I’m not the kind of person who gives up easily. Who walks away without looking back. Who lets things go without accepting the weight of regret and carrying it with me begrudgingly.
But the more time I spend writing (it’s an embarrassing amount of time, let’s be honest), the more I learn that it’s more harmful to hang on to something you’ve outgrown than it is to say goodbye.
I’ve started — and finished — many big and small writing projects since I started on my quest to “become a writer” (ha — whatever that entails, I still don’t know).
But I’ve also abandoned many, many stories. Not because I wanted to. But because I knew in my heart it was time to let them go.
This is for you — the stories I left behind.
The characters I created, fell in love with, and touched for the last time.
The prose that shaped me, defined me, moved me to tears. Erased my shame, my regret, and my uncertainty.
When a writer stumbles upon a story, that story becomes all they can focus on. Given time, it begins to unfold in their arms. Like magic, it transforms from a simple idea into a complex plotline that becomes harder and harder to walk away from the more time the bond has to form.
And yet … sometimes that bond is no longer good for the writer. Breaking it simultaneously breaks their heart. But they’re better for it. Eventually.
I didn’t leave because there was something wrong with you. I left because you were not meant to develop beyond what you had become.
Some stories will forever exist in fragments, large sections of them unwritten. That is the way of creation. Many things are fully grown when they’re over. Many things are not.
You changed me. I’m sorry I couldn’t follow through. That I made a promise to raise you and make you into something that could thrive without me … only to stop before time allowed that to happen.
If I could come back to you, I would. If I could fulfill those promises once and for all, I would do it in a heartbeat.
But the thing about stories is that there comes a point when an author can no longer grow alongside them. They have already, by the time their stories have ended, grown beyond them.
Just because I left you does not mean I will ever be able to forget you. Though you might not know it, you have inspired so many of the stories I have begun telling since then — and more I will tell in time. You may not have made it to the final draft. But walking away from you means that many other stories can.
It’s impossible to forget something you’ve created. Not completely. You are still as much a part of me as the blood in my veins. You are mine, always.
Unfinished as you are, you still mean the world to me.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.