January 3, 2012

sometimes you just have to start over

it's a new year, a time when we think about new beginnings. so i thought i would talk about new beginnings and our stories. 

it starts with an idea. we get excited. we write our first draft. we polish and polish and polish. we want it to be the best story it can be, especially if we're trying to sell our story to an agent or publisher. 

so we send our stories out to beta readers and critique partners, etc. and they give us great feedback. and then we apply it to our story. and quite often, it makes it a better story. 

but sometimes it doesn't. 

sometimes, despite all the great ideas from our readers, the story gets lost. the heart of what we wanted to say gets buried in all the other stuff. 

maybe this has happened to you. and maybe you decided you'd just leave it because your crit partners knew better than you what the story should be in order to sell it. maybe it didn't matter that the story you wanted to tell had been replaced with something else.

that's ok. i'm not criticizing that decision. we do what we have to do to reach our goals. 

maybe you saw the story you wanted to tell get buried and you lost heart. and you stopped writing. 

i know i did. 

in my efforts to please my readers and my crit partners, i tried to make my story something it wasn't. and it turned into a story i didn't want to tell. it didn't sound like me. it sounded forced. it wasn't my voice. 

so i stopped writing. 

and then something happened. i moved to Montana. i started to rest. i missed my story. somewhere in there, i started to think about what i wanted to say. and i started over. almost completely from scratch. 

i know it goes against writing wisdom. all that work and i started over. in the past it would have bothered me to write so many words and decide most of them had to go. but by then, i'd realized that writing was like compost.  i was ok with starting over. it made more sense than trying to fix what i already had. 

that doesn't mean i ditched all of it. there's still a lot that's from the last draft, and some that's from the stuff i wrote for my crit partners. all of it's coming together to make a story i love. 

of course, there are moments when i think about readers. i worry about what they'll think. but then i push that aside, because i realize if i don't love it, they won't love it. and in the end, i'm the only one i have to please. 

OR sometimes, you have to stop worrying about everyone else and be secure enough in your writing and in your story and just write it.

(to read more posts for insecure writers, you can go to Alex's blog.)


Anonymous said...

This is such a wonderful sentiment; I think the depth of truth to it is infinite!
Best of luck to you; tell the story you love and it will be brilliant!

Laura said...

I can't believe I'm reading this. I have just come in from the cafe where I have decided to shelf my first full novel and get going on some fresh ideas. I love the idea that it's going to make some good compost for something else to grow from!
Laura x

Annalisa Crawford said...

I'm kind of in that position myself. I'm so unsure which way to take my novel - but I'm now unsure whether the original idea was strong enough. Argh! It's good that distance from the manuscript has made you want to work on it again.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If it's not in your heart, it won't be a great story no matter what. Glad the move to Montana recharged your energy and passion!

Kelley said...

I agree that sometimes starting over is just what may be the best idea. It's good your back writing for you, because your right if you don't love it most likely your readers won't either.

Kristie Cook said...

So glad you got your mojo back! Write what you love and readers will follow. Or something like that. YOU are your most important reader.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Glad you are excited again. Sometimes the story we want to tell just doesn't feel like it would appeal to others. And sometimes we're just not motivated by what we are expected to write.

February Grace said...

"of course, there are moments when i think about readers. i worry about what they'll think. but then i push that aside, because i realize if i don't love it, they won't love it. and in the end, i'm the only one i have to please."

BRAVO and amen!!!


M.J. Fifield said...

I agree so much with what you've written here. It's a great sentiment.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

That's one of the tricky things about being a writer - balancing our passion with a reader's interest. But if the first one isn't there, the second never can be. Great post - new follower :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thank you. Love the quote at the very top of your page, and the Snoopy Comic - that says it all.

Tonja said...

I'm not sure why, but I sincerely enjoyed the lack of capital letters at the start of your sentences. I think it's good that you can let go of what you wrote and start over.

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

What a great post. Thanks for the reminder on what we should all be trying to do. :)

LynnRush said...

So true! Love this. I've been there before, and I didn't really like the story I wrote when I wrote it for people other than me.

Write on, my friend.

Emma Calin said...

Ok.Keep your head down and do it. If it's good you'll cry. I don't cry enough.

Damon said...

what a greaaaat blog ,love your blog =) follow

Anne K Albert said...

I felt the same way about my latest WIP. Somehow I'd gotten lost in the process and I couldn't face it. I walked away. Gave myself time away to reflect and re-group.

Turns out it's not as dreadful as I had thought. In fact, now that I've done some tweaking and revising, it'll be a spring release. Which proves that "sometimes you just have to go where your heart takes you".

Happy writing!