Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Truth

I've decided to shelve the manuscript I've worked on for over a year.

Any of you who have followed this blog for a while know that this has been a hard year for me. I've tried to be upbeat about it, but the pregnancy, the months of sickness and sleep deprivation, and the stress of having a sick premie took their toll on me and by extension the story I was writing.

I'm proud of the first 50 pages--the part I wrote last November before I was pregnant. The rest just isn't right. It's never been right. I can't put my finger on exactly why it doesn't work, but I think it has something to do with the fact that I've lost passion for the story.

I wanted to finish it. I wanted to have a brilliant little novel come out of my tough year. But I didn't feel it. The story was meant to be funny and light, but I wasn't in a funny light place. I felt tired and sick and worried and it's hard to hide that from the reader.

As a result the novel needs to be completly rewritten. I don't have the energy to do that right now, so I'm putting it away for a while.

The good news is, I finally feel free to work on one of the projects I'm actually excited about. Writing is FUN again. I started a new manuscript and in just three weeks I've written almost 15,000 words. It's a first draft of course (which means it will need to be rewritten a couple hundred times), but it's a good, usable first draft, with characters that I love and a story that I'm into.

November was good to me. I think I'm finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. My baby is doing much better, I'm feeling creative again, and I'm excited about my life moving forward.

Have you ever lost your passion for a story or shelved a project you'd worked on for a long time?

How did November treat you?

29 comments:

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

You hit a nerve. I've been wondering about the novel I've been working on all year, too. Not feeling it right now. Perhaps, just stepping away and working on something else is a good move.
I'm glad to hear you're feeling good again and are on a roll.

Janet Johnson said...

So glad you found the fun place again. But sorry you've been through such a rough year. :( Hopefully it's all uphill from here.

Jody Hedlund said...

Hi Natalie,
I'm amazed that you kept writing at all. And maybe that's what the book did for you, kept you writing, kept the creativity flowing, kept the passion alive inside of you. And now you can approach your next story with new vigor, but without having to try to get back into the swing.

Wen Baragrey said...

I love what Jody said. Just because we have to shelve a novel doesn't mean it wasn't a valuable experience. I, too, am completely impressed you wrote at all!

On another note, I'm so thrilled to hear your little one is doing better. My November was also filled up with a little sick premmie. He's doing better too.

I bet your new WIP is going to be magnificent!

Emy Shin said...

I have shelved a lot of projects, some I've been working on for a long time simply because I've outgrown them. I'm glad stepping away from the project helps you regain your excitement for writing! Good luck!

Sherrinda said...

I set aside my first novel. I was in the middle of editing it and just got sick of it after 2 years. I'm not leaving it for good, because I love the story, but I just needed a break from it.

I'm so glad you are feeling better about your writing and are excited about your new story! Creating is so fun and so fulfilling!

Joanne Fritz said...

Natalie, I'm sorry it's been such a rough year for you, but happy to hear that writing is fun again! Yay!

There's absolutely nothing wrong with shelving a book you've lost passion for. It's your book -- you can do whatever you want with it. And maybe someday you'll come back to that light, funny story when you're in a different place yourself.

I'm getting ready to put aside the book I've spent two years writing because I know there are fundamental flaws with the plot. But I'm excited to have lots of new ideas too.

L. T. Host said...

Oh my goodness I've missed a lot! I didn't know you had a sick baby :( Glad the little one is doing better, and even though it was a hard choice to shelve the book it sounds like it was the right one. Like you said, it's hard to write something lighthearted when you're not. Write something tough, instead, that will feed off your toughness.

Hope everything picks up from here!

Abby Minard said...

Good for you- that's a lot to handle in a year. I'm glad you can feel passionate about a new story! Good luck with your baby and your story!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Good for you! I was thinking just today that if I have to shelve my two other novels and five or so picture books, I could do it. Really. Enjoy your new story and send it by soon!

Jessie Oliveros said...

It looks like your hard year is getting better. Just having a baby mixed things up for me for awhile, and my child wasn't a premie. It takes a lot of courage to shelve a book, I think. Good luck, and I'm glad your baby is better.

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm so glad your baby is getting stronger. :)

I'm going to head back into a rewrite after I finish my current first draft. I'm kind of dreading it - I love the story, but I'm not sure if I'm capable of completing it properly. We'll see.

L.T. Elliot said...

I have had to shelve stuff before--mostly for those same reasons. I wasn't feeling the love, something was off that I couldn't quite touch, and my head wasn't in the game. But I'm very glad you've fell in love with something new and that it's working for you. Wishing you high word counts, healthy family, and lots of hugs!

Renee Collins said...

I hear you. I SO hear you. Life has a way of bleeding into our writing. I applaud your choice to do what feels right, even if it means putting a book aside. I've done that, and it wasn't easy, but it was definitely the right choice.

Now, as for how my November has treated me? Awesome. Truly.

Stephanie Thornton said...

I spent many months last year working on my second book while querying my first. The emotional roller coaster of querying definitely took its toll and I shelved it just before finishing. I'd like to pick it up again one day, but I needed something fresh.

November was good to me too- I've been working on a new first draft and loving it. I'm so glad to hear things are looking up for you. Time heals everything, right?

Ted Cross said...

I'm too new to this to have lost passion for any of my stories yet, but I can imagine it could happen. Right now my concern is being too interested in too many different stories, so I have trouble picking the one to work on.

Anne Gallagher said...

Well who wouldn't be disappointed in their book after what you just went through. Shelve the book. Look at it again next year. It might surprise you.

I shelved a book last year. I love the story although it needs a lot of rewrites. I'll leave it until maybe this summer. If I still don't like it maybe until 2012.

Georgina Dollface said...

Sometimes things happen and we need to refocus on something else for awhile.

This happens to me sometimes when I am working on a painting, and it's just not going anywhere. I find putting it away and starting a new one, or working on another semi-finished painting gives me the mental break I need. hen, without even thinking, I eventually find my way back to the abandoned painting. Good luck with whatever direction you choose to follow. - G

Patti said...

I've shelved my book several times, but keep coming back to it. Maybe one day I'll have to put it out to pasture for good.

Good news on your new project.

WindyA said...

It's great that you were able to realize it was "time" to shelve a project. That is such a difficult decision to make, so bravo to you!

And congrats on the exciting new project. It's like new love, all shiny and golden isn't it??

Jaime said...

I firmly believe sometimes you just have to do that. I have about 6 unfinished or finished shelved books. When you lose your passion for them - you lose your passion to write. So you go get 'em with this new book!

Susan R. Mills said...

I have about 10 shelved projects. I'm glad to hear that writing is fun for you again. It's a great place to be. Also, glad to hear the baby is doing well.

Sara B. Larson said...

Wow, what a rough year. I'm amazed you kept writing and pushing through. You have to follow your gut--as long as you've already finished a novel. (which you have) Once you've done that, you know how to, you know you can, and if you're just not making it with your current project, then move on. Inspiration may strike again later. You never know. YOU are an inspiration to me right now. I need to get my butt in gear on my new WIP. I've been dragging my feet, waiting to see what happens with some other stuff, but I need to keep moving forward. Thank you for this post.

Jill Kemerer said...

Good decision. Rough years pass, and with them, the things we focused on. It's good to have a new start, a new project, and a new focus. You'll go back to the old ms when the time is right!

DL Hammons said...

I'm just thrilled that you feel your MOJO coming back and are excited about writing again. I abosolutely LOVE the excitement of starting a new project.

My project has been sitting on the shelf for a bit. I'm still excited about it, just apprehensive about the next round of revisions...much like I dread heading to the gym to work out. The prospect of what it will look like when I'm finished keeps me motivated.

Heather Eagar said...

You are so brave. It's hard to put aside something that we've put so much time and energy into. Whether the story works or not it is still a part of us and who we are. Way to be!

Erica M. Chapman said...

Sometimes it's the best thing to do, and you recognized that. I'm so glad you have a story you're excited about!

My November was great, thanks! I have a story I too am excited about ;o) Love that feeling!

Heather Sunseri said...

Oh, Natalie, I can feel your emotion in this post and I know that the passion inside of you will come out in your writing no matter which story it is.

It's amazing you were able to keep writing with what you've gone through. I'm glad you had a great Novemember!! And I'm glad your sweet baby is doing better!

My November was great as well. I've been writing and rewriting the same manuscript for a year and a half, and I put final edits on it yesterday and sent it off to a couple of people to read. I'm excited.

Miranda said...

I've shelved 4-5 books at this point, and I'm okay with that. I think of them from time to time, but whatever. What's important is that you've found something else that you're passionate about. :) I am praying that this new MS is "the one." Yes, "the one" like twue love.

I'm sure your new WIP will be filled with happiness and joy and other sappiness, as now your son is doing well and life is going better. It'll rub off on your book. :)