|Cold Hearted by Healzo on deviantArt|
I poured heart and soul into writing The Alterae, the manuscript I'm querying now. For the last three years, every song I heard, every place I visited, ever experience I had went through that filter. Those characters kept me up at night and prompted me to ignore living, breathing friends and family to bring their stories to life. In that time, I've written enough on that one book to fill two or three. I have bits and pieces of sequels. But every time I tried to write something new, it felt wrong.
For a long time, I thought it was because I'd used up all my energy and creativity on TA. I had good ideas (ideas that I think will grow with time), but nothing thrilled me. Everyone kept telling me to move on, write something new. First books never get published. But I couldn't. Writing felt like a chore - editing TA still felt new and exciting.
I learned so much through writing TA. I started writing it just to prove I could. My first draft was such a mess. Almost every major character or plot point has changed since I first typed it. My writing has gotten stronger, but I've also gotten better as a writer. There's a difference. I understand the value of beta readers and critique parters now. I have a better grasp on other books in my genre. I know more about how the publishing industry works (and doesn't work). I've learn to craft queries and pitches.
I've learn that sometimes it's okay to let go. And letting go isn't giving up.
I've been so afraid that if I loved another manuscript, I'd be giving up on Alex & Emma. I thought I'd let down everyone who read those early drafts. With a job and a home and a husband and a toddler, my time is really limited. I have find time to write and edit and critique and blog and query and research in the middle of managing everything else in my life. I didn't think I had time to love something else and still move forward with TA.
I LOVE the Alterae. I love these characters. There are scenes in my head for future books that are AWESOME and I want to write them.
And I will. But I'm also completely, totally, madly in love with a new work in progress. I started writing last Sunday night and I'm already over 10,000 words (TA is around 64,000 to give some perspective). I'm continuing to work on getting TA out there, submitting to contests, querying, etc, but in the mean time, I am loving writing something new.
While still a contemporary fantasy, this one is totally different from TA in tone. It's much lighter and the romance is stronger. It's also more epic - something I never thought I'd write again. I'm not writing it to prove anything or to fit any self-imposed expectations. I'm writing because I love it. Because words are pretty and I can paint pretty pictures with them. Because I can create characters that stick with me and make me want to follow their stories. Because I want to know what if?
I guess the point of all this is that I finally took the advice of EVERY OTHER WRITER and finally found something new to love. Because just waiting will never get me any closer to getting published. And I have stories to tell.
What about you? How to do know when to let projects rest? When do you let them go completely? How do you differentiate between giving up on a project and giving it space?