Mae Clair: The Problem WIP…Phoenix or Pyre?

What do you do with the story that refuses to settle into a niche? Resurrect it in a new form, or toss it onto the pyre of works that won’t ever see the light of day? Case in point: I’ve been nurturing a manuscript for over twenty years that has been through metamorphosis upon metamorphosis.

Back ‘in the day’ I wrote a novella called HERALD OF THE STORM. Today, it would classify as urban fantasy. Back then, I viewed it as magical realism (though that line is still blurry to me). It had a seventeen-year-old lead character using magic to battle the forces of evil in a modern setting. Unfortunately, there was no such thing as young adult fiction and, unless you were Ray Bradbury, most readers didn’t sniff around magical realism.

No matter. I liked it enough to develop it into a full-fledged novel, adding secondary characters and a complex family history along with a generations-old curse and an unsolved murder. When all was said and done, I was left with a novel that wasn’t marketable. I tucked it away and forgot about it until, years later, I cleaned it up and slapped a new title on it–ELF-SHINE. *cringe* I should clarify, I hate that title. It didn’t matter though. There was still no market. Back in the drawer it went again, where it languished for many moons, collecting dust.

About ten years ago I dug it out and did an extensive rewrite. The lead character went from seventeen to twenty-three, I upped the magical element, cut some of the secondary threads and strengthened others. Now I had an urban fantasy, layered in mystery, with several POV characters. Hmm. Still problematic. Sense a pattern here? You guessed it…back in the drawer.

Recently, I stumbled over it while scrounging up material for a Mythical Monday post. I gave it a quick look-see, realizing the markets have changed (exploded!) and new writing opportunities exist. I could go back to my original seventeen-year-old protagonist and market the manuscript as YA. I’m not sure I want to do that (some of the more adult elements appeal to me), but I’m starting to realize this story has life –nine of them like a cat or, at the very least, the rebirth powers of a mythical bird.

After all this time, HERALD OF THE STORM has the potential of turning into a phoenix.

Whether I resurrect it in a new form, old form, or one in between, I’m thankful I hung on to it and didn’t toss it on the pyre.

Do you have any moldy WIPs stashed away? What’s your solution…phoenix or pyre?