Unfinished Thoughts


Because I surely haven’t bored you enough with talk of my writing process: while the majority of the writing I do is in paragraphs or pages at a time –fully flushed-out ideas with a cogency both standalone and in the grander narrative arc– there are other, blurrier snippets that pop up from time to time, unmoored from the novel as a whole. I’ve made mention previously of the “single sentences squeezed out of my early-morning brain on the bus,” or the half-formed lines that burst into the forefront of my consciousness before I fall asleep at night, desperate to be documented. Usually a phrase, a line of dialogue, or maybe even just two words strung together that, for whatever reason, carry an urgency that finds me scribbling by the light of my cell phone or adding yet another line to saved draft email I use for writing on the go (word count of that email alone: 9,169). More often than not, I find their rightful home in the novel without too much effort, am able to work out these unfinished thoughts eventually and nestle them in the writing where they fit, where they were meant to fit all along only it took my brain a little longer to catch up to. But then are things I’ll write down that had such an immediacy when they came to me but now might as well be hieroglyphics for all the sense they make. Herewith, a few examples:

  • a life of unrealized potential
  • vibrating with promise at him
  • “She lives,” Sylvie said in a low voice.
  • “And ad the risk of running this animal analogy into the ground,”
  • —But you did love her, she says in her sleep —Yes. —And now you don’t love her anymore. —No. —Now you love me.
  • “Monet and everyone else. Or whatever went missing. They still won’t confirm anything.”
  • escalating neediness
  • It lacked the necessary permanence to
  • Too many to count, too few worth counting at all


In a way, these are as illuminating about the way this novel is going for me as the ‘official’ first draft document. But I also feel like Lucas, from “Empire Records”: “Who knows where thoughts come from, they just appear.” I love these little unfinished thoughts, even though sometimes I feel schizophrenic when they charge into my brain out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly, leaving me muttering whatever it was out loud so I don’t forget it, as I’m digging through my bag for a pen.

14 thoughts on “Unfinished Thoughts

  1. I am not writing a novel, though perhaps it’s from my the days when I wrote feverishly and had plans/hopes/dreams to be published in one way or another, but i still do this! i love snippets. i find unfinished thoughts, broken sentences, a few words perfectly matched to say so much more and evoke such direction and emotion at times. xoxo

    1. Oh, I’d love to read some of yours! And I’m happy I’m not the only one afflicted with this snippet issue, haha. You’re right, though, they somehow say more being incomplete than some things say in full paragraphs. xo

  2. I enjoy books more when they have little snippets like these. I would even go as far as to say that I really only end up falling in love with books that have snippets like these. They’re beautiful, and they’re perfect teasers. Can you finish your book now, please, because the more you write about it, the antsier I get about reading it.

    1. Thank you so much, lovey. Good god do I wish there was a magic wand I could wave so it would be finished. Though, now that I’m saying it, I realize that’s probably not true. I do enjoy even the most torturous parts of the writing process, but I know I will want to throw a party the moment I declare this book “done.” I might even break out my best Jean-Ralphio dance moves:

  3. I love this. I know a lot of unfinished thoughts/sentences pop into my head when I’m running or about to fall asleep. I rarely write them down though. They’re always gone too fast.

    I love these glimpses into your writing process. I find them fascinating. :)

    1. I did it again the other night, too, Charlotte. I was falling asleep and something came to me and I thought, “I’ll definitely remember this in the morning!” And of course it’s gone now. Sigh. I should learn just to roll over and write it down!

      And thank you so much, sweet thing. :) xo

  4. I bought a little voice recorder a couple of years back to record just that. can’t say I’m using it much. could use my phone too, obviously. but I know what you mean. sometimes these things just pop into your head and you need to write them down. and if you don’t, the loss feels immense.

    1. Oooh, interesting! I actually have one of those, too! I think I asked my dad for it when I was maybe 12 or so, because I’d seen a few episodes of “Felicity” and she would always use one to send pen-pal tapes to her friend. I might have to break it back out and use it for things like this! Thanks for the great idea, P! xo

  5. oh dear i do love some snippets of well formed prose. there are times when i will hear or read something so wonderful that i need to write it down to remember. one in particular from truman capote was “dead tired disposition.” i could feel that kind of exhaustion just through the words! yours are just as lovely, and i’m so glad you shared these snippets. xo

    1. Oh, darling, I might just explode from your sweet comments! Comparing anything I could ever write to Truman Capote?? Girl, I could kiss you on both cheeks! Thank you so much, Yelle. I mean, you’re way off base, haha, but I’ll take it anyway ;) xo

  6. C’est comme même très difficile le métier d’écrivain ! Trouver des phrases et le finir !! J’aime que tu nous raconte le procès de comment écrire un livre, c’est très intéressant ! Bon courage, mon amie. xo

    1. Ha, ce n’est pas autant difficile que le métier de medecin, ou quelque chose similaire. Je ne crée pas “cold fusion” mais certains jours, il se sent comme ça! Je ne peux pas plaindre, c’est la meilleur travail dans le monde pour moi. :) Merci mon ami! xo

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