Some stories tell themselves. “Ash and Dust” did. The most agonizing part of that whole experience was deciding where it should start. (I still like the original beginning, and I hope I have use for it some day, but it wasn’t right for that particular story.)
“Ash and Dust” probably came easily because I already knew Jaz and Bren. They’d been stuck in my rock tumbler of a brain for long enough, so when it came time to write, they were polished and ready to go. When a story goes that smoothly, it’s easy to assume all sorts of things. It’s easy, for example, to assume that stories that take more work are somehow lesser.
But the stories that get carried around for years before being told are going to be different then ones that haven’t had tincture of time. “Rainpocalypse” (it really does have a better name, I promise) took a handful of starts and one dead end before I understood where I needed it to go. Or rather, it took me that much writing before I understood the character at the heart of the story, and where she would go. Sometimes it works that way.
Sometimes, though, I catch a story too early. I have one I started in January. It’s set on a similar desolate Earth to “Ash and Dust,” and it’s a continuation of the question of who society leaves behind. Two sisters, a carpenter and a painter, and bicycles, and emptiness, and I thought I had it figured out. And then, when I was halfway through, something else popped into my head. One word, but it completely changed the path of the story.
I could have pushed forward on it, and if I hadn’t been working on Wren, I might have. I think that would have been a mistake. Instead, I’m letting it tumble for a while. At some point the unnecessary pieces will wear away. Then it will be time to tell it.