Holy hell, you guys. My "works in progress" folder has officially become a scatterstorm.

Actually,  the form "scatterstorm" may be too gentle. I think we're talking a full-on, all-caps, all-bold, maybe even italicized SCATTERSTORM.

In the unlikely event that you're unfamiliar with the term, here's the official definition:

[skat - er - stawrm]
A violent, disorganized state of being; equivalent to three sharknadoes. 

Ideas. Beginnings. Excerpts. Drafts. They're stacking up at a ridiculous-but-mathematically-confirmed rate of 1 bajillion times faster than I can complete them. Here's a full tally of the number of works I currently have in progress:

  • 18 novels
  • 8 short stories
  • 3 fairy tales
  • 4 essay collections
  • 18 plays
  • 3 musicals
  • 7 one-acts
  • 1 screenplay

Total works in progress: 62

Seriously. Scatterstorm.

It's safe to say I've worked myself into a hole, here. Obviously, a bunch of these can go into a "Nope" file. Actually, I should probably just delete some of them outright. I have a hard time letting ideas go, and a slush file will probably just Jacob Marley the hell out of me. (New verb: Jacob Marley. I used it first. Tell Miriam-Webster.) Even though it seems like a shame to delete a dozen or so fun ideas, dear lord, you guys, I'm not likely to finish a backlog of 59 projects, especially when such new and exciting ideas come down the pipeline. (For example, a dark little fairy tale I dreamed up this week called "Two Former Rogues." It's going to be so delightful! You've been warned.)

But there's a lot in there I just can't part with. Sixed? "Clem and the Cave of the Seven Sorcerers"? Project Knucklefish? One project I can't even name because one of you will instantly go, "Holy [expletive of choice], that is a great title!" and you'll make a movie out of it before I even finish the next chapter of IF? These are projects I absolutely love, and ones that I have to get back to eventually.

I have to.

But some of these ideas are never likely to never get completed. But I can't write them off, and all for different reasons. I refuse to delete the one-act "Croatoan," because it includes a joke about corn that I think is absolutely hysterical, even though not a single other person on Earth thinks it's funny. I can't give up on the novel Legends Motel because even though I still haven't found that story's voice after almost ten years, there's just something really magical about a rundown, fleabag, sweat-stained motel where American tall tales come to life. I flatly refuse to turn my back on Lynched! The Musical, even though it's called Lynched! The Musical, maybe specifically because it's called Lynched! The Musical.)

I might never get around to finishing a lot of these works, and in a way, it's sad. But at the same time, it's nice to have them around. They show me how far I've come, creatively speaking, in the last 12 years. And some of them remind me that I'll always want to tell the same kind of stories, no matter how old I get. These works in progress are like little, digital time capsules.

They also serve as a really important reminder. Sometimes, when I'm finishing up a project and looking for a new one, I have trouble seeing a new one. Every so often, I start to worry that I'll dry up, that eventually I'll hit the end of the line, and I won't have any more original ideas. On those days, it's good to flip back through the ol' slush pile and look at how many new ideas I've had since the last time I was down in the creative doldrums. It's a pretty effective reminder that, "Oh, yeah. There will always be new ideas."

And, hey. If I ever do run dry, I've got more than 60 threads in my back pocket I can always pick up and spin into full yarns. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I should probably get to work.



Clayton SmithComment