By Linda O. Johnston
What do writers do with old ideas? That depends!
As I mentioned last time I was here, I have been fortunate enough to be traditionally published a lot. But that doesn’t mean that every idea I had made it into a book, or even a novella or short story.
When I started writing–well, when I really started writing, as a kid, I had to type things up on a typewriter. What’s that, some of you ask? It’s the forerunner of our computers and high tech gadgets of today. Even when I started writing on a computer, it was easier to keep printed copies of my ideas and how I’d fleshed them out into at least the beginning of stories. Could I have saved them on disks and other techie devices? Yes, I did that too, some of the time. But it seemed easier then to hang on to stuff that I’d sent to my printer.
And now, my mind remains full of ideas, and I’m always creating new computer files to keep track of them, even if their only existence remains in idea files that I struggle to ensure are backed up, just in case I turn back to them ready to write. I organize them in general topics–some for mysteries, some for romances, some combined, and lots involving dogs. And yes, there are others that don’t fit into those categories.
So why am I thinking about this now? Well, I was communicating recently with a really nice business associate. She’d recently gone somewhere and seen some wild dolphins.
Which reminded me of one of my earliest ideas that I’m still highly fond of. Yes, it involved dolphins. And I thought back then that it would be one of my most cherished published novels someday. Only… it didn’t get published. It didn’t even get fully written. The good thing was that my story’s concept involved changing the world so that no dolphins got killed in tuna nets, as they did in huge numbers when I started the story. And lo and behold, some of the laws actually changed while I was writing it. Did the change save all dolphins? No. Sure, more dolphins were saved than before. But the change wasn’t international, and even in waters near here, in the U.S., the protections weren’t perfect, so not all dolphins were saved from that kind of murder. But my concept wouldn’t have made sense any longer.
Even so, that’s still a treasured idea. I’m delighted, though, that the main reason I walked away from it was a really good one–that dolphins actually were at least somewhat protected.
Could I do something different with it now? Maybe–and the fact that the idea is now back toward the front of my brain at least means it’s scratching at my skull. But what about all those other ideas I’ve had over the years–like some involving dogs that I began, then elbowed aside because of other stories I was writing that I received contracts for?
Okay, that’s really part of the fun of being a writer. Our minds are always working and coming up with ideas and creating scenarios and… Well, you get it, especially if you’re a writer.
So… tell us here about some of your old ideas that never made it into a finished work– and what became of them.
Thanks for dropping by, Linda O. Johnston