I love the mad rush to write on a new idea: it’s like making love to someone for the first time — there goes a shoe, there a shirt…well, you get the picture. But after you’ve had your way with the idea, it’s splayed on the bed, and you have to decide if it’s relationship worthy, if you are going to commit. Are you going to spend any more time with it, or is it out the door? Can you see yourself lovingly, endlessly tweaking its commas, smoothing its verbs, plucking its adjectives? If not, maybe you’ve got the wrong subject. (Lest you think I am a commitment-phobe, I have been married to the same man for 21 years now, or so he informs me. He’s our family’s historian. I’m just tracking the fun miles.)
I have been known to hunker down with an idea and spend literally years with it. I will let it have its way with me, and then I will pursue it. Then I get bored with it, but it starts talking to me and I come around again — it’s very much like a marriage.
I love the writing process so much that I’m often reluctant to write “the end.” (Wait, does anyone actually write “the end” anymore?) But part of committing to your ideas is also knowing when it’s time to say goodbye. Or, maybe a better way to say it is knowing when to allow others into the conversation: i.e. readers. Because then the characters cease to even seem to be your own (you know they never were, right?) and they belong to everyone. But that’s what it’s all about.
So commit to your ideas, but in order to be successful you need to be a serial committer: once you’ve finished your part in that story’s life, trust that the next idea will be waiting. And it will be. If it’s not, drop me a line. I’m full of ideas.