Thursday, May 20, 2010

KNOW WHEN TO FOLD 'EM

KNOW WHEN TO FOLD ‘EM

So. I’ve got this manuscript. Or part of one, actually.

It’s taken me eighteen months to get to 40k words. (I know, right??) Much longer than it took me to write any other book. Ever. I’ve plotted. I’ve pantsed. I’ve filled out character questionnaires, GMC-ed, written copious notes in multiple notebooks, and walked around with these people in my head trying to fit their lives together in a cohesive way. I scrapped the whole thing several times (five? six?) and started over.

I entered contests when I thought I finally had it right, finalled in two, won one, both resulted in requests--one for a full, one for a partial.

Happy dance! Time to get this puppy done! I sat down and eagerly set to work.

Eight months later, I’ve totally fizzled. This story simply cannot be told in the way I’ve been trying to tell it. I can’t find the right way to get this romance on paper. It’s like I’ve got the right characters, but am trying to shoehorn them in the wrong story, the wrong life. I dreaded getting out my laptop, opening the file and staring at it. I think I gained weight ‘cause after about 5 minutes I was rummaging around in the kitchen thinking maybe brownies or a granola bar or a spoonful of peanut butter would tell me where to go.

Not so much.

Two weeks ago, I admitted the truth, the truth I think I’ve known since I started this book a year and a half ago--some stories can’t be written. This story can’t be written. And by hiding behind this book, I’ve lost valuable time I could have spent working on one that can be written, a story that might just be The One.

So, I packed it away. I have hope I’ll someday revisit these characters (whom I love), find the way their story is supposed to be told. I changed the background on my laptop (the sight of the other one stressed me out and triggered that run to the kitchen!) and set up a new folder for a new WIP--two of them, actually. I hauled out fresh notebooks and different pen colors. Both of these WIPS feel so much better to me. I can see them and there’s no voice whispering, “This isn’t going to work.”

If there were, I’d listen.

Ami Weaver

8 comments:

Carolyn Hughey said...

Ami, I've been there and done that so many times, I totally understand.

In the good news department, although this one isn't working, it's so much fun to write another story and insert those finished chapters into your new story. It's like finding a $20 bill in an old pair of jeans you forgot about.

Great post!

Ami said...

Carolyn,

Thanks for the help with getting this up! I appreciate it. And I love the finding a $20 bill analogy. That's exactly right. :)

Jennifer Faye said...

Hi, Ami. So sorry to hear that about your story. Is it the one I read the beginning of on the crit loop? If so, I thought it had great potential. Maybe some day down the road you'll know exactly where the story went wrong and be able to fix it. In the meantime, enjoy the endless possibilities of a new story. They are so much fun.

Mona Risk said...

Amy, many of the stories we start are put on the shelf for sometime. But once the first book is published, we go back and retrieve the old stories, tweak and revise, because by then we have learned so much. Trust me, no written story is ever wasted. So don't delete anything. You never know when THAT forgotten manuscript can become a bestseller. Best of luck.

jilljames said...

Knowing when to move on is a very valuable lesson some writers take years to learn. Being put away for another day is a great place for that story to be. It will have its day in the summer some other time.

Natasha Moore said...

I've had to take a break from stories before, start something new, and then - suddenly - the answer to what's wrong hits me up side the head when I least expect it. Here's hoping that happens to you and you can finish telling your characters' story somwhere down the line.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I;m with Natasha. When something is not working, my characters stop talking to me. If I don't walk away I sit like a zombie trying to figure out why and what is throwing up the wall. Out of the blue a sound, smell or a phrase can blast that wall away and then the story moves along again.

Good luck on your current story. :)

Joanne said...

Ami,
I did a double-take when I read your post because it could have been written by me. I've struggled with my current historical, but have to come to terms that the muse is not cooperating. Time to throw in the towel and move on.