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.