Satchel Paige once said, “Don’t look back: Something may be gaining on you.” For me these days, it’s more like, “Don’t look back: A pair of old manuscripts may still be sitting there waiting for you.”

With J.R. out the door and Pasta still making the rounds, I’ve recently turned my attention to Arbor, a middle grade novel that’s been in the works for about a dozen years. Half of that time, it existed only in my head, but that still leaves a long history of development on paper. I’ve been happy with Arbor for a long time, too, but parts of it still aren’t clicking with editors, so I’ve gone back and worked some more on the first few chapters, where I think the problem lies.

Then there’s James, a biography I began researching about five years ago. On Monday, I read four “final” drafts of considerably different tellings I’ve tried along the way in attempts to make the story resonate enough with editors for them to want to help me shape it further. The most recent draft, which I last touched a year ago, I like very much. Still, I may be on the verge of yet another approach to James’ story.

The thing is, I don’t mind. I feel like my writing has come a long way over the years, but I really want these old projects to come with me.