The Light of Day

My friend and social media connector extraordinaire, Piper Bayard, held a cover reveal of her first book on her blog a couple of days ago. (http://piperbayard.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/the-nine-year-baby-firelands-cover-reveal/) If you’ll notice, the title of her post is “The Nine Year Baby.” Funny, catchy, and painfully true. This is Piper’s first book, and I’m sure it won’t be her last. Just reading her blog is enough to tell you that. But besides my delight for her, her post got me to thinking.

I’ve written a lot of books. From this one, back in 1991:

Hunter

on through a couple of favorites like this duo, that still bring in mail after more than fifteen years (and more news about them upcoming soon!):

LOTSskypirate

to this one, coming up in July (yes, I slipped my own little cover reveal into this one!):

Cutter 3 cover

But it’s not these published or soon to be published works that I got to thinking about. It’s the unpublished ones. Books that have never, and may never, as the title of this post says, see the light of day. I’m sure all writers have them. Ideas that seemed good at the time, but in the end didn’t have enough muscle to carry an entire book. The things you put away, and frequently dig out again when you realize that partial idea is the perfect partner for this other partial idea you just came up with.

Or that book of the heart, that one that calls to you so strongly you can’t stop working on it, even though it’s other stories that will be paying the bills. I have one of those I’ve been working on even longer than Piper’s nine-year baby. I’m so in love with the hero of this book I’m not sure I can bear to send him out into the world. He may never see the light of day, although a few lines made it onto Facebook in that “seven lines” meme that was going around a while back.

I have a few  several  okay, I’ll face it, a ton of bits and pieces squirreled away in a folder titled “Beginnings.” Because that’s what they are. Beginnings. Some are mere paragraphs, a scene, a setup, a fragment where I have no idea where it came from or where it’s going. Others are maybe two or three pages. Some are longer, and a couple are twenty-plus pages that came out in the white heat of “I have to write this NOW.”

I’ve often wondered what other writers do with this stuff. Is it deleted? Filed away never to be looked at again? Personally, I have a hard time deleting anything that I was moved enough to write in the first place. Not because I think my every word is golden–I wish!–but because I can’t shake the feeling that some day, somewhere down the line, that little bit of writing might save my sorry backside when I’m mired deep in deadline hell. So my process has become I save it and walk away. And my criteria after that is if I remember it after it’s in that beginnings folder, if after a while it’s still in my head, then it has a potential worth looking at. Maybe.

Is anybody else curious about things like this, would you love to peek at these bits and pieces, or is it just a writer’s weirdness that makes me wonder?

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12 thoughts on “The Light of Day

  1. Trish Jensen says:

    Justine:

    I’d pay a fortune, if I had one, to peek into your “Beginnings” folder. Because having read all of the ones that actually included an ending, I know I’d be thrilled to see what your brain’s been up to. And what stopped you.

    • LOL! You wouldn’t have to pay a fortune, Trish! I’m toying with the idea of putting some of that stuff up here, just for fun. Some of the bits are so short I’m not sure it’s worth it, but if people are interested….

  2. Rosemary Elwell says:

    I’m wondering if Tal’s story (from Fire Hawk) is in your “beginnings” folder. That’s one book I would dearly love to see written.

    • Rosemary, Tal’s story is most definitely in there. I so love that character. That’s one of the two I get the most requests for, not coincidentally also the two I most want to go back and write. (Tal, and the sequel to Lord of the Storm and The Skypirate, featuring the kids) I can’t yet go into a lot of detail, it’s very early, but not only will there be movement on reissuing those books, but definitely one, perhaps both of those sequels will finally have their moments to see “the light of day,” to keep with the post’s theme!

      • Sherry Haut says:

        Oh my you’ve just made my year! I so want Lord of the Storm and The Skypirate on my Kindle. They are the only books I reread every year and I really want to replace my tattered paperbacks. As soon as they are on Kindle I so promise I’m buying them and hopefully any sequels!

      • Sherry, thanks so much for the kind words! I so loved those stories. The reissue of both those and the Hawk trilogy is in the works, including Kindle editions, but it’s a ways off yet. I promise I’ll be trumpeting it to the skies when it finally happens.

  3. Rowan Worth says:

    Oh, I can sooo relate!!! I do the same thing–I have a ton of what I term “bits and pieces”. Short bits of dialog. A scene. I’m not much of an outliner, but I have a few things I term “longer ideas” that I discovered in the middle of a chapter workshop actually counted as a short synopsis. And I save them. A few, I’ve gone back to and found the story where they fit–sometimes perfectly. Others I look at and think, yeah, that won’t work, but…what if…? and off I go again and now I have more pages to put in that folder.

    It’s cool that you’ve asked the question–personally, I’d LOVE to see these from other writers. But I make no promises not to start nagging for the next scene. ; )

    • Rowan–that’s exactly it, bits and pieces. One just hit me the other day after one of those vivid dreams you have after you’ve awakened and then go back to sleep. It wouldn’t go away so I simply had to write it out. No idea what it might lead to, it’s very different, and as the dream, vivid. So it’s filed away, awaiting the right moment and story.

      And you mentioned the most used tool in my toolbox. Those perfect, inspirational, this-is-where-ideas-come-from phrase, “What if…?”

  4. azteclady says:

    I love, love, deeply love, when writers share these kind of things with us–not just the bits and pieces (though I would love to see those too) but the process, the way your mind works. It never fails to amaze and enthrall me.

    Thank you.

    • Thanks to you! The writer’s mind is definitely different. No matter what kind of bad news scenario you give me, I can always find a way to make it worse. When that bleeds over into real life, it can get scary. 😉

  5. The “beginnings” folder sounds like fun.

    I am so happy to hear that Lord of the Storm and The Skypirate as well as the Hawk trilogy will be availabe in digital.

    Any news on your early Silhouette Intimate Moments and Silhouette Desires? I have all of your books in print, but would love to get those old favorites in digital as well. (especially Cool Under Fire and To Hold an Eagle).

    • Thanks for coming by! I may yet put some “beginnings” and things up here. I created a “Back Burner” page here just for the purpose, just haven’t decided yet.

      I’m delighted as well that those older books originally done for Penguin will be available again. I’m always touched that people remember them so well, and still want the stories that never got told.

      As for the early category books, I don’t hold the rights to those, so sadly, I have no control over what’s done with them. Or in this case, not done. I do promise should that ever change, I’ll make that announcement happily. I’m glad you still remember Cool Under Fire and To Hold an Eagle! They were fun to write, and as you might have guessed, many scenes were actually written on a sailboat!

      Thanks again for visiting!

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