Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I came to a very difficult decision this weekend. Although my CP and the Playfriends have heard various bits of rants about the problem, this is the first they will have heard of the decision.

My current WIP has been retired.

It’s not that I don’t like this book or the characters. I do; I love the characters, and I think the plot has promise. It just isn’t working. At least not right now. I’ve been working on this book for ages now, and I’m only barely breaking triple digits in page numbers. I don’t know where it’s going or how it’s going to get there. I’ve tried outlining. I’ve tried brainstorming. I’ve tried “just writing” to see where it may go.

Instead of looking forward to writing, I dread it. I look for other things to keep me from booting up the laptop. We’ve gone beyond cleaning out sock drawers here—we’re in deep avoidance. Not wanting to write hurts me because I love to write.

“But, Kimberly,” you say, “you have to finish it to show you can.” Well, I’ve finished books before—2 to be exact, 3 if you count the complete revision of my first book. I know I can finish a book, I just don’t think I can finish this one. At least not right now.

The main problem I have with this book is that I’m trying to write a book I know can’t sell. It’s too chick-lit-ish to be a romance, but not chick-lit enough to be a true chick-lit. It’s too short to be single title, yet it won’t fit in any of the category lines. I feel like I’m spinning my wheels, writing a book for the pure sake of getting it rejected. At this stage in the game, I think I need to be concentrating on writing good books that have a hope of selling.

“You HAVE to finish it,” shout the Playfriends, “an editor has said she’d look at it.” Well, yeah, but that same editor is looking at something else of mine right now. I don’t want to squander any goodwill I might have by sending her a manuscript that is wrong for her house and unsellable.

Hence the trip to the back burner for the WIP.

I would have had to set the current WIP aside to work on the revisions for Book #2 anyway. And should that book get rejected after the rewrite, I need to have something else to pitch. I have so many ideas for books that DO fit somewhere, it seems like I should be nurturing and cooking those ideas into partials and fulls—not dragging a chapter out sentence by torturous sentence.

But I’m not setting bonfires or anything. I’ve just moved all the files off my desktop, packed up all my notes, critted chapters, and contest comments into a 3-ring binder, and placed the binder on the bookshelf. I’ll go back to it one day. Maybe when I’m a stronger, better writer, the plot problems and solutions will become clear. Maybe I’ll feel ready to turn it into the single title it needs to be. Maybe I’ll be ready to write the story that these characters I love so much deserve. We'll consider its retirement temporary.

It was tough to come to this decision. I felt like a quitter. I felt guilty for contemplating abandoning a project mid-way through. I’d invested a lot of hours in that WIP—hours that now would be “wasted.”

But now that I’ve done it, I feel so much better. A weight has been lifted off my shoulders; the albatross has been removed from my neck. I’m so excited about doing the revision. The ideas for new books that have been poking at my mind for months now are swimming into focus and I’m excited about plotting them and getting to work.

Sometimes I think we need to know when to say when. It’s hard to let go. But I only have so much time and energy. I want to work on a book that is a joy to write—not a screaming pain.

So don’t judge me too harshly for giving up. I thank my wonderful CP and the Playfriends for all the effort they’ve expended trying to get me through this WIP. (So you won’t be left hanging for an indefinite amount of time…the heroine and hero decide they are perfect for each other and live Happily Ever After.)

I can’t wait to start writing again…


Playground Monitor said...

Hey... no harsh judgements here. I've abandoned my share of stuff that wasn't working in favor of writing something that was. Writing should be fun and not pure drudgery.

One day it may all come into focus and write itself.

Good luck with the revisions and future projects.


Linda Winstead Jones said...

No criticism here, PC. It's good to know when it's time to set something aside and move to another project. One day something you're not even thinking about right now will fall into place, where this story is concerned, and if you care to take it down and give it another shot things will move more surely and quickly.


Angel said...

I think the key that makes this the right decision is that it was a hard decision for you to make. You thought it through, tried to work through it, and gave it your best shot.

Instead of just giving up, you persisted until you learned that the book actually wasn't working on several levels for you. And you have proved before that you could finish a book. More than one.

So cut yourself a break! One day in the future you can open it back up, so it isn't dead forever. Go write something full of promise and hope-new manuscripts always feel that way, don't they? :)



Rhonda said...

PC, I think every writer at one point or another has had to abandon a story. Don't beat yourseful up about it!

Also, it's not time wasted. You were still writing, still honing your craft, still exercising your creativity. No worries!

Start something fresh and let it be a joy again.


Kathy said...

I agree with Rhonda, PC. You haven't wasted any time, certainly not your own. You've learned what works and what doesn't, and have honed your craft. Never forget to give yourself the credit you deserve.

I like the old saying, 'when one door closes, a window opens.'

A window has just opened, PC. Take a look inside, gaze with awe. A new world, a new set of characters, adventure and suspence await your talented voice.

Viva La Voce!

Instigator said...

Don't you feel guilty! You have no reason to. Like Angel said, you didn't walk away without a fight. You tried every way you knew how. Part of learning and growing is recognizing when something isn't working. If you hadn't learned anything from the time you started writing till now you probably wouldn't have recognized that fact. And remember, those words count towards your million :-) so they were certainly not wasted.

I can't wait to hear what you're working on next. I sense a brainstorming session. I love those.


Problem Child said...

Yeah, I was going to ask if we could plot me in April...I need something to take with me to the in-laws' to work on...