A week or two ago I decided to clean out my garage. I waded through totes of rubbish, discarding much. A few boxes contained things from when I was young lad. Three yo-yos, still strangely cool. A tin of ARMY paint. A plastic recorder. One well-worn Rubik's cube (that I learned to solve as a freshman in college, though I no longer remember how). Lots of drawings and super hero cards and drawings of super heroes. A stack of old writings, from items in my high school portfolio to obscure poetry to absurd fiction. And, among other things, a box of 3.5" floppy disks. (FN1)
My computer at work is possibly one of the last one's remaining on the Earth that has a floppy drive still in it. Back in high school, I thought floppies were super cool. Cool enough that this box had several floppies in it, and I had no clue what I would find. So I brought the disks to work and popped them in. After some system groaning, things finally started working.
Half of them were blank. One or two had files but would not let me open them. And then two had some old writings of mine. Old, as in, from when I was an early teenager old. Back in eighth grade (I think, give or take a grade) I started writing my first novel. I pecked out line after line of purely awesome and original fantasy. The world was not ready for the brilliance of my work. And so I wrote and wrote, drawing up maps and casting character after character. My story had unexplainable but logical magic and a magic sword and a simple farmboy and a princess and a Dark Lord (who was actually called Dark Lord), and many other totally original things. And then one day I ran out of time and forgot about the story.
This story was on the floppy. It's over 80,000 words. I called it The Legend of Eli. I read a few paragraphs and cringed at nearly every word. How could I, Master of Originality and Wielder of Words, create such trite garbage? I want to print it out and read through it all, just to see what the heck kind of story I did. I vaguely remember pieces of what it was about, but very little. I know it's got plot holes galore, I remember having that problem.
The sad thing is this story is just one more notch on my very long belt of unfinished tales. I'm not sure why I struggle to finish stories. It's not that I don't enjoy writing them. Lord knows I love to write. Apparently I always have, evidenced by the stacks of old writings I've found. (FN2) And if I didn't love to write, then I wouldn't do it. It doesn't matter if I'm writing a song or a blog post, there's just something about the way putting words out there makes me feel. Sure, my true love is fiction, but it's also my bane.
I like to blame it on too much creativity. My mind is always thinking about the next world to create. What kind of people will it have? Or what will the environment look like for these folks? Once I progress so far, it's like I've got to put to paper (FN3) the tale before I forget it, and then when I start jotting the ideas down, I instead jump ship and explore new waters more. Am I simple minded? ADHD? I don't know, but I don't think I am.
Maybe I get lost in my story. Perhaps I know where I'm at and where I want to go, but know that I want to explore more before I get there. If this is the case, then I need to simply tighten up my focus and press on. No one wants to read a sprawling epic that dawdles for too long before actually doing anything.
Looking back at most of my writings, it's rare to find an actual complete tale. Do I struggle with the endgame? Yes, but no. I struggle to even make it to the end. The biggest culprit is, of course, the lack of time, but that's used so often that it's a cliché that I can't put stock in. If I love it, then I'll find time. True. But I don't. For whatever reason, my stories peter out and sit alone on a shelf with the rest of forgotten lore. They're not masterpieces, nor are they well written, but they're mine. They're things I've invested time in, yet not enough. What does it take to get me to finish one?
Somehow I still convince myself to keep writing. This story will be different. This one will end. It will have closure. I can hear my future self laughing back at my current self now. (FN4) Keep telling yourself that, Logan. The writing machine keeps spinning yarns, but they always keep a-breakin'. But maybe this time you just might do it.
It's enough to keep me trying.
FN1: Disk is such an odd word. I almost always use disc, but with a floppy, it seems like it's disk, with a K. I'm not sure if there's really a difference in the English language.
FN2: I must have always been odd. Most of my stories are completely absurd, posing ridiculous situations or juxtaposing things that ought not be juxtaposed.
FN3: Okay, I don't literally write on paper. Most of my writing is done via Google Documents. Rarely do I use paper and pen for writing, though there are extenuating circumstances.
FN4: Like FN3, I can't literally hear this, though if I did I would be perplexed.