Last night I won the Spooky Award at my writer's group. It's an annual award and great fun. I have never won, and that's been fine with me because it's a big hairy spider and I'm still not sure how I feel about having it in my house!
BUT ask me how I feel about the piece I wrote? I don't think it deserved to win. There were others much better but I am still quite proud of it for a reason only other writers can probably understand. It was one of THOSE stories.
You know the ones. You come up with them, you love something in them, the character, the concept, the setting, the title... it could be anything. So you dive in, you dream, you dabble, you develop... then you begin to doubt. You just don't have 'it'. Whether the it is the story or the time or the talent, you convince yourself you are lacking. You try. You keep coming back to the project but you can't bring the words to life. Sometimes you can't work at all. So the story gets set aside or stuffed down deep, buried but good. But it's there. It's still there.
Then one day something jars the dust/dirt/dream loose (a movie, a contest, a sight, a phrase, another bout of doubt for yet another of one of THOSE ideas) and you wonder... and you go back and see what you had. Hey, this wasn't so bad! In fact, it has some great elements, if you just...
So you prune and nurture and shine some light in just the right spots and suddenly - you HAVE something!
No writing is ever wasted. It always teaches you something. It plants seeds that may take a long time to come to fruition but they will bloom somewhere, often when and where you least expect it. It might be a sentence that is perfect for another piece, it might be a character or setting that wasn't right for one story but is just what is needed for a current work. It may be a whole story that just needs a new venue.
Struggling to get something just right? To come up with a wonderful idea? Try just write. It won't be a waste. It might be one of Those stories. Plant some seeds today and rest assured, one day they will bloom.