Dusting off the Manuscript

 

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Picture by Stef Niko

502 typed pages.

235,656 words.

58 days.

I have found myself staring at the stack of printed paper, hole-punched and barely contained in the large ring binder sitting just within my reach. It was never intended to be any more than a simple project for me and Jei, a creative exercise. So quickly it got away from us. We began to write back and forth, page after page, idea after idea. The project we nicknamed “Millsport” took on a life of its own, and in a span of two short months, we had exchanged over 600 emails to sift through, read and look upon in awe.

The sheer magnitude of what we pulled off with Millsport colored our initial point of view when it came to its quality. While we had enjoyed the journey, we had never stopped to focus on cohesion or content. Years passed and we waylaid any thought beyond momentary reflection for the neglected story. When we finally broke down and began to read our old manuscript, we realized something: it was not as good as we had thought.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t all bad. Our characters were still fascinating, the world was still an interesting concept and there were pieces of story and dialogue we still loved. The amount of content alone was an accomplishment. But now we had a choice: toss the 500 pages of writing into the pile of washed-up ideas or tackle the beast to create something more.

It was not an easy decision to make. The longer we waited, the more twists and turns our life threw in, fogging the memory of passion we once had for Millsport. Intimidation loomed over our shoulders as we read over each page in an attempt to rekindle our interest. We hemmed and hawed right up until the universe sent us a kick in the proverbial backside.

It was a friend’s desire and excitement to explore the same genre as Millsport that gave us the shove we needed. It became infectious as he spoke of his own interests and we found ourselves caught up in it. Invigorated with this new purpose, we went to retrieve the mountain of notes, virtual and physical, to begin digging into the story once more.

There was a different feeling this time around. After so many false starts and unsure steps, there was an air of confidence that lingered between us. We were capable, passionate and determined to make the seed of an idea grow into a full-fledged narrative to share.

Taking on a project so complex is far from easy. The hard work, frustration, and conflict that comes with attempting to merge two individual styles of writing into one can be exhausting. We have come to see our differences in world building, story writing and character development not as a weakness, but as a strength. Our conflicting styles force us to consider new perspectives and keep us striving for balance.

While there are still pages to reread, pieces to rewrite and ideas to reimagine, we are happy to take it on together. Our strategies are still developing. And as we handle pinning down outlines and styles, we hope to share our growing experience with our fellow writers.

9 thoughts on “Dusting off the Manuscript

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