First of all, I’d like to wish everyone Season’s Greetings.
Then I’d like to thank Robert Wingfield of INCA for designing for me such a wonderful new cover for ‘Alex Sager’s Demon’. Here it is, above. You can get it on:
I wanted to write a skit for a Christmas post, perhaps something on the lines of ‘Christmas at Castle Dracula’ or even ‘Heathcliff meets Arthur Huntingdon for Christmas cheer at Wuthering Heights’ or some such, but what with one thing and another I have run out of time. Typical bad time management from me.
So instead, I will write about The Dreaded Manuscript in the Drawer.
I was thinking that for me, 2015 was the ‘Manuscript in the Drawer’ year. I put two of ’em in there. One 50,000 words, one 22,000 words. How’s that for wasted effort? And all done first thing in the morning before a cup of tea.
I’ve also got the opening chapters of a dystopia in there.
I’m halfway through writing the sequel to ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois’ and I have re-written the beginnings of ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois’ and of ‘Ravensdale’ and ‘Alex Sager’s Demon’, it’s true, so it hasn’t all been Writers’ Block and Consigning to Drawer of Doom for me. Still, I did write about a third each of two versions of the same Gothic story, and both led to prolonged writer’s block and finally were sucked into that Drawer of Doom, which is too often like a black hole for manuscripts.
Once through that good old event horizon and they are usually fated not to escape; too much heavy matter in there.
There was a purely comic and a darker version, and I think one of my resolutions for 2016 must be to draw one of them out, and bring it to completion.
This must be so common a fate for so many initially promising manuscripts. I’m sure many other authors have that manuscript in the drawer that they intend to get round to drawing out from the dustbin of history (perhaps these days, more take the form of abandoned files on the pc which are never printed out and don’t even get to the Shoved Into A Drawer’ stage. No doubt many are eventually deleted, accidentally on purpose).
It would be interesting if we all were to pull them out of drawers or locate those forsaken files in 2016, and see if we can overcome the problems that led us to abandon them.
I can’t help pleading on behalf of these unfortunate manuscripts, you know; after all, the problems that caused their creator to consign them to limbo may not have been insurmountable. Perhaps it was a case of that famous ‘wrong timing’ (Gets carried away) . Perhaps a little give and take,an acceptance that there were faults on both sides (and other cliches) might be the best approach to adopt to resolve the conflict, and the best way to a creative solution? (Pulls herself together) What’s the matter with me? I’m talking about words, not people, even if those characters did seem vivid!
I’m always morbidly fascinated by the whole dismal matter of the Drawer of Doom. All famous classic authors seem to have them; Pushkin relegated that unfinished robber novella ‘Dubrovsky’ to his, so that it was only published after his death, complete with the unabridged and convoluted legal document that comes in the middle.
I think it is a shame he abandoned it, as unlike some harsh critics, I loved it when I read it. He was attempting to produce a work of literary merit which also had popular appeal, and that’s as laudable an aim as can be for an author; after all, it’s trying to emulate Shakespeare in a way. He wrote plays with an eye to popular success, though he just happened to be a genius.
Emily Bronte and Anne Bronte don’t have any unfinished manuscripts, for the simple reason that they urged their sister Charlotte to destroy their unpublished manuscripts after their deaths.
Jane Austen had three unfinished short novels, ‘Lady Susan’ ‘Sanditon’ and ‘The Watsons’. I am sure I am fairly typical of Jane Austen admirers in that I think that none of them deserved to go into that drawer, or anyway, to stay in it. I was particularly interested in ‘The Watsons’ when I read it, and wondered how the plot and sub plots would have worked out.
I am intrigued about some more deceased prolific authors, who were, shall we say, less perfectionist in their attitude to their work. For instance, Charles Garvice, who wrote 150 romantic novels during his writing career, or Barbara Cartland, who easily beat him with a total of 700 (but she did live until she was nearly ninety compared to his seventy).
Did they have their Manuscripts in the Drawer?
Perhaps, though, the Christmas and New Year round over, 2016 will be the year when through a strange process of synchronicity,writers all about the world will draw out those neglected manuscripts from drawers and open those long neglected files on the pic. I will certainly try and do something with mine; that’s my writing New Year’s resolution. That, and finishing the sequel to ‘Scoundrel’.
Oh yes, and another one about time management.