Friday, August 31, 2012

Fess Up Friday: I'm Giving In to the Seven-Year Itch

Back in 2005, I fell madly in love with the idea of a plot and cast of characters for a YA novel. For a few years, I dabbled with this story as a yo-yo writer and therefore, my progress was rather slow. Then for three years, I worked intensely to finish this story. I would stay up late into the AM hours to write after my dear family had gone to bed. It wasn't easy to stay faithful to just one project for all this time (Oh alright, I sort of strayed by writing a couple of early readers and a picture book MS too. And there was that tiny fling with the beginning of a MG novel). But I stuck to my vows to finish this story and demanded of myself that I finish what I start.

And so I did.  

After about 30 to 40 revisions (yeah, seriously), I sent my manuscript to a super lovely editor who had requested to see it. I submitted the best of what I had. It's been six months since I sent out the manuscript and I haven't heard back from the editor so this means she has passed on my story.

I should be feeling the angst and heartache that comes with rejection. 

But I confess....I feel relieved.

While I'm sure I'd get advice to submit my story elsewhere, the truth is, I have already decided I need to take a break from it. A very long and indefinite break. I tell most people I spent about three years working on this story, as most of the writing was indeed done in three years. But the truth is that I'd really been working on this story for the last seven years, even if I'd only churned out a few chapters per year during the initial years that I began writing. 

After spending so much time holding hands with this one story (with an occasional indiscretion of a new story affair here and there), after all the research, after all the revisions, after all the reads and re-reads and re-reads again and then again, after more revisions, after all the paper that I tossed into recycling, after all the internal  wrestling and shouting matches I had with my plot and characters that I'd once so adored, I have decided I really need some fresh air.

So I told my story I wanted out. I said I'll let it keep the block of space on my memory drive (just in case I ever come crawling back later). But for now, I'm sooo done with that WIP.  

I've heard more than one author say that writing is never wasted, even if the work remains unpublished.  I agree. What I got from writing my first novel is that now I know what goes into writing a novel.

So for now, I'm moving on. I am flirting with the idea for a new novel. Maybe this one will be a keeper.

Have any of you ever decided to call it quits on a story or novel you were working on?    
What's the longest time you've spent working on a story?

9 comments:

Daisy Carter said...

I have a MG fantasy that I put in the proverbial drawer a while back. I still love it, and I still think it would make a great story. But my love for it is almost completely gone because I spent SO much time with it. And it never felt right.

I've shelved other things along the way, usually 60-80 pages in when I can clearly see that what I thought was a brilliant premise is actually someone else's book with my spin on it or a retelling i have nothing new to bring to it.

Best of luck with your new fling! My fling became the book that landed me an agent!

Diana said...

Found you ISWSG! I started a YA fantasy novel and got about half way throught it before I got burned out. It sat in my hard drive for a while, and when I opened it again, I decided to start from scratch. It has now morphed into a NA fantasy/romance and is going a lot more smoothly. Do I regret the time I spent on the original? Not a bit because it brought me to this one!

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I wrote a book at the same time as my first published one, rewrote and polished it for close to a year between my first and second published books, and ultimately put it aside. But I've used pieces of it in later projects.
Sometimes I go back to old projects and give them new life. So you never know.

Nick Wilford said...

I identify with this a lot because my first novel took nearly three years too. I really believed in it, but it was never as good as I thought it should be. And yeah - too much time and you just want out... but you learn a ton and that's what it's all about!

Lionel said...

I have written a story that remains in the drawer. I always go back to it, thinking it's no good, and then when I read it, I think, "that's not too bad." Unfortunately, "not too bad," isn't good enough. I am happy to tell you that I finally figured out what to do with it. I have cannibalized bits and pieces that I really like for other stories. I also really like the theme, so I think I'll keep that and just have to do a total rewrite some day. Thanks for sharing, I really enjoy the conversation.

Paul R. Hewlett

kittyhietala said...

Great post! I have this fear that this will happen with my current WIP (which has been a "current" for far too long). But then I think that I should be willing to give it up if it is truly not going to be able to be sold someday. I went to a book signing a few nights ago where Amanda Hocking was signing her new book and she said that she has written something like 25 books - but only published half of that. So I keep telling myself that if this first MS of mine turns out to just be "practice" then I *should* be okay with that, right?

Cynthia said...

Daisy: I'm glad your recent fling came with a happy ending! It's hard to shelve something, but I can see the benefit of quitting while you're still ahead.

Diana: I'm glad to hear that you're exploring the NA genre...and it's true, writing is never wasted, even if you don't use all of it.

Jennifer: Glad to hear you were able to "recycle" stuff you've written.

Nick: The journey of a writer definitely comes with lots of learning opportunities.

Paul: Sometimes I feel the way you do about stuff I'd written too.

Kittyhietala: It's possible that your current WIP might still end up in a bookstore someday. Good luck.

S.P. Bowers said...

I do have stories and parts of stories that I will never finish or try to see published. Fortunately not too many. We'll see if this one is added to the pile. At this point I've been working on it for three years but I still feel strongly that it has a chance.

Corey Schwartz said...

Yes, I definitely agree.. writing is never wasted! You learn from each and every draft!

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