The Graveyard of Unfinished Articles

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The truth is that while I will go to just about any lengths to stay on a schedule, even a self-imposed one, when I allow myself the freedom to only post when I feel like it, it becomes easy to put it off or just not bother, and that’s how I’ve ended up with such a paltry output on Medleyana this spring. This week, after finishing up my Tune in Next Week series covering the Buck Rogers serial over at The Solute, and feeling self-conscious about how long it had been since I posted here, I wrote up a thousand words or so about a topic that had been rattling around my brain for a while.

The article, once I finally got rolling on it, was a speculative endorsement of a live action feature film based on a popular children’s property. (No, I won’t say what it was; I may yet find something to do with what I wrote.) I thought I made a good case for a live action version of a property that has, as yet, only been seen in a direct-to-video animated format. However, the more I wrote, the more I felt that I couldn’t be the only one with that idea. Sure enough, upon searching for information online, I found that a live action film is already in development, although a release date isn’t set.

My feelings upon learning this are mixed. On the one hand, I feel vindicated: I’m clearly not the only person who sees the potential in the property, or at least my ability to recognize patterns in the media strategies of large brands is intact. On the other hand, there goes a morning’s work that I can’t use without serious reframing. (Note to self: do research before writing.)

While the amount of labor involved wasn’t huge, the incomplete article joins others stored in my hard drive or notebooks that will likely never see the light of day, made obsolescent for one reason or another. A partial review of Galavant‘s first season, begun under the assumption that it would be a self-contained story, seemed pointless to complete when it turned out that the story ended on a cliffhanger; the many loose threads would be tied up only in the second (and now final) season. Another article about the wave of detached, ironic “appreciation” of bad pop culture prominent in the 1990s (think Mystery Science Theater 3000) petered out after two paragraphs (its premises overlapped too much with a similar article I had written about listening to “bad” music). Another article on shape-changing “versatile” animals in fantasy fiction remains just a series of notes and references (I suppose that one may still get written some day). All of these drafts fell victim to a fatal lack of accessible information or the realization that I didn’t have that much to say about the subject, or simply fell out of date, overtaken by events before I could complete them.

The record for my fiction output is even worse, since I’ve tried to find outlets elsewhere for it rather than self-publish. I’m not talking about finished but rejected stories–those are annoying enough, but I can show them to anyone that wants to see them–but those “stubs” that started off strong but petered out or were interrupted and never returned to. (I’m hardly alone with the latter problem, exemplified by the “man from Porlock” who interrupted the composition of Coleridge’s Kubla Khan.)

George Bernard Shaw famously said, “When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.” This blog, as well as my work at The Solute and other venues, has been part of an ongoing effort in the last several years to finish more projects, even small ones. Certainly there is satisfaction in having a steady stream of small articles instead of being invisible for a year at a time between unveiling larger projects, but there is something to be said for single-minded application as well. Currently, I’m scattered between several projects, and while the time to work is more abundant than it has been for some time, it still takes discipline to manage so many competing interests. That’s a matter for discussion at another time, however.

In any case, whether I recast the article I wrote or simply leave it in the drawer, it surely won’t be the last thing I write that fizzles out or is allowed to die quietly; sometimes those premature deaths are mercy killings. At least a few of them have the potential to be repurposed, perhaps into an article about leaving projects unfin

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