Monday, November 1, 2010

Cause breakin' up is hard to do

They say that breaking up is hard to do
Now I know, I know that it's true
Don't say that this is the end
Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making up again...

You know things are bad when I've got Carptenters lyrics stuck in my head.

It's official. Or as official as these things ever are. Project Demo and I are breaking up.

My critique partner loves her. My Chicago writing group says they relate to her. And we went so far: I've got the skeleton of the entire plot in my head, a unique structure, a hysterical minor character. But I can't make this work. I'm just not into her.

And I finally came to the realization this weekend that if I'm not into her, writing a whole novel is going to be a long slog. Plus the voice will never feel right, alive. It's time to move on.

I could be really frustrated. I could dwell on how I've wasted a month of writing time. I am a little. But the sun's out. I've gained an extra hour due to day light savings. And you know that feeling when you make the right decision and all of a sudden you feel happy and free? Yeah.

Also I'm beginning to think about the novel I broke up with to work on Project Sparkle. Maybe that one is worth saving?

So it's not really a break up. We just need some time apart.

Have you ever broken up with a novel? How did it work out for you?

*I've shared author Christine Fletcher's blog post about leaving a novel before, but considering the occasion, it's really worth sharing again. Enjoy!*


  1. After a rather long relationship, I broke up with a w.i.p. a few months ago. I've moved on to a new one. I haven't looked back, and I'm much happier with the one I'm with now.
    But this is a hard thing to do. I've noticed that I want to break up with all my w.i.p s when I'm in the middle of them. It seems that I like the initial feeling of falling in love, but when it comes down to doing the hard work, I'm a flight risk. And let's face it, even the the best relationships go through rough times. It's very hard to tell if it's the w.i.p or if it's me. So far, things are going great with my current w.i.p. I think this one is a keeper.

  2. I had a big breakup right at the very beginning of my endeavours to write for children. I think it works much the same as with other sorts of relationships - the new one tends to heal the old one. And you know, in the grand scheme of things, a month isn't such a very long time. I admire the clarity of your vision about your book anyway. I was in denial for quite some time about mine. I think were a bit co-dependent ;)

  3. I did that with a WIP, but not because I didn't connect with my protagonist, it was because the topic scared me (not as in ghosts/spooky scared, in difficult to deal with). I let it go for the better part of this year. But recently I thought I'd revisit this character and her story—she has never let me go. Yesterday, I pulled out her ms and read what I'd done so far and realized I haven't let go of her, either.

    Anne, could it possibly be the character you thought was the MC, isn't? Might it be the hysterical minor character's story? Just a thought...

  4. What Andrea said about the minor character. I wrote an entire novel once and what I got out of it was a dynamite short story involving a character in a subplot.

    And not only was the short story published in a prestigious literary magazine, I got PAID for it.

  5. Wow, thanks for all the responses!

    Nan: I'm so glad to hear you've found a keeper! I know exactly what you mean about those awful middles, and worrying about whether it's you, or the manuscript, and whether it's all meant to be. Sometimes I think the best way to deal with that is to just push on through, but that's not fun at all, and scary too if you worry it might all be for nothing. It's a little easier for me leaving this one. Even though I had planned out a fair amount, I had written very little because I never quite felt it. So perhaps we hadn't even hit our honeymoon stage yet.

    Anna: I love the co-dependent analogy! =) You're absolutely right about the new one healing the old one. Much like relationships, I always begin novels thinking I have no idea what I'm doing; it's such a relief when things actually come together and I can start believing in myself again! Actually, for the past year I've been working a lot on trusting myself. I think that's partly why I gave up on the novel so soon. I think you're right--in the long run a month doesn't seem that long at all! It could have been a year! Who knows if it's the right decision, but I'm happy to be moving on (so in that sense, perhaps it IS the right decision).

  6. That's so true, Andrea. I've never actually started on a novel that scared me in the way you're describing, but I've specifically not started some because of those fears. I like to think that years down the road I can come back once I'm a better writer. How cool that the idea's never left you! Do you think you're going to start working on it again now? I bet you've learned so much this year.

    Anne and Andrea, both of you are right to push me on that character. I DO love her. I'm not sure what to do with her now, but trust me, she's not disappearing. She's just too much fun! =) And Anne, I love how your abandoned novel turned into such a great PAID short story. Go you!

  7. I'm thinking its more of a Neal Sadaka song than a Carpenters. But I'm hardly a pop song expert...

  8. Hah! But I'm even less of one. You are so right. The Carpenters did it as well, but the one I was thinking of is indeed Neal Sadaka!

  9. It's true. With every novel I've written I've had to make that decison to keep revising or to start something new. It's tough and not easy. Give yourself a month or two away from it and if you still feel good about it, then you know you did the right thing. Good luck and start thinking of something fresh and new!

  10. I think that's perfect advice, Christina, thanks! Hopefully if I ever go back to it, it will be with a few new ideas to make it really work!


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