Left Hanging

It is a truth universally acknowledged that all writers in possession of a novel idea fear never finishing.

“But Erica,” a discerning reader may say, “you are still a young writer, and haven’t even a published book to your name (yet). Who are you to make this generalization?”

And I would have to say, you’re right. But it should be remembered that every blog post on the internet is someone’s opinion, and this is mine.

But if I had taken that discerning reader to my childhood bedroom and let them dig through my closet–past the homecoming gowns and old dance costumes and the bodies of my enemies–they would find stacks of half-filled composition notebooks.

And, even more personal, if I had let them dig through my computer (which would never happen. No touching The Precious!), they would find scores of novel beginnings and short stories with notes to expand into something greater, and even a few documents with vague ideas like “panda circus” and “enchanted bakery” that make no sense to me anymore, but I still refuse to delete.

So, yes, while I am still a young writer, I am old in the ways of abandoning stories.

It’s an unwelcome thought that always pops up at some point during the writing process. Maybe it’s just as you’re beginning, or slogging through the middle. Maybe it’s during the second or third draft, when you’re just so tired of looking at the damn thing. Irregardless of when it happens, you will have the thought: what if this is all for nothing?

It’s a tough moment, when something you’re pouring over might never see the light of day, let alone a pair of eyes that aren’t your own. But it happens. Some stories hit a wall and end up in the drawer or the back of the closet or in a file on your computer desktop and never looked at again.

That doesn’t make them worthless. Some stories just don’t work (I’m pretty sure “Panda Circus” wasn’t going anywhere), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth the time and effort. At the very least they are a learning experience, a way to grow as a writer and learn.

And I’m not saying you should give up every project at soon as it gets difficult (because then no one would write books). Just recognize a dead end, should you encounter it, and remember that disappointment happens sometimes.

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