I’m going to write about something that not many people talk about. We all know about the process of trunking a novel and how much it hurts.
I know, I trunked a novel.
I told the world that the novel and I weren’t right for each other. I said things like the novel didn’t really represent me well, and it would be a blunder to try to step out with that novel.
People said it was a wise decision. They said that trunking a novel can hurt, but it’s much better to set it aside than burn so much power trying to get it ready for the publishing world if I couldn’t put my all behind it. They were right. I was right. So imagine my surprise when six months later I’m falling in love with my silly broken novel.
And this is where I feel like that person who always breaks up with a particular significant other. They go around bad mouthing their ex, but then two weeks later they’re back together again. That’s what I feel like. I’ve bad mouthed my novel to all my friends, and they said I was right to leave that no good, passive voice bore in the dirt.
And now we’re a thing again.
Do all my writing friends think I’m a hypocrite? Do they think I was a fool to dump my novel in the first place? Should I just try dating my novel in secret for a little while to see if we’ve still got that spark?
I’m second guessing all of my decisions. If I can see that I gave up too easily on this novel, what about the one before? Did I really ride that horse to the end of the race, or did I just quit? Am I dedicated enough to see any of these novels through to the end? Is this why my writing doesn’t have agents salivating to sign me—okay, that’s unfair, I haven’t sent out a query letter since November, so they haven’t even been invited to salivate over signing me, my bad—and editors don’t want to publish my stories? Can they see that it’s my utter lack of discipline in my novels that has handicapped them?
So I picked up a trunked novel, and found that, much to my dismay, it solved nothing. I thought I’d be able to jump right back into this story and query it in a week or two. But as I’ve been going through it, all I see are the broken parts. Am I just delusional about my own work? Can I just not even see the beauty in it because I can’t freaking get my homonyms right?
And then I read something that makes me laugh. I wrote the damned thing, and it makes me laugh? I am delusional.
Was I right to trunk it? Was that the right decision? Am I, even as I type, flirting with heart-breaking disaster because I’ve picked something up that I’d already turned my nose up at? Or is this a case of bad timing. Did I put it down because I knew I couldn’t do with it what I can do now? Were both choices—putting it aside and picking it back up—the right choices, and the only difference between them perspective and time?
I had thought I’d crossed all the terrible self esteem eating sarlacks in the desert of Writing, but alas, I was mistaken. Sure, I’m pretty inexperienced and I haven’t dealt with any of the ones that come with actually publishing a book, but I was pretty sure I’d cleared all the evil hurdles associated with the process of getting up to agent signing.
Nope. This is a whole new breed of gut wrenching agony. Sorry, I wish it were different. I wish this wasn’t true, but picking up a previously dead novel, even one still very much in its youth, makes a writer crazy. The doubts are worse than ever before because at some point, somewhere in my heart I thought it was time to put this story away forever.
I guess six months is almost forever.
But how do I slay the tummy tying knots of doom?
I have these annoying things I say to my hockey team. When we were trailing by four goals, I pulled our goal tender. My team thought I was crazy. “It’s not like we’re gonna win,” someone complained. To which I responded, “Yeah, I know, but we’re gonna be behind again, and it’d be nice to have some practice in how to handle it.”
Practice. That’s what it all boils down to for me. I’m already lost to this novel. I’m in love again (stupid hot-cold relationships), and even if this isn’t THE ONE, I need the practice. I need the practice getting rejections (yes, this is a skill we must practice, lest it become emotionally devastating). I need to practice the editing. I need to practice the close calls, the almosts, and the contests. I need to give this novel the try, because in another six to eight months, I’ll have another novel, and it’d be nice to have some practice.