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Patchwork Wordsmith

Last weekend was rather fantastic. Because it was a three-day weekend, I had the opportunity to get all of the logistics out of the way by early Saturday afternoon with two full days still remaining to do as I liked. Obviously, part of that time was spent working on my second novel. I also read over some of the finer details with regard to publishing and came several steps closer to finalizing a release date for Duality. I also made the extremely important decision as to what to do about my patchwork. Allow me to explain further.

It’s been mentioned several times here before that there are thousands of pages of work saved on my hard drive. Most of this work was written over a period of 20 years. I even have a ZIP disk containing work that’s even older (though I have yet to justify buying a ZIP drive solely to read one disk). Among those pages is some amazing work. Some of it, though, let’s be honest… It will never see the light of day aside from the times I pore over it for the sake of nostalgia. Even among those rejected items, though, are some nuggets that are too good to disregard or toss away. There are also pages that were written for fun as part of a fan fiction, ranking among some of my best work. What to do about those? This is what I mean when I talk about patchwork.

I stumbled upon the idea of patchwork writing purely by accident. I was going through my files as I mentioned and found an uncompleted short story written years ago. The tone of it is similar to the novel I’m working on now and, as I read it, I thought that it would make a wonderful addition to the current book. Of course, some things about it would need to be changed, but 70% of it could be incorporated as-is. I spent some time working on converting sections of the short story and then inserted them into the main document of my current novel. It was as though I’d found the missing piece to a puzzle or, in this example, a beautifully-coordinated swatch to add to a vibrant quilt.

Photo by Jeff Wade on Unsplash

Obviously, I won’t be able to do this sort of patchwork with all of the literary “swatches.” There are definitely some that can be molded to fit with the current novel and some that will be great in future novels. There are also, however, some that stand alone in quality and theme and won’t fit with any of the projects I have lined up within the next few years.  That’s not to say that they won’t be used at all, though. Those will be reworked and crafted to stand on their own as the foundation, and perhaps other smaller bits will be incorporated into them.

What I mean to say is that even though you may hit what you feel is a dead-end with a certain writing project, that doesn’t mean that hope is lost. I co-wrote a fan fiction that is over 850 pages, and some of it is unparalleled in quality with other things I’ve written. While certain instances of it can never be used because of its ties to the original source material, there are other bits that I devised of my own creation (only my ideas, and not those of the co-writer, obviously) that can and will be reworked. I could never detract from the magic woven into the initial piece of work, as it was truly a labor of love spanning over years, but I will take just a bit of what I personally added to it and spread the love among the characters of my own making.

In the meantime, I have a five-day weekend coming up soon. That’s one day of logistics and four days of writing. I can’t wait!

Side note: I am aware of the concept of Patchwork Writing when it comes to college essays and term papers. In that example, the term refers to students who will “patch together” information from other sources without giving credit to those sources. Obviously, I’m not talking about that and don’t condone that sort of patchwork in any way. Onward!