August 13, 2020 in Dag

I am the little red engine – I think I can, I think I can

Everybody knows the story of the little red engine. How it gets to the bottom of a big hill and it’s not sure whether it can climb it or not. But it keeps on saying, ‘I think I can, I think I can,’ and in the end it manages to get to the top.

Well today that’s me. Today I am the little red engine. And here is why.

Of course, it should come as no surprise for me to tell you this pertains to my writing.

More specifically, it refers to my major project – my fantasy/comedy/romance/adventure/satire. The one I’ve been going on about for over three years now.

You’ll recall that after I completed my first draft, I took a long break – well over a year. This was due to a number of reasons, including my health, various job changes, and general busyness. But possibly the biggest reason I delayed making a start on a second draft was because I knew it would be hard work. There were lots and lots of things in that first draft that weren’t working well. And, to be quite honest, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to fix them.

Some of the issues related to structure. I got onto those early, and spent quite a bit of time remapping the structure before I began the rewrite. I was pretty happy with how this went. Even now, as I’m around the halfway mark of draft 2, I’m sticking pretty closely to that new structure.

But as I started writing, I knew there were bigger problems. In particular, there were three pivotal scenes, later in the story, that I knew were pretty awful. No clues for guessing which of the five genres listed above those scenes related to. I like to think I know my strengths as a writer, and I know my weaknesses too.

Early on, I had a go at re-conceiving those scenes but I still couldn’t get them right. So, I put the issue aside, knowing that it would emerge soon enough, but hoping I could face it when I got there.

So guess what happened? I got there. I wrote and I rewrote and I suddenly found myself only pages away from the first of those scenes. What was I do to?

Well, I imagined myself as that little red engine. I told myself, ‘I think I can, I think I can.’ And then I sat down and had another go at mapping out those scenes. And you know what? I reckon I didn’t do a bad effort. I reckon I’ve now done most of the planning required to get them to work. I actually wrote the first of them last week and, while still not perfect (it is only a second draft), I reckon it’s not too bad.

How the whole thing will end up I have no idea. It’s an ambitious project for me, so the risk of failure is high. But that doesn’t bother me. For now, I’m the little red engine, chuffing to the top of the hill.

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