Wednesday, August 2, 2017

IWSG: Sand Dollar or Stinky Fish?


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When I walk on the beach, I search for dolphins out at sea, smile at skittering sandpipers, prod at shells wedged into wet sand. I also peer into piles of sea stuff - seaweed, driftwood, shells - washed up on shore because you never know what you'll find. Sometimes a huge, whole sand dollar. Sometimes a stinky fish.

This WiP, this new novella, has become that fish. I dig through ideas, characters, dialogue, excitement and passion only to end up with something so smelly it makes my eyes water.

However, I don't think it's time to move on to another pile - or another project - just yet. I hope that if I just nudge aside some clingy kelp, if I sift through more broken shells, I'll find that sand dollar, find that story. It might be dirty and stained. It might even be inside that fish. But if it's there, I'll find it. I'll unearth it. I'll clean it up. And I will make it glow.

68 comments:

  1. You GO, Lady. Keep at it and don't give up because it's there. Sometimes we stop unearthing or cleaning up a story too soon, only to find out later when a similar story comes out that we should have stuck with it.
    All the best.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Patricia at Everything Must Change

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    1. Thanks so much, Patricia!

      And I so hear you about that feeling when a similar story comes out. Sigh.

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  2. I loved your blog post headline - it definitely drew me in. And I loved all of the sea shore / ocean analogies. I bet there are a lot of sand dollars lurking about in the pages you've written. Keep searching, they're there.

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    1. Thanks, Ellen!

      I wish I was as brave as you, out there actually in/on the ocean. My feet - and nerves! - prefer the sand, even if does sift and shift under me once in awhile. :)

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  3. You don't know you have a real stinky fish until your dog rubs its body over it.

    Your tortoises haven't been circling your keyboard, have they? :)

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    1. Ha! :)

      I'm thinking maybe I should let the tortoises circle the keyboard. They're probably faster than I am when it comes to writing....

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  4. Finding the story or the whole sand dollar is the key to happiness. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  5. Hi Madeline, you CAN make that WIP glow. I am having trouble with one of my novels, so I completely get you.

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    1. Hmm, gloves are a good idea. Or maybe some hand sanitizer. :)

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  7. I'm thinking of unearthing a gem from my past WIPs. It's a whole sand dollar for sure, uh, somewhere in that stinky fish existence.

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  8. WIPs do tend to need to be polished. Every now and then, they can lose their shine and look quite ugly, but if we keep at it, they shine again. Good luck! :)

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  9. What a great comparison. You made me smile this morning. I've been worried my current WIP might be a stinky fish too.

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    1. I'm glad I was able to give you a smile. :)

      We just have to keep digging past that stinky fish, Susan. We can do it!

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  10. I think we all have to hold our noses at some point while trying to make our WIPs shine. But just think! Those beautiful diamonds people pay so much money for started out as humble lumps of coal, and we can turn our books into gems, too! I just hope it doesn't take as long... :)

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    1. Love that, Susan! And I'm with you on hoping it doesn't take that long....

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  11. I love that. It all boils down to our determination, eh?

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  12. Persistence is key! Good luck with the revisions.

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  13. Good luck with your stinky fish. I have a couple of those myself, at least one of which should be wrapped up in newspaper and given a decent burial.

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    1. That's the trick, isn't it? Knowing when to keep digging for that sand dollar or when to bury that fish and move on.

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  14. Maybe the fish swallowed a golden ring? You'll work it out. I believe in you!

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  15. Sometimes, it takes time for a story to crystallize out of a pile of junk. You might try to step back for a month or two and then return to your story with fresh eyes and a new perspective. Occasionally, such approach helped me.

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  16. I love this metaphor! I'm in a similar place with a story I'm working on. Why is that when you start digging (aka revising), you just find more things to change? Hoping you find your sand dollar and the heart of your story very soon!

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    1. Thanks, Jenni! I hope you find your sand dollar soon, too.

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  17. Brilliant metaphor! Yep, I have some stinky fishes stashed away inside my computer.

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  18. Great post Madeline and I enjoyed your metaphor. I'm currently re-writing two novels, so I'm up to my knees in stinky fish. One, in particular smells as bad as a bucket of prawns in the sun, but I still keep coming back to it. I know there's a sand dollar in there somewhere! I hope you find yours soon. Good luck!

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  19. LOL I think all first drafts are stinky fish. Sometimes it just takes a while for ideas to come together.

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    1. I hope this one comes together soon. It's getting hard to breathe around here. :o

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  20. Great attitude! (I enjoyed the metaphor too :) )

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  21. Best wishes for turning that stinky fish into something special. Sometimes all it takes is a little determination and stubbornness.

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    1. Determination? Check. Stubbornness? Check. An actual good idea? Hmmm....

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  22. Doing a little sand sifting myself and gazing at the sea.
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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  23. Yes!!! Clean off the stink and pull out a white, shiny skeleton or sand dollar.
    I love how you described this, Madeline. I feel like my rough draft of my current WIP is pretty stinky right now, too. I haven't finished it yet, but when I do, I'm going to have to strip it down to the bones and rebuild ... or at least that's my guess at this point. Sigh.

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  24. Keep digging around in that stinky pile. You may find that sand dollar yet! I feel like I'm doing the same thing sometimes. It helps to turn away for a bit and come back to it at times.

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    1. Hmm, turn away from the pile and gaze at the sea? Sounds good!

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  25. I have a lovely sand dollar on my window sill. I found it back when I lived in Florida so it has been kept unbroken through two moves over 20 years.

    I'm tempted to also call my wip a smelly fish....but I think I finally have a handle on the problems and the fixes. We'll see what happens.

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    1. I love finding shells in general but especially sand dollars - real ones, not the metaphorical manuscript ones. :)

      Yeh for having the fixes to your WiP problems!

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  26. Great analogy! Keep slugging through the pile, but don't forget to enjoy the view!

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    1. I think maybe I've been spending too much time with my gaze toward the ground and not enough with it out toward the view, the sea, the horizon.

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  27. Love this! There's always moments where the story stinks to high heaven. Here's hoping you find the sand dollar in yours!

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    1. I think I might need some air freshener around here.... :)

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  28. Great way of describing it! I'm pretty sure when I start delving into each raw draft that I've got the decomposing fish. But somehow we managed a transformation. Just keep digging!

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  29. It's like uncovering ancient treasures in the ruins. Slow, tedious work, but so rewarding once you see the first glimmer of promise. Just keep chipping away. The great thing about stories and ideas is that even if you decide to set it aside, it is always waiting for a second look later.

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    1. If I remember correctly, I believe Stephen King talked about stories like that, stumbling across a piece sticking out of the ground, uncovering slowly.

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  30. I have to complete at least two rounds of editing/revising before I can start to polish that "fish" into a potential sand dollar. I'm slow, not too steady, and have no patience.

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    1. I hear you about the patience. I'm always like "Come on, already!"

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  31. I love this analogy, Madeline. I think writers can turn stinky fish into treasures, and I'm curious to see where you'll go with this.

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  32. Yes, find it. Unearth it. Clean it up. And make it glow.
    Love the metaphor and the climactic end!

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  33. You always come up with the best analogies! I'm sorry you've come across some stench but I have faith you'll find the sand dollar. You've got this!
    And if the stench won't go away, at least it's almost GoT day again so we can be happy either way! ;)

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    1. Maybe I should skip the novella and just write a collection of analogies and similes and metaphors. :)

      Oh, how I love GoT day!

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