Sunday, July 21, 2013

On Having Written

Ute Carbone

I do not like to write. I like to have written.” Gloria Steinham.

I’ve been revising a manuscript I wrote several years ago. It’s an interesting experience, not unlike visiting old friends in a place where you used to live. You sit down, have a cup of coffee, chat. You remember why it was you loved these people. You recall, with some fondness and nostalgia, the adventures you took with them. And you remember how, on occasion, they drove you crazy. 

My old characters live in a neighborhood like this Image thanks to Wikimedia.

In some ways, it had been a relief to write the end—the story finished, you packed your bags into the trunk of your old Buick, gassed up the engine, and headed for parts unknown. There were other adventures to be had, new characters to meet and to live with and to share, for a time, your heart. But the leaving is always bitter sweet as you watch the characters of your old story grow smaller in the rearview mirror. A part of you wants to stay, never mind what’s around the next bend.

Going back is both easy and hard. You recognize (and cringe at) the mistakes you’ve made. You begin to wonder at the secondary characters and the stories they might tell. And, too, you are anxious to move on, to get back to the new manuscript you are creating. The new characters call you each day, wondering when you’ll be back to help them through the muddle they’ve created.

I want to reassure them. I’ll be back soon, don’t worry. I won’t leave you hanging. But for right now, I’m going to sit in this bright kitchen, drink some coffee with old friends, and reminisce. 

Till next time, 

Books by Ute Carbone


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

A good image we all exprience. Some of my characters seems like part of my life, and I think, "I owe them a letter."

In reality I probably owe them my sanity. Don't laugh.

Ute Carbone said...

I know what you mean about sanity, Julie! Although I do sometimes wonder if talking to characters means I'm certifiable. :)

Big Mike said...

Just finished writing a SF novel and had a similar experience. Felt like the book would never finish (after a year and 100K words) then once it was over, boy do I miss the characters. They really do come alive in your mind's eye.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Pat said...

Old friends and new friends describes it perfectly. Sometimes I'm reluctant to go back to an old manuscript that is just not what I want it to be. I worry about being stuck in an old relationship that didn't quite work out.

Ute Carbone said...

They are like real people, aren't they Mike? Hard to explain to that to someone who doesn't write.

I've had the stuck thing too, Pat. In the case of this manuscript, I like it better than I remember liking it, which is a great thing. Though there are problems with it, which is why I'm revisiting in the first place. I've got my fingers crossed that I can solve them!

January Bain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
January Bain said...

Hi Ute, oh, you are so right! Trying to balance working on older manuscripts versus the brand new experience of working with new characters is mind bogging. I find it the hardest thing to do in my writing experience. Best, January.