Thursday, November 8, 2012

Make It Work?

You never forget your first. The thrill of discovery. The flush of excitement. Those little nuances that make your heart sing. 

Technically, I'm working on my fourth manuscript, but the first two were never ready to query. But with The River Remembers (or whatever title I'm trying this week), I've been through the trenches. I've done contests and queries. It's been read, re-read, critiqued and edited. I've tweaked and rewritten until I'm not even sure what the plot is any more. Why?

Because I love it.

I love these characters. I see their lives stretching on beyond what I have written. I have so many stories for them to live out. I have playlists of songs for them, folders of pictures for the places they live, the clothes they wear. Even the secondary characters still thrill me.

But my work-in-progress? It doesn't consume me. It doesn't keep me up at night. I don't hear their stories in every song or imagine them drifting through the crowds when I'm out and about. I like it. I like my characters. I like my concept. I like my setting. 

But Cambria isn't Emma. I don't understand her the same way. She's a great main character. She just hasn't wormed her way into my heart the same way. And my villain? He's no Patrick. Oh, Patrick. I doubt I'll ever write another villain I love like him. 

The problem is that I don't want to rewrite my first book every time I try something new. So gone is the heavy, moody darkness. Gone is the fragile-strong heroine and conflicted hero. Gone is the beautiful, alluring antagonist. I spent so long building that world and now I don't know how to escape it.

Which leads me to my question. Is it okay to not LOVE everything you write? Is there a time when you just have to make it work? How do you know the difference between something that just isn't right and when you're just hung up on the past?

I've hit 40,000 words (aiming for 60,000-70,000) again in my work-in-progress and I want that passion I still feel for TRR. I want that obsession. It's not really practical for a mom with a newborn and a toddler, but I miss that compulsion. It's too easy to let a day or two pass without writing. It's too hard to make myself keep writing when I lack inspiration.

I don't really know what the right answers are. I know I'll keep poking away at this thing because I need to finish. But I am beginning to doubt it'll be worth the refining process I put TRR through. All the time and sacrifice that went into that manuscript was a labor of love. So how do you put that into something you don't love?

Maybe it will come with time. Maybe it will come through the beta process. Maybe it will never come. Maybe I don't want it to come. I don't know. I do know I love writing, even when it's hard and I'll keep pushing forward because that's all I know to do.


  1. That's a great question. My situation is the opposite--I like my first book, which I'm querying, but I'm head over heels about my WIP. I've found that loving my WIP makes the whole process more enjoyable. But then again, every book is different. And since you loved your first book so much, maybe you're placing unrealistic expectations on your WIP? Since you're already 40,000 words in, maybe you should finish it and then let it sit for a few months. Fresh eyes could bring fresh enthusiasm. Good luck!

  2. Interesting. I fell out of love with the first novel I wrote and finished and have not looked back. Even what I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year (percolating for over a year) was something once I scribed it and purged it was no longer something I wanted to think about. Like I had to do it just to get it out of my system.

    However my current WIPs (one I've been in a relationship with for over 5 years) and another over 1 year are ones I am in love with, much like Megan. So it can be the subject matter. Perhaps once you finish you're out of the honeymoon stage and such. But either way we all find those projects that tug at us and beckon our attention and focus until it is really and truly finished.

    Great post, Jenny!

  3. I reached a point on my last manuscript (the one my agent signed) where I had become too invested. After over a year of effort, it was all consuming and filled up my heart so completely that there was no room for another manuscript in there. Falling in love with something new took me almost five months. For our well-being as writers, I think it's always a problem when we don't love what we're writing. But some loves don't develop that easily. Some loves are earned. The only answer I have to just to keep working it. Your love may come during the revision stage.

  4. I know exactly how you feel! My first real WIP series has literally consumed me. The first one was my everything, and I spent every single day with it, either writing or editing. And I'm still not done with it or happy with it. I have spent so much time with it, almost 2 years, that I can hardly handle the second one the same way without getting discouraged and taking long breaks from writing. I always keep hoping that I'll be able to love other books that I write the same way and love the characters with the same passion. I guess we just gotta go with the flow, you know?

    BTW, Congrats on your new baby girl!

  5. I'm so impressed that you made it to 40k when you didn't love it! I've started several manuscripts over this past year, but never made it that far. I wish you had the answer for me, because I have gotten NOWHERE in writing this year. I can't seem to come up with an idea I think is "good enough". Best of luck to you! So excited to hear you've finished your WIP! Christy