Socks have come up a lot recently. I think it’s because the weather’s gotten cooler—and colder still. So I’m trying to up my sock game.
I’ve had a couple of unsuccessful shopping trips on a quest for new socks. There are so many kinds out there. Striped, argyle, conservative, fun, boot-length, no-show, and anything in between.
You can pick socks that are an extension of your personality, get a pair that’s purely functional, or pick up something that seems to yell “Buy Me!” at the store.
It’s sort of like the stories we write.
We choose them, or they choose us, for a variety of reasons.
Before we buy socks, we may ponder the color, touch the fabric, check out the thickness, and so on and so forth.
But sometimes you don’t really know what the socks will feel like until you’ve bought them, paid the money, and put them on your feet.
Is it a cozy fit after all? Will they keep you warm? Or too warm, like uncomfortably warm?
Will they feel bulky in your shoes? Will they hold up in the wash? Will they sag around the ankle or calf? And later, will there be holes?
This may happen with the stories we write, too.
We don’t always know how they will turn out until we’ve invested time, until we’ve committed chapter upon chapter, and walked around with them, so to speak.
Sometimes we discover that the story is sagging, no matter how many times we try to pull it up. And sometimes there are plot holes.
As with socks, you may not even notice a hole is there until someone else points it out to you—a spouse for your socks, a beta-reader for your story.
Then there’s the sock fairy. The heartless, cruel, imaginary being that steals our socks. I think the same thing can happen with our stories.
You may be in a great writing zone and then…poof! The story fairy comes along and suddenly the idea disappears. You can only hope it returns, that the story fairy will have mercy on you.
She doesn’t always come back, though. We’re left with a drawer of unpaired socks. A drawer of stories with missing ideas.
As writers, we’re not always meant to hold on to every story. They’re not always the right fit.
Unfortunately, we don’t know until we start outlining, sketching out the characters, determining the goal-motivation-conflict, and writing out the chapters.
And even then, the heartless, cruel story fairy may show up, writer’s block may set in, and plot holes may form.
It’s a chance we writers take. It’s a chance we sock-lovers take, too. But we have to do it. Without our socks, without our stories, life can be a very cold, wintery existence.
Just like there are other socks to buy at the store, there are other stories in our creative well.
Don’t get stuck on a story that’s the wrong fit, that has holes, and is sagging at key points. Even if you’ve tried to mend it, patch it, or hold it up with story suspenders, there comes a point when you know that there’s no saving it.
It’s time to cut the story loose or stuff it in the lost-story drawer, and that’s okay.
Consider moving on to something else that can work better for you, that’s a better fit for your style and voice. Don’t waste too much time when there are other stories to be written…
Your readers are waiting.
Check out these articles:
4 Signs Its Time to Quit a Writing Project by Writer’s Edit
How to Come Up With Story Ideas by Writers to Authors