating worlds in the readers mind.
That’s a difficult thing to do, and you get better at it as you practice. Like anything.
After a while, you start to realise that most things in life are like this.
Talking is like this. Arguing is the same. Language, expression, dance, theatre, painting.
At the core level, you are weaving threads. Physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual.
You’re bringing things together. Learned phrases, movements, experiences, bursts of inspiration.
Plucking the ideas from the air and representing them in whatever the chosen medium is.
And the only way to get better at putting the threads together, is to do it often. You start to see the invisible lines between them, to make connections you could never have made as a beginner.
Weave your threads. And the more you weave, the better you get, and the clearer the picture.