Sometimes when we write, we throw caution aside without a second thought. In that moment, we are invincible, our minds immersed in a world no one else can invade or criticize. We are the gods of our own literary universes, creating exactly what we want, when and why we want it.
Sometimes we sit back and realize what we once thought was a brilliant string of narratives, which we hoped would eventually form at least a mediocre masterpiece, is actually a disaster. One you can’t fix just by changing a few thousand words.
That’s why I’m starting over.
I know what you’re thinking. How? How could I have spent the past year writing a novel – not including the very early planning stages, which began the summer of 2012 – and all of a sudden decide it’s not the story I always wanted it to be?
Let me first attempt to ease your concerns by assuring you I’m not “getting rid of” the 80,000 words and countless hours that have thus far gone into this project. There are many elements, and even many sections of dialogue, which I plan to keep. Right now, though, my novel is an absolute mess, to the point where each time I open the file to work on it, I not only dread it – I feel as though I’m drowning.
Aren’t novelists supposed to enjoy what they do? Of course we are. The only thing that has gotten me this far on my journey toward Novel Completion is knowing that, someday, I’m going to finally finish this thing. Sadly, that day just isn’t going to arrive as soon as I’d hoped.
This is not an easy thing for me to admit, especially to all of you, who have (maybe) been keeping up with the progress of Immiscible ever since it really got going last January. I’m certainly not quitting. I think it takes a lot of willpower to be able to look at your own creation, realize it’s not going to make it very far the way you’ve designed it, and vow to take a step back and reconstruct it the right way: slowly, carefully and patiently.
The book is coming along nicely in some areas, don’t get me wrong; it’s not all a war zone. There are a lot of characters who develop significantly from start to finish (about the only two things that are currently “complete”). There are a few solid motifs that have woven themselves through its major plot points. Some of its flaws can’t be ignored, though: plot holes too big to fill with reason, dialogue that jumps from topic to topic too quickly without segue. The excruciating lack of a definable relationship between the two FMCs. The fact that the one mystery that’s supposed to maintain itself through all three books in the trilogy is too painfully easy to solve.
It’s agonizing, almost, which is exactly why I want to reset my own finishing deadline. If you know me, you understand how painful that is! There is a positive here: I have never been published, I don’t have am agent or a contract to uphold, and therefore, I can push back my own deadline without much external upset. I’m willing to take the time to take apart my own book and rebuild it, with “blueprints” in place so I don’t find myself scrambling. It’s that important to me. And I suppose that has to count for something.
I have a lot of hard work ahead of me. Which is terrifying, because I hope to have a full-time job by January, etcetera, etcetera. What’s even scarier is that I have now given myself freedom and permission to stray from my original plan and dare to try something new. The only barrier I have is the second book, which I’ve already started. Instead of limiting me, though, it’s more of a guide. No matter what happens in book one, I at least know it has to end up where book two begins.
Imagine thinking you had your entire life all planned out, then realizing that’s not going to work out the way you wanted. It’s terrifying and devastating at first. Then one day you realize having let go of that plan means you can basically go anywhere, do anything. That’s the thrilling part of the nightmare. This may be the most terrifying moment in a writer’s life. But it’s also the climax that will lead to everything turning out exactly the way it was supposed to in the first place.
I hope that means this will all be worth it someday soon.