I've been working on a project called Red Winter (just Winter, now), off and on, for the last five years or so. While the plot has always worked, something about the mechanics of the story never quite gelled for me. I could never get it where I wanted it.
Now, this story began life as a pitch to Marvel about, of all things, The Red Guardian and was, at that point, called The Last Guardian. The editor I was in contact with liked it, but since it was an unknown property by an unknown writer, it wasn't going to go anywhere. He did suggest that I rework the story and do it myself, since it was a pretty good story.
The basic underlying idea is what happens to a person who is meant to be a living symbol of a country when that country no longer exists? Where would Captain America be without America? This is where the Red Guardian was, and I thought there was meat there.
I've always really liked the basic concept here, so I did indeed rework into something else. But the one thing that carried through was the contemporary Russian* setting. I was interested in exploring the aftermath of a collapsed country, and what it did to the people.
And this was, I've come to realize, The Problem. Despite my research, I couldn't get the story to feel right and true. It was interesting, and the plot moved, but ultimately the feel of it was just wrong. I couldn't get myself to move forward with it as it was, so it ended up being moved to the tinker with pile.
Today I realized, when discussing it with a new artist, that it didn't have to be set in a Russian setting. Change the setting to a post collapse America, and all the lingering problems that I'd been having just go away. And changing the setting opens up a whole new set of things that I can work into the overall theme. Things about disillusionment, hope, the end result of where drown it in the bathtub politics are taking us and the death of the American dream.
Which, naturally, makes me feel like a big fucking idiot. Because it's a simple elegant solution that doesn't just solve a problem but makes the story better. Only took me five years.
*Not actually Russian, but former Soviet Union. As a child of the eighties and the end of the Cold War, that is all "Russia" to me.