We all have them. All of us.
We writers like to joke amongts ourselves that you’re not really a writer if you don’t have a dozen or so unfinished stories lying about at any given time (we’re a self-deprecating lot). But it’s often true. Inspiration comes and goes. Often it feels as though a flash of lightning: appearing suddenly, blinding and brilliant for an instant, gone just as fast. Sometimes, that flash of inspiration leaves behind a story…or part of one, at any rate.
For my part, I keep all of my short fiction in a series of three folders on Google Drive: one green, one yellow, and one red. Those folders hold unfinished works, works needing revision, and finished manuscripts (green, yellow, red). At any given time, I have no less than six science fiction stories, and eight to ten total, sitting in my green folder awaiting conclusion. Some have been there only a few months. Others have remained for years, awaiting that spark that ends them.
My unfinished stories are an odd subject for me. On the one hand, I feel somewhat self-conscious when I have a lot of stories incomplete. On the other hand, I’ve found its somewhat uncomfortable not having at least four short stories in progress.
To me, each incomplete story represents one “Unrealized Reality”. It’s an incomplete world: a unique place in which something important was supposed to happen. It’s a place I created for a reason, one important enough for me to devote time and effort to writing about it. Some of my incomplete stories have sat unfinished for years. Some remained so for years until, one day, inspiration struck anew, and I found myself with a completed work of fiction.
The end of a year always brings some measure of regret: one can’t help but focus on the things left undone, those left unsaid, on that which one failed to do. Yet each unfinished story also offers promise for the future, as each serves as a constant reminder that one’s work is not done.
Thus, my wish for everyone this holiday season, and the new year that comes, is this: may you always find yourself with an abundance of unrealized realities. May your story never be truly complete.