Stuck In The Middle

I am one of those crazy people who jots down ideas or images for stories and poems on the back of receipts, paper towels, journals, notebooks and calendars.  I also have Evernote and more than one short story (all works-in-progress) open on my laptop at all times even when I am away at work.   What all this means is that I am a hoarder of words and ideas and paper.

Anyway a strange thing happened earlier this week that made me realize I have a serious problem.  I don’t think it requires surgery but certainly a visit to the head doctor may be overdue.

I discovered I had saved a version of one of the short stories I have been working on for oh, let’s say four months on Dropbox.  I then discovered another version of it – under a different title – in Word Documents.   To give you an indication of just how brilliant I am – one of the versions is titled simply ‘Short Story’.  Another is ‘Girl Walks Into A Bar’.  Yes.  Really.


All in all I have discovered three versions of what is essentially the same story with the same characters.   What bothers me is how I didn’t even realize I had been doing this? Seems like I would write a new paragraph and save it without really noticing where I was saving it to.

Has this happened to you?

The good news is I now have two versions that I really like and one that needs to be deleted as soon as I pluck up the courage to do so.   The bad news is that these two (delightfully different) versions have me firmly and very resolutely stuck in the middle.  The end is apparently still nowhere in sight.


Image:  Dallas Clayton


38 thoughts on “Stuck In The Middle

  1. Are you saying I’m crazy, Yolanda? We are completely normal…everyone else is crazy. 🙂 I do have one main idea journal where I jot ideas down, but like you, I have scraps of paper, post-its, portions of the newspaper with scribbles. Oh yes, I’ll have different versions saved in different places. I think that helps with the process, at least for me it does. I’ll go back and read the bits and pieces and like clay, mold them into a story.

    • 😀 I think the problem is I have so much info (and ideas) that it feels like I need 100 years or so (of free time) to write. Also it doesn’t help that my ‘filing’ system is non-existent and ‘stuff’ is just about everywhere. Except for the extensive planning I have done for my novel (thank God for index cards) I am quite disorganized when it comes to my short stories and poems….ah well… glad to hear you also have different versions saved in different places. I don’t feel so crazy anymore 😀

  2. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had an ending saved somewhere else and you happened to stumble across it too?!
    I know a writer friend who used to save her drafts with file names made up from what she imagined happened immediately after the story, such as ‘And then they all had cake.doc’ or ‘A dog dug up the thigh bone later that year.doc’ so that even if she had difficulty writing the ending she still knew what happened next!

  3. Being an obsessive reviser, I’ll save each edit under a slightly different name. For example, “The Scotch Tape Murders final draft” “The Scotch Tape Murders super final draft” “The Scotch Tape Murders revised final draft” “The Scotch Tape Murders fall 2013” “The Scotch Tape Murders fall 2013 v2” and so on. By then I will have transferred them from one laptop to another with a flash drive, so the dates won’t even help. It won’t matter, because I’ll never do anything with the story! Lol.

    • LOL Eric! love that ‘super final draft’! At least you’re wise enough to settle on one title. I on the other hand invented more than one which is why I feel like I am ‘discovering’ alternate universes (same characters, same day, different lives)…odd.

  4. I am not a writer, but I too have notes and sketches and sayings and bits of poems in all kinds of different places – I tried to organise myself last year and made an organiser, wrote down headings and everything and continued to write thoughts, ideas, sketches, plans and various words on scraps of paper all about the place.

    You are not alone! ,Is it, do you suppose, part of our creative process intended to keep us on our toes until the ‘right’ version comes along? I have no idea, I am just resigned to having to hunt because I know it is here somewhere…….

    • I do think it’s the ‘artist’s way’ Pauline to hunt as you say and gather info and inspiration. I love the process and the research part of writing (maybe not so much the writing part lol which is the hard part).

  5. So . . . looking for the “right draft” is a bit like hunting for buried treasure!

    “Oh, where, oh, where has that last draft gone? Oh, where, oh, where can it be?”

  6. Yolanda like they say different strokes for different folks. We all have something a little odd about us. We must, if we want to involve ourselves with this writing game. As long as by the end of it you have something you are happy with, that is the key. Happy writing.

  7. I think you’re perfectly normal, Yolanda. I have lots of versions of the same story in much the same way as Eric does – I never delete first drafts just in case they turn out to be my finest work. It does get confusing, though: labelling is key, usually a date helps too. Let’s all be mad together 😄

    • I had to smile at the fact you never delete your ‘first drafts in case they turn out to be the finest work’ ’cause what I am assuming is my first draft of this ever-evolving story is actually my favourite 🙂 Mad and marvellous we are 😀

  8. I have lots of drafts too, and plenty of random notes written on scraps of paper, notebooks, and my phone. I kind of love the idea of you having 3 versions of the same story, and who knows maybe there is some way to write your story where the main character discovers this alternate version of hersel?!? I don’t know how you’d do it, or if it’s possible or even advisable, but it struck me as a cool idea. Now let me go run to my notebook and jot that down 🙂

  9. I’m a big post-it chick which really is very disorganized but that’s not my problem. Sometimes my notes are so cryptic (like one word) that I don’t know what I was thinking but I hate to throw the sticky out just in case I remember. I have started an unknown sticky file (because I ran out of room to stick them). When it gets to be an inch thick, I’m throwing it out and starting over.

    • Lol Kate “unknown sticky file”!! Ah post-its. I use them a lot – especially at work. They look pretty on the desk calendar too. In fact I feel like I am creating a masterpiece when I use them but sadly I’m no good at following through with urgent notes scribbled on pretty pink/yellow/blue/green post-its. I have to refer to my daily planner for that.

  10. I’m with you on the scraps of paper all over the place Yolanda – and I have written two versions of a story, but I’m sorry to say it was deliberate and not because I hadn’t remembered doing it 🙂

    • So we’re in agreement then Andrea, I need to see a head doctor 😉 I thought I was revising and creating draft after draft of the same story but have since learned I wrote several versions…wish I could blame this on alcohol, drugs or automatic writing/possession.

  11. OH, yes. I can so relate to this, Yolanda! haha, no head doctor needed (I hope). Have you ever completely lost a story altogether and then tried to recreate it? I’ve had that experience, too. Better to have too many, I think ;).

    • I lost a complete novel a few years ago because my laptop decided to expire. I tried to rewrite it but because no planning had gone into the story I had nothing to refer to (only some rough notes in my journal). In hindsight I am glad it happened. When it comes to my WIP I have it saved on several computers lol and every chapter has been planned.

  12. Well if you need a head doctor then so do I Yolanda as you’ve just described me to a tee. I’m so paranoid of losing everything on my hard drive ever since it happened to my daughter a year ago (and absolutely devastated her) I now write n write on Word, copy to drop box and back up on an external hard drive. But on Word I’ve found just the same as you describe, what I thought were different stories only to discover that they were the same ones with different titles :/ I used to delete something I didn’t like, when writing blog posts too, but I learnt my lesson the hard way and so now save them for future use. If only I can remember where I put them, lol 😉 And as for all those little pieces of paper, don’t get me started on that 😀 Hope you get unstuck soon with what I’m sure will be a wonderful story 🙂

  13. Yolanda! You are a great writer and make life meaningful with your talent and gift! You don’t need to feel like you are crazy! (Any more than any other ‘artist’ or ‘musician!’ ha ha!)
    I make little notes, bought a pad of sticky notes for in the car, at stop lights, songs and stuff that cross my mind trigger things. I have not misplaced any stories, but I do think two variations of the same sort of story is a great way to post both and have people decide or give suggestions. I laughed at your thoughts! smiles!

  14. Haha, you’re not crazy Yolanda. Although I’m not a writer in a prof. sense but I do relate with the chaos and confusion of drafts, post-its, paper scraps etc. for my work as well as for blogposts.. And photo’s .. OMG I sometimes copy/paste and and then later find them saved on multiple locations. I think it’s all part of the creative process..chaos precedes order 😉

  15. I do exactly the same thing, Yolanda and I actually found two novels under four different names last year 😉 My filing is appalling, Best of luck with finding that illusive ending to your story xxx

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