I have many of them. Like, probably 80% of the documents saved under my “Stories” folder are false starts. Some go on for pages and some for just a sentence, but all stopped when I figured I was going about it all the wrong way. False starts are frustrating, but they happen to the best of us. And to me they happen almost constantly.
I once went to a book signing for Michael Chabon shortly after he published The Yiddish Policeman’s Union (got him to sign my first edition of Wonder Boys. Eeee!), and he read for the audience two false starts and the story which finally resulted. The false starts were nice enough, but I could see how he’d never get his final product from the two he read first. It made me feel a hell of a lot better about my crazy eighty percent and rising. Even The Great Chabon of Kavalier and Clay sometimes needs a bit of calibration before he can get his narrative moving.
And as I write this, I have document number three opened for another start stemmed from a false one, and another false before, but I’m convinced I’ve got it this time. I just needed those other docs to weed out the unnessesary and hone in on the story buried under the mushy gray rubble I’ve got floating around in my head.
I think what I really need is a tinfoil hat with a good set of antenna. Because I don’t look crazy enough as is.