Branching Off

In my reworking of an old story idea, I’ve reached the point where this version diverges greatly from the way I wrote it twenty years ago. Up to now, I’ve mostly added backstory and context, and the scenes themselves have played out differently, but the key events have been more or less the same.

Now, though, is where the differences really kick in, when the major events will be different, as will the settings, and it’s kind of strange. I feel like I’m in one of those stories where the characters go back in time, alter the timeline, and return to a changed world where they see the consequences of the changes they made. Or maybe a story in which the characters are subtly aware of the way things could have been if they’d made a different choice. I can still see the ghost of the original version. In a way, it’s more clear than the new one because that’s the movie I’ve had in my head for decades. I’ve actually written it. This new one is still very new, not entirely written, and the mental movie is just starting to take shape, so it’s a lot less concrete to me. It’s really weird to write something when the other version is still so vivid.

I imagine as I get further and further from the original story, this will bother me less because it’ll be so different from the original and this version will have become more solid. Right now, though, I seem to be flipping back and forth in the mental images in my head, so it’s slow going as I have to make an effort to go in a different direction, even though the new direction is so much better. It’s hard to let go of the old way.

I think there’s a metaphor about life and growth in there somewhere.


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